The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL)


Whose Mission is it fulfilling?

lebanon-flag.gifFranklin Lamb
UN Headquarters
Naquora, Lebanon
peoplesgeography.com

Ever since one of this student’s favorite Professors, Dr. Ruth Widmeyer, an accomplished and rare beauty still, who was the first woman to receive a PhD in Soviet Studies from Harvard nearly a half century ago, announced to our Political Science class at Portland State University that our class would be representing France at the Model United Nations Session in San Diego, Lamb was smitten: both with Professor Widmeyer and with the United Nations.

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Franklin Lamb: Driving Miss Condi

It was one of those bleak, wet and cold London mornings back on January 18, 1990 when this observer exited the Marks and Spencer’s store on Oxford Street, having purchased a Scottish Shetland wool cardigan for protection against the damp chill. As he walked to the Underground he noticed that some of the London street corner tabloids were running full page photos of his former boss, the Mayor of Washington DC.

The police photo showed Marion Shepilov Barry, Jr. finally caught in a police sting after a decade of government attempts, pulling hard on a hit of crack cocaine after complaining to his sister, Ms. Hazel ‘Rasheeda’ Moore that she was taking too long in the Vista Hotel bathroom and her presence would be appreciated in the bedroom.

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Franklin Lamb: Does “Loving Lebanon” Mean the Bush Administration Never Has To Say It’s Sorry?

Franklin Lamb reflects upon the recent term of Bush administration-appointed (to Lebanon) and former Israel-posted US Ambassador to Lebanon Jeffrey Feltman.

feltman_jeffrey_.gifBefore his appointment as US Ambassador to Lebanon in July 2004 and commencement in August of that year, Mr. Feltman served at the Coalition Provisional Authority office in Irbil, Iraq, from January-April 2004. Prior to this, as Franklin Lamb mentions in his article below, he served for seven years in Israel.

Fouad Siniora’s government in Lebanon has been dubbed “Feltman’s Government” by several opposition parties in Lebanon.

See also this Daily Star Editorial (20 Oct): There’s a better – and cheaper – way that Washington can help Lebanon (URL updated: now direct link; for all Daily Star editorials, click here)

As US Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman packs his bags and prepares to depart Lebanon for his next assignment, he probably should be forgiven for feeling a bit abused these past few months.

His pique surfaced on October 22 when he rudely insulted his host, his Christian eminence Bishop Mattar specifically, and Lebanese journalism in general when he likened it to a court clown tasked with bringing him some laughter in the morning which helps him forget his Lebanese concerns. Beirut’s media, including Al Safir, has been having a field day commenting on the American Ambassador’s unprecedented pro Israel activities while claiming to “love Lebanon.”

Talal Salman, editor in chief of As-Safir in Beirut wrote on October 24:

If there had been a true state in Lebanon, the America ambassador in Beirut Jeffery Feltman would have been “deported” back to his country. … Never in the history of relations between countries has a foreign ambassador given himself such license to interfere, through public and secret personal communications, daily televised statements, and written journalistic columns of late, in the most critical of internal affairs of the state to which he was sent.

Salman continued:

As for the (Hezbollah led) opposition, the ambassador is persistent in his attacks on it and on its political committees, prominent figures, and leaders as if he was a citizen of this country or one of its prominent figures in the legal, constitutional, and popular sense. The ambassador often goes beyond all borders as he does not settle for defending Israel against the accusations that it waged a destructive war on Lebanon for paltry excuses. He forgets all the facts and insists on announcing that Hezbollah is responsible for all the material and humanitarian losses that Lebanon suffered while the whole world knows that Feltman’s administration back in Washington forced its eternal ally Ehud Olmert to escalate the situation from a routine border engagement to a war for which the Israelis were not prepared, which in turn forced Olmert to work to cause the maximum suffering in Lebanon to make up for Israel’s loss of prestige following the defeat of its invincible army… The most that the Lebanese can hope for now is that this ambassador can leave us alone before the fire, which he keeps fanning, spreads and burns what is left of Lebanon.

Another columnist wrote: “… we thank the American ambassador for spending his last days in Lebanon and we hope that he will be successful wherever he goes next and that what befell Lebanon during his tenure will not befall Ambassador Feltman’s future destinations…”

In fairness to the Ambassador, his assignment has not been easy. Being a US Ambassador these days in the Middle East involves more than ribbon cuttings, and Friday night Beer blasts with the marine embassy guards and keeping visiting and loquacious US officials under wraps.

Following a total of nearly seven years service in Israel, at both the US Embassy and the US Consulate, Foreign Service Officer Feltman was sworn in as US Ambassador to Lebanon on July 22, 2004, with the help of former US Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk, an ardent Zionist and current Washington DC based activist for AIPAC and an Arab/Muslim bashing mouthpiece for the Israel Lobby. Feltman acquired Indyk’s support to be Israel’s man in Lebanon during the year (2000-2001) they worked together in Israel. Feltman was Ambassador Indyk’s Special Assistant.

But, no sooner had Feltman arrived in Beirut than he was handed a thick file which included nearly a dozen unfinished projects. They were not just your everyday, easy make work projects and he has failed at every one of them.

According to a Staffer at the Lebanon Desk at the State Department (202-644-4000) who was not authorized to speak publicly on this subject: “State expected Feltman to advance at least some of this shit!” indicating a list fairly well known to Foggy Bottom denizens. Some of the items:

* Formulate ways to weaken Hezbollah and the influence of the Lebanese Resistance in Lebanese politics and the Region

* Sharply reduce, with the eventual objective of elimination, Syrian and Iranian influence in Lebanese politics and help identify their “assets.”

