Give up the gun, go for EMBAs

By Sami Moubayed  (posted by Qifa Nabki)

Gulf News (May 27,2008) 

Three weeks ago, I went to Beirut where everybody was talking of a hot summer and expecting war between Israel and Hezbollah.

Apart from talk of this looming military confrontation between these two parties, residents of Beirut assured me that despite the incredible tensions that have plagued Lebanon for months now, a domestic clash – a prelude for a civil war – was on nobody's agenda.

One friend scoffed, "The Future Movement doesn't even hold arms; they hold EMBAs from American University of Beirut (AUB), not machine guns!"

A neutral analysis of the mid-May conflict puts blame on both Hezbollah and March 14 for resorting to arms, a tactic which, as per the agreement reached at the Doha Conference, they have now promised to refrain from adopting.

I have always argued that disarming Hezbollah is close to impossible, regardless of whether or not its members have a legitimate right to bare such arms.

Napoleon Bonaparte's famed assertion, "I can no longer obey; I have tasted command, and I cannot give it up!" applies to Hassan Nasrallah. Someone with his ambition and character cannot and will not resort to becoming head of a parliamentary bloc in the Lebanese Parliament.

Ideally, since he can neither assume the post of minister or deputy or president, if disarmed, he could best exercise his power by nominating ministers and public officers, a modern-day za'im.

Nasrallah is uninterested in the materialistic world where he can go into retirement and spend the rest of his years in Switzerland. The man, selfless in every sense, is committed to a lifetime combating Israel and promoting, protecting, and empowering the Shiites of Lebanon.

Nasrallah is here to stay in spite of the grumbling of some world powers and regional players. A majority of Lebanese people support him (and his weapons) while those who don't are completely incapable of disarming him.

The United States cannot send United Nations policemen to arrest Nasrallah. Even Israel could not militarily manage to topple him in 2006. The Lebanese government could not disarm or even provoke the Hezbollah leader.

Nasrallah does not and need not take orders from Damascus: the Syrian influence in Beirut has waned, and hence Syria's favour is no longer as necessary to help him pursue his interests.

Nasrallah might, however, step down if given orders from Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of Iran, which funds and provides the religious decree for Hezbollah to operate.

Nasrallah's ambition does not end with the liberation of the occupied Sheba'a Farms, just like it did not end with the Israeli withdrawal of 2000. Sources close to Nasrallah often say, "His ambition is Palestine: Anything short of that is unacceptable to him."

But what about the arms of 'the other?' More alarming than the appearance of armed men loyal to Hariri on the streets of Beirut was how easily they surrendered. There is nothing worse or more dangerous than an amateur militiaman who is neither steadfastly committed to his cause nor certain of his target.

Sa'ad Hariri, who is now recalculating the entire ordeal, must re-read the history of Beirut leaders to understand the nature of their relationships with weapons.

For example, in 1976, Tamam Salam created a militia – a common practice during the civil war – called Pioneers of Reform to fight Yasser Arafat's armed men, who had stormed the house of Tamam's father and ex-prime minister Saeb Salam.

When Saeb heard of his son's action he summoned the future parliamentarian and AUB graduate and angrily asked, "What is this you are doing? Use of arms, my son, is a double-edged sword. You will either kill or be killed! Are you willing to carry the burden of someone's blood?"

Tamam disarmed his short-lived militia and spent his days doing charity work for the residents of Beirut.

Whereas in Tripoli, Omar Karameh, another educated statesman from AUB, created his own militia called the Al Farouk Omar Bin Al Khattab Phalange during the war. His brother, prime minister Rashid, was enraged.

He summoned Omar and said, "We have always had faith in the state and its arms, not on the militias! Having blood on your hands is difficult Omar. Go and disband what you started!"

Omar Karameh, who became prime minister in 1992, complied.

Today, Sa'ad Hariri is a prime minister-in-waiting, likely to succeed Fouad Siniora. He must follow the advice of men such as Saeb Salam and Rashid Karameh and see to it that his followers hold EMBAs, rather than machine guns.

Time has yet to tell whether holding an EMBA and a machine gun are mutually exclusive phenomena in Lebanon. Indeed, Samir Geagea and Walid Junblatt, two veteran warlords, are graduates of AUB.

One reader, who studies in Lebanon, proved my point as she described to me of her journey out of Lebanon during the mid-May battle: "On Thursday, I was trying to escape, crossing the Masnaa borders by car, with the gun shots in the air and the chaos taking over.

"I looked over at a huge crowd whose members were gathered around burning wheels and cars. I recognised most of them: they were among my most brilliant young peers at the university with me.

