US embassy cable - 01BEIRUT1935

ANTI-ISRAELI AND ANTI-U.S. RHETORIC ON THE RISE

Identifier: 01BEIRUT1935
Wikileaks: View 01BEIRUT1935 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Beirut
Created: 2001-08-06 15:06:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PGOV PREL KPAL PTER IS SY LE
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
P 061506Z AUG 01
FM AMEMBASSY BEIRUT
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7141
ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BEIRUT 001935 
 
PARIS FOR OFRIEL, LONDON FOR GOLDRICH 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL:  08/03/11 
TAGS:  PGOV, PREL, KPAL, PTER, IS, SY, LE 
SUBJECT:  ANTI-ISRAELI AND ANTI-U.S. RHETORIC ON THE 
RISE 
 
CLASSIFIED BY CHARGE DAVID HALE.  REASON 1.5 B&D 
 
1. (C) SUMMARY.  LAST WEEK'S UPSURGE IN VIOLENCE IN 
ISRAEL DREW WIDESPREAD CONDEMNATION FROM GOL 
OFFICIALS, THE MEDIA, HIZBALLAH, AND MUSLIM LEADERS. 
THE JULY 31 ATTACK AT NABLUS INTENSIFIED ANTI-ISRAELI 
RHETORIC, WHILE SPARKING CRITICISM OF THE U.S. 
HIZBALLAH CONDEMNED THE ISRAELI ATTACKS AND CALLED 
UPON ARAB STATES TO USE ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL 
PRESSURE TO FORCE THE U.S. TO CHANGE ITS REGIONAL 
POLICY.  LEBANON'S MOST PROMINENT SUNNI RELIGIOUS 
LEADER CALLED UPON THE ISLAMIC WORLD TO SUPPORT THE 
PALESTINIANS WHILE WAGING JIHAD TO PROTECT THE HOLY 
SITES IN JERUSALEM.  FORCED TO WATCH THE INTIFADA FROM 
THE SIDELINES, LEBANON'S PALESTINIANS VENTED THEIR 
FRUSTRATIONS THOUGH A WEEK-LONG SERIES OF MARCHES AND 
RALLIES IN REFUGEE CAMPS ACROSS THE COUNTRY.  THE AL- 
AQSA MARTYRS BRIGADE, A RADICAL OFFSHOOT OF FATAH, 
WARNED OF ATTACKS AGAINST ISRAELI AND U.S. TARGETS. 
END SUMMARY. 
 
2. (C) GOVERNMENT SPEAKS UP.  KNOWN FOR EXPRESSING 
ONLY THE MOST PERFUNCTORY SUPPORT FOR THE PALESTINIAN 
CAUSE, THE LEBANESE GOVERNMENT FELT COMPELLED TO SPEAK 
OUT AFTER LAST WEEK'S VIOLENCE IN JERUSALEM, THE WEST 
BANK, AND GAZA.  IN WHAT WAS FOR HIM A RARE PUBLIC 
EXPRESSION ON THE MATTER, PM HARIRI KICKED OFF THE 
WAVE OF GOL CRITICISM, CALLING ISRAEL'S JULY 29 
"ASSAULT" ON THE AL-AQSA MOSQUE "AN ATTEMPT TO EXPUNGE 
THE ARAB AND ISLAMIC IDENTITY" FROM THE SITE. 
RETURNING TO A MORE MUTED TONE, PM HARIRI RESPONDED TO 
THE JULY 31 ATTACK IN NABLUS BY WARNING, "THE FLOW OF 
BLOOD IS ABOUT TO THREATEN THE WHOLE REGION," AND 
CALLED ON THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY TO STOP THE 
MASSACRE OF PALESTINIANS. 
 
