06 07 24- Fw: KOUYOUMDJIAN WEEKLY D1
|Mr Kouyoumdjian is a prominent, well known economist and thinker, specialized in Latin America and is widely consulted by businesses in that area. He is also a member of the Center for Strategic Studies in London.
Subject: KOUYOUMDJIAN WEEKLY D1THE OBLITERATION OF A COUNTRY Lebanon's Fate at the Hand of Israel by Armen Kouyoumdjian Once again I have ad to redirect my report towards a subject other than the one I had planned to cover this week-end. Israel's assault on the Lebanon cannot leave me silent. May I also declare that more than ever in this particular case, I shall not tolerate any critical reaction to what I am about to write, none whatsoever. This is not a moment for debating in the Agora, and if you (or your mother-in-law to whom you pass-on these papers) do not like it, do not read them.
PROGRESSIVE TREND Believe it or not, I used to be quite a fan of Israel during my young days in Beirut. I do not think it has anything to do with the fact that we are of the same age (I am 12 days older than Israel and much, much wiser). It probably relates to my early interest in military affairs. I even applauded its victories in the 1967 war, though it fucked up my last summer in Beirut, before I left that city for good in September of that year. It probably had not much to do with the several Jewish classmates I had at both school and university there, many of whom ended up for a short while in Israel before leaving it in disgust. I myself avidly followed all the great military prowesses with great admiration. I soon realised how wrong I was.
My first inkling that this was not a show to be admired came on December 27, 1968. I myself was just recovering from the May student revolution at the Sorbonne where I was studying, when Israeli commandos flew into Beirut airport and blew up in cold blood the 13-strong fleet of its once proud Middle East Airlines. Hey, I thought, this is not war, this is vandalism. If that did not change my mind, the following four decades have given plenty more ammunition. The 1978 invasion of the South, the 1982 occupation of half the country with the resulting destruction, and the Sabra and Chatila massacres. Any lingering doubts that may have remained within me would have been swept away when Menachem Beguin stopped Armenian scholars from attending seminars on Genocide in Israel, after which followed repeated denials of the Armenian Genocide by various top Israeli officials, finally culminating in an unholy alliance with Turkey. They even instructed Jewish organisations worldwide to shamefully collaborate in the negation campaign. Begin's real name was actually Wolfovitch (hey, just like that guy at the White House).THE TARGET The country which Israel has now decided to obliterate is not just any country. It is the cradle of the ancient Phoenician civilisation that gave the world its first modern alphabet, and pioneered international commerce. It has been the home of great artists and thinkers. It has given birth to some of the world's most brilliant business brains, and at least half a dozen country in Latin America have had presidents from among the ranks of the large Lebanese Diaspora. In my Beirut school we spoke three languages during break, never discriminated in any way among the many communities which made up our classes, in an educational system the quality of which I never saw again in the three countries where I have subsequently lived. We followed the latest pop music and films from all around the world. Half a century ago there were two French-language weeklies dedicated to movies in Beirut. There is not a single one in Chile.
Above all this was the most hospitable country and people to have ever roamed the earth. I cannot compare the slap-up banquets that hosts used to come up with whenever one visited, to the visits my own sons made to the houses of their Chilean classmates when, during a study session of several hours their mothers would not even serve them a glass of water. Though it does not apply to my own family history, when Armenian survivors of the 1915 Genocide arrived in the Lebanon, itself in the midst of a famine and other difficulties, the local authorities built an entire village (Anjar) to house as many as they could. The Armenians owe the Lebanese, and in fact Arabs in general, a debt which can never be repaid enough. This country, whose modern independence is recent, is built on a fragile equilibrium which cannot easily take traumas. It is not the solid balance of the cement-less vault of medieval cathedrals, but the delicate one of a pyramid of Chinese acrobats. Mess around with one and the whole thing collapses, as happened several times over the past half century. To expect its authorities and modest armed forces to do other people's dirty work in as unrealistic as it is unjust. If the genesis of the Hezbollah problem are Iran and Syria, supposedly card-carrying members of the Axis of Evil, how come their territory is not being attacked, whereas poor Lebanon is obliterated?
