To the Editors of The Crimson:
Recently two articles appeared on The Crimson mail page criticizing an earlier letter (George Bisharat "Questioning Israel's Morality," March 5th). In these responses Israel is portrayed as a nation morally aware of its responsibility in Lebanon, and as a nation which has completely atoned for the events which took place there this summer.
Within the narrow focus of the Israeli Commission of Inquiry's report on the Beirut massacres was lost the larger issue of Lebanon, a nation which is now struggling to rebuild itself out of a shattered past. On this point the Israeli sense of responsibility seems to be lacking since it is apparent that recent Israeli action has worked more towards hindering this effort rather than aiding it. Although the leaders of Israel claim to be aware of the fundamental need for a strong and independent Lebanon, their policies belie their words. Israel has long harbored ambitions of fragmenting Lebanon into a series of states designed to be sectarian and rightist in character.
Working from this perspective the Israelis are exploiting the multi-religious character of the Lebanese population by arming and supporting various political factions within Lebanon. Through this selective process the Israelis are tailoring the political climate of Lebanon to suit their needs. "The Israelis have created several Shiite Moslem militias, armed the Lebanese Forces. Christian militias which has units here, promoted former Lebanese Army Major Salid Haddad, whose forces they have armed and equipped for five years, and are now attempting to form a Sunni Moslem militia here in Sidon," (Washington Post, March 10)
With such evidence it can hardly be argued that the Israelis are at all concerned with the sovereignty of Lebanon. Surely the Israelis realize that in order to reassert its authority the Lebanese Government must eventually disarm all private militias, yet the flow of arms continues. The consequences of this policy were witnessed earlier this month as Druze militiamen, partially armed and aided by the Israelis, defeated a Phalangist force, which had also been supported by the Israelis, in the town of Aley.
Economically the situation is just as serious although less obvious. To rebuild itself Lebanon will require billions of dollars in economic aid. This aid will depend heavily on sound and friendly trade relations between Lebanon and its brother Arab states. Yet the Israelis are indifferent to this fact and continue to insist that Lebanon enter into an open trade agreement before troop withdrawals take place.
Israel is well aware of the disastrous effect such an agreement would have on the Lebanese economy. As the Lebanese Foreign Minister put it, "this country could not endanger its trading relationship with 22 Arab states for the sake of a single one with Israel." (Rebecca Trounson, Boston Globe, March 13). Israel's response was blunt with chief negotiator David Kimche reportedly saying "there was no reason to continue negotiations if the Lebanese insisted on a closed border." (Trounson, Boston Globe, March 13).
Further, since the June invasion the Israelis have been shipping large amounts of fruits and vegetables across the border in South Lebanon. Because Israeli agriculture is subsidized by the government Israeli merchants can afford to undercut the prices of the local farming population in South Lebanon, seriously tightening their main source of income.
Despite these blatant acts undermining the efforts and authority of Lebanon's central government, Israel still insists that it respects Lebanese sovereignty, a claim the Israelis feel frees them from shouldering any responsibility for the deteriorating situation in Lebanon. The war may be over but the tragedy of the Lebanese people remains. Allen Shaheen '84