August 2006: Israeli war planes bombed a funeral of 15 people, mostly children, who died a day earlier in an Israeli attack on a residential building in my hometown of Ghazieh in South Lebanon. Fourteen people were killed. My father took part in the funeral. He said the men had to hide all the bodies and then smuggle them into the cemetery one by one, without a proper ceremony or memorial service.
January 2012: Despite the security and military siege of the village of Nawa, Daraa in Syria, the townspeople amassed and participated in the funeral procession of Ali al-Muzeeb, a high school student, shot and killed by Assad’s security forces. The regime’s forces encircled the procession and responded with intense gunfire which led to the death of eleven more. Assad’s security forces and thugs later raided the private hospital in the town and attempted to kidnap the wounded.
April 1996: During “Operation Grapes of Wrath,” Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) shelled a UN compound near Qana in the south of Lebanon, killing 106 civilians, including 33 children. One week earlier, an IDF Helicopter fired rockets at a vehicle carrying 13 civilians fleeing the village of Al-Mansouri in the South, killing two women and four children. An Amnesty International investigation revealed that none of the passengers were connected to Hezbollah.
January 2012: Eight children, ranging between eight months and nine years in age, were among 14 Bahader family members shot in a building in the Karm al-Zeitoun neighborhood of Homs. The militiamen, or ‘shabiha,’ entered the neighborhood after Assad’s forces fired heavy mortar rounds on the area, killing another 16 people.
July 2006: Israeli jets bombed a three-story building near Qana in South Lebanon, killing 28 civilians, of which 16 were children.
January 2012: All four of Maad Tayea’s children, who had been arrested in September by Syrian security forces, died in a fire while sleeping at their home in Latakia. According to relatives, security forces caused the fire after repeatedly shooting at the house.
January 2009: UN officials report that more than a third of those killed during Israel’s assault on Gaza were children. An estimated 1,080 children were wounded.
January 2012: The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said that as of January 7, 2012, 384 children have been killed in Syria. An estimated 380 children have been detained, some as young as 14-years-old, Rima Saleh, acting UNICEF deputy executive director, told reporters in Geneva last Friday.
The list can go on and on. But the issue remains: this is a regime holding on to power in the name of resisting Israel. This is a regime that still receives the support of many in Lebanon because it backs Hezbollah and its “sacred” resistance. This is a regime that Hezbollah supporters defend because they cannot forget the pain caused by Israel’s crimes in Lebanon. And yet, this is a regime inflicting the same pain on its own people.
It is not a matter of double-standards. This is blindness and idiocy. It is the urge to retreat into communal stability that makes so many Lebanese incapable of human sympathy. Hezbollah’s political agenda depends on protecting its only Arab ally. The two are considered partners in crime by Syrian protesters. But the Shia community in Lebanon should know better, especially when it comes to human suffering and grief. They understand injustice and have paid in blood and lives to fight it. If anyone should sympathize with the Syrian people, it should be them.
Israel prefers to keep the Syrian regime in power, a weaker regime, of course; but better than any another, especially an Islamic one. The West wants to protect Israel. Hezbollah knows this, but instead tells its supporters that without this regime, the Palestinian cause will vanish and the Resistance will lose its best ally. But is the Palestinian cause enough to justify turning a blind eye to the killing of so many innocent people? How can the Palestinian cause be advanced through supporting oppression?
Assad is falling fast. When his regime is gone, and the Syrians start rebuilding their country as they see fit, relations with Lebanon will also be rebuilt. Do we want the Syrians to look at the Shia community in Lebanon as cohorts in a heinous effort to systematically murder democratic protesters? Will Hezbollah be able to contain the Lebanese Shia and protect them from the winds of freedom flying in from Syria?
The notion of resistance is changing. The ruthless dictator and his supporters are the enemy. A new resistance is taking shape in the Arab world, and the Lebanese Shia should start looking at themselves and their country from a new perspective. It is time to realize that their own leader is just another dictator who reeks of arrogance.
Hanin Ghaddar is the managing editor of NOW Lebanon.