Reprinted from Gush Shalom
Of course not.
So why has the Arab League decided that they are?
So were Israel's Arab parties right when they condemned the league's resolution?
Right, yes. Wise, no.
LET'S START with Hezbollah. Surprisingly enough, it is in a way an Israeli creation.
Lebanon is an artificial state. For centuries, it was considered a part of Syria. Because of its mountainous terrain, it was an ideal place for small persecuted sects, which could defend themselves there. Among them is the Maronite Christian community, called after a monk by the name of Maron.
After World War I, when the victorious Great Powers carved up the Ottoman Empire between them, France insisted on the creation of a Christian Lebanese state under its stewardship. Such a state would have been very small, devoid of a major port. So, unwisely, the territories of various other sects were added to create a larger state, consisting of several mutually antagonistic communities.
There were (a) the Maronites in their mountain bastion, (b) diverse other Christian sects, (c) the Sunni Muslims, who had been settled by the Sunni Ottoman Empire in the major port cities, (d) the Druze, who had split from Islam many centuries earlier, and (e) the Shiite Muslims.
The Shiites are the inhabitants of the South. They were the poorest and weakest sect, despised and exploited by all the others.
In this federation of sects which is Lebanon, the constitution gives each sect a senior job. The president of the state is always a Maronite, the Prime Minister a Sunni, the army commander a Druze. There was nothing left for the poor Shiites, except the post of the Speaker of Parliament, a title without power.
For more than a generation, the Israeli-Lebanese border, which is in practice the Israeli-Shiite border, was Israel's only peaceful one. Farmers on both sides worked in close proximity, without fences, without incidents. The saying was that Lebanon would be the second Arab state to make peace with Israel -- not daring to be the first.
Once in the early 1940s I crossed the unmarked border by mistake. A nice Lebanese gendarme intercepted me and politely showed me the way back.
AFTER THE "Black September" in Jordan (1970), when King Hussein crushed the Palestinian forces, South Lebanon became the new Palestinian base. The quietest border became quite unquiet.
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