Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Plain Truth Article on Lebanon War (1982)

In the September-October 1982 issue of The Plain Truth there are two articles by Keith Stump discussing the war in Lebanon. "Lebanon's Future: Foretold in the Bible" (pp. 4, 40, 42) and "When Women and Children Suffer" (pp. 5-6, 42). The first article is more religious in nature. The second is more focused on the conflict itself.

Before this starts I wish to emphasize that as far as I understand it Keith Stump has changed a lot since the splintering of WCG and is presently not as he was when he wrote this article. This is analyzed not with spite but with seeking to understand what WCG's leaders told their readers about this topic at the time.

Let us take a look at the latter article.
After the collapse of Ottoman rule, Lebanon was administered under French mandate from 1920 to 1941. Lebanon gained complete independence in 1946, with the evacuation of all foreign troops. (p. 5.)
France and Britain made a secret treaty named the Sykes-Picot Agreement in 1916 that divided up land formerly controlled by the Ottoman Empire into spheres of influences controlled by Britain and France. (Russia was also part of the Agreement until they left the war.) Britain got what became Iraq, Jordan and Palestine. France got Syria and Lebanon. This arrangement was legitimized via the League of Nations after the war.

To make it easier to rule Lebanon the French rulers rearranged Lebanese society in such a way that the Christian majority were in charge and Lebanese society was divided along religious lines. Even though the French left in 1946 after much protests against their rule by the Lebanese people this arrangement continued. One book that discusses the sectarian divisions in Lebanon is The Politics of Sectarianism in Post-War Lebanon (2015).

But as the Muslims gradually came to outnumber the Christians they naturally wanted this increasingly unequal and irrational division of power to be rearranged. Unfortunately some chose not to change. Tensions escalated until in 1975 the divisions exploded into full scale civil war.
The Palestinians are those Arabs native to the territories occupied by Israel in the Six Day War of 1967. They fled from mandated Palestine in 1948 when the state of Israel was founded and again in 1967 from Jordanian-ruled areas of Palestine that are now under Israeli military rule.(p. 5.)
Stump is quite correct to note that the territories were placed under Israeli military rule. While East Jerusalem was annexed to unify Jerusalem under Israeli rule the West Bank and the Gaza Strip were not annexed but instead placed under Israeli military rule under the jurisdiction of COGAT (the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories) which is a part of the Israeli Ministry of Defense.

There was also many Palestinians who were left alone and stayed in the 1948-67 borders of the State of Israel. (Sometimes by accident.) These Palestinians were placed under military rule until 1966. Unintentionally or not those Palestinian citizens of Israel are left unmentioned in the article.
Neighboring Arab countries, including Lebanon, opened their doors to them.
During the Israeli War of Independence about 750,000 Palestinians were expelled and fled outside of the State of Israel. Of course estimates vary as may be seen in the following words.
Statistics for refugee figures have been as high as 935,573 according to UNRWA registrations, to as low as 530,000 according to some Israeli sources. The British Foreign Office estimated the total number of refugees to be 810,000 in February 1949 and then issued a revised estimate of 600,000. The UNCCP Technical Office gave a figure of 760,000. The US government estimated a total refugee population of 875,000 as of 1953. [It states elsewhere that the consensus figure is now about 750,000.] (Beyond Occupation, 2011, p. 292.)
These Palestinian refugees fled to the surrounding countries including Lebanon. The Palestinian refugees yearned to return home but the State of Israel would not allow them to return. Lebanon was forced to take these refugees in out of humanitarian necessity.
The Palestinians now seek to set up their own fully sovereign nation on the West Bank of the Jordan River and in the Gaza Strip, areas under Israeli administration. (p. 5.)
In other words Fatah at this time was fighting to establish an independent Palestinian state only on the territories occupied by the State of Israel after the Six Day War. This was not necessarily true with some of the other factions but it was true of Fatah. It would appear the Israeli government under Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon was not interested in this proposal.
... fighting continued on and off between the Christian militias and Palestinians, as did Israeli retaliatory raids on PLO bases in southern Lebanon. The Israeli attacks, coupled with ongoing Israeli-Egyptian peace negotiations, gradually changed the Syrian perspective. Syria and the PLO-now effectively under Syria's control-began to share with Lebanon's Moslems a fear of growing cooperation between Lebanese Christian militias and Israel. (p. 5.)
It is incorrect to say the PLO was under Syria's control. It is true that one faction, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command, was always under Syria's control. But this was not true of the PLO as a whole, including Fatah, as inaccurately alleged here.

