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News ::
Stalking the Maronites (english)
13 Oct 2003
INDIVIDUAL CIVILIANS everywhere basically want peace and security, be they Jews, Christians or Muslims. But ideology transforms some of them - like Hanadi Jaradat - into human missiles. We know about the jihadists and their views. But most people know very little about the Christians of Lebanon who have been undone by events in that country.

When al-Jazeera reported the October 4 suicide attack against Maxim's restaurant in Haifa, its reporter said "the restaurant is co-owned by an Arab. A number of Arabs were killed in the explosion."

At first glance, this is not striking news. It is not the first time Arabs have been killed by istishadis - Islamist suicide bombers. Nor are Israeli Arab casualties particularly remarkable in jihadist operations against Jews.

A third of Haifa's population is Arab. Moreover, many pro-Jihad observers have long warned that Muslims and Arabs could become collateral damage in martyrdom strikes. That is what happened, and will continue to happen. This forces al-Jazeera's pundits to find ways of justifying the murders.

But the attacked restaurant in southern Haifa was not owned by an "Arab," nor were most of the killed workers "Arabs." And herein lies a deeper story.

It turns out that the owner of Maxim's is a Lebanese Christian. George Matar is not an Arab. He is a Maronite from Lebanon whose roots are Aramaic. Many of the workers who were murdered or injured are Lebanese Christian as well.

Al-Jazeera - and other Arab media - missed that point, possibly intentionally. For indicating the real ethnic and religious identities of the owners and the workers would open a new chapter in the jihadists' war, both in Israel and in the Middle East.

Non Shabbat-observing Haifa Jews eat at various local restaurants. Why would Islamist suicide bombers knowingly target a Lebanese Christian restaurant in Israel, when they could have attacked any culinary establishment?

So why did bomber Hanadi Jaradat select this particular eatery?

Was she there to kill Jews or Christians, or both? And, how did Abu Charbel - owner George Matar - fall victim to the Islamist war against Israel?

INDIVIDUAL CIVILIANS everywhere basically want peace and security, be they Jews, Christians or Muslims. But ideology transforms some of them - like Hanadi Jaradat - into human missiles. We know about the jihadists and their views. But most people know very little about the Christians of Lebanon who have been undone by events in that country.

Matar, his family and relatives, including a nephew who died in the blast just several days before his wedding, all came from across the Israel-Lebanon border. A million and a half Lebanese Christians live under Syrian occupation and Hizbullah intimidation. This represents almost half of Lebanon's population. It is the Christian ethnic group which is the older community in Lebanon.

Lebanese Maronites are descendants of ancient Aramaics, also known as Phoenicians. As a group, they have resisted the onslaught of the Arab-Islamic conquests for more than 13 centuries. Now, defeated in 1990 after a 15-year war with the PLO, Syria and the Islamists' network, the Christian community has fallen under occupation.

In the previous decade, a small number of Christians, along with some Muslims and Druse allied themselves with their Jewish neighbors to the south. In southern Lebanon, they formed an enclave which the world called "Israel's security zone."

In May 2000, the Clinton administration and Ehud Barak's government abandoned those "last of the Mohicans" to Hizbullah.

More than 6,000 Christian Lebanese crossed the border into Israel in an unprecedented exodus. Ba'athist Syria, Ayatollah Khomeini's Iran and Saudi