[News] Lebanonizing Hezbollah or the obverse?
news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Dec 1 15:18:39 EST 2009
Franklin Lamb Lebanonizing Hezbollah or the
obverse? Updating Resistance Projects
Post Dec 1st, 2009 at 13:19
Dahiyeh, South Beirut - Like many liberation and
resistant movement Manifestos Charters or
Declarations issued to the public early in its
founding the African National Congress,
Palestine Liberation Organization, Hamas,
Algerian FLN, and various Sons of Liberty
groups during the American Revolution, come to
mindHezbollah has been criticized by its
detractors over the years for some language in
its 1985 Open Letter manifesto. Some have
urged Hezbollah to remove controversial
language such as the call for an Islamic
Republic in Lebanon even though the Party has
made clear that establishing an Islamic Republic
of Lebanon is no longer a priority and
emphasizing that Lebanons diversity is
respected, valued and permanent. Others have
called Hezbollahs 1985 manifesto too religious
and too dogmatic for a broad international appeal political document.
Background to Hezbollahs issuing yesterdays rebirth Manifesto
Ideas for Hezbollahs original 1985 Manifesto
evolved over 30 months following the 1982 Israeli
invasion of Lebanon, during which the new
resistance movement worked to establish itself in
the turbulent period of military invasions,
occupations and numerous internal and external
conspiracies against it. Many secret discussions
were held concerning all manner of subjects
including what the new organization would be
called. Many favored the name The Islamic
Movement of Lebanon but before the matter came
up for a vote, another of the more than 20
new local resistance groups preempted that
name. Others thought the name Nation (Umma) of
Hezbollah was more inclusive. Under time
pressure to agree on a name before the Open
Letter was to be issued, the name Hezbollah,
(Party of God) found in the Quran was agreed upon.
The Open Letter, addressed to The Downtrodden in
Lebanon and in the World'" was published on
February 16 1985, a date purposely chosen
because it was the first anniversary of the
Israeli assassination, of the much loved
pre-Hezbollah resistance organizer Sheik Ragheb
Harb, from the south Lebanon village of Jibsheet.
Hezbollah first Manifesto was first read at the
al-Ouzai Mosque, down the hill and near the
Mediterranean seashore, from the Shatila
Palestinian refugee camp, by one of the founders
of Hezbollah, the official spokesman for the
nascent group, Sayeed Ibrahim Amin al-Sayyed, who
has served for 28 years on its Shura Council and
today heads Hezbollahs political
council. Perhaps by coincidence, on the same day
that Hezbollahs public manifesto was issued;
Israel began a 10 week withdrawal from 168 towns
and villages, comprising 55 percent of South Lebanon.
(Comment: With respect to Shatila Camp and
neighboring Burj al Barajneh campand later
Rashidiyye Camp down south in Tyre -it was
several weeks following Hezbollah going public
that the War of the Camps (May 1985-July 1988)
would cause more death and destruction to
Palestinians than the Sabra-Shatila
Massacre. Despite pressure from their fellow
Shia the Amal militia to join them in
attacking the Camps to settle plenty of still
festering pre-1982 scores from PLO abuses and
crimes against the southern Shia, as well as to
help Syria eliminate pro-Arafat partisans and
gain sole control of the Palestinian Card, the
newly organized Hezbollah insisted that its only
enemies were the Israeli occupiers, which it was
busy attacking. At the same time it repeatedly
admonished Amal and Syria to end their assaults
on Palestinian refugee camps. Eventually Syria,
under Soviet and Arab pressure, called a halt to
the criminal attacks, but to this day few
Palestinians have forgiven it for this slaughter
which killed more than 4,000 and wounded close to
7,000. Like Amal, Syria does not like to
discuss this black chapter and some of its officials express regret and shame.)
With its Open Letter declaration Hezbollah
entered a new phase, shifting the Party from
secret resistance activity free from political or
media interactions into public political work.
As noted above, from the day it was promulgated,
some have been advising the Party to amend and
tone down the 1985 language which reflects a
different period of Lebanese history and
international conflict. Others aver that we are
still in the same period only more deeply. The
original Hezbollah manifesto document reflects
various views of the founders as well as the
political thinking of senior Shia cleric Mohammad
Hussein Fadlallah. Some in Dahiyeh still call
Fadlallah the father of Hezbollah not for his
active Party involvement which has never existed
Hezbollah sources attest (not withstanding his
name on the US terrorism list) but for his public
speeches and sermons that inspired a generation
of Resistance fighters in Lebanon and the region and continue to do so.
