By: Elias Bejjani*
"Let no one ask us to tag as traitors our Southern "Lebanese" citizens who entered Israel at a certain period, because the "Lebanese" state has abandoned them. They are our brothers and we will definitely demand that they return to their homes, and families." (Lebanese MP, Sami Gemayel 28/6/09).
We value, and greatly appreciate MP Sami Gemayel's courageous, genuine and transparent stance in regard to our Southern Lebanese citizens who because of serious and imminent fears for their lives and the fate of their children were forced in May 2000 to take refuge in neighboring Israel. These citizens are not traitors by any means, but patriotic, noble, decent, and Lebanese par excellence.
It is worth mentioning that in May 2000, the Israeli government after its occupation of the "Southern Lebanese Security Zone" for 25 years had decided for internal reasons to unilaterally withdraw its troops in accordance with UNSC Resolution 425.
In the aftermath of this withdrawal, more than 6,500 Southern Lebanese men, along with members of their families, had no option but to leave their towns, villages and abandon all their properties and to hastily run for their lives. While Israel was logistically preparing for withdrawal, Hezbollah waged a merciless and savage media campaign against the Southern Lebanese Citizens. The campaign was aired publicly on all local and international TV and radio stations. The most frightening threats were uttered personally by Hezbollah's General Secretary, Sheik Nasrallah, who savagely said, "We will enter their bedrooms, pierce their stomachs, slaughter them and slice their throats."
Between 2000 and 2005, Syria which was still occupying Lebanon, accordingly had the sole and upper hand in appointing, firing, disciplining, exiling and fully controlling all the country's governments officials, officials, armed forces and members of the parliament, at the same time was intimidating and manipulating the judiciary to serve its schemes.
The Syrians not only fully hindered the dignified return of our people from Israel, but made hell the lives of those southern citizens who hesitated and did not escape to Israel. They were ripped of their civil rights and deprived of all governmental services while been tagged as collaborators and traitors. Many of them were exposed to arbitrary trials and sentenced harshly.
The 4000 Lebanese whose nostalgia made them take the risk, not consider the consequences and return from Israel to Lebanon were immediately arrested, tortured, humiliated, imprisoned and charged with treason, collaboration, contacting an enemy and living in an enemy country.
The trials that they had were a mere farce, biased, fabricated, false and void from all recognized standards of international laws. The military prosecutor tried all these cases, and in the majority of these trials, the accused Southern Lebanese citizens were not allowed to even hire lawyers to defend them. Most of the local and international human rights organizations have stated in their documented reports that each of these theatrical trials did not last for more than 10 minutes. Many of these victims were sentenced in absentia and more than seventy of them received death penalties.
In 2005, the Syrian army was forced to withdraw in accordance with UNSC Resolution 1559, and the Syrian occupation was over. Since then numerous attempts were initiated by the Maronite church, a few Christian MPs and other human rights bodies all aiming to secure a dignified and safe return for the more than 2,500 Southern Lebanese people who had remained in Israel. Unfortunately all these genuine attempts were aborted by Hezbollah, the Iranian terrorist militia who after the Syrian military withdrawal in 2005 had become the sole controlling military power in Lebanon.
Hezbollah's mullahs' swollen and inflated egos and their mere detachment from reality have made them hostages and prey to a set of sickening grandiose delusions. They are damn mistaken to falsely believe that they can continue to forever block the return of our people from Israel to our Land of the Holy Cedars, and to unjustly deprive them from embracing the Lebanese soil that they, their fathers and their grandfathers have for the past 7000 years been safeguarding, plowing, planting, and enriching with their sweat, blood and sacrifices.
No matter what the hardships are or will be, the free people of Lebanon will not allow Hezbollah's mullahs to topple the Lebanese regime of multiculturalism, freedom and peaceful co-existence and replace it with a replicate of the Iranian mullah's Islamic Republic. Iran's denominational "Wilayat Al-Faqih doctrine" of Khomeini has been stubbornly rejected by the majority of the Lebanese people and will never ever be forced on them.
Meanwhile, the ongoing suffering of our people in Israel is not that different from the kind of suffering that our people in West Beirut and Mount Lebanon went through last year when Hezbollah fighters, the "Mujahedeen" invaded their suburbs, destroyed their homes, vandalized, shut down and occupied their schools, hospitals, media facilities and institutions, kidnapped, humiliated, tortured and with cold blood murdered more than 100 innocent civilians.
It is both a shame and a crime for all of Lebanon's 18 mosaic communities dignitaries and members, and for all Lebanon's clergy, politicians, officials and intellectuals to be demoralized and scared by Hezbollah's rhetoric, and accordingly succumb to its derailed "Khomeini" criteria for treason and patriotism, as well as for good and evil. These criteria that Hezbollah tags as "divine" have been sadly hindering the honorable and safe return of our people from Israel.
We call on Lebanon's President, House Speaker, Prime Minster and all politicians and clergy to help in ending the dilemma of our people in Israel. Their return needs to be a priority, and it must be with honor, dignity, respect and definitely without any kind of farce trials. These people are heroes and not traitors, and every Lebanese with faith and conscience is fully aware of this reality and substantially unshaken tangible fact.
MP Sami Gemayel has taken the initiative in courageously and transparently addressing the dilemma of our people in Israel. Hopefully he with the help and support of other MPs from all Lebanon's religious denominations will soon see that an appropriate amnesty law is drafted and passed in the Parliament, for enough is enough.
History teaches us that nothing in this mortal, earthly life lasts except the face of God, and that all human wicked traits such as injustice, lying, heresy and arrogance, eventually hurt those holding on to them in the face of their fellow men.
We advise all those who evilly and intentionally are inflicting pain and injustice on our people in Israel and arrogantly blocking their return to their homeland, to read the following biblical verse and take notice on how Almighty God rewards the meek and how He takes revenge on the wicked:
"For, behold, the day comes, it burns as a furnace; and all the proud, and all who work wickedness, will be stubble; and the day that comes will burn them up," says Yahweh of Armies, "that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. 4:2 But to you who fear my name shall the sun of righteousness arise with healing in its wings. You will go out, and leap like calves of the stall. 4:3 You shall tread down the wicked; for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I make," says Yahweh of Armies"). (Malachi 4/1-3".
Canadian-Lebanese Human Rights activist, journalist and political commentator
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