Ran Porat

Double standards: Lessons from Lebanon to Gaza

Sign showing raised fist in Lebanon. (Royalty free photo, credit: Jo Kassis)

Sheikh Abdallah Al-khalil Tamimi (59) is a pro-Israel Imam. Born in Syria, he has lived in Lebanon for many years, and is now living in Sydney, Australia. He is one of the founders of the Syrian Democratic Coalition movement (est. 2005).
In light of the horrifying massacre by Hamas on October 7, Tamimi sent me the text below, addressing the double standard in the world, and in Arab and Muslim countries in particular, regarding killing of civilians and the value of human life. This is of course relevant to the current war on Hamas in Gaza and the sanctimonious calls for Israel ‘not to harm civilians’, as if Israel wants to do so.
In the following paragraphs, Tamimi shares his personal experience during the fight in Lebanon against ISIS and Iran-affiliated terror groups at the beginning of the 21st century.

#Gaza: Double standards is a phrase that has been in our ears since the Gaza disaster began, and everyone accuses the West and its media of double standards. In reality, this double standard, and indeed multiplicity of standards to infinity, is the characteristic that distinguishes the behaviour of the so-called Arab and Islamic public opinion.

Here is an example from my own experience:

In the spring of 2007, an Iranian-affiliated group calling itself “Fatah al-Islam” (Islam’s victory) entered the Nahr al-Bared camp in northern Lebanon, which is a piece of land whose area does not exceed 2 square kilometres and has a narrow asphalt road in the middle. Less than 30,000 people live in the camp overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, most of them Palestinians and some are Lebanese Bedouins.
“Fatah al-Islam” occupied the camp and took control of two military bases belonging to the group of “Abu Khaled Al-Amleh,” the intelligence officer directly subordinate to Ali Mamlouk, the confidant and strongman in Lebanon for the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s. This group began to threaten America, the West, and Israel with woe, destruction, and great disasters.

Iranian intelligence agents began spreading rumours and propaganda about the “Fatah al-Islam” gang, and that they had come to recruit and train Sunni youth to take them to Iraq to fight the American army there, and then, after they expelled the Americans, they would plot against Israel to wipe it out of existence!

I had a friend who headed the intelligence of the Lebanese Internal Security Forces. He assigned me to investigate the situation and find out their truth. I actually met with the leaders of “Fatah al-Islam” and knew at first glance that they were intelligence officers affiliated with Bashar and Khamenei and that they had come to thwart the Sunni revolution project in Lebanon that began after the assassination of the Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al Hariri (in 2005 by Hezbollah – RP).

As I expected, members of this gang attacked a Lebanese army checkpoint and killed everyone inside while they were sleeping, and killed a number of Lebanese from the camp’s neighbours. All of the dead were Sunnis!

The Lebanese army besieged the Nahr al-Bared camp, and began bombarding it with heavy artillery and tank cannons. I was greatly horrified by that bombing. I intervened in the first hours, using relations with the Hariri group, and arranged a ceasefire several times. After several days, I was able to secure a safe passage for civilians, and convinced the sheikhs of the camp to leave it with any possessions they can carry and was valuable. This, because the Lebanese Prime Minister and the Army Commander were determined to exterminate this gang, and fatwas (religious decrees – RP) came from all the sheikhs of Lebanon approving this goal as retribution.

But “Fatah al-Islam” was large and controlled tunnels, bases, and fortifications inside the camp, and the camp needed to be completely destroyed to reach the desired goal.

I conveyed this fact to the sheikhs of the camp and they acknowledged that preserving innocent lives is more important than preserving property, and that the army could not in any way accept the survival of this gang after what they had done. They acknowledged that there is great sympathy among the camp residents which allowed this gang to adhere to its position and that this sympathy prevented the people of the camp from fighting this gang to protect their camp, their lives, and their money.

The sheikhs were convinced and were able to convince most of the residents to leave via the safe passage that we arranged. I remained on the phone for several days guiding people to the safe passage and trying hard to maintain the truce.
During this period, the Lebanese army intermittently bombed homes and mosques, killing hundreds of camp residents, and no one was able to remove their bodies from under the rubble of their homes.

Then the battle continued for weeks and weeks until the gang was annihilated, and of course the camp was completely destroyed and became a pile of rubble.
No one blamed the army or the “liberal” government of Lebanon at that time for what they did. Rather, the people’s anger was focused on those who caused this disaster. The “Fatah al-Islam” gang, which kidnapped the camp residents, used them as human shields, and opened fire from behind the bodies of these residents on their neighbourhood. No one sympathized with the “Fatah al-Islam” gang, and no one mourned the deaths of civilians on both sides of the fighting. They were many victims, and everyone saw them as necessary casualties of war to treat a disease called “Iranian criminality.”

I think this is sufficient and clear to anyone who understands.
Abdullah Al-Khalil

About the Author
A Research Associate at the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation at Monash University, teaching about the Middle East and Israel at Melbourne Uni and Monash University. A published analyst on the Middle East and Israel, he is a Research Fellow at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism Interdisciplinary Centre, Herzliya Israel and a research Associate at Future Directions International Research Institute, Western Australia.