Suha Bishara: on Palestine and Sunni-Shia Tensions

The late PA leader Yasser Arafat once answered a question about his governance of the Palestinians by telling The New York Times, give me the Swiss to rule and I will rule like Switzerland does.

It seems he was onto something. Switzerland does have a good influence on people.
Leave it to a woman, a Christian, a communist Lebanese, married to a Swiss and living in Switzerland, to speak freely and clearly about Lebanon- in particular about the Palestinians and about Sunni-Shia tensions.

On Palestine:

On the occasion of the release of the Lebanese prisoners from Israel in an exchange between Hizbullah and Israel, the Lebanese daily al- Safir interviewed Suha Bishara. Many years ago-Suha Bishara tried to assassinate Antoine Lahd, the head of the Lebanese militia set up by Israel to guard its Northern border-- the South Lebanon army. Suha Bishara was part of the secular national and leftist resistance movement that was fighting Israel before the Syrians colluded with Iran and its Islamists to limit guerrilla warfare to the Hizbullah.

In this interview she is asked what can a Lebanese, living in Lebanon, do for Palestine these days?

She replies: They don't need our direct support. The most important support for them is for the Lebanese to be united. The second issue is the civil rights of the Palestinian refugees. Nobody has really struggled for this issue. It’s not acceptable that a Palestinian refugee cannot work in Lebanon. And if he builds, we destroy. I am not talking about citizenship here. Though I do believe that a person is entitled to the citizenship of the country of his birth. Period. Palestinian or non Palestinian. (for a video on the situation of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon see

Below is the Arabic text:
برأيك، كيف يمكن للبناني أن يعمل من هنا لأجل فلسطين؟ [ هونيك، ليسوا بحاجة إلينا بالشكل المباشر. الدعم الأهم بالنسبة إليهم هو أن نحصّن أنفسنا داخلياً أولاً. ثانياً، قضية الحقوق المدنية للفلسطينيين في المخيمات. لم يناضل أحد فعلياً لهذه القضية! مش مقبول فلسطيني ما يقدر يشتغل، وإذا عمّر حجر نهدّه نحن! هذا من دون الدخول في موضوع الجنسية، علماً أنني أؤمن بحق الإنسان بحمل جنسية الأرض التي يولد فيها، نقطة على السطر، فلسطيني أو غير فلسطيني

On Sunni-Shia relations:

She is asked "What reservations about Hizbullah you have?"

She replies:

No political party can get involved in internal politics and limit its program to the resistance slogan. This means as if your existence is a function of the enemy's existence. Question? does this mean that if Israel ceases to exist then Hizbullah would think of economic issues and get involved in Lebanese law making? Hizbullah should declare an economic program to get the country out of its economic crisis. Second, there is a huge gap between the leadership and the supporters of the Hizbullah. When they talk about the sectarian war being an impossibility, this is true as to the leadership thinking. The leadership thinks of sectarian war as serving the US designs. But the Hizbullah supporters, since the death (martyrdom) of Imam Hussein, have been raised on the basis of "who killed me?" My brother's name is Omar and all the family suffered a lot because of that. What happens when you have political parties and incitement included in the equation with this kind of background? You would have out of hand chaos, violence and bloodshed.

ـ ما هي المآخذ؟ [ أولاً، لا يوجد حزب سياسي قادر على بناء سياسة داخلية واختزالها بالمقاومة. كأنك موجود من خلال العدو. سؤال: إذا راحت إسرائيل، منفكر ساعتها نشتغل بالاقتصاد، ونصوّت على قانون؟ يجب أن يعلن سياسة واضحة لإخراج البلد من الأزمة الاقتصادية، وذلك كي يتكامل. ثانياً، هناك شرخ بين القيادة والقاعدة. عندما يتحدثون عن استحالة الحرب الطائفية، هذا صحيح طبعاً على مستوى القيادة لأنها اتخذت هذا القرار على المستوى العقائدي وتقرأ الحرب الطائفية كخدمة للمصالح الأميركية. أما القاعدة فمنذ مقتل الإمام الحسين تمت تربيتها على أساس »مين قتلني«. أخي اسمه عمر وكلنا نعاني لأن اسمه عمر منذ ولادته. فكيف إذا دخلت في المعادلة أحزاب وشحن؟ ستعود التربية و»بتفلت الفالوتة«.


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