di GHASSAN BRIDI
“There should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia. The time for double standards that allow Islamists to behave aggressively toward us while they demand our weakness and submission is over.”— Newt Gingrich
Has Lebanon officially become more tolerant and progressive than the United States?
Let’s talk about Lebanon’s Ground Zero and you can decide for yourself.
One must first understand what “Ground Zero” means to most Lebanese.
In a country with about the same land mass as Los Angeles County which has been at war off and on for nearly four decades, “Ground Zero” for the Lebanese is arguably their entire country—and at the center of their Ground Zero is downtown Beirut, captured and occupied by the Israeli Defense Force in 1982 and which was almost entirely reduced to rubble from Muslim West Beirut to Christian East Beirut, and all points in between.
Once upon a time not too long ago, there was scarcely a building left standing or unscarred by shrapnel in all of Beirut. I know, because I was in Beirut in 1991, and witnessed first hand a city once described as “the Paris of the Middle East” reduced to ruins, pot marked with unexploded munitions and a haphazzard “network” of open sewers.
Miraculously, Beirut was rebuilt and reclaimed its prominence. It once again became the jewel of the Arab world, remarkably able to bridge the ancient mystique of the east with the modern allure of the west.
Upon the first completion of its “rebuilding” process however–after 15 years and tens of billions of dollars spent on reconstructing Lebanon and its Ground Zero from rubble to splendor, Israel did what Israel does…
In July and August of 2006, Israel again followed through on its promise to “bomb Lebanon back into the Stone Age,” and in so doing displaced 1,000,000 Lebanese civilians (nearly a quarter of the country’s population), completely destroyed the country’s infrastructure (again), its only airport, at least 64 bridges, leveled entire buildings and neighborhoods to rubble (again), including the country’s largest milk factory, a food factory, two pharmaceutical plants, water treatment centers, power plants, grain silos, a Greek Orthodox Church, several mosques, and a handful of hospitals (in a country which only had a handful of hospitals to begin with).
Over 1,200 hundred Lebanese civilians were killed and over 5,000 wounded.
Israel routinely talks about “proportionality” when comparing their “terrorism deaths” to American 9/11 deaths. In order to shock the sensibilities of a gullible American public, they portray a figure “in American terms,” by multiplying their dead by a number which reflects their population in comparison to the American population.
Well, what’s good for the Israeli goose is good for the Lebanese gander. I will play their game: 1,200 dead Lebanese civilians are the “proportional equivalent” to 90,000 American dead when accounting for the two countries’ population differences. Therefore, according to Israeli goose math, that’s the equivalent of roughly thirty 9/11’s Israel exacted on Lebanon in July and August 2006 over the course of 34 days—nearly one 9/11 a day for an entire month without relent.
Incidentally, July and August of 2006 only tell a small part of the story when it comes to Israeli aggression against Lebanon. There have been decades of invasion, devastation, and occupation which predated 2006. Several thousands of Lebanese have been killed at the hands of the Israeli Defense Force. Tens of billions of dollars of damage have been levied on the Lebanese infrastructure and private and public property courtesy of the IDF over the course of decades.
“Ground Zero” for Lebanon is an ever expanding, never ending, open wound that never heals.
So what now Newt?
Should you expect the Lebanese to allow a synagogue to be built on their Ground Zero, in the aftermath of a 9/11 that occurred 5 years after ours and which, “proportionately” speaking, was 30 times the size of ours?
Well guess what you hateful, misguided, twit?
In the process of re-building Beirut yet again, in 2008, renovations began and have now been completed on the Maghden Abraham Synagogue located in the middle of newly renovated downtown Beirut in an area known as the “Solidere” which has become the focal point and showcase of Lebanon’s rebirth.
This isn’t some hole in the wall, nondescript, “excuse me” synagogue hidden out of view so as to not “offend” Lebanese non-Jews—this is an elaborate, ornate, beautifully designed, cathedral-style house of worship built for a Lebanese Jewish population that totals less than 500 in a country of more than 4,000,000 (in stark contrast to the eight million American Muslims living in the United States).
And wait until you hear Hezbollah’s response to the building of this Ground Zero Synagogue.
(To those expecting a Newt Gingrich equivalent response, prepare to be woefully disappointed).
Courtesy of Hassan Nasrallah himself: “We respect Judaism, just as we respect Christianity. Our only problem is with Israel.”
Did you hear that Newt (and the rest of you idiots)?
An Arab democracy, with a Muslim Prime Minister and a Christian President, allowed the building of a synagogue, squarely in the center of their “Ground Zero” in the heart and pride of downtown Beirut which used to be a dumping ground for Israeli military ordinances.
An Arab democracy allowed this, without so much as a protest being made by its citizens, or allegations by politicians that this was sacrilege, or hateful commentary by the media that the Jewish faith was barbaric, or any of the other stupidity I have seen and heard plastered all over American television, talk radio, and internet-blogs regarding a certain “Ground Zero Mosque” and the Islamic faith.
Regardless of whether you perceive Israel to be justified in perpetrating the devastation it did on Lebanon is irrelevant. The purpose of this article is not to debate that. What cannot be debated, is that Israel (a Jewish State, flying a Jewish flag) unleashed hell on Lebanon for 34 straight days in July and August of 2006 (and for decades prior in its wars against Lebanon). Regardless of whether or not you feel Israel had a right to do that, you cannot deny that Lebanese civilians harbored, and continue to harbor, a very real resentment against the government of Israel—this Jewish state—for those actions and the devestation those actions caused.
Yet these very Lebanese, who are so quickly labeled as “blood thirsty terrorists” by Newt Gingrich and his army of xenophobic morons, were able to draw a distinction between the Jews “flying those planes” in July and August of 2006 working at the behest of the Israeli government, and the Jews whom are citizens of Lebanon who had no connection with those attacks.
Lebanon rebuilt that Ground Zero Synagogue for its Jews.
Not for Israel. Not for the world’s Jewry. Not as a monument to mark a “Jewish victory” over Lebanon.
Lebanon rebuilt that Ground Zero Synagogue because its Jews lived in that neighborhood and they had every right to build a house of worship in a place they called home.
For crying out loud, Hassan Nassrallah and Hezbollah can even draw the distinction between a Lebanese Jew and an Israeli soldier who happens to be a Jew. So how is it that Americans can’t distinguish between American Muslims who were victims of 9/11 and Saudi Muslims who were the perpetrators of 9/11?
Thank you Mr. Gingrich for allowing Hassan Nasrallah and Hezbollah to outclass you and the Republican Party (and you Democrats aren’t too far behind–yes Harry Reid, I’m talking to you). When the former Republican Speaker of the House and the current Democratic Senate Majority Leader start sounding less tolerant and less reasonable than a “terrorist,” we need to start sounding the alarm bells.
What a sad state of affairs for America.
23 Agosto 2010