Need for a clearer view of the Resistance
Some critics have used the Introduction to
Hezbollahs 1985 Open Letter to smear the Party
as religious fanatics and appearing too foreign and too Iranian:
It reads: We are often asked: Who are we, the
Hezbollah, and what is our identity?
We are the sons of the umma (Muslim community)
the party of God (Hizb Allah) the vanguard of
which was made victorious by God in Iran. There
the vanguard succeeded to lay down the bases of a
Muslim state which plays a central role in the
world. We obey the orders of one leader, wise and
just, that of our tutor and faqih (jurist) who
fulfills all the necessary conditions: Ruhollah Musawi Khomeini. God save him!
By virtue of the above, we do not constitute an
organized and closed party in Lebanon.
nor are we a tight political cadre. We are an
umma linked to the Muslims of the whole
World by the solid doctrinal and religious
connection of Islam, whose message God
wanted to be fulfilled by the Seal of the
Prophets, i.e., Muhammad. This is why whatever
touches or strikes the Muslims in Afghanistan,
Iraq, the Philippines and elsewhere reverberates
throughout the whole Muslim umma of which we are
an integral part. Our behavior is dictated to us
by legal principles laid down by the light of an
overall political conception defined by the leading jurist (wilayat al-faqih).
As for our culture, it is based on the Holy
Koran, the Sunna and the legal rulings of the
faqih who is our source of imitation (marja'
al-taqlid). Our culture is crystal clear. It is
not complicated and is accessible to all.
Some Party officials, as well as supporters, felt
Hezbollah needed to issue a new document that
would provide a clearer and wider vision on the
resistance and its current political work and
future social and ideological plan.
Against this backdrop, Hezbollahs 7th Party
Conference drafted a more contemporary 32 page
Manifesto reflecting 28 years of political
maturity. Not to recant its 25 year old Open
Letter but rather to define issues not addressed
in the partys first manifesto and to set its
future political path for homeland of our
fathers, ancestors, grandchildren, and the coming generations."
The detailed document, in Four Parts, provides
many specifics on how Hezbollah plans to work
with the new Unity Government to improve Lebanon
and the lives of its entire population.
Misleading mainstream media reports
For many who rely on MSM reports such as offered
by US and European news outlets a dramatically
skewed view was presented the morning
after yesterdays release of what Hezbollahs
new political program as a large news conference in al Jinen Hall in Dahiyeh.
A typical MSM report on yesterdays event:
Beirut, Lebanon (CNN) Hezbollah's chief on
Monday announced the group's new "manifesto,"
which calls on all countries to "liberate
Jerusalem" and declares the United States a threat to the world.
"American terrorism is the source of every
terrorism in the world," Hassan Nasrallah said in
a televised speech from an undisclosed location.
Hezbollah, a political party in Lebanon, is
listed as a terrorist organization by the United States and Israel.
Nasrallah does not appear in public amid concerns
for his safety. "We invite and call on all Arabs
and Muslims and all countries keen on peace and
stability in the world to intensify efforts and
resources to liberate Jerusalem from Zionist
occupation and to maintain its true identity and
its Islamic and Christian sanctities," Nasrallah said.
Hezbollah has claimed responsibility for numerous
terrorist attacks. It has been linked to attacks
against American, Israeli and other Western
.He praised Iran and Syria, which are Hezbollah's chief backers.
Only then is the reader advised that Hassan
Nasrallah also touched on domestic issues. In
fact Hassan Nasrallah spoke for 80 minutes about
domestic issues, the subject of and reason for the new Hezbollah manifesto.
What the mainstream media failed to report.
Hezbollahs new political program calls for The
elimination of political sectarianism as the main
pre-condition to establish a true democracy as
the Taif Accord stipulated and the formation of a
national council for this end. The Hezbollah
manifesto blames sectarianism for being a strong
obstacle to achieving a true democracy, whereby
the elected majority can rule and the opposition can exercise its role.
Despite Hezbollahs desire for a sectarian-free
democracy, Nasrallah said that until achieving
it, his party accepts consensus democracy
pursuant to the Constitution and National Pact.
Consensus democracy is a suitable political
formula that ensures the participation of all parties, he noted.
Focusing extensively on the domestic level,
Hezbollah, acting as a fully fledged political
party, urged the implementation of administrative
decentralization in order to promote balanced
developmental projects over all Lebanese
territories. It warned against the evolution of
decentralization into any form of federalism as
he expressed the partys opposition to any form
of division, or masked federalism.
"We want a government that works for its citizens
and provides the appropriate services in their
education and medical care and housing to secure
a decent life and to address the problem of
poverty and provide employment opportunities,
the document reads. "We want a government that
works to strengthen the role of women in society
and enhance their participation in all fields.
Nasrallah outlined his partys vision for the
Lebanese state, saying it must guarantee public
liberties, ensure national unity and protect its
sovereignty and independence with a strong and
capable army. He stressed the importance of
modern institutions, an economy built on
agriculture and industry and a strong judiciary.
Hezbollahs new manifesto also calls for a modern
electoral law with accurate electoral
representation and added that the state needs to
cater to its citizens needs, empower the youth
and women and prioritize education.
The new document maps out the partys policy on a
national defense strategy, saying that Lebanon
needs to confront Israeli threats with a popular
resistance supported by the people and a national
army that ensures the countrys stability and
security. "In the absence of strategic balance,
the Israeli threat obliges Lebanon to endorse a
defensive strategy that depends on a popular
resistance participating in defending the country
and an army that preserves the security of the
country in an integrated manner," added
Hezbollahs Secretary-General. Adopting the
choice of the Resistance allowed Lebanon to
achieve real independence and safeguard its sovereignty, he added.
Hezbollahs new political manifesto emphatically
declares that the Palestinians have the right to
resist through all forms, primarily armed
struggle. It pledges Hezbollahs work with all
the Lebanese parties to grant Palestinian
refugees in Lebanon their civil and social
rights, while rejecting naturalization. It also
calls for direct Lebanese-Palestinian dialogue.
Nasrallah cited the 2000 Israeli withdrawal from
the South, their 2005 withdrawal from Gaza, the
2006 July War, the first and second Intifadas as
well as the Hamas takeover of Gaza, and the 2009
Gaza War as victories against Israel.
We assure our constant and continuous support of
the Palestinian people and cause against Israel, he added.
Hezbollah new manifesto also calls on Arab
leaders to review their agreements with Israel
and give up the idea of compromising with it,
especially those who gambled on US administration
policies. Nasrallah added that Israel has
proved that is does not seek peace and uses
negotiations to impose its conditions and to
achieve its gains. Hezbollah hopes the Arab and
Islamic countries would unite and commit to the
liberation of the land and reject the
alternatives of naturalization of Palestinians.
We call on the Arabs to set plans to liberate
Palestinians in Israeli prisons, Nasrallah added.
In its new political declaration, Hezbollah
discusses Lebanons foreign relations, and calls
for the country to maintain its special
relations with Syria because it is a political,
security and economic need dictated by the two
countries interests. It declares that any
negative atmosphere clouding these relations must be removed.
According to Hezbollah, Lebanons relations with
Syria are part of the countrys overall relations
with the Arab world and its confrontation with
Israel. Lebanon is Arab in nature and belonging
and added that its interests necessitate a
commitment to just Arab causes. He called some
Arab countries disputes with Iran as a stab to
the back of Arab causes that only serves Israel and the US.
Hezbollahs new manifesto also stresses the
importance of cooperation between Islamic
countries and described Iran as an important,
central state in the Islamic world
supports resistance movements in our area and
supports Arab and Islamic causes. He added that
the fabrications of contradictions between Iran
and Arab countries is a stab in the back to the
Arab cause, which serves only Israel and the US.
As Hezbollah declares and initiates its outlined
future work deep within the Lebanese polity,
initial Lebanese and international reactions
appear positive according to Hezbollahs media
office. The party now plans to enlist support for
its new manifesto, distributing copies north,
east and west, while keeping many eyes peeled
along the southern border with occupied Palestine.
This mornings Daily Star reports in an exclusive
interview with David Miliband, the UKs Foreign
Minister, that his country intends to increase
contacts and dialogue with Hezbollahs
politicians with European Union members
considering the same. Meanwhile, this mornings
Naharnet.com news bulletin reports that the U.S.
Embassy has denied media reports that U.S.
Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern
Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman will visit Beirut this
week. According to the same report, The
embassy also denied an al-Markaziya news agency's
report that the Obama administration would most
probably replace Michele Sison as U.S. ambassador to Beirut.
Franklin Lamb is doing research in Lebanon and
can be reached at <mailto:fplamb at gmail.com>fplamb at gmail.com
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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