Something tells me that I wasn’t the only one that first gasped, was later amazed, laughed and then brushed aside the news that a delegation from March 14 would be going to Gaza. But on November 27, a delegation of journalists and three MPs went indeed, as a show of solidarity with the Palestinian people in view of the latest Israeli assault.
It was hard to see the visit as anything but a calculated move purely for domestic political consumption. Worse of all, March 14 made it all so clear for any doubters when it issued a statement saying that the visit aimed at reinforcing the fact that no single party (i.e. Hezballah) held a monopoly on defending Arab causes.
Lebanese politics aside, this begs the question on ways Hezballah has “defended Arab causes,” how its adversaries have and plan to continue doing so, and whether Lebanon should always embark on a solo battle in doing so. I am certainly an advocate of the need for a genuine Arab strategy to face common Arab causes in general and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in particular, but not at the expense of one or two countries paying the price of the indifference of others towards pressing problems and failure to provide any viable solutions.
I certainly cannot question people’s empathy towards Gaza, regardless of political affiliation or creed, but having Lebanese Forces MP Antoine Zahra shaking hands with Hamas PM Ismail Haniya was just too bizarre to watch. Surely, history evolves and people change, but considering that Lebanon has yet to properly reconcile with its recent past, an important part of which are Lebanese-Palestinian relations, the picture couldn’t look more surreal.
Let’s just say March 14 certainly did hit Gaza town, but was working politics in the wrong and most inappropriate of neighborhoods.
2 Replies to “March 14 is Coming to Town”
March 14’s regional allies have all shown interest and support to Gaza recently. The need to follow-suit, and appear in the club, could have been the main driver to March 14’s visit.
Moreover, it helps their agenda to seize the perception that Iran, Syria & affiliates are losing influence in Gaza.
To be on a par with regional peers may have been one reason, but for all intents and purposes, their statements were all clearly directed to the local political audience. It probably would have been better if they stayed in Beirut and expressed their support if you ask me. Syria per se has surely lost its influence in Palestinian politics, most notably as Hamas’ Meshal relocated to Cairo. I still think March 14 would be overstretching way beyond its capacity in playing regional politics, when it can’t keep its house in order and come up with a viable vision for Lebanon.