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Last Wednesday's pageantry in Beirut celebrating the return of Samir Kuntar marked a black day for Lebanon. It is hardly the first time an Arab terror outfit has held a street party for murderers - sweets were handed out in plenty of Arab capitals on 9/11. Still, it was surprising to see the participation of many members of Lebanon's pro-democracy March 14 movement, like Prime Minister Fouad Siniora who has become a significant US ally over the last three years. Now, Lebanon's friends in the international community, especially in Washington, who backed March 14's struggle and looked to it as a model alternative to the bin Laden version of the Middle East, must re-evaluate their continued support.

Still, not all Lebanese took part in the festival for a child-murderer.

"The celebrations caught me by surprise," says Jana, a 26-year-old Shia woman raised in the Hezbollah cantons of south Beirut. "I don't understand how we are celebrating the achievements of such a person. It is Lebanese schizophrenia. Anyone who attacks us we call a criminal, but when one of ours does the same, we call that person a hero. We don't apply the same standards to ourselves as we do to the Israelis."

Much of Lebanon was ashamed to see fellow countrymen cheering the return of Kuntar, and few observed the national "holiday." In the largely Christian eastern sector of Beirut, Ashrafiyeh, stores stayed open. It was the same in Sunni areas of West Beirut, where merchants were openly disdainful of the Sunni Prime Minister's decision to honor the resistance.

"I assure you there are even lots of Shia who are depressed about the celebrations," says Jana. "They're certainly not in the majority, but you won't hear them at all because they would be identified as traitors. What kind of support is there for them if even the government is welcoming the prisoners?"

Wadih, a 40-year-old Christian businessman agrees. "Yes, it's shameful. But if Israel is satisfied with it, then at the end of the day I'm ok with it. The Israelis made the deal. Why should I be more royalist than the king?"

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July 30th, 2008
9:07 PM
Get your enemies to kill your other enemies. This is a consequence of first cousin marraige: expendable herd members. It's all about the ethnic populations, and the inability to grow, rather than take, resources.

July 29th, 2008
8:07 AM
i agree that many lebanese were not happy with the celebrations that took place, however the article in my opinion is very much one-sided. you can not equate Hezbollah with osama and his gang. the complexities of lebanese politics and history is hardly mentioned here or brought to light. i am in lebanon and this article bring no justice to the overwelming feelings felt in this country. the legitamacy of the 'western back' government is a joke. how could you miss that. they have no legitamacy.

July 26th, 2008
2:07 AM
Boogie said: "Arabs killed by other Arabs are apparently not as dead as those killed by Israelis." _______________________________ Andre Gluckmann called it "The Jerusalem Syndrome" "...On the scales of world opinion, some Muslim corpses are light as a feather, and others weigh tonnes. Two measures, two weights. The daily terrorist attacks on civilians in Baghdad, killing 50 people or more, are checked off in reports under the heading of miscellaneous, while the bomb that took 28 lives in Qana is denounced as a crime against humanity. Only a few intellectuals like Bernard-Henri Lévy or Magdi Allam, chief editor of the Corriere della Sera, find this surprising. Why do the 200,000 slaughtered Muslims of Darfur not arouse even half a quarter of the fury caused by 200-times fewer dead in Lebanon? Must we deduce that Muslims killed by other Muslims don't count - whether in the eyes of Muslim authorities or viewed through the bad conscience of the west? This conclusion has its weak spots, because if the Russian Army - Christian, and blessed by their popes - razes the capital of Chechnian Muslims (Grosny, with 400,000 residents) killing tens of thousands of children in the process, this doesn't count either. The Security Council does not hold meeting after meeting, and the Organization of Islamic States piously averts its eyes. From that we may conclude that the world is appalled only when a Muslim is killed by Israelis."

July 26th, 2008
1:07 AM
Interesting article from both an on the ground perspective and from a Hezbollah tactical perspective. There was another really good one in the Jerusalem Post recently.

July 25th, 2008
9:07 PM
Austin, I do not believe everything I read; and, in particular, I do not believe you. As far as I'm concerned, the Lebanon 'celebrations' are on a par with Nuremberg ralies in the 1930's Germany. Need I say more?

July 25th, 2008
5:07 PM
Austin; Were all those phantom children Hezbollah fighters? The majority of killed Iraqis were killed by other Iraqis. The biggest killers of Arabs are other Arabs, not Israelis.

Peter Saffian
July 25th, 2008
11:07 AM
Austin, you are the one who should open his eyes. The 1200 Lebanese who died in the July war were mostly Hizbullah fighters not children. As for the 'million Iraqis' allegedly killed since the Coalition invaded - that is pure fantasy - a propaganda number without factual basis.

July 25th, 2008
1:07 AM
What was that Boogie? What about the 1200 Lebanese killed by Israel in the July war of 2006? Mostly children! Or more than one million Iraqis killed since the U.S. invaded? Do you believe everything you read? Fanaticism is a disease. Open your eyes.

July 24th, 2008
2:07 PM
“Despite all the conflicts among the Arabs themselves, this still comes first” Mindboggling. Saddam kills some 800,000 people and that barely registers, but IDF rockets kills a dozen Palestinian civilians and it’s a collective outrage. Arabs killed by other Arabs are apparently not as dead as those killed by Israelis.

July 24th, 2008
12:07 PM
It's a shame some people must create societal divisions in order to validate their own existence and actions.

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