* Conduct and coordinate with visiting US officials, on site visits and undertake discussions with Tripoli/Bignin/Akkar Sunni groups with respect to a possible joint US-Lebanese Airbase at Kleiaat

* Analyse the feasibility of a North Lebanon Sunni Army to check the Southern Shia military power

* Facilitate the establishment of a new Shia political party in the Tyre area in order to counter and weaken Amal and Hezbollah

* Analyze the prospects of a civil war in Lebanon involving March 14 Christians and Sunni Muslims against (Aounist) Christians and Shia Muslims

* Investigate and analyze the possibility of Lebanon being divided into Autonomous Regions a la Iraq.

* Advance the plans to build an enlarged and more secure US Embassy in Baabda

* Bolster the acceptance and popular standing in Lebanon of the Maronite Lebanese Forces and the Druze Socialist Party led by Samir Geagea and Walid Jumblatt respectively. (Meanwhile, Feltman’s bosses in Washington were telling Walid Jumblatt this week that he can count on US military help for the “autonomous zone” he dreams about to combat Hezbollah and the Lebanese Resistance)

* Continue analysis of the feasibility of a US-Lebanese Strategic Alliance with a possible NATO aspect

And the list goes on…

Feltman’s current schedule and recent burden has been to try to answer a host of questions which have arisen inside Lebanon and throughout the Middle East over the US-Israel project for the region. One aspect is the above noted “strategic alliance” complete with “forward power projecting military bases” widely believed to be planned for Lebanon. Last week, Eric Edelman, US undersecretary of Defense for Strategic planning seemed to promote its importance when he met with a number of civilian and military officials during his visit here and sat for a television interview in which he uttered clear statements that clearly refuted what ambassador Feltman had denied publicly.

The “strategic alliance” project, is confirmed by more than one high-ranking American official in Washington and is being studied in the State Department, the Senate Armed Services Committee and Intelligence Committee Chaired by Bush Administration critic Patrick Leahy.

In his frustration, Feltman, according to Beirut’s As Safir, revealed (in his response to their reporting of a new strategic US-Lebanon alliance) “a number of military secrets unknown to anyone in Lebanon about military bases on Lebanese soil that have been around for more than 30 years but have never been noticed by any other ambassador before him, or even by a military attaché or even by a single border smuggler.”

The State Department is not happy about this and the Ambassador’s end of assignment Evaluation Report being compiled on the 5th floor of the State Department at Foggy Bottom may reflect his verbal indiscretions and remarkable lack of success in advancing objectives of the Welch Club. For an ambitious FSO, the Lebanon posting is normally not a great career advancer.

In proper and fair minded defense of Jeffrey Feltman, it must be publicly acknowledged that he has not “lost Lebanon” by himself. The Bush administration has lost Lebanon by intensifying more than 30 years of wrongheaded policies that harmed both Lebanon and the national interests of the American people as well as the whole of the Middle East and beyond.

Nor is Feltman the first ambassador to be saddled with mixed signals from home while trying to explain to his host country what his government has in mind. But one of Feltman’s problems is that the Lebanese public, throughout the 18 confessions and beyond, are highly literate, sophisticated politically, and have an excellent idea what the Bush administration intends despite the latter’s obfuscations.

Feltman’s tough job has been to convince Lebanon to be grateful for his service and remember the fact that before the July 2006 Israeli aggression, US aid to their country was nil and was only increased with his help after the July War to nearly 250 million with promises of eventually up to possibly a half billion dollars. Not much compared to the total annual US largesse of over 8 billon dollars to Israel (on and under the table) but then again, as they say in this observer’s DC neighborhood, “dog, that ain’t chump change.”

2006117-demo-lebanon.jpgIt required all Jeffrey’s diplomatic skills to try to make the people of Lebanon forget that he helped prolong the July 2006 slaughter by pushing on them the “birth pangs of the new middle east” message of his boss Ms. Rice, and to overlook his demands for Lebanese gratitude and patience during the war while more and more civilians were killed until ” a sustainable ceasefire could be arranged”.

During the last days of his tenure, Feltman habitually reminds his Lebanese audiences of “the martyrs of the Lebanese army who fell in the fight against Fatah Al-Islam terrorists” while forgetting the martyrs from the same army killed by US planes supplied to Israel and equipped with American-made bombs while they were sleeping in their barracks and tents between the 12th of July and the 13th of August, 2006.

Feltman inherited a lot of pitfalls and he faced a daunting task because history has rather thoroughly condemned the Bush administration in American eyes as well as in the minds of the people of the Middle East. Bush Administration credibility in Lebanon is zero.

Feltman failed and the US lost Lebanon, for at least the foreseeable future, for a number of reasons including Bush administration support for Israel’s continuing occupation of Palestine and intensification of human rights violations there and the US aggression in Iraq.

Foreigners living in Lebanon are often amazed and the level of knowledge among the population here, which includes thousands of Iraqi refugees, and how they can rattle of the statistics on Iraq: 3,847 US soldiers dead, nearly 28,999 wounded, but over 600,000 Iraqi casualties and two million Iraqi refugees and two million internally displaced. This pipeline of information direct from the Iraqi refugees in Lebanon and nearly 1.5 million taken in by Syria convince Lebanon that the Bush war in Iraq and the nearly incalculable and mounting death toll was all for nothing. Absolutely nothing. Most Lebanese want no part of US projects in their country.

A History and Fine Arts major in college, Feltman sometimes sounds “preachy” when he frequently threatens no economic aid to Lebanon “unless it fully implements UN Resolutions.” Those he has in mind include Security Council Resolution 1559 “disarming militias,” not SCR 425, or 1701 both of which require Israel to withdraw from Lebanese territory including Shebaa Farms and Ghajar, and stop its nearly daily violations of Lebanese sovereignty.

Some Lebanese don’t grasp Feltman’s meaning when he regularly states “the United States will support the Lebanese people’s choice for a freely elected President as long as there is no outside interference, or undue influence from terrorist or undemocratic forces.” That there is daily “interference from US outsiders” is pointed out nearly every Friday by the senior Shia cleric Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah during his weekly sermons in Haret Hreik.

