|APRIL 2001 - Issue #134||PUBLISHED BY AMERICANS FOR A SAFE ISRAEL|
In a recent New York Times column, William Safire pointed out that five years have now passed since French President Jacques Chirac told the Lebanese government: "The Lebanese Army and internal security forces must, following total withdrawal, be the only guarantors of the State's authority." In other words, not just the Israelis, but also the Syrian occupation forces must withdraw. "Israel is out," Safire noted. "Why isn't Chirac's France enlisting European allies to enforce U.N. Resolution 425, freeing Lebanon from Syrian occupation?"
Safire may be expecting too much from the French; after all, hypocrisy and pro-Syrian bias have long been features of French foreign policy. But Safire raises an important and often-overlooked issue. France was just one of many nations that for years were demanding that "all foreign forces" withdraw from Lebanon. Indeed, United Nations Security Council resolution 520 specifically calls for all foreign troops to pull out, as do the Ta'if accords and other international agreements to which Syria itself is a signatory.
Syria has ignored those agreements and resolutions, and continues to station tens of thousands of occupation soldiers throughout the country. The Syrian government has also quietly relocated approximately one million Syrian citizens to Lebanese soil, as part of its strategy of making Lebanon part of "Greater Syria."
American policy toward Syria has been a major obstacle to Lebanese freedom. For eight long years, the Clinton administration pursued a policy of appeasement toward Syria, with then-Secretary of State Warren Christopher making twenty-two groveling visits to Syrian dictator Hafez Assad, and Christopher's successor, Madeleine Albright, did likewise. Panting after Assad never worked, nor will it work with Assad's son Bashar, the new leader in Damascus.
The only country in the world that has ever made any effort at all to restore Lebanese independence was Israel. But under domestic pressure to "bring the boys home" (even if that meant exposing the "boys" on its northern border to even greater danger), Israel abandoned the Lebanese Christian community and unilaterally left Lebanon's fate in Syria's hands. The succession of Israeli leaders who facilitated the Lebanon retreat, including Rabin, Netanyahu, and Barak--with the active support of sometime cabinet minister Ariel Sharon--also share in the moral culpability for forsaking the Lebanese Christians.
A few well-meaning members of Congress have on occasion made some efforts on behalf of Lebanese independence, but never in a sustained or serious way.
The time has come to mount an international campaign to rid Lebanon of its Syrian occupiers and restore Lebanese national independence. This effort should be modeled after the successful 1970s campaign for the famous Jackson Amendment, which linked U.S. trade benefits to Soviet emigration policy, forcing the Kremlin to free large numbers of Soviet Jews.
There needs to be an organized, ongoing, sophisticated lobbying effort on Capitol Hill to push through legislation that would enforce meaningful U.S. sanctions against Syria if it does not withdraw from Lebanon by a specified date. Sadly, Lebanese-American organizations are disorganized and disunited; their efforts so far have been fruitless.
Who, then, will champion Lebanon's cause? Who will be the next Scoop Jackson? Perhaps someone like Senator Sam Brownback, chairman of the Mideast subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who in the past has spoken out courageously for Lebanese freedom.
Freedom for Lebanon is a morally powerful and politically viable issue. What it requires is for men and women of conscience and goodwill to join ranks for the sake of a noble cause.
Herbert Zweibon is chairman of Americans For a Safe Israel.
IN THIS ISSUE:
The Decline of Israeli Deterrence ...3
Funding Islamic Hate ...7
Sharon's Scorecard ...9
April 2001 - 1 - Outpost