Lebanese Intellectuals Unite

Tue Aug. 1, 2006 5:20 PM EDT

In a stirring editorial in today's Guardian, former British Foreign Office press secretary John Williams declares, "This crisis is a terrible failure for President Bush's championing of Middle East democracy." His rebuke stems from the fact that Israel's invasions of Gaza and Lebanon seem, at the present time, to have rendered moderate leaders like Mahmoud Abbas and Fouad Siniora impotent and marginal, while strengthening the hands' of extremists such as the leaders of Syria and Iran.

In the meantime, the Bush administration, and the neocons lauding its response to the crisis in Lebanon, can take comfort, perhaps, that Lebanese civil society—a crucial component of democratization—seems to be strengthening. In a letter being circulated online among intellectuals inside the country and abroad, 50-odd journalists, professors and poets have signed on to a core set of declarations and demands for their government and their peers. The unity comes with strong language:

We the undersigned declare:

1) Our conscious support for the Lebanese national resistance as it wages a war in defense of our sovereignty and independence, a war to release Lebanese imprisoned in Israel, a war to safeguard the dignity of the Lebanese and Arab people.

2) Our unambiguous refutation of the logic that accuses HizbAllah of having provided the "pretext" for the Israeli invasion. Israel did not invade Lebanon, destroy its infrastructure, displace and murder its populace because of the heroic operation carried out by HizbAllah. Israel has never needed a pretext to breach the sovereignty of Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, or other nations… How strange that Israel should wish to be the policeman in charge of executing UN Resolution 1559 when it has not yet executed any of the previously issued UN resolutions addressing its own actions, with the exception of the partial implementation of Resolution 425, which resulted essentially because of strikes inflicted by the armed Lebanese Resistance.

3) Our staunch condemnation of official American support for, and contribution to, the Israeli aggression. The war crimes Israel is currently committing, as well as those it committed in the past and will commit in the probable future, would not have occurred or occur yet without America's political and military support for Israel, that which is unmitigated by its allegedly unswerving espousal of Lebanese freedom, sovereignty, and independence.

But then, that's probably not what quite what the White House had mind…