In the final analysis, Jeffrey Feltman’s work record, including his nearly 7 years in Israel and 40 months in Lebanon suggests that Israel arranged for Feltman to be posted to Lebanon to do Israel’s work.

In that task, he succeeded, but many of the nearly 50,000 US citizens in Lebanon think we Americans can do better next time by bringing in an envoy that will put American and Lebanese interests before Israel’s.

Franklin Lamb is author of the recently released book, The Price We Pay: A Quarter Century of Israel’s Use of American Weapons in Lebanon. His volume Hezbollah: A Brief Guide for Beginners is due out in early summer 2007. He can be reached at fplamb@gmail.com. Click here to read Franklin Lamb’s other articles.

The 25th Anniversary of the Massacre at Sabra-Shatilla

Will anyone remember? Does anyone really care anymore?

Franklin Lamb

Martyrs Square
Sabra-Shatilla Palestinian Refugee Camp
Beirut

A Letter to Janet

Dearest Janet,

It’s a very beautiful fall day here in Beirut today. Twenty-five years ago this week since the September 15-18, 1982 Massacre at the Palestinian refugee camps at Sabra-Shatilla. Bright blue sky and a fall breeze. It actually rained last night. Enough to clean out some of the humidity and dust. Fortunately not enough to make the usual rain-created swamp of sewage and filth on Rue Sabra, or flood the grassless burial ground of the mass grave (the camp residents named it Martyrs Square—one of several so named memorials now in Lebanon) where you once told me you that on Sunday September 19, 1982, you watched, sickened, as families and Red Crescent workers created a subterranean mountain of butchered and bullet-riddled victims from those 48 hours of slaughter. Some of the bodies had limbs and heads chopped off, some boys castrated, Christian crosses carved into some of the bodies.

time-1982-cover-sabra-and-shatila.jpgAs you later wrote to me in your perfect cursive:

“I saw dead women in their houses with their skirts up to their waists and their legs spread apart; dozens of young men shot after being lined up against an ally wall; children with their throats slit, a pregnant woman with her stomach chopped open, her eyes still wide open, her blackened face silently screaming in horror; countless babies and toddlers who had been stabbed or ripped apart and who had been thrown into garbage piles”.

Today Martyrs Square is not much of a Memorial to the upwards of 1,700 mainly women and children, who were murdered between Sept. 15-18. You would not be pleased. A couple of faded posters and a misspelled banner that reads: “1982: Saba Massacer”, hang near the center of the 20 by 40 yard area which for years following the mass burial was a garbage dump. Today, roaming around the grassless plot of ground is a large old yellow dog that ignores a couple of chicken hens and six peeps scratching and pecking around.

Since you went away, the main facts of the Massacre remain the same as your research uncovered in the months that followed. At that time your findings were the most detailed and accurate as to what occurred and who was responsible.

The old 7 storey Kuwaiti Embassy from where Sharon, Eytan, Yaron, Elie Hobeika, Fradi Frem and others maintained radio contact and monitored the 48 hours of carnage with a clear view into the camps was torn down years ago. A new one has been built and they are still constructing a Mosque on its grounds.

I am sorry to report that today in Lebanon, the families of the victims of the Massacre daily sink deeper into the abyss. No where on earth do the Palestinians live in such filth and squalor. “Worse than Gaza!” a journalist recently in Palestine exclaims.

A 2005 Lebanese law that was to open up access to some of the 77 professions the Palestinians have been barred from in Lebanon had no effect. Their social, economic, political, and legal status continues to worsen.

“It’s a hopeless situation here now,” according to Jamile Ibrahim Shehade, the head of one of 12 social centers in the camp. “There are 15,000 people living in one square kilometer.” Jamile runs a center which provides basic facilities such as a dental clinic and a nursery for children. It receives assistance from Norwegian People’s Aid and the Lebanese NGO, PARD. “This whole area was nothing before the camps were here and there has been very little done in terms of building infrastructure,” Shehade explained.

Continued misery in the camps has taken a heavy psychological toll on the residents of Sabra and Shatilla, aid workers here say. Tempers run high as a result of frustration from the daily grind in the decrepit housing complex. In all 12 Palestinian camps in Lebanon tensions and tempers rise with increasing family, neighborhood, and sect conflicts. Salafist and other militant groups are forming in and around Lebanon’s Palestinian camps but not so much here in the Hezbollah controlled areas where security is better.

In Sabra-Shatilla, schools will run double shifts when they open at the end of this month and electricity and water are still a big problem.

According to a 1999 survey by the local NGO Najdeh (Help), 29 percent of 550 women surveyed in seven of the 12 official refugee camps scattered across Lebanon, have admitted being victims of physical violence. Cocaine and Hashish use are becoming a concern to the community.

There is some new information about the Sabra-Shatilla Massacre that has come to light over the years. Few Israelis but many of the Christian Lebanese Forces, following the national amnesty, wanted to make their peace and have confessed to their role. I have spoken with a few of them.

Remember that fellow you once screamed at and called a butcher outside of Phalange HQ in East Beirut, Joseph Haddad. At the time he denied everything as he looked you straight in the eye and made the sign of the cross. Well, he did finally confess 22 years later, around the time of his youngest daughters Confirmation in his local Parish. Your suspicions were indeed correct. His unit, the second to enter the camp, had been supplied with cocaine, hashish and alcohol to increase their courage. He and others gave their stories to Der Spiegel and various documentary film makers.

Many of the killers now freely admit that they conducted a three-day orgy of rape and slaughter that left hundreds, as many as 3,500 they claim, possibly more, of innocent civilians dead in what is considered the bloodiest single incident of the Arab-Israeli conflict and a crime for which Israel will be condemned for eternity.

