Lebanon’s Hatred of Israel
- The animosity of Lebanon towards Israel continues today only because it provides a convenient excuse for Hizballah to maintain a formidable arsenal that it uses to control Lebanon and to help its allies in Syria.
- If Lebanon had prevented terrorist attacks from its territory against Israel, not one bullet would have been exchanged between the two countries. Today, Lebanon would be enjoying diplomatic relations with Israel, and the benefits of successful trade.
Lebanon has many problems, including sectarian divisions, Iranian influence, spillover from the Syrian civil war, the weakness of its army, the ineffectiveness of its politicians, and the very existence of Hizballah, but Israel’s existence next door is not one of them.
The animosity of Lebanon towards Israel continues today only because it provides a convenient excuse for Hizballah to maintain a formidable arsenal that it uses to control Lebanon and to help its allies in Syria.
Lebanon has a law forbidding its citizens from interacting with Israeli citizens. As Michael J. Totten wrote:
“Lebanese citizens aren’t allowed to have any communication of any kind with Israelis anywhere in the world. If citizens of the two countries meet, say, on a beach in Cyprus or in a bar in New York, the Lebanese risks prison just for saying hello.”
The Lebanese online news source NOWexplains that law in detail. Even a dual citizen (of Lebanon and Canada for example) could be jailed for interacting in the most innocuous way with an Israeli.
The Lebanese delegation, for example, recently refused to share a bus with the Israeli delegation at this year’s Olympic Games in Rio, prompting the Israeli minister of culture and sports to describe the incident as, “anti-Semitism, pure and simple, and the worst kind of racism.” The incident was, however, hardly surprising, considering the history of Lebanese animosity towards Israel.
Only one of many incidents of pettiness and bigotry
The Olympics incident is unfortunately not unique.
Incidents in the entertainment industry have been just as visible. In Lebanon’s only attempt to enter the Eurovision song contest, its contestant Aline Lahoud was forced to withdraw in 2005 after Lebanon would not allow the program to be broadcast because it included a performance by an Israeli. Despite his huge popularity in Lebanon, the Jewish Moroccan-French comedian,Gad Elmaleh, was forced to cancel his performances at a 2009 Lebanese festival due to what Reina Sarkis, a Lebanese psychoanalyst living in France, described as Hizballah’s “intellectual terrorism”. In June 2010, a boycott targeted the British Rock band Placebo, performing in Lebanon, resulting in a lawsuit by the Lebanese concert promoter against the groups that organized the boycott. Popular Belgian-Italian singer Lara Fabian cancelled a concert in Lebanon in 2012, after she was the target of threats for supporting Israel.
Such incidents have occurred in academia as well. In March 2010, Palestinian scholar Sari Hanafi, a professor at the American University
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