"I couldn't help the tears running heavily down my face. I could not imagine those young men – Lebanon's future – were so foolish to think of killing their own brothers! And for what? It wasn't not for Lebanon!"

Sami Moubayed is a Syrian political analyst. This article appeared in Gulf News on May 27, 2008.

Comments (112)

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101. SimoHurtta said:

The Israeli team came second in Europe. How about the Finnish team?

AIG we play ice hockey and drive cars, not that only game where Israel has some merits (besides your national sport of target shooting occupied people which civilized people do not consider as a sport). How many medals has Israel got in Olympics? Six, I repeat six. Well Finland has got 295 medals in summer games and 151 in winter games. In the last Formula 1 race there were 2.5 Finns (Rosberg’s father is a Finn and he is one of the 3 Finnish world champions in Formula one) among the six best starters. Sad but in Monaco Finns had not much luck.

By the way AIG how many of the Maccabi team are Jews or even Israelis. Is Vonteego Marfeek Cummings a Jew or Murilo de Rosa, Nikola Vujčić, Terence Morris, Alex Garcia and Esteban Damián Batista Hernández. Well Saudis could any day buy a team which would give more Hizbollah treatment for Maccabi even on Nokia stadium. 🙂

AIG Israel is not in Europe try to understand it. It is shame that Israel is allowed to participate European games / leagues.


Didn’t you AIG to begin to speak about culture and categorising people? You are a racist and a complete joke as a propagandist. Always when you loose an argument, which is ALWAYS, you take as your last escape card that anti-Semitism. You AIG are really not an asset for Israeli propaganda efforts. If your business as a businessman is to make propaganda then the payments for you could be seen as indirect public assistance by Israel, so bad (=naive) is your propaganda.

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June 2nd, 2008, 5:55 pm


102. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Let’s review your latest racist and bigotted remark:
“besides your national sport of target shooting occupied people which civilized people do not consider as a sport”

A few Israelis shot unarmed Palestinians. Therefore this is the Israeli national sport which implies that most Israelis enjoy doing it. With raving antisemites like you, Israel’s position is very easy to defend. You are so delirious that you don’t even realize you are an antisemite, a bigot and a racist.

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June 2nd, 2008, 6:05 pm


103. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Really, were the numerous Hamas suicide bombings during Rabin and Peres times out of despair? No they weren’t. The Palestinians were ruling themselves in larfe areas and receiving tons of money from the international community. Why are you ignoring basic facts. Suicide bombing was chosen as a method to win the war against Israel, but not out of despair, out of the understanding that it was effective.

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June 2nd, 2008, 6:09 pm


104. Shai said:


Let’s separate between these men and women who went on suicide missions, and the groups and leaders that sent them. The latter were indeed the strategists, the cool-headed and calculating militants, while the first were the sad and desperate children of those “happy mothers”. History will judge the leaders of all nations one day, for their chosen methods of war, and for their missed opportunities of peace. But you and I need to understand our responsibility for contributing to the conditions of despair that enabled the unthinkable volunteering or recruitment of these young individuals.

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June 2nd, 2008, 6:23 pm


105. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

You are not going to convince me that the fact that the Palestinians fought their battle for independence in a stupid way is my fault. There was absolutely no reason for them to become desparate. They could have sat down with Israel to discuss peace in 67 but they didn’t. It tool the PLO till 1989 I think to accept Israel. Is that my fault also?

The people sent during the Rabin and Peres period were not desparate by any means. Many of them were well off and even educated. You choose again to ignore facts.

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June 2nd, 2008, 6:30 pm


106. Shai said:


I think both sides missed endless opportunities. But we’re not equal parties. We have F-15i’s, F-16’s, UAV’s, spy-satellites, precision-guided bombs, Merkava tanks, submarines, etc., and they have some AK-47’s, Qassam rockets, TNT, nails and screws, and enough desperate men and women to carry these on their body to fill all of NOKIA stadium in Tel-Aviv. As I stated above, we should not engage in counter-accusations or in who-started-what endless arguments. Instead, we should figure out how we are contributing to this reality, and change it. I don’t care whose fault it is that the Palestinians rejected the 1947 UN resolution calling for the partition of Palestine. I care about what Israel has been doing in those territories since 1967. I don’t care who or what has caused me to be a de-facto Apartheid in the West Bank and Gaza. I care about what Israel has to do to end it. Let Historians deal with who did what. I want to ensure a better future for my children, and for those Palestinian “happy mothers” children. When we end the Occupation, and when the Palestinians can begin to sense freedom, there will be no more mothers “celebrating” the deaths of their children.