Your friend, Um Ahmad, still lives in the same house where she lost her husband, four sons and a daughter when Joseph, a thick-set militiaman carrying an assault rifle bundled everyone into one room of their hovel and opened fire. She still explains like it was yesterday, how the condoned slaughter unfolded, recalling each of her four sons by name, Nizar, Shadi, Farid and Nidal. I asked Joseph if he wanted to sit with Um Ahmad and seek forgiveness and possible redemption since he has now become a lay cleric in his Parish. He declined but sent his condolences with flowers.

Do you remember Janet, how we used to walk down Rue Sabra from Gaza Hospital to Akka Hospital during the 75 day Israeli siege in ‘82, as you used to say “to see my people”? Gaza Hospital is gone now. Occupied and stripped by the Syrian-backed Amal militia during the Camp Wars of ‘85-87. Its remaining rooms are now packed with refugees. One old lady who ended up there recited how it’s her fourth home since being forced from Palestine in 1948. She survived the Phalangist attack on and destruction of Tel a Zaatar camp in 1976, fled from the Fatah al Islam Salafists in Nahr al Bared Camp in May of this year and wore out her welcome at the teeming and overwhelmed Bedawi camp near Tripoli last month.

Most of your friends who worked with the Palestine Red Crescent Society are gone from Lebanon. Our cherished friend, Hadla Ayubi has semi-retired in Amman; Um Walid, Director of Akkar Hospital, finally did return to Palestine following Oslo, still with the PRCS. And its President, Dr. Fathi Arafat, your good friend, passed away in December of 2004 in Cairo less than a month after his brother Abu Ammar died in Paris. They both loved you for all you had done for their people.

That trash dump near the Sabra Mosque is now a mountain. Yesterday I did a double take as I walked by because I saw three young girls–as sweet and pretty as ever I have seen –maybe 7 to 9 years old in rags picking through the nasty garbage. Their arms were covered with white chemical paste. Apparently whoever sent them to scavenge sought to protect them from disease. As I climbed through the filth to give them my last 6,000 LL ($4) they managed a smile and giggle when I slipped on a broken thin plastic bag of juicy cactus fruit skins and plunged to my knees.

In some areas of the camps there are mainly Syrians. Selling cheap ‘tax free’ goods. Still some Arafat loyalists. Mainly among the older generation. Palpable stress among just about everyone it seems. One young Palestinian explained to me his worry that with the upcoming Parliamentary election to choose a new President scheduled for September 25, there may be fighting and his October 6th SAT exams may be cancelled and he won’t be able to continue his studies.

When you and I last spoke Janet, it was on April 16th of that year and I was en route to the Athens Airport to catch a flight to Beirut to be with you, you told me you were working on evidence to convict Sharon and others of war crimes.

Twenty years later, lawyers representing two dozen victims and other relatives attempted to have Ariel Sharon tried for the massacre under Belgian legislation, which grants its courts “universal jurisdiction” for war crimes.

There had been great expectations about the case among the Palestinians and their friends, since as you remember, Sharon had already been found to bear “personal responsibility” in the massacres by an Israeli commission of inquiry which concluded he shouldn’t ever again hold public office. But hopes were dashed when the Belgium Court, under US and Israeli pressure, decided the case was inadmissible.

I regret to report that all those who perpetrated the Massacre at Sabra-Shatilla escaped justice. None of the hundreds of Phalange and Haddad militia who carried out the slaughter were ever punished. In fact they got a blanket amnesty from the Lebanese government.

As for the main organizers and facilitators, their massacre at Sabra-Shatilla turned out to be excellent career moves for virtually all of them.

Arial Sharon, found by the Israeli Kahan Commission Inquiry “to bear personal responsibility” for allowing the Sabra-Shatilla massacre resigned as Minister of Defense but retained his Cabinet position in Begin’s Government and over the next 16 years held four more ministerial posts, including that of Foreign Minister, before becoming Prime Minister in February, 2001. Following the Jenin rampage US President Bush anointed him “a man of peace.”

RAFEL EYTAN, Israeli Chief of Staff, who shared Sharon’s decision to send in the Phalange killers and helped direct the operation was elected to the Knesset as leader of the small ultra rightwing party, Tzomet. In 1984 he was named Agriculture Minister and Deputy Prime Minister in 1996. He currently serves as head of Tzomet and is jockeying for another Cabinet position in the next government.

Major-General YEHOSHUA SAGUY, Army Chief of Intelligence: found by the Kahan Commission to have made “extremely serious omissions” in handling the Sabra-Shatilla affair later became a right-wing Member of the Knesset and is now mayor of the ultra-rightist community of Bat-Yam, a little town near Tel Aviv.

Major-General AMIR DRORI, Chief of Israel’s Northern Command: found not to have done enough to stop the massacre, a “breach of duty”, recently was named as head of the Israeli Antiquities Commission.

Brigadier-General AMOS YARON, the divisional commander whose troops sealed the camps to prevent victims from escaping and helped direct the operation along with Sharon and Eitan was found to have “committed a breach of duty”. He was immediately promoted Major-General and made head of Manpower in the army, served as Director-General of the Israeli Defense Ministry and Military Attaches at the Israeli Embassy in Washington. He is currently working for various Israeli lobby groups as a scholar in ‘tink thanks’.

Elie Hobeika, the Chief of Lebanese Forces Intelligence, who along with Sharon master-minded the actual massacre fell out with the Phalange in 1980s under suspicion that he was involved in killing their leader, Bachir Gemayal. He defected to the Syrians, acquired three Ministerial posts in post-civil war Lebanon Governments, including Minister of the Displaced (many thought he know a lot about this subject) of Electricity and Water and in 1996, Social Affairs.

On January 24, 2002, twenty years after his involvement at Sabra-Shatilla he was blown up in a car bomb attack in East Beirut. Two of his associates who were also rumored to be planning to ‘come clean’ regarding Sharon’s role were assassinated in separate incidents.

