Professor speaks to students about war in Lebanon

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

As part of his North American tour, Professor As’ad Abukhalil spoke at King’s University College on “The Israeli War on Lebanon” Monday night.

Abukhalil is the author of four books on Middle East issues and a frequent contributor to major news outlets. The California State University professor’s 35-minute presentation sparked heated discussion during the hour-long Q&A session.

Abukhalil, 47, has lived through Israeli attacks on Palestine, Lebanon, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq and an air strike on a Libyan airliner. The most tragic incident he recalled was the levelling of his neighbours’ home in southern Lebanon while he remained shocked and frozen in his home only metres away from a site devastated by an Israeli concussion bomb.

He has been influenced by Middle-East politics since his teenage years, but said, “never would I succumb to anti-Semitic action; I speak and write against it in English and Arabic.”

Abukhalil said a universality exists within a problem found throughout the world: “The thriving of fundamentalism in all religions.”

He breaks down fundamentalism amongst Christians, Jews, and Islamists as similar in that they are mysoginistic, sexist, against the enlightenment, and opposed to secularization.

Abukhalil isn’t surprised regarding the handling of the war in Lebanon and its outcome. He emphasized the retreat Israel was forced into in the 2000 invasion that repeated itself this summer.

He believes the war was premeditated, and not, as the West claims, “a spontaneous response to crossing the blue line " a border demarcation between Lebanon and Israel, including the Golan Heights, published by the United Nations in June 2000 to determine whether Israel had fully withdrawn from Lebanon " the capture of two soldiers, and a killing of eight.”

In place of this assumption, Abukhalil said the war was preconceived by the United States and Israel. He cited an August 2006 San Francisco Chronicle article revealing Israeli officials had briefed Pentagon officials about plans for a large-scale attack months before the summer events occurred.

Abukhalil said Hezbollah took on the task the Lebanese army hadn’t: defending Lebanese borders from the Israeli attack. He added Israel isn’t justified in attacking wide-scale for the crossing of the blue line by Hezbollah. He also said Hezbollah had crossed the blue line 100 times and Israel had violated the blue line 11,872 times since 2000.

When asked by an audience member about Hezbollah’s political leanings he replied it shouldn’t be placed on a political spectrum as it has no socioeconomic strategy. Hezbollah’s main focus is fighting the occupation.

Abukhalil offered little optimism for peace in the conflict.

“Israel’s ability to keep the occupation and maintain itself as an aggressor far surpasses the economic consideration,” he said.

Abukhalil said after a summer interview with Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s leader, he believes Hezbollah won’t lay down its arms.

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