THE PERPETRATOR AND HIS ACTS The answer is: the cowardly bully always targets the weak and defenceless. To call Israel a Terrorist State would be an undeserved compliment. Terrorists at least have an ulterior motive, however warped it may sometimes be. Israel is a Vandal State. Vandals just destroy for the sheer pleasure of causing harm. Within a few days, this trading country's transport and energy infrastructure is in ruins, and half a million of its population are refugees. Its painful recovery from a long and also foreign-induced internal conflict has been wiped out at a stroke. Its trading and tourist activities are dead. It will probably have to default on its large public debt, much of which is held by its own banking system which in turn might become insolvent. Customs revenues are one of
the main sources of treasury income. The cosmopolitan fabric of its population will once again be ruined by the mass exodus, which will take years to reverse, if ever. Meanwhile, there is an immediate humanitarian problem of massive roportions, when medical help cannot even get to the victims, and the power hortage prevents even those getting to a hospital from getting proper treatment.
TIRED ARGUMENTS The main argument presented by Israel to justify its actions is Self Defence. This does not stand any scrutiny. Both national and international laws restrict your field of action in this respect. If you are a private individual and someone throws stones at your house, you can try to stop them and nobody will blame you for it. However, you have no legal nor moral right to go to his house, kill his family, set fire to his possessions, and then go on to do the same with his neighbours, the whole town where he came from and the whole country it is situated in. Articles 33 and 147 of the Geneva Convention are very clear about banning collective unishment and destroying targets of no military relevance.
It is amazing that a state with a secret service and armed forces that carry such a high reputation, could not seek out the Hezbollah culprits who "kidnapped" three of its soldiers (whatever happened to the concept of prisoners of war, aren't they part and parcel of a military conflict?). Instead, not just areas known to be used as Hezbollah hideouts, not just the country's entire infrastructure, but residential areas of both Muslims & Christians, not to mention United Nation posts and more have been struck.
Now there is a land invasion developing. The refugees who cannot leave the country are clogging up the capital, causing an immediate refugee situation which will then turn into deep social tension.
The territory of Lebanon will not only accumulate understandable additional
hatred against Israel, but will become a place of unrest which cannot be of any comfort to its neighbour. Their old claim to annex Lebanon up to the Litani river may be fulfilled, but it will only increase the pressure in the overpopulated remainder of the country. Physics 101.
Let me get on to a more controversial argument, that of Israel's Right to
Exist. I think by its behaviour as a Rogue State, it has long lost this right. Having a right to a country is not divine, even for God's chosen people. It is a capricious gift of history. Some have it, others have it for a while, and others never get it. Nobody has the right to mess up the whole of humanity every few years, in order to "guarantee" their own geographical survival. The Kurds are a nation that never managed to have a country, but they are not responsible for the 1973 start of the long rise in oil prices, which were multiplied by 30x in the following 33 years. The
Poles have been in and out of having a country for most of their history, and though France and Britain went to war for them in 1939, they were sold down the river as soon as WWII ended. The Kashmiri are fighting for a country. We Armenians were without one for the best part of a thousand years. Did we go out and steal anybody else's country as a result? Does Hillary Clinton say for us what she said last week ("We will stand with Israel because Israel is standing for American values as well as Israeli ones"). Those values appear closer these days to those of Corporal Schillgrüber in the 1930's.
THE CURSE If it is anything but a small consolation, everyone I have spoken to in recent days has been highly critical of Israel. It is understandable that the US administration has done nothing to prevent or stop this outrage, but the indifference of the Europeans is harder to fathom. In any case, the damage is done. A wonderful country has been wilfully destroyed. It might recover, one day. There is a spot just north of Beirut, a gorge through which flows the Nahr el Kalb (the River of the Dog). From Antiquity, it became a tradition for conquerors passing through Lebanon to carve their names on the stony walls of the river bank. Assyrian kings, Egyptian Pharaohs, Greek and Roman generals and the more modern armies (such as the nostalgic Régiment de Marche du Tonkin of the French Army). Tourist guides loved to show them to visitors and say: "they all
came, they all went, but we are still here"). Maybe, Insh'allah, they will
still be there again. In the meantime, I am putting an old Armenian curse
on the State of Israel and all those who sail in her, adding that if God
elected that as the country of his chosen people, I do not know who is the
schmuck who gave Him the voting bulletin. The Armenian Curse is very
effective but secret, though I can tell you that compared to its
consequences, the Seven Plagues of Egypt appear as harmless as an old
ladies' bridge afternoon.
The day before Yom Kippur, you have to seek forgiveness from all the people
you have wronged. On the day of Yom Kippur, you have to seek forgiveness from God. There are things, however, which have no forgiveness.
Thou shalt fall upon the mountains of Israel, thou, and all thy bands, and the people that is with thee: I will give thee unto the ravenous birds of every sort, and to the beasts of the field to be devoured. Thou shalt fall upon the open field: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD." (Eze 39:4-5)