A few days before Hobeika’s death he stated that he might reveal more about the massacre and those responsible and according to Beirut’s Daily Star staff who interviewed him, Hobeika told them that his lawyers had copies of his files implicating Sharon in much more than had become public. These files are now is the possession of his son who following Sharon’s death may release the files.

They still remember you in Burj al Burajneh camp. A few weeks ago one old man told me: “Janet Stevens? No, I didn’t know her. He paused and then said, “Oh!..you mean Miss Janet! She spoke Arabic…I think she was American. Of course I remember her! We called her the little drummer girl. She had so much energy. She cared about the Palestinians. That was so long ago. She stopped coming to visit us. I don’t know why. How is she?”

And so, Dearest Janet, I will be waiting for you at Sabra-Shatilla, at Martyrs Square, on Saturday, September 15, 2007.

You will find me patting and mumbling to that old yellow dog. He and I have become friends and we will pay our respects to the dead and I will reflect on these past 25 years and we will watch for and wait for you. You will find us behind the straggly rose bushes on the right as you enter.

Come to us, Janet. We need you. The camp residents need you, one of their brightest lights, on this 25th anniversary of one of their darkest hours. You were always their mediator and advocate…and until today you are their majorette for Justice and Return to their sacred Palestine.

Forever,

Franklin

NOTE:

Janet Lee Stevens was born in 1951 and died on April 18, 1983, at the age of 32, at the instant of the explosion which destroyed the American Embassy in Beirut. Twenty minutes before the blast, Janet had arrived at the Embassy to met with US A.I.D. official Bill McIntyre because she wanted to advocate for more aid to the Shia of South Lebanon and for the Palestinians at Sabra, Shatilla, and Burj al Burajneh camps, stemming from Israel’s 1982 invasion and the September 15-18 massacre. As they sat at a table in the cafeteria, where she had planned to ask why the US government has never even lodged a protest following the Israeli invasion or the Massacre, a van stolen from the Embassy the previous June arrived and parked just in front of the Embassy. Almost directly in front of the cafeteria. It contained 2,000 pounds of explosives. It was detonated by remote control and tons of concrete pancaked on top of Janet and Bill, killing 63 and wounding 120. Remains of Janet’s body were found two days later, unidentified in the basement morgue of the American University of Beirut Hospital by the author. She was pregnant with our son, Clyde Chester Lamb III. Had he lived he would be 24 years old. Hopefully taking after his mother he would, no doubt, be a prince of a young man.

Franklin Lamb’s book on the Sabra-Shatilla Massacre, now out of print, was published in 1983, following Janet’s death and was dedicated to Janet Lee Stevens. He was a witness before the Israeli Kahan Commission Inquiry, held at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Lamb, Franklin P.: International legal responsibility for the Sabra-Shatila-massacre / Franklin P. Lamb – Montreuil: Imp. Tipe, 1983 – 157 S. Ill., Kt.

He can be reached at fplamb@gmail.com.

Did the UN Cave to Israel? Lebanon’s Shebaa Farms

By FRANKLIN LAMB

Across the Blue Line from Shebaa Farms, Lebanon.

On July 18, 2001, nearly six years ago to the day, and under intense US pressure, the UN Security Council affixed its imprimatur to the proposition that Israel, after refusing for more than 22 years, finally complied with the provisions of UNSCR 425, and ended its illegal and brutal occupation of Lebanon.

Of course the ‘complete Israeli withdrawal’ language was a fiction, crafted by the new Bush administration to burnish Israel’s image as a reformed international outlaw. In point of fact, Israel to this date has not complied with SCR 425, 1701 or more than 30 other UN Resolutions.

Looking only at UNSCR 425, Israel continues to occupy the roughly 14 square mile water rich area of Shebaa Farms near where Syria’s Golan Heights and the Lebanese border meet. A beautiful area, where on a windless quiet night, dear reader, were you to stand at the eastern cliff edge of the former Israel run Khiam detention camp, facing in the direction of Damascus and Alsheikh Mountain and listen carefully, you could hear the intermittent click and purr of Israeli pumps sucking up hundreds of thousands of liters of Lebanon’s renowned (Bible mentioned) mountain water (the market price in Beirut this afternoon for one liter of bottled water is 1,000 Lebanese pounds or about 68 US cents. In the old days around Avignon, France we could buy a half liter of the annual press of Nouveau Beaujolais for about the same price). The stolen water is channeled to Israel’s illegal colonies/settlements throughout Palestine to help fill the swimming pools and water the plush green lawns of American and European Jewish settlers while the olive groves and farms of those whose lands were stolen become parched. Israel continues to take even more water from Lebanon’s Wazzani River. Why this latter outrage is allowed to continue should be explained to us, the obtuse, by the Bush backed Siniori government and its consigliore, Jeffrey Feltman.

In addition to the occupation of Shebba Farms, unfulfilled UNSCR 425 demands include Israel’s continuing detention of prisoners, the failure of Israel to provide maps to the deminers working to clear nearly one third of Lebanon of landmines and nearly one million remaining cluster bombs despite continual demands for the maps by the UN, including urgent demands by UN Sec-Gen. Moon earlier this month and the UN Mine Action Coordination Centre in Tyre, Lebanon just two days ago( every day the 25 teams of de-miners from 20 countries risk their lives trying to clear nearly 1 million remaining unexploded US cluster bombs inch by inch without any maps or idea where they are located until one explodes. As of July 15, 2007 UNMACC teams have found 921 bomb sites which have caused more than 240 injuries and deaths, one-third of them children over the past nearly 12 months.

