On January 28, the IDF warned the Lebanese people that Iran is turning their country into a missile factory. Many Lebanese people already know that. They also know that Hezbollah, under the direction of the Iranian regime, is likely to start a war against Israel that would devastate Lebanon beyond anything that the Lebanese people have seen in the past.
Yet, despite knowing this, there is nothing that Lebanese people can do. Hezbollah has a gun to the head of every Lebanese politician, it is far more powerful than the Lebanese army, and nothing can occur in Lebanon without its consent. Predictably, Hezbollah’s reaction to the IDF warning was derision.
Every Lebanese person, whether he or she believes Hezbollah’s rhetoric or is able to see through it, is a hostage of Hezbollah and Iran. This happened because the Lebanese people made the mistake of allowing Hezbollah to grow and strengthen beyond any reasonable measure.
The Lebanese people were sold the false narrative that they needed Hezbollah to defend them against Israel. That fraudulent sales job was successful because Israel had occupied part of Lebanon and had, like any occupying force, built resentment against it among the Lebanese population, and because the Lebanese government is divided and weak.
The Israeli occupation, however, was a direct consequence of Palestinian attacks from Lebanese soil; attacks which would not have occurred if Palestinians had not taken refuge in Lebanon during the Israel-Arab war of 1947/49.
In turn, that war, which a coalition of Arab countries initiated to stop Israel from gaining independence, would not have occurred if the Arab states had simply accepted the 1947 UN partition plan that was skewed in the Arabs’ favor and that the Jews accepted only reluctantly.
As reported by the BBC (hardly a Zionist enthusiast), the UN partition plan provided for, “A Jewish State covering 56.47% of Mandatory Palestine (excluding Jerusalem) with a population of 498,000 Jews and 325,000 Arabs; An Arab State covering 43.53% of Mandatory Palestine (excluding Jerusalem), with 807,000 Arab inhabitants and 10,000 Jewish inhabitants; An international trusteeship regime in Jerusalem, where the population was 100,000 Jews and 105,000 Arabs.”
The Arabs’ decision to reject the very existence of one tiny state with a bare Jewish majority was blatantly foolish, but antisemitism drove the Arabs to make that decision, and hatred is not a good advisor.
So even though Lebanon was a minor player in the 1947/49 war, there is a straight line between the Arabs’ decision in 1947 and the dire situation of Lebanon today.
Egypt, the largest and strongest member of the Arab coalition in that war (which included Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon), extricated itself from the conflict and signed a peace treaty with Israel. Lebanon, the smallest and weakest member of that coalition has paid the heaviest price, including two major wars with Israel, and is likely to still pay much more.
Even though Lebanon has a share of the blame in starting the Israel-Arab conflict and in allowing Hezbullah to grow, the price that it is paying is not proportional to the blame that can be attributed to it.
The Arab world owes a huge debt to Israel for having attacked Israel unnecessarily, starting a conflict that has so far lasted 70 years, but it also owes a debt to Lebanon. Today is the time to pay that debt by stopping Iran’s influence in Lebanon. Although this is unlikely to occur, it may be the only faint hope left for Lebanon.