Furthermore now that there was a distinct possibility of peace with Egypt it would appear that Israel's leaders felt they had a free hand to operate in Lebanon now that they were unafraid of Egypt intervening.
The picture over the past few years was one of a long series of military exchanges along the Israeli-Lebanese border. Attacks on Israel by PLO guerrillas, followed by retaliatory strikes by Israel against Palestinian enclaves in Lebanon, followed by Palestinian reprisals on Israeli villages. (p. 6.)
And why were the PLO striking at Israel from Lebanon? Because they were trying to go home in the former territory of Mandate Palestine and, in Fatah's case, establish a Palestinian state on the territory that the State of Israel acquired in 1967.
At the moment, 97 separate political parties and militias are vying for position within Lebanon! Tragically, caught in the crossfire have been thousands of civilian victims, including uncounted thousands of women and children. (p. 6.)
An all too true statement regarding any war.

Stump also discusses the bombardment of southern Lebanon and Beirut in July, 1981. It discusses the humanitarian toll with surprising detail.
Lebanese newspapers described the Israeli attack on Beirut as the bloodiest air raid against an Arab city in the 33-year history of Arab-Israeli conflict. More than 300 died and 800 were wounded in Beirut during the air attacks. Most of the victims-including scores of women, children and babies--were Lebanese and Palestinian civilians. (p. 6.)
It should be noted that the Palestinians in Lebanon are not citizens of Lebanon. With the large and unwanted influx of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon their presence upset the balance of power in Lebanon since they were predominantly Sunni Muslim. So they were not citizens of Lebanon. As such they were excluded from many things in Lebanese society. So of course the Palestinians wanted to go home.

And even if the Palestinian refugees had been accepted as civilians in Lebanon en masse they no doubt would have still yearned to return home in the former territory of what used to be Mandate Palestine.
The stated target of the Israeli planes was the PLO's offices in West Beirut. These offices, however, escaped virtually unscathed, while the most serious damage was sustained in surrounding areas of concentrated civilian population. (p. 6.)
Is this an indication of incompetence on the part of the Israeli armed forces?

Criticism of the bombardment is discussed. At one point it is mentioned that some Israelis complained that Prime Minister Begin was imitating the PLO.
Even within Israel itself, the morality of the attacks in populous civilian districts was hotly debated. Opponents of Prime Minister Begin dubbed him the "Mad Bomber" and labeled the raids "an act of irrationality. " Citing the tragic losses of Israeli civilians to PLO terror attacks, some Israelis wondered out loud whether Mr. Begin had been taking lessons out of the PLO handbook. In the end, the efforts of diplomatic troubleshooter Habib succeeded in arranging a cease-fire. (pp. 6, 42.)
Considering how staunchly pro-Israel the COGs tend to be it is surprising to see such things mentioned in a Plain Truth article.