In addition, Israel conducts nearly daily over flights with aircraft and drones; cross border incursions such as on May 24, 2007, as well as violations of Lebanon’s territorial waters and its continuing occupation of the Lebanese village of Ghajar. This has led several political parties in Lebanon, and NGO’s such as Americans Concerned for Middle East Peace, to urge the decertification of Israel’s compliance with UNSCR 425. It should be borne in mind that Israel’s continuing UN SCR 425 Lebanese sovereignty violations also constitute noncompliance with UNSCR 170l, which ushered in the current cessation of hostilities on August 14, 2006

Despite the charade of Israeli compliance with UNSCR 425, Israel’s May 24, 2000 ‘withdrawal’ was hailed as an ‘amazingly generous and high minded humanitarian act’ by it’s amen chorus in the US Congress led on this issue by Congressman Tom Lantos, the founder and chair of the notorious House Human Rights Caucus.

The House Human Rights Caucus, active for more than 27 years as a tool of the Israeli lobby has actively sought out and found hundreds of human rights violations around the World but so far they have not found one suspected human rights violation with respect to Israel or any of its occupations and aggressions. The HHRC did manage a declaration that the Shebaa Farms belonged to Syria and that Israel had every right to occupy it until there was a Syria-Israel peace treaty. (Dear reader, if you would like to fact check this statement please call the House Human Rights Caucus at 202-225-3121 and ask for the Staff Director. Perhaps he will supply you with their remarkable list of Human Rights violations.

That the Shebba Farms belonged to Syria was astounding news to the Syrians as well as the more than 100 Lebanese farmers who daily worked the land and whose families had owned the area for generations going back deep into the Ottoman period. They flooded the UN with their land deeds in protest.

The Lebanese View

During the 1967 War Israeli forces seized the Shebaa Farms, area consisting of 14 farms located south of Shebaa, a Lebanese village. Since Lebanon was not a participant in the 1967 War, they had no voice and UN representatives were pressured by Israel, who falsely claimed that the 1923 Anglo-French demarcation and the 1949 Armistice line designated the area as Syrian territory. Charges of threats and bribes of UN Staff have still not yet been investigated according to UN sources based in Beirut.

Lebanese army maps published in 1961 and 1966 specifically pinpoint several of the Shebaa Farms, including Zebdine, Fashkoul, Mougr Shebaa and Ramta, all of which are designated as being Lebanese. Lebanese Ministry of Tourism maps also show the Lebanese-Syrian border running west of the Shebaa Farms. Lebanese and Syrian officials insist that Syria had officially given the territory to Lebanon in 1951.

Syria has repeatedly officially acknowledged the Farms are Lebanese with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad recently telling a Paris new conference during a State visit that Shebaa Farms belong to Lebanon. Lebanese and Syrian officials also point to the fact that many residents in the area have land deeds stamped by the Lebanese government.

The UN was largely moot on Shebaa Farms as Israel withdrew on May 24, 2000, and under pressure from the While House, which was under pressure from the Congress, which was under control by Israel lobby, finally declared that the Shabba farms was in fact Syrian. This meant Hezbollah could not liberate it and impliedly should disarm.

Unsaid on the House or Senate floors, following Israel’s complete withdrawal from Lebanon, as members nearly tripped over each other, such was their rush to pay homage, was the fact that Israel withdraw for Lebanon for only one reason, that it could not sustain the loses from the Lebanese resistance.

This week Bibi Netanyahu wasted no time attacking his once, and likely future, opponent, Ehud Barak, “for cutting and running” in 2,000 and in Bibi’s view causing the 2006 July war and Israel’s current humiliation. The truth, of little concern to Bibi, but which might be recalled by Israeli voters, is that in 2000 the Israeli public was no longer willing to accept the average of 25 Israel soldiers killed every year of its nearly quarter century ( 1978-2000) of occupation of Lebanon. Once Israel was forced out on May 24, 2000, according to statistics supplied by Israeli Justice Minister Haim Ramon, the Israeli military suffered only 17 dead soldiers, and 25 wounded between the 2000 withdrawal and the July 2006 War. Nine of the killed were in the Shebaa Farms area and the eight others were killed when they violated the Blue Line or in retaliation for Israeli caused deaths in Lebanon.

To help put Israel’s military position as of May 24, 2000 into perspective, it should be noted that Israel sustained 6,145 militant operations by the Islamic Resistance during it occupation of Lebanon. Between early January 1999 and its withdrawal 16 months later, no fewer than 2,441 operations by Hezbollah and five other resistant groups targeted Israeli forces. The Lebanese Resistance Brigades, set up by Hezbollah, accounted for 167 of these operations or 7%. Congressional kudos to Israel, notwithstanding, the Lebanese Resistance is the only reason Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 2,000.


The UN effort to take Shebaa off Hezbollah’s list of unfinished business

Against this backdrop and rising tension over Israel’s garrison at Shebaa, Farms, there was some welcomed, if short lived news the other day.

According to the July 11, 2007 edition of the Israeli journal Haaretz, and confirmed by the UN ESCWA (Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia) office here in Beirut, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon transmitted messages to the Israeli government late last month informing them that UN mapping experts have now conclusively determined that the Sheba Farms is indeed Lebanese territory and that international law required Israel’s immediate withdrawal.

Ban Ki-Moon transmitted the UN’s conclusions to PM Olmert during their meeting in New York last month, while the UN’s special coordinator for the Middle East, Michael Williams discussed the decision with Israel foreign minister Tzipi Livni at about the same time.

The Secretary-General’s office also notified Olmert and Livni that Israel was to coordinate its expedited departure with UNIFIL, some of whose 13,000 troops received orders to secure Shebaa farms on the tail of the Israel’s withdrawal.

