Unanimity or Forced Conformity!!
Like in any other country in turmoil, language is the first victim under the rule of fear and repression. In occupied Lebanon, the word "unanimity" has become one of the most commonly abused and distorted words. Since 1990, it has been shamelessly defiled in each and every crucial matter related to the Syrian occupation and its devastating effects. The controlled media, Syrian-appointed officials and made-in-Syria politicians, as well as numerous clergymen resort to this term rhetorically almost on a daily basis to camouflage their treason and hide from the overwhelming public opposition to the status quo of the occupation.
The "Syrianized" media allege - with a good dose of venom - that the people of Lebanon unanimously support Syria's occupation of their country and go on to brag that it is "necessary, temporary and legitimate", all the while failing to tell the Lebanese people why is it necessary, how temporary, and by whose will is it legitimate? This fallacy of a non-existent unanimity is stretched to encompass the so-called "resistance" by Hezbollah, the fake Arab identity of Lebanon, the Syrian-handpicked members of Parliament, government, and officials, the rhetorical enmity against Israel, the popularity of the president etc. !!!
In reality, the word "unanimity" has been emptied of its actual meaning and made to imply the exact opposite in an Orwellian doublespeak language so typical of all tyrannies and dictatorial regimes.
This language pompously declares that General Emile Lahoud, Lebanon's Syrian-appointed President and self-anointed champion of the "State of Law and Institutions", got the post of President with the unanimity of the Lebanese people. Meanwhile, even the imbeciles in occupied Lebanon know that the puppet General was hand-picked by Hafez Assad, the late Syrian dictator, against the will of the Lebanese people, while the young Assad, Bachar ordered the recent extension of his presidential term for three more years against the majority of the Lebanese aspirations. They also know very well that the Syrian-appointed Parliament of Lebanon had no say in the matter of electing Emile Lahoud other than rubber-stamping Assad's choice.
This language also alleges that the "Taef Accord" was unanimous adopted by the majority of the Lebanese communities, that there is a recently discovered Arab identity to the country, that there is a "unity of fate and track" between Syria and Lebanon (when no one bothered to ask the Lebanese people about it), and that there is enmity in Lebanon towards Israel - which the Lebanese have been unwillingly forced to demonstrate for the past 30 years with the destruction of their country at the same time that Syria itself has strictly adhered to a cease-fire agreement it has with Israel since 1974 on the Golan and not one bullet has ever been fired there across the Syrian-Israeli border.
All of this under the banner of a delusional Syrian Baathist Arab victory over Zionism that has kept Syria in the dark ages, provided hordes of terrorist organizations with the protection to thrive within the Syrian sphere as "freedom fighters", "Mujahedeen", "Fedayeen", and such other labels, and dragged Lebanon into the war trenches against its will.
Why were the Lebanese made to become "plus royalists que le roi", more "Arab" than the Arabs themselves - Jordan and Egypt have exchanged embassies with Israel, and even the Palestinians have recognized the State of Israel? The answer is, unfortunately, because a good chunk of the Lebanese are not Moslem, which makes them guilty of being the "indigenous crusaders", "unbelievers", and "local agents" and "allies" of the West for the mere fact that they are not Moslems.
Meanwhile, reality delineates the mere opposite to all these lies. Everyone knows that the "Taef Accord" was forced on the Lebanese and stuffed down their throats by foreign powers. This Accord was not an agreement among the Lebanese communities. It was a deal made between pre-September 11 America - too eager to sell principles for oil and interests - and its then-friends the Saudis (who hosted the "realpolitik" orgy in the City of Taef). The "Accord" was subsequently militarily executed (at a cost of thousands of Lebanese deaths and Lebanese sovereignty) by the Syrian "allies" of the US-Saudi team, whom the Americans wanted badly in the anti-Saddam coalition of the Gulf War. All three countries, and many other similar "friends" of Lebanon like France, lined up to impose this "Accord" against the will of the Lebanese people who - not surprisingly - were at the time marching in the hundreds of thousands in the streets of Beirut in protest of the Accord and the impending Syrian takeover of their country.
As to the claim that Lebanon is an Arab country with an Arab identity, this fallacy masks the racist and imperialist Pan-Arab Islamic ideology espoused by the Baath Party of Syria (and of Iraq before its liberation) that aims to crush any diversity and pluralism in the region. Because of Lebanon's vibrantly diverse civil society, liberal social traditions, and power-sharing form of government that guaranteed each community a place in the State and the government, the Syrian regime wanted to annihilate the anomaly of Lebanon's distinct identity and its deeply-rooted history of independence and autonomy.
Lebanon is the synthesis of all the Mediterranean civilizations, from their Phoenician roots, through their Greco-Roman history and their pioneering Christian identity, their acceptance of Islam for those who chose it, and more recently their openness to the West, and in this day and age, their quintessentially global character, the Lebanese people are by definition the antithesis of the totalitarian, uniform, monoreligious, and oppressive societies around them.
The fact remains that in Syria, Sudan, Egypt, Algeria, Iraq, Libya, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and every other "Arab" country, the rule is to oppress everything that is not Arab Moslem - Copts, Armenians, Berbers, Maronites, Sudanese Christians, etc. And the Lebanese are no exception, other than their determination to never give up their rights and to live freely in the manner they choose for themselves.
