Socialist Worker

Lebanon unites in anger at Israel and its allies

Ghassan Makarem is a member of the Samidoun network of grassroots activists in Beirut. He spoke to Socialist Worker

Issue No. 2011

If the resistance loses here in Lebanon it will set back all the opposition movements in all the Arab countries.

That’s why we have seen demonstrations in support of the people of Lebanon organised by the opposition in countries such as Bahrain, Egypt and even Saudi Arabia.

Everybody knows the US wants to drive us back to civil war. As for feelings towards the Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah - he’s a hero.

Hizbollah, and Hamas in Palestine, are the only models of resistance we still have, the only ones that work.

US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice is in the Middle East this week. She says she’s going to solve the problems by bringing more laser guided missiles.

There is also talk of a Nato “peacekeeping” force. If that happens we will fight back.

There is a lot of anger towards the United Nations (UN) here, especially after it turned away refugees bombed by the Israelis.

There is a general mood against the whole “international community”. When the European Union ambassador went on a tour here people screamed with rage at him. The UN humanitarian envoy got a similar reception.

People here are also very angry that the Arab countries - in particular Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt - have been so supportive of the US and Israel.

These countries support Israel and want to see Hizbollah crushed because they do not want any kind of popular resistance to their own regimes.

Hizbollah has gained a lot of moral support from people across all religions.

There is solidarity across Lebanese civil society - religious organisations are working with gay rights groups, theatre collectives and the far left.

Even the main Christian party, Michael Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement, has been very supportive of refugees.

Aoun’s movement has been doing a great job on the relief effort in areas north of Beirut. It has been keeping the more extreme Christian right wing groups on a very short leash - this is very important in Lebanon.

The only problem is with some of the political leaders such as Walid Jumblatt and Saad Hariri - they are backed by the US and Saudi Arabia and they are working against us.

We started organising in Lebanon on the first day of the aggression. A group of us were already helping at a sit-in in solidarity with Gaza.

We were contacted by a theatre collective and began by using the theatre as an operations centre for refugees. Since then we’ve been expanding constantly, with a number of people coming in to help.

We contacted everyone we knew, from NGOs through to video production groups.

Right now we are running refugee centres at 36 schools in Beirut, trying to provide as much help as we can - food, water medical care and so on.

We take care of about 13,000 people, 10 percent of them children under five.

Restaurants are providing kitchen facilities, medical schools are providing people and supplies for our medical team.

There are some 700,000 refugees at the moment and the main priority for us is to take care of them.

We’ve had a few problems in some areas controlled by right wing groups, but otherwise every-one is helping the relief effort.

Now we are planning to set up a media centre and website to reach out to the solidarity campaigns around the world.

Local TV stations have had very good coverage of all the solidarity demonstrations last Saturday across the world.

Everyone is watching this coverage and looking to the people of the world.

It is our one hope, that people will put pressure on Western governments. This is even more important to us than humanitarian aid.

To find out more, go to Samidoun’s website: samidoun.blogspot.com


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