3. (U) SPEAKER/AMAL LEADER NABIH BERRI DELIVERED A 
HARSHER DENUNCIATION, CALLING THE ISRAELI ACTION "THE 
HIGHEST LEVEL OF STATE TERRORISM."  SEEKING TO BOLSTER 
AMALQS POSITION IN THE UPCOMING MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS IN 
THE SOUTH, BERRI TOOK A SWIPE AT THE U.S., POINTEDLY 
NOTING THAT THE ISRAELIS "USED THE MOST SOPHISTICATED 
AMERICAN WEAPONS."  ALONE OF THE TROIKA, PRESIDENT 
LAHOUD MADE NO COMMENT ON THE NABLUS ATTACK. 
 
4. (U) HIZBALLAH LASHES OUT AT U.S.  HIZBALLAH 
RESPONDED TO THE UPSURGE IN VIOLENCE WITH A VOLLEY OF 
SUPPORT FOR THE PALESTINIANS.  CALLING THE DEFENSE OF 
JERUSALEM "A SACRED RESPONSIBILITY OF EVERY MUSLIM AND 
ARAB," HIZBALLAH ARRANGED MARCHES AND PROTESTS ALONG 
THE LEBANON-ISRAEL BORDER TO PRESS THEIR PONT HOME. 
AFTER THE NABLUS KILLINGS, HOWEVER, HIZBALLAH LAUNCHED 
A FIERY ASSAULT AGAINST THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION, 
CLAIMING IT BEARS "DIRECT RESPONSIBILITY" FOR THE 
KILLINGS "THROUGH THE SUPPORT IT EXTENDS TO THE 
ZIONIST ENTITY, AND THE JUSTIFICATION IT PROVIDES FOR 
THEIR CRIMES."  ALTHOUGH ACKNOWLEDGING SECRETARY 
POWELL'S CRITICISM OF ISRAEL'S POLICY OF TARGETED 
KILLINGS, SHIA CLERIC HUSAYN FADLALLAH IMPLIED THAT 
U.S. CONCERN WAS NOT GENUINE BECAUSE "U.S. VICE 
PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY DESCRIBED THE MASSACRES AS SELF 
DEFENSE BY THE ISRAELIS... AND PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH 
CALLED FOR SELF-RESTRAINT AS IF THE PALESTINIANS WERE 
EQUALLY THE SOURCE OF THE VIOLENCE."  REITERATING HIS 
CALL FOR AN ECONOMIC BOYCOTT ON THE U.S., FADLALLAH 
ALSO CALLED UPON THE ARABS TO "EXERT PRSSURE ON 
AMERICAN TROOPS IN THE GULF TO MAKE WASHINGTON 
CONCERNED ABOUT ITS POLICIES AND INTERESTS IN THE ARAB 
AND MUSLIM WORLDS." 
 
5. (U) PUNDITS ALSO BLAME US, EXPECT WIDER CONFLICT. 
CRITICIZING THE NABLUS ATTACK AS A "BLOODY MASSACRE" 
MANY LEBANESE NEWSPAPERS CARRIED GRUESOME CLOSE-UP 
PHOTOS OF THE CHILDREN KILLED IN THE ISRAELI 
OPERATION.  ALTHOUGH THE SECRETARY'S CRITICISM OF THE 
ATTACK DREW FRONT-PAGE COVERAGE, EDITORIALISTS TENDED 
TO BLAME THE U.S. FOR WHAT THEY SEE AS A WORSENING 
CRISIS.  IN AN EDITORIAL ENTITLED, "THE REGION IS 
ABOUT TO EXPLODE" PRO-LAHOUD DAILY, AL-BAYRAQ WROTE, 
"SHARON WILL BE SATISFIED WITH HIS JOB AS LONG AS HE 
RECEIVES AMERICAQS BLESSING... THE ATMOSPHERE OF WAR 
IS GETTING HEAVIER AND... SHARON IS PUSHING THE REGION 
TOWARDS THE ABYSS... HOWEVER, ONLY WASHINGTON IS 
RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS SITUATION." 
 