Unfortunately this ceasefire did not last long.
The precarious U.S.-engineered cease-fire, however, came to an abrupt end at the beginning of June of this year. Following the attempted assassination of Israel's ambassador in London, Israeli warplanes attacked PLO targets in southern Lebanon and in Beirut. (p. 42.)
Unintentionally or not it is unmentioned that this was the work of the Abu Nidal Organization, a terrorist outfit that had broken away from Fatah and was aligned with Iraq. It was notorious for trying to sabotage any attempts to make peace. Back in November 1974 Fatah sentenced Abu Nidal to death but they were unable to execute this sentence. It is absurd to imagine Fatah had anything to do with the infamous Abu Nidal Organization. Nevertheless this attempted assassination by the Abu Nidal Organization was cited by Israeli authorities to launch the invasion of Lebanon.
The Israeli bombing raids culminated in a full-scale Israeli invasion of Lebanon beginning on June 6. Though such an attack had long been rumored as Israelis became increasingly angered over PLO guerrilla activity against towns in Galilee, the scope of the June invasion surprised many Israelis themselves. (p. 42.)
Even many Israelis were surprised and appears to have disagreed with the decision to escalate the conflict in this manner. This indicates that the decision to invade southern Lebanon was not widely discussed with the Israeli public.
Israel correctly calculated that the continuing disarray in the Arab world would prevent a united Arab response to the extensive invasion. (p. 42.)
Which was partly caused by Egypt's decision to make peace with Israel to get the Sinai Peninsula back. With Egypt no longer a military threat the leaders of Israel were confident enough to advance into Lebanon without worrying of some sort of military attack from Egypt.
Israeli forces also came into direct conflict with Syrian forces stationed in Lebanon. Syrian and Israeli warplanes engaged in the biggest aerial clash since the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. Israeli jets also succeeded in knocking out Syria's controversial surface-to-air missile batteries in the Bekaa valley.

The PLO military structure in Lebanon was shattered by the Israeli invasion. In the first 10 days alone, 100 guerrilla tanks were destroyed . More than 2,000 Palestinian guerrillas were killed and 6,000 taken prisoner. Thousands more were put to flight. During the same period, the Syrians lost more than 1,000 soldiers. Three hundred Syrian tanks were destroyed and 85 Syrian MiG jets were shot down.

Israel 's losses, though considerably fewer, were the highest of any Israeli military action since the 1973 Middle East War: 240 soldiers killed, 1,120 wounded. (p. 42.)
In other words the State of Israel proved its superior military strength compared with the rest of the Middle East once again.
As of this writing, Israel is demanding that the PLO be prevented from rebuilding its military structure in southern Lebanon as part of the political price of the withdrawal of Israel 's invading army. As a long-term goal, Israel is also demanding guarantees of the eventual removal of " all foreign forces"-specifically those of Syria and the PLO-from Lebanon. (p. 42.)
In other words the Israeli government of the time did not like the PLO's proposal to, as quoted earlier, "set up their own fully sovereign nation on the West Bank of the Jordan River and in the Gaza Strip".
For its part, the beleaguered PLO refuses to concede defeat. It declares that regardless of where it is based, the PLO will carry on the fight "until the Palestinian homeland is reclaimed from Israel." (p. 42.)
Meaning, in Fatah's case, the land acquired by the State of Israel in 1967. And later under Prime Minister Rabin attempts were made to concede to the Palestinians but his assassination at the hands of an Israeli extremist tragically cut short that remarkable opportunity to make peace.

What was not anticipated in this article was that southern Lebanon, through which the Israelis advanced, was predominantly inhabited by Lebanese Shia Muslims. Some of these Lebanese Shia would organize themselves and launch an armed insurgency to overthrow Israeli rule in southern Lebanon. They organized themselves as a movement. They named this movement the Party of God. Hezbollah. In 2000 the State of Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon and now Hezbollah is stationed on the border just north of the State of Israel.
The Soviet Union meanwhile has warned Israel that the Jewish state will be "punished " for its invasion of Lebanon. (p. 42.)
And what did they do to Israel after this?

Stump ends this article with the following words.
No solution will finally be possible until the larger Palestinian problem is resolved. And there are increasing numbers of observers who believe that problem may be insolvable by human beings! (p. 42.)
In other words the Israeli government of the time did not like the PLO's proposal to, as quoted earlier, "set up their own fully sovereign nation on the West Bank of the Jordan River and in the Gaza Strip" and the invasion of Lebanon was part of preventing such a result from occurring. But Armstrongite dogma insists that problems cannot be solved until Christ returns.

May peace soon come to the Holy Land.

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