In their discussions, the UN officials also advised Israel that Syria and Lebanon agreed that the Shebaa Farms is Lebanese. This point is very important because by securing it, the UN shrewdly anticipated and precluded Israeli waffling and endless delays. This is because Israel had been objecting that its own recently retained cartographers needed to open the whole border dispute question from the beginning and examine all the work and findings of the impliedly less qualified and trustworthy UN map experts. Such a revised map review process could take several years “to do right” according to Alan Dershowitz’s April 14, 2007 legal memorandum to Israel’s Foreign Ministry. However the amicable Syria-Lebanon agreement confirming Lebanese ownership of Shebaa Farms effectively thwarted Dershowitz and the US Israeli lobby, plan. Or so it appeared for at least a few hours on July 11, 2007.

UN Sec-Gen Ki-Moon’s ‘clarification’

It is not known to what extent UN Sec-Gen. Moon felt last week that he had adjusted to the realities and pressures of his new job, but he was about to be tested. No sooner had his Shebaa Farms news item hit the air waves on the morning of July 11, 2007 than Israel’s Foreign Minister Livni contacted the White House which had already heard from Tom Lantos, founder and chair of the above mentioned US Congressional House Human Rights Caucus.

Following White House intervention, the UN acted with unusual alacrity and clarified (read: gutted) its announcement. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, following a meeting with the UK’s new Prime Minister Gordon Brown, told a news conference that in point of fact the discussion of ownership of the disputed Farms was, well, ah. er..premature. “I have submitted my Report on this issue. My senior cartographer has made some good progress but this report is not mentioning anything about ownership or sovereignty yetThe UN’s cartographer continues his work and will be visiting the area shortly.”

Minutes later a UN official explained from New York: “The secretary-general remains engaged on the issue”.

According to the Country Chief of a UN recognized NGO which is very familiar with this issue and works in the UN’s Beirut Headquarters (ESCWA): “That’s total bullshit! This was the final Report not an interim progress Report. Somebody got to Ban Ki-Moon! The map work on Sheeba has been completed for weeks. Any second year Cartography student could have done that job is less than a month. It’s not complicated”.

In the words of perhaps America’s preeminent student of the workings of the Israel lobby, San Francisco’s Jeffrey Blankfort, when he heard about the switch:

“Is this a surprise to anyone? Israel and its international lobby control the UN as much as they do Washington and the US. When there will be an international movement that will have the guts to stand up to Israel and its supporters and tell them their days of running the show are over?”

The apparent UN throwing in the town, hopefully will be reversed, but its puts pressure on Hezbollah because as Lebanon’s only deterrence to Israeli aggression and the Lebanese resistance’s pledge to liberate Lebanon from Israeli occupation, critics are using Shebaa as evidence that Hezbollah has not completed the job the Lebanese people has entrusted to it.

What particularly alarms Israel is the fact that if the UN decides that the Shebaa Farms belong to Lebanon, this clearly implies that the UN cartographer’s findings bestowed international legitimacy on Hezbollah’s continued resistance to Israel’s occupation Sheba Farms. This would also give the Lebanese resistance led by Hezbollah and supported by a clear majority of Lebanese Sunni and Christians, the moral, political, legal, and if Hezbollah chooses to exercise it, the military resistance high ground.

While the Congressional Israel lobby feels it ‘won’ against the UN on this issue the White House is decidedly conflicted. The reason is that if Israel withdraws from Shebaa Farms the Bush Administration believes the withdrawal will strengthen the government of Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora which it needs to keep its regional policies at least on life support.

Shebaa Farms will likely be discussed by Rice at her just rescheduled meeting for the end of this month with Livni. Rice’s concern is that Israel’s failure to withdraw from Shebaa Farms gives Hezbollah more credibility and legitimacy.

Livni thinks if Israel does withdraw it gives Hezbollah yet another victory and even more credibility and legitimacy.

Could both ladies be right or will there be a cat fight in the Holy Land?

Franklin Lamb’s just released book, The Price We Pay: A Quarter Century of Israel’s Use of American Weapons in Lebanon is available at Amazon.com.uk. His volume, Hezbollah: a Brief Guide for Beginners is due out in early summer, 2007. He can be reached at fplamb@gmail.com

Franklin Lamb: Inside Nahr el-Bared

“Another Waco in the Making”
Inside Nahr el-Bared
By FRANKLIN LAMB

Bedawi and Nahr el-Bared Palestinian Refugee Camps, Lebanon.

With very intermittent internet access and this ancient pc with one lone wire running from the spaghetti wiring system tied to the ceiling and taped to a single bare light bulb socket, plus 8 toddlers, two babies, crawling over and under this ‘foreigner’ in a 10 x 12 concrete room where 28 or more of us slept on the floor last night, this blurb may never be sent. But if it does get out and for what it’s worthan update on the situation in the Palestinian Nabr al-Bared and Bedawi Camps. Will try to send results shortly of my interviews with 11 Fatah al-Islam fighters regarding who paid them and got them travel documents and weapons and what was their mission. There was no bank robbery by them. That wasa fake story put out by the Welch Club. Sorry I misreported it. BBC was suckered. Also, no, repeat no heads cut off. Where are the medical reports from those who claim it? That was black propaganda to smear Fatah el-Islam. Must leave this building nowmay not be until tomorrow or so.

Bedawi is teeming with new arrivals from al-Bared where there is still no water, power or food. A few NGO’s still negotiating with army for permission to enter. (Still possible to sneak in from the east but getting more dangerous to try it). The problem is not being shot by Fatah al-Islam anymore. They are digging in. And the army is not as trigger happy as on Monday-Wednesday. The “security agents” on the slopes above the army looking down into al-Baled are the main sniper danger. People claim they are Hariri militia but I can not confirm that. The army told the PLO they would stop them but as of Saturday night they are still shooting. They are trying to shoot anyone they see inside or leaving al-Balad. Someone should stop them.

Several hours ago I met a woman arriving from al-Bared who had walked the whole 7 miles with an 18 month old baby and a daughter of 5 who just stares into the press cameras with her mouth open and eyes glazed over. The Palestinian mother told us neither she nor her children have eaten or taken water for four days. The children will be ok. The mother’s husband is in Syria she said and she has no relatives.