6. (U) SUNNIS JOIN THE FRAY.  AS THE WEEK DREW TO A 
CLOSE, THE HIGHEST-RANKING SUNNI FIGURE IN LEBANON, 
GRAND MUFTI SHAYKH MOHAMED RASHID QABBANI, ADDRESSED A 
GROUP OF 500 DEMONSTRATORS TO GARNER SUPPORT FOR THE 
PALESTINIANS.  DEPICTING THE CURRENT VIOLENCE AS A 
FIGHT FOR CONTROL OF MUSLIM SITES, QABBANI CALLED UPON 
ALL MUSLIMS TO JOIN THE JIHAD AGAINST ISRAEL BECAUSE 
IT "INTENDS TO DESTROY THE AL-AQSA MOSQUE IN ORDER TO 
BUILD ITS ALLEGED TEMPLE ON TOP OF IT."  QABBANI 
PROMISED THAT "WHEN THE TIME COMES, WE WILL JOIN YOU 
IN UPROOTING THE ISRAELI STATE.  WHEN THAT DAY COMES, 
NEITHER THEIR HELICOPTERS, NOR THEIR FLEETS NOR 
SUPPORTING POWERS WILL BE ABLE TO SAVE THEM." 
 
7. (U) PALESTINIAN PROTESTS.  PALESTINIANS IN LEBANON 
STAGED A SERIES OF PROTESTS AND SIT-INS THROUGHOUT THE 
WEEK.  THE OCCUPANTS OF THE AYN AL-HELWEH CAMP STAGED 
THE LARGEST DEMONSTRATION ON AUGUST 1, WITH NEARLY 
5,000 REFUGEES -- SOME 100 OF THEM REPORTEDLY ARMED -- 
TAKING TO THE STREETS OF THE CAMP.  THEY CHANTED DEATH 
THREATS TO SHARON, BURNT ISRAELI AND AMERICAN FLAGS, 
AND CARRIED BANNERS THREATENING TO "LIQUIDATE" 
PALESTINIAN COLLABORATORS.  SMALLER DEMONSTRATIONS 
WERE HELD IN SHATILA, BADDAWI AND RASHIDIYEH CAMPS, 
WHERE PROTESTORS CALLED FOR AN ESCALATION OF THE 
INTIFADA AND DEMANDED THAT THE ARAB STATES FULFILL 
THEIR COMMITMENTS TO THE PALESTINIANS. 
 
8. (U) RADICALS THREATEN THE U.S.  THE AL-AQSA MARTYRS 
BRIGADE, A RADICAL OFF-SHOOT OF FATAH, DELIVERED A 
LETTER TO THE AFP OFFICES IN BEIRUT ON AUGUST 1 
CLAIMING THEIR "FIGHTERS' WEAPONS WOULD BE POINTED 
TOWARDS TARGETS INSIDE THE ZIONIST ENTITY AND IN ALL 
PLACES WHERE ITS AMERICAN ALLIES ARE."  THE GROUP 
PROMISED TO INFLICT A "BLOODY INTERNATIONAL PUNISHMENT 
ON PRESIDENT BUSH'S ZIONIST CLIQUE TO MAKE IT PAY FOR 
ITS SUPPORT TO SHARON." 
 
9. (C) COMMENT: WHILE SUPPORT FOR THE PALESTINIANS 
REMAINS (AT BEST) LETHARGIC IN LEBANON, PUBLIC 
SYMPATHY FOR THE PALESTINIAN CAUSE IS ON THE RISE 
GIVEN THE PAST WEEK'S ENDLESS STREAMS OF MEDIA 
COVERAGE DEPICTING THE VICTIMS OF ISRAELI ROCKET, TANK 
AND SHOOTING ATTACKS.  CONFLICT AT AL-AQSA ALSO HITS A 
POPULAR CHORD IN THE MUSLIM COMMUNITY, RALLYING 
POLITICIANS AND RELIGIOUS FIGURES TO TAKE A STRONG 
PUBLIC STAND -- OR RISK BEING LEFT BEHIND. 
 
 
HALE 

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