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June 2nd, 2008, 6:47 pm


107. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Yeah sure, when we end the occupation there will not be more “happy mothers”. If there were suicide bombers when Rabin and Perese were PMs, there will always be suicide attempts to try free Tel-Aviv. You know that well, why are you trying to paint an imaginary picture?

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June 2nd, 2008, 6:55 pm


108. Shai said:

There will also always be extremists within Israel, who claim that my idea of returning the West Bank to the Palestinians makes me a traitor, and if I participate in the actual handing over of land to an enemy, I could be committing a crime punishable by death. And there will be Baruch Goldsteins, and Yigal Amirs, and others. So? Are we to base our decision making on any principle of absolutism? Of course there will always be crazy people, hateful people, criminals, sociopaths, you name it. They’ll exist in Palestine, in Israel, and even in Finland. So should we not end the Occupation until every last Palestinian signs a sworn declaration that he/she will no longer consider suicide bombing a legitimate way of achieving freedom?

I don’t know why some here on SC are fascinated by Tzipi Livni so much, but in one of her latest idiotic statements, she suggested that the Palestinians will achieve Independence (as if she has any right to determine when or how another people should achieve independence), only when they are ready to remove “Naqba” from their lexicon. A wise psychologist/advisor wrote in an OP-ED the following day, that Livni got it all wrong – that Israel will be able to at last celebrate ITS independence when it adopts “Naqba” into OUR own lexicon!

Let us stop using suicide-bombers as general indicators for anything to do with the Palestinian people, except for their obvious level of despair. I’m not a Psychiatrist, and neither are you, and even if we were, no one is asking us to psychoanalyze the Palestinian people. My eldest daughter, who isn’t even in 1st grade yet, can see the despair in the eyes of those poor Palestinian children in Gaza, as she watches them on TV. You and I have to deal with the fact that our continued Occupation might well cause some of them to blow themselves up on a Tel-Aviv bus one day. If your conscience is “clean” when you see such a thing, because you can detach yourself from these “abnormal” human beings, good for you. Mine isn’t.

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June 2nd, 2008, 7:20 pm


109. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Your ability to rationalize and excuse everything the Palestinians do while always criticizing whatever Israel does is commendable. If it helps your conscience, who am I to stop you? I am sure that if Macabi would have won the European cup you would have been sorry for CSKA. I am not sure though that you would have justified Russian suicide bombings against Israelis but it is quite sad that I am not sure you wouldn’t. You are a strange man.

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June 2nd, 2008, 7:48 pm


110. Shai said:


If “normal” means finding it extremely difficult to condemn our occupation of the Palestinian territories for 40 years and, instead, coming up with every counter-accusation in the book to soothe our conscience, then yes, I guess I prefer to be “strange”.

You know that’s what our argument is all about (our occupation), not some innate ability of mine to always side against Israel. If I was so anti-Israel, would I still be raising my family here? No, I would be living in the U.S., enjoying a higher standard of living, less corruption, less tension, and better basketball… But one is no less-Zionist or less-Israeli by recognizing the crimes our nation has been and is continuing to commit, against another people, and demanding an end to it once and for all. Why you refuse to admit this, I cannot understand.

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June 2nd, 2008, 8:04 pm


111. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

You can certainly condemn the occupation but why do you find it difficult to admit that the situation is just as much the fault of the Palestinians as it is ours and that BOTH sides need to find a solution? And yes, this does matter to the future solution, because when you are not willing to face this fact, you are reducing significantly the chances of finding a slution.

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June 2nd, 2008, 8:31 pm


112. Shai said:


Our entire argument was over our part, not the Palestinians’. Of course I think there’s much to discuss at the table about their part, past, present, and future. Until your last comment, I at least, could not tell you had anything negative to say about our occupation. It seemed anytime I suggested we were occupying and subjugating the Palestinian people, you were bringing up their suicide-bomber “celebrating” culture who chose to fight rather than peace. It seemed you were willing to take no responsibility.

One of the biggest problems we as Israelis seem to have, is to accept criticism (even self-criticism from within) without immediately shifting the spotlight onto cruel Jihadists. It’s almost as if we’re saying the occupation is legitimate as long as there are suicide bombers. I claim it’s not, even if every single Palestinian is a suicide-bomber wannabe. Even if every single Palestinian wants to liberate Tel-Aviv. Even if every single Palestinian is currently building a Qassam rocket in his basement. Even if all Palestinians democratically elect a political party that has on its charter the destruction of Israel, and refuses to recognize us. We still have no right occupying them, subjugating them, suffocating them, or continuing to force our will upon them. It is time we left the Palestinian territories, period.

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June 3rd, 2008, 4:05 am


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