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The newsletter of the independent and free Lebanese, issue 1, December 1998

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I warmly welcome every one of you to this first issue of The Voice of Free Lebanon. This newsletter intends to be a means of stirring consciousness among the Lebanese people as well as among all the supporters of the Lebanese cause. I will attempt to issue it as regularly as possible, with your help and support. Part of the purpose is to express my personal views and provide a platform for all the people who might share them. The other part is to create a space for free expression so you can react over the issues that have been raised. So I call upon all of you to express your opinions and to make yourself heard, as much as possible. Thanks for your attention and support, fellows.

This first issue will be naturally dedicated to the situation in south Lebanon, as things have been very tense out there in the recent days. Whatever steps Israel is likely to take in response to the heavy losses within their once-feared military, I strongly feel all Lebanese have to reflect seriously on that subject and wonder what attitude is best suited for the defense of the interests of our nation.

Youssef Ilych Hacienda

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wpe18.jpg (2264 octets)Isn’t it really a shame that the Hizbullah is the only movement, or so, fighting the resistance against the Israeli occupier in the south? Fighting along with smaller groups, Hizbullah represents the heart of the Lebanese resistance. Without them, the south of Lebanon may already be a part of Israel, as their interest in our resources is a secret for no one. Where is the rest of the nation, what are they doing? The rest of the people don’t seem to care that much for the destiny of the south. Sure, they speak good words when they have to, but they are not willing to take any risks for such a distant cause.

But don’t you Lebanese people realize that this is our country, your country? The south is as much a part of Lebanon as Beirut or the Biqa valley. If we claim we want our land back, why then do we remain inactive, instead of fighting for it? Every Lebanese should be a resistant in away or another. True enough, not everyone is a fighter, but guerilla is just one way to keep on fighting. And nevertheless, in such difficult times, the least we can do is to give our full support to those who die for the resistance.

It may sound exaggerated to speak like this, but we have to keep in mind that we are dealing with people extremist enough to hit UN refugee camps, to send their 19-year old sons die in a foreign country, and to deprive the citizens of the south from their water and soil for over 15 years. That’s why I call upon any citizen in possession of a brain or a gun, or even both of these, to join the resistance in his own way. Not the resistance of a small group bleeding for the rest of the country, but a nationwide resistance of a whole people awakening to defend its land.

What is more, in Lebanon, not everybody agrees with Hizbullah because it’s an organization with a somehow strong ideology. Why then let them embody the resistance on their own? I don’t think it’s good for a country when there’s only one group that stands alone to face the aggressor when it’s the whole country that’s concerned. It’s one of the seeds of dissension, and we have suffered enough of that in Lebanon. Fighting together doesn’t necessary mean having the same opinions, but through the hard times, we have to learn to put our personal feelings aside to counter a greater threat, in the interest of all.

Also, Lebanon is a country where politics are a favorite topic. That’s one of the things that people enjoy discussing the most. Seated around a few fresh drinks and bowls of mixed nuts, the Lebanese spend (waste?) hours discussing politics. And the country is prolific with political organizations of all sorts, some of them whose existence is still a mystery for me, as they seem to be irrelevant to the country. So why don’t they take part in the resistance? Most of the main political forces, hypocritically pretending to defend the interests of the citizens avoid the subject considering that the south is not their affair.

However, it should be indeed a concern for everyone. That’s why I insist on expressing my opinion on the subject. What I believe, is that peace is one of the most precious things we can ever have. And this should not be achieved by guns or violence, except as the very last recourse. The best thing would be solving the problem through civilized talks between two sovereign nations. But unfortunately, such conditions are far from being reached. I’m strongly committed to peace and value a very few things more than human life. But among these is freedom. And I believe that for the time being, armed resistance is our best solution, with the sole aim of ousting the Israeli invader.

Once this is achieved, we should be able to live in peace with our southern neighbor, and resume normal relations with them. We have to remember that Israel is a country that bears a kind of resemblance to Lebanon. It is a small country, with a great deal of internal problems, and subject to various pressures from the outside. Their people have also undergone a long suffering and most of them long for peace. The number of demonstrators these last two weeks to support an unconditional withdrawal from south Lebanon shows that they too are tired of fighting this useless war.

Among the protestors against the government’s policy is an organization called The Four Mothers. Mothers whom had lost sons in south Lebanon originally founded it, and now, it is gaining more and more attention in the public opinion. Ha’aretz, Israel’s leading newspaper has recently published a series of articles denouncing the government’s policy and calling for withdrawal.

As a matter of fact, the public opinion is increasingly in favor of leaving Lebanon alone and leaving this "Vietnam".

But you only get what you deserve, and the government and the military are now paying the price of their aggressive policy. They are the ones who really want war. The Israeli people, just like us, are human beings, and most of them just want to live in peace. Who could be crazy enough to say that he wants another drama like what happened at Qana in April ‘96? There will come a time when the situation is riper for peace, and when it happens, we must be prepared to live in peace with each other, putting aside all the prejudices we might have.

Personally, what I’m trying to do is to provoke a debate, to have you people react to what is happening. I know that without a change in Syria, things are not likely to change that much in Lebanon, but we must also feel concerned about that. The Syrians are very close to us, and their people are like brothers to us. The thing is, they are suffering as much as we do from the dictatorial regime in place. I have no tender feelings for the Syrian occupying forces, but I want to express solidarity with the people whose rights have been torn away since Hafez el Assad came to power.

For the time being, the only good thing about the current situation is that Hizbullah is winning the war, by himself, for all the Lebanese people.

Y.I.H.