The greatest irony of our time is that while the largest Mosque in the world has been built in the heart of Christendom - in Rome itself - the government of Saudi Arabia makes it punishable by death to display a cross on a pendant, let alone build a church or a temple there. Where is the reciprocity that should be part of the understanding and tolerance the Islamic world claims its own? Where is the fairness that Islam claims to uphold as one of its foundations? Why is Lebanon, the only so-called "Arab" country with a sizable Christian population, also the only one at war with Israel among all the Arab and Islamic countries?
Libya's Moammar Qaddafi has recently relinquished the Pan-Arab Islamic ideology of his Arab "brethren". This tells the whole story of forgery, oppression, selfishness, opportunism and intolerance. One can clearly sense this ongoing identity dilemma of the disguised "unanimity" in the Iraqi cultural and ethnic wars in which where the different Iraqi communities have fiercely rejected the Arabist ideology and are now striving to preserve and maintain their own ethnic identities.
It is a misleading propaganda that portrays the Lebanese as unanimous in supporting Hezbollah's monopoly of the so-called "resistance and liberation war" and its replacing the Lebanese Army in patrolling the border with Israel. In reality, Hezbollah enjoys no support, not even among the Shiite community which is its first victim of oppression and fanaticism. Hezbollah's declared objective to erect an Islamic Mullah regime in Lebanon, similar to Khomeini's in Iran, negates the very essence of Lebanon's constitution that is based on common living, tolerance and multi-culturalism. Hezbollah's decision-making apparatus is not even in Beirut. It is squarely in Tehran and is channeled to Lebanon via Damascus thanks to the Syrian occupation of the country. Khomeini's concept of clerical rule (Vilayet el-Faqih) is cloned in Hezbollah's structure since it is a cleric, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, who is Hezbollah's General Secretary. Nasrallah does not represent the Lebanese people, nor does he represent the Shiite community of Lebanon. He is the representative of the Iranian regime, Syria's ally, in Lebanon.
The continued Israeli occupation of the Shebaa Farms - another fallacy of the "unanimity" program - surfaced only a few days after the UN-certified Israeli withdrawal from South Lebanon in May 2000 in application of UN Resolution 425. Prior to that date, in fact, Syria had for decades denied any claims that Lebanon may have had over the Farms. But Syria, now left without any card in South Lebanon to maintain its justification for occupying its neighbor, and through its appointed Lebanese puppet regime, suddenly abandoned its claims to the Shebaa Farms and fabricated the lie that Israel still occupied Lebanese soil in a bid to justify its ongoing hegemony on Lebanon and to safeguard the military existence of its proxy, Hezbollah.
The Lebanese regime remains in defiance of UN Resolution 425 due to the fact it did not comply and implement the corollary UN Resolution 426 that requires the deployment of the Lebanese army on the border with Israel and assume its obligation in securing the border area. In a super-Orwellian twisting of international law, Syria, and Lebanon in tow, came up with the absurd argument that Lebanon will not send its army to the border because "it is not responsible for protecting the security of the Jewish State". The vast majority of the Lebanese people oppose this situation and keep calling on the regime to abide by the UN mandate to send the army to the South because everyone knows that, once the Lebanese Army is along the border, the war in Lebanon will be over, for good this time. Syria will have no reason to stay in Lebanon, and Hezbollah's raison d'etre will also cease to exist. Sadly, these calls keep falling on deaf ears. Again, one wonders where is that sacred Lebanese "unanimity" on the charade of this "resistance"???
Finally, it is alleged by the puppet government in Beirut that the Lebanese people unanimously hail the so-called "Syrian Lebanese Accords of Brotherhood and Coordination" - dozens of them have been forced on Lebanon since 1990. The people of Lebanon are not even aware of the existence of many of these, let alone their exact number. In fact, their contents have not been made public, and so the public has not been allowed yet to check them. The rubber-stamp parliament in Beirut has been passing these accords without even looking into their texts. Is this what they mean by "unanimity"?
The reality is that Lebanon is an occupied country, ripped of its freedoms and its free-willed decision process. All its officials including the three presidents, government, parliament members, ambassadors, and security leaders, are Syrian handpicked in accordance with the sole criterion of their subservience to the Syrian diktat. The pretense to democracy, made by the regime in Beirut regime and its Syrian Baathist masters, is no more than a charade.
The only genuine public unanimity in occupied Lebanon is the unquestionable rejection by the people of the Syrian occupation and the harm it has caused their country, and for the urgent need to reclaim the country's confiscated independence and implement all outstanding UN Resolutions, especially 1559, calling for Syria to withdraw itself - its army, its intelligence apparatus, its illegal workers, and yes, even its beggars - from the streets of Beirut and the hills of Lebanon.
Once free, the Lebanese are more than capable of taking care of their own affairs and start the laborious journey of rebuilding their country and re-establishing the trust of the international community in it, so that the younger generation of Lebanese who have almost completely given up on their future in their country, can recover their hope and faith in the country of their forefathers.
*Human Rights activist, journalist & political commentator.
*Spokesman for the Canadian Lebanese Human Rights Federation (CLHRF)
*Media Chairman for the Canadian Lebanese Coordinating Council (LCCC)
*Joseph Hitti, President of New England Americans for Lebanon
*Active Lebanese Lobbyist in the USA