One NGO group of three from Beirut left a few hours ago in tears from frustration, sadness and anger from repeatedly being stopped by the army from taking supplies to al Barad. Their cargo of water and blankets abandoned. On Saturday the Palestinian Red Crescent, which for a quarter century has provide the medical service to both camps has been formally and completely banned from al-Bared and told they will be shot if they try to enter al-Bared. I met with the PRCS leadership and drivers.

There is some-near panic in Bedawi caused by many rumors. One rumor, widely believed, is that the Lebanese government plans to demolish al-Bared to make room for the huge US/NATO airbase which is to be built next to the camp. 5,000 of the Palestinians in al-Bared are from the 1975 ethnically cleansed east Beirut camp Telazatter. The PLO moved them to al-Bared at the beginning of the Lebanese civil war (1975-90) and they live close together in one al-Bared neighborhood. Saw women wailing that they may be another Telazatter massacre and destruction of their homes.

Many Palestinian young men are being arrested as they leave al-Bared. An old woman sleeping in the same room as me last night told us that her son was taken as he left al-Bared on Monday and she has not heard from him. There are now 6 check points between Tripoli and Beirut. Many (I was told all but have not confirmed it) Palestinian males traveling to Beirut are being arrested and taken for interrogation. Some from al-Bared are afraid to try to go to Beirut and stay with relatives.

Fear among PLO camp leaders that there could be a blood bath. “It’s the Bush complex,” one German NGO volunteer said. “The Lebanese government wants to be macho like the Israelis to gain some respect. This could be another Waco in the making, for no reason.” The PLO is trying to mediate with the army to avoid a slaughter that would occur if the army tries to enter al-Bared. “What is needed is leadership and for the warlords to keep quiet. The army has behaved very badly but it’s the politicians fault.”

Great fear that the army will try to enter al-Bared.

The army moved the press position to more than one mile from al Bared, “for security”. The army has orders to give no information to the press. Some journalists feel something terrible is going to happen here. Just heard the army has now completely sealed the camp. No access to the wounded still in basements and bombed houses needing help Palestinians activist in Bedawi say that if the army goes into al-Bared and makes a massacre that Palestinian from all over Lebanon will fight. This may be what some here or outside Lebanon are hoping for.

The Welch Club wants the army to “wipe out the terrorists”, and “protect our Palestinian brothers”. Not one Palestinian in either camp or observer I know believes that. Rather the Palestinian community here believes that the whole Fatah al-Islam “very strange case” was designed to assault their 420,000 population here.

School is cancelled in Bedawi because up to 20,000 from Bared are being housed in them. Food and water are arriving intermittently but distribution is not yet well organized. Much angst among the arrivals who come with only what they are wearing.

Joy to find al-Bared loved ones. Statements are heard on the crowded streets such as” why did the army fire on us? There were no fighters in our area?” “Where was their artillery during the July war? Why did they not fight Israel and now bomb us”?

The leader of Nahr al Bared Women’s association accused Lebanon’s envoy Abbas Zaki of not helping the refugees and with cooperating with the government and Israel. ‘He should come here’, one woman said. Abu Ammar or Abu Jihad (Arafat and his deputy Khalil al Wazir) would have come if they were alive”. Fatah is weak in Bedawi and even weaker in al-Bared.

Seven PLO factions operate in both camps. They jointly chased Fatah al-Islam out of Bedawi on September 21, 2006 not long after they split from Abu Musa’s Fateh Intifida which has been based in Badawi since 1983. Fatah Intifada still man’s the entrance to Bedawi but they seem to have only about 100 members left. When one interviews them they are almost apologetic about their step-brothers, Fatah al-Islam. “We expelled them because we did not like their friends (Hariri intelligence staff) they were too religious and acted strange but we did not think things would come to this”) but the al-Barad PLO factions do not have arms or power to confront FAI.

Amazing examples of humanity happening here. There are many family connections between the two camps. Kids distribute and water bread when it arrives in cars from Beirut and elsewhere. Young girls picking up and caring for babies of people they don’t know, helping old people find a place to sit and listen to them when they tell of what happened. I could be wrong but I have rarely witnessed the solidarity among people as I see here with the Palestinians. Clean, smart, patient, charming, funny, and caring toward one another-determined to return to Palestine

Many who have been in Badawi for nearly a week now just want to just go back and die in their al-Bared homes. On 5/25/07 the Palestinian group, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine tried to organize a convoy of those who wanted to return to al-Bared. The plan is to go as far as they can and refuse to leave the army checkpoints until they are allowed back in. The convoy did not leave Bedawi yet and the idea may be abandoned.

Franklin Lamb: Inside Nahr el-Bared

Franklin Lamb: Whos Behind the Fighting in North Lebanon

Great article I advise everyone to read.

Wearing a beat-up ratty UNCHR tee-shirt left over from Bint Jbeil and the Israeli-Hezbollah July probably helped. As did, I suspect, the Red Cross jersey, my black and white checkered kaffieyh and the Palestinian flag taped to my lapel as I joined a group of Palestinian aid workers and slipped into Nahr el-Bared trying not to look conspicuous.

Our mission was to facilitate the delivery of food, blankets and mattresses, but I was also curious about the political situation. Who was behind the events that erupted so quickly and violently following a claimed ‘bank robbery’?

Franklin Lamb: Whos Behind the Fighting in North Lebanon

Under the cover of fighting Salafi, Islamists fundamentalist in Lebanon’s Northern region [starting from Akkar via Tripoli to the Dinniyah-slopes], and after two years of hesitation, NATO decided to join the Lebanese territories to North-African & African coast military region, to establish Military airbases.

The Plan is a US-NATO Military Base in Tripoli, Lebanon