Maron al Ras on the Lebanon border
Part I: " Know thy enemy"... Sun TzuOn a clear day, you can see Akka, Palestine from my favorite Lebanese village, Maron al Ras. On any day, but particularly since September 21 of this year, you can also see beefed up IDF military patrols, assorted electronic listening posts and sundry spy devices, new Raytheon-produced surveillance equipment, two new supposedly camouflaged cinder block one room shacks with Zionist soldiers peering out. They frequently glare from widows heavily screened to keep out stones that tourists on the Lebanon side of the "blue line' regularly throw at them when UNIFIL guys aren't paying attention or shoo them away.
You can also see land mine fields, wide soft sand swatches along the wire fences to expose trespassing neighbors' footprints, a couple of orchards, and the edges of three colonial settlements.
The increase in activity along the Blue line, especially near Fatima's Gate is only partially in preparation for the rumored visit of Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in mid-October. He is expected to appear and speak at Maron al Ras, presumably resisting the temptation to cast a few stones in solidarity with the Palestinian intifadas. UNIFIL personnel at the scene reveal that several Israeli military leaders have been visiting the area this past month, including Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi.
It is here in this ancient verdant, war-scarred hillside village of Maron al Ras that tradition asserts that Jesus (Issa) from Nazareth, less than a day's walk to the south, accompanying his mother Mary (Miriam), paused to rest on their trek to a wedding feast at Qana, some 30 km west. At Qana, the site of unspeakable massacres in 1996 and 2006, two of the more than 60 committed by IDF forces over the past six decades, the bearded Palestinian "terrorist", so-listed by the Sanhedrin judges, performed at his mother's request his first miracle.
According to a local priest who conducts tours of the Grotto of the Virgin Mary in Qana, where Mary and her son visited the wedding party, "By turning water into wine, Jesus dutifully fulfilled his mother Mary's request to provide additional refreshment for the larger than expected gathering of nearby villagers." The priest explains to visitors that the parents of the bride and groom wanted to avoid the acute social embarrassment of running out of refreshments and were concerned for the comfort of last-minute, uninvited guests, who they anticipated would arrive for their children's wedding as word quickly spread that Jesus and his mother would be attending.
One guest who is receiving invitations even from
March 14 pro-Saudi
political parties for frank discussions this month and who has already
been invited to Qana, but who probably won't imbibe local the "miracle
by local entrepreneurs will be Ahmadinejad. He is said to be a
devotee of Prophet Issa and Miriam, both venerated in the Koran.
Two lovely and politically passionate Qana villagers (one giggling
and claiming to be a "Shia-Christian" and her friend interjecting "I'm a
Christian-Shia!"), both Muslims who follow the teachings of "Prophet
explained to me that while many Rabbis disparage Jesus' miracle
in Qana by claiming that it was the Hebrew Moses who was first able to
turn water into another substance.
They then gleefully counter that "Moses may well have done, but he turned water into blood as a message of harsh judgment and violence, whereas "our' Palestinian Issa turned water into wine as a message of love, generosity and hospitality." The discussion ended when an American Yeshiva student from Brooklyn appeared and entered the discussion, announcing to the villagers that both Bible stories "suck" and that that when the next war comes Qana may witness itself being miraculously turned into depleted uranium dust.
In both Maron al Ras and Qana, villagers believe it's just a matter of time before Israel will invade Lebanon and it's a subject of rare unanimous sectarian consensus in all of Lebanon. For example, in the course of no more than two hours the other day, while running errands around Beirut, this observer was informed, without even bringing up the subject, by (1) my Shia Muslim Hezbollah motorcycle mechanic patching up my bike after a slight mishap (again!) (2) Miss Idriss, the Maronite Christian lady who works at the corner bank and who truly adores "al Hakim" Samir Geagea, leader of the Lebanese Forces (since 2006, Geagea and the LF has been siphoning off alienated cadres and youth from the ranks of Geagea's rivals including the Gemayals' Phalange and Michel Aoun's Christian pro-Hezbollah Free Patriotic Movement, and (3) my Sunni Muslim greengrocer lady who has absolutely no use for any of the above, that a major war is coming and probably sooner rather than later.
Purveyors of Israeli Hasbara propaganda are also keeping busy with predictions of the inevitability of major war in Lebanon given the alleged rapid arming of the national Lebanese resistance led by Hezbollah, and the Israeli-touted collection of yet more new " ultra-tech super weapons' including robotic insects, new stealth drones, Iron Domes, David Sling I and II missile shields, yet even more improvements to the "impenetrable" Merkava Mark IV tank that took such a beating in 2006 that three countries, including Belgium, cancelled Merkava purchase orders. Israel and its "academic agents" tout more than 20 other spectacular "game changing" technological breakthroughs " just since the 2006 war which, according to Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic & International Studies, likely will not function in real war conditions - despite the largess of the unknowing American taxpayers who pick up the tab for their R & D.
Virtually the whole waterfall of Hasbara studies, many handsomely paid for by various Israel lobby funders, conclude that the next Hezbollah/Israel war will be nothing like the 2006 July War. Hezbollah will supposedly lose to the spruced up, better-equipped and trained Israeli soldiers. Their defeat will not only shatter Hezbollah, but destroy Syria and Iran's political power base and fundamentally changed the political scene in Beirut. This, they confidently predict, will lead to a pro-American and Israel-tolerant realignment of political parties and even achieve the long sought Lebanon- Israel "peace treaty."
Some of the Israeli Lobby think-tank predictions may indeed materialize but history suggests that Israel will not fare well in any renewed attack on Lebanon. It is clear that Hezbollah has been studying its enemy.
Scorecard: Four Hezbollah conflicts with Israeli forces
1985: Hezbollah pushes their Zionist enemy out of the mountain areas
Between 1978 and 1985, Zionist forces occupied approximately 1/3 of Lebanon including 801 towns and villages. The newly forming Hezbollah never stopped its resistance attacks. An important Hezbollah political victory against Israel was achieved on March 5, 1984 when its work to achieve the Lebanese Council of Ministers cancellation of the U.S.-Israel created May 17, 1983 agreement that would have yielded significant Lebanese sovereignty and territory to Israel. Another was the expulsion of foreign "peacekeeping forces" that increasingly attacked the civilian population of Lebanon on behalf of Israel and its local allies.