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Israeli Occupation of South Lebanon Unjust

Israeli Occupation of South Lebanon Unjust

It was March 14, 1997. A crowd had gathered in Lobby 7 around a display put up by Lebanese students at MIT in order to commemorate the day Israel invaded Lebanon, 19 years earlier. A myriad of pictures of dead babies and massacred men, women and children occupied most of the display. Sadly, it was not the horrific sight of human suffering that prompted the turmoil.

The object of controversy in Lobby 7 was one particular picture depicting Lebanese freedom fighters. The picture was placed next to images of Israeli heavy artillery, which were bombarding Lebanese villagers. We were struck by the fact that so many people found nothing objectionable about pictures of Israeli forces bombing Lebanese civilians but were scandalized by a single picture of Lebanese men or women fighting for their right to live free. "I can't believe you are actually endorsing terrorists," someone said.

One year later, we stop to ask: "How did right become wrong? How did the freedom fighter become the terrorist, and how could the oppressor of his/her people appeal to the world as a victim?" When Israel first invaded South Lebanon, twenty years ago, the stated objective was to eliminate the military presence of the Palestinian Liberation Organization in South Lebanon. Four years later, in 1982, in a bloody full-scale invasion that caused the deaths of over 20,000 Lebanese civilians, Israel expelled the PLO and all of its military wings from all of Lebanon.

The expulsion of the PLO from Lebanon completely nullified the stated reason for Israel's occupation. In effect, since 1982, Israel has had no explicitly stated reason to stay in South Lebanon except to fight the Lebanese resistance. Thus, Israel has forced itself into a vicious cycle whereby its presence in Lebanon is only to fight a resistance born out of and feeding off its own occupation.

Sixteen years later, after mourning over 50,000 innocent Lebanese civilians, we, men, women and children, freedom fighters, land plowers, journalists, students and others demand an explanation for this continued occupation. For twenty years now, the South Lebanese citizens have been burdened with continued displacement campaigns, with air and sea raids, with port sieges, with curfews, with drinking water and food rationing, with internationally forbidden weapons (phosphorous bombs, explosive toys, and flechettes), with house demolitions, and with more things than the pages of this issue of The Tech could ever contain. These were all imposed by Israel.

The illegitimacy of this occupation has made the Lebanese people compelled to resist this unfair, unjustified and absurd occupation. By simply staying in villages, despite the daily death threats and executions, by plowing their land, by rebuilding, brick by brick, every demolished house, and by holding arms in legitimate defense, the people of South Lebanon have fought oppression and sought freedom. Resistance to oppression is commonly recognized as the right and the duty of the oppressed.

Yet these freedom fighters, by exercising their right and performing their duty of resistance, do not get their deserved recognition. Instead, they are consistently dismissed in the world press as terrorists and criminals, and labeled as evil.

On this day, the twentieth anniversary of Israeli occupation, we wish to celebrate our freedom fighters. We want to recognize their admirable struggle to protect their people's right to be alive and free. We also want to honor those courageous people who are still living in South Lebanon despite all the imposed miseries and dangers. We invite you to do the same.

Ibrahim C. Abou Faycal G

President, Lebanese Club at MIT