End the Siege on Palestine- in Lebanon

Official Lebanon policy on the Palestinian refugees: Undermining Palestine and feeding the global terror network

The siege on Gaza and the Israeli assault on the Turkish humanitarian relief ship has brought world attention to the suffering of the besieged Palestinians in the Gaza strip. After Hamas won the Palestinian elections the Israelis with, Arab and international collusion, imposed a criminal siege designed to punish Gaza’s civilians for voting for Hamas. The Israelis are just professional liars when they say the siege is designed to stop the flow of arms. The siege is designed, just like the war on Gaza and the war on Lebanon in 2006, to break the will to resist occupation and Israeli hegemony. The Wall Street Journal reported on 6/10/2010 that in response to developments after the piracy and massacre at sea of the humanitarian workers, Israel allowed formerly banned items such as potato chips, spices, and cookies.

Official Lebanon undermines Palestinian nationalism
Government policy feeds the global terror network
The plight of the Palestinian refugees is well known. The Palestinian association for human rights (Witness) has documented the violations, harassment and discrimination that the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon endure on the hands of the Lebanese sectarian regime (www.pahrw.org). The Palestinians are denied the right to work in almost all occupations; they can not inherit, among other limitations and violations of basic rights and decency. Cut off from employment opportunities, isolated and besieged by Lebanese security forces and military, the refugees suffer high unemployment and live off an informal economy, private foreign aid and NGO support all of which have been dwindling. The issue of the plight of the Palestinians has been discussed as a human rights issue. It goes beyond that. It is an issue of importance to the Palestinian nationalism project and to international security/the global war on terror. Lebanon’s policy on the refugees is undermining Palestinian nationalism and feeding the global terror network. It should not continue unchallenged.

Everyday Jihad in Ain El Hilweh

The Lebanese Christian right wing and its like minded Muslim allies are obsessed with the Palestinian refugees and the “islands of lawlessness” in Palestinian refugee camps. What these right wingers, with a history of massacres and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians as well as their own countrymen on the basis of sect, fail to admit is that the Palestinians in Lebanon, and the Palestinian cause is being transformed due to policies that they have out of foolishness and bigotry put in place. The policy of mistreatment, marginalization and pure unadulterated hate has taken a toll on Palestinian nationalism and the global war on terror. In Everyday Jihad: The rise of militant Islam among Palestinians in Lebanon, Bernard Rougier writes about the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and the rise of “militant Islam” among them. Mr. Rougier spent four years studying the Islamists in Ain el Hilweh, the largest Palestinian camp in Lebanon with 35,000 inhabitants. Mr. Rougier concludes that a “new religious ideology took root in this Palestinian environment" in Ain el Hilweh that made it “a recruitment site [for global jihad] and a retreat for hunted down in countries of origin.” This development is not good for anyone- neither Lebanon, nor the Palestinians and the rest of the world.

From secular democratic nationalism to global terror networks
The US supplants Israel as the focus of grievance and violence

Mr. Rougier’s focus is not on the Islamist Palestinian groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad. These groups are nationalist in their agenda and are relatively moderate. The book focuses on groups that have been inspired by the rhetoric of Al-Qa’ida and have joined the informal network of “global jihad” against the “unbelievers.” These militants are engaged in “a religious, global warfare for the victory of Islam against unbelievers. These militant Islamists situate themselves within the international Jihadist network and identify with the rhetoric of al-Qa'ida.” Rougier considers Hamas and Islamic Jihad not part of the “global Jihad” but part of the “national Palestinian space.” He adds that there are "religious figures who expended much of their energy dissolving the national Palestinian community the PLO had worked to crystallize since its creation” To those groups “history ceased to be an experience of national dispossession and became instead one more link in the chain of Muslim people victimized by the Kuffar (unbelievers) since Mustafa Kemal abolished the Muslim caliphate in 1924.” He notes that “[I]t was no accident that a video aired by al –Qa’ida in September 2006 showed a young Saudi-one of nineteen operatives who died on September 11 dedicating a poem to “Abu Mahjin the Palestinian,” the main leader of the Ain al Hilweh jihadist network...” To these groups the US has supplanted Israel as the enemy and the “embrace of violent terrorist tactics more aggressive and enthusiastic.” The siege on the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon has made this transformation possible.

US policy change needed
Ambassador Feltman’s friends must stop feeding the global terror network

The US has dealt with this threat by trying to upgrade the capabilities of the Lebanese security apparatus. This is not the best way to deal with the threat. What is needed is a change in the circumstances created by official Lebanon that have transformed Ain El Hilweh into the recruiting ground and retreat for “global jihadists.” The US needs to engage the moderate forces of Hamas and Islamic jihad, groups who are nationalist and not part of the global terror networks targeting the US and are best positioned to counter the radical groups. Official Lebanon has to be persuaded to change its policies that have played into the hands of the recruiters and theorists of the global terror networks. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs is very close to those forces that are behind the policies that transformed Ain El Hilweh into what it has become. Instead of spending resources and armaments on Lebanon’s security apparatus with the hope that the networks could be stopped, the US is better off changing the environment that has helped create the problem. It is time to test the friendship of Mr. Feltman’s so-called “Cedar Revolutionaries” by asking them to change policies that feed the global terror network.

Conspiracy of silence on the siege on Gaza-Conspiracy of silence on the siege of the Lebanon refugees

Those who support the Palestinian cause should mobilize to change Palestinian reality in Lebanon. The immense pressures official Lebanon puts on the refugees are undermining the Palestinian project. Those who support the Palestinian national project should see the contradiction in shaming the world for its silence on the siege of Gaza while they themselves are silent on the siege of the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.

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