fbpx
Monday, January 25, 2021

The Tragedy in Lebanon Has Been Years in the Making

Print This Article

What happened in Lebanon on Aug. 4 is heartbreaking. What’s been happening in Lebanon in recent weeks is heartbreaking. What’s happened in Lebanon in recent decades is heartbreaking.

The country is falling apart and has been for many years and many reasons. It has been bleeding a slow death by a thousand cuts. On Aug. 4, those wounds were suddenly visible.

In a chilling coincidence, The New York Times published on Aug. 3 an article by Lina Mounzer, a Lebanese writer and translator. The headline, written before the tragic explosion says it all: “We Lebanese Thought We Could Survive Anything. We Were Wrong.”

Read it, and cry for the good, innocent Lebanese. “It has become clear,” Mounzer writes, “that there is nothing truly resilient about Lebanon except its politicians and ancient warlords, who refuse to step down, even after their profiteering has bankrupted the country and its people.”

When so much is unknown, it is tempting to speculate about the blast. Was it an accident?  What exactly was stored in the harbor, by whom, for how long and why?

In a functioning country, the answers would be known at some point. There would be a trusted investigation, a believable conclusion and consequences that would make another blast less likely. But Lebanon is not a functioning country. The power brokers make sure to sabotage investigations and avoid consequences.

Fifteen years ago, American policy makers still believed that Lebanon could be an exemplary Middle East democracy (other than Israel). Following the 2006 Lebanon war between Israel and Hezbollah, the United Nations intended to make things right.

Lebanon is proof that global fantasies and noble intentions are no match for a well-funded militia. Lebanon is a playground for Iran and Syria. It was a playground for the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization) and, at some point in the past, for Israel.

Much like America during the George W. Bush years, Israel in the ’80s also believed that it could engineer a new Lebanese order. One that would be better for most Lebanese. One that would be better for Lebanon’s neighbors. Israel failed. America failed. The U.N. did not even try.

Dilemmas are to be expected, and they are just around the corner. How does one square the need to assist the Lebanese without simultaneously helping the power brokers keep their tight grip on the country? These are questions we are familiar with from other places. Gaza is one example. The population suffers. The population needs support and assistance. But assisting the population means assisting Hamas.

First aid is easy: get medical support, doctors, mobile hospitals, and ship them to Beirut. Israel and other countries in the region offered to take in patients. Israel is unlikely to receive any because for Hezbollah, keeping Israel as an unacceptable partner is much more important than the wounded people of Beirut.

Long term assistance is where the real difficulties begin. Precedent teaches us that world organizations and generous countries will assist Lebanon. In return, they will demand — and get — empty promises from the power brokers. The U.N. made a vow to de-weaponize Hezbollah. It did not. So, long term assistance to Lebanon must be handed under the assumption that no promise to change Lebanon’s political situation will be kept. This is as sad as it is true.

Those who believe in only one state should watch and learn: This is what an incoherent and sectorial Middle Eastern country looks like. Bret Stephens did not mention Lebanon when he wrote in his Aug. 3 New York Times op-ed that the idea of a one state “is utopian in theory and would be disastrous in practice.” Today, he probably would have used this example.

Did you enjoy this article?

You'll love our roundtable.

Enjoyed this article?

You'll love our roundtable.

Select list(s) to subscribe to


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Essays and Columns of 2020

Latest Articles

Culture

Latest Articles
Latest

The Lingering Questions of the 2020 Election

It would be a colossal mistake for Democrats to continue to dismiss the lingering concerns of Trump voters.

Israel Surpasses 1 Million Fully Vaccinated with Both Doses

As of Monday morning, 1,106,506 people had received the two doses, representing 12.45 percent of the population, according to the Ministry of Health.

Club Z Summit Discusses Shifting the Zionist Narrative

Club Z, which calls itself a “Zionism for Teens” organization, held a summit on January 24 called “#BreakFree Celebrating Zionism, Justice and Activism.”

An Homage to Izzy Cohen, Bagel Baker Extraordinaire

Learning to make bagels from the macher of Southern California Jewish baking.

Khujand’s Last Jew Dies

The once-rich communal life of Bukharan Jews in Khujand ended last week with the passing of the city’s last remaining Jewish person.

Hollywood

Podcasts

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.

x