Monastery Raid Unites Lebanese Awaiting Pope
By: Edmond Saab Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon).
"Sound independence and true sovereignty cannot be achieved or sustained except on the basis of sound social unity." — Antoine Sa'adeh [Lebanese-Syrian nationalist philospher]
About This Article
In Beirut, awaiting a papal visit, Arab Muslims and Christians are uniting against the "price-tag" attack on a Christian monastery near Jerusalem, writes Edmond Saab, and he urges that both sides make a Jerusalem solution their priority.Publisher: As-Safir (Lebanon)
Papal Guidance… To Jerusalem
Author: Edmond Saab
First Published: September 6, 2012
Posted on: September 10 2012
Translated by: Mike Nahum
As calls multiply for turning Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Lebanon into a historic event that will embody unity among Lebanese — particularly on the Muslim side — the occupied Palestinian territories are witnessing an act of aggression against one of their Christian archaeological sites in the city of Jerusalem: the Christian monastery in Deir al-Latroun west of the city. The Zionist settlers set ablaze one of the Church's entrances to take revenge against the Christians and in response to the Israeli authorities' evacuation of a group of Zionist settlers from one of their illegal settlements. They did not content themselves with arson, but also scrawled anti-Christian hate speech on the monastery's entrance.
The event has stirred outrage among both Muslim and Christian circles, having occurred a mere ten days' from from the pope's arrival in Lebanon where he will sign a papal document addressed to Eastern Christians. They have been made into scapegoats by the hateful 'Price Tag' campaign. All this is taking place in Palestine, the cradle of Christianity, in the city where Christ was crucified.
The reactions to this event, especially from the Muslim side, have hastened to express solidarity between the various elements of the Palestinian people. For Israeli aggression against Palestinians does not bother to distinguish between Muslim or Christian. Their overarching goal is to take control over all the Palestinian territories, including their holy places, expel the Arab inhabitants, and establish an ethnically and religiously "pure" Jewish state.
The events transpiring in Palestine will, presumably, imbue the pope's visit with a special significance for all Lebanese, including the Christians. They had been already been included in a papal document addressed specifically to them and presented by Pope John Paul II in the late 1990s. It addressed their divisions and conflicts — or better, their internal wars — which had cost them so much influence in domestic matters. Their division marginalized their role in political life, rendered them subservient to the major leaders of other sects, and convinced them to despair of continuing to live together, so that they withdrew into their own geographic enclaves. There are those in the West, and especially in Europe, who propose solving their dilemma with one 'settlement' scheme or another, designed to resemble the cantons of Switzerland. This view has gained ground as of late, moving out of the realm of whispers and into open advocacy by some senior European officials. It has even been included in official European reports.
This is a grievous wound to the Lebanese — the Muslims among them before the Christians — and to Arabs witnessing the extent of Israel's mounting influence among some Arab regimes, as well as the damage being done to Palestine. This is being carried out thanks to the support the Zionist enterprise receives for dividing and fragmenting the region as a first step to taking control over it.
Current events in Syria, and the forces battling there, have escalated beyond the framework of government reforms into a mini-war that has exposed the complicity of some Arabs in an enterprise seeking to give Israel control over the region.
This explains the importance of the latest statement by Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah made during an interview with Al-Mayadeen TV. The interview was on the re-shuffling of priorities for Arab regimes, in particular the Islamist-dominated regimes in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya [sic].
Palestine, said Nasrallah, remains at the top of the list of priorities for these regimes. He warned against US and Israeli attempts to "take the Palestinian cause outside the priorities of the Arab peoples and irrelevant to their concern. Wars, insurrections, and border conflicts have fallen in the laps of the Arab peoples, [in an attempt] to put Palestine at the bottom of their list of priorities."
"Palestine and Jerusalem are a moral and religious responsibility. Palestine is the creed of any resistance movement and no disagreement can be allowed to undermine this basic orientation," he said.
Against this backdrop, the Christians of Lebanon appear to be a weak link, despite their former identity as one of the strongest links, because they have lost their compass. They have lost themselves in a welter of chimerical projects that sapped their strength in absurd wars. At one time they battled the Palestinians and the Muslims, at another time they fought among themselves. In the process, they destroyed those regions that they had built by the sweat of their brow. They have paid the price for this in the loss of key positions of authority. They also discovered too late, in the Mountain War [of 1983] especially, that they fell into a trap planted by Israel.
The Christians in Lebanon need both the pope and the patriarch [of the Maronite Church Beshara Rai] to articulate a new culture that distinguishes between Zionism and Judaism and lays the foundations for a new social contract that will embrace national life in all respects — land, nation, and state — on a basis of equality, justice, citizenship and the rule of law. Such a life that would not find itself disturbed by Muslim students praying in a Christian university, or consider this a challenge to Christianity and Christians; such a life that would not be perturbed by Muslims buying land in Christian areas in order to build an integrated residential complex.
We must place Jerusalem in the heart of Beirut, where the pope will pray and hold Mass. Nay, more than this, we must place Jerusalem in the heart of every believer, whether he be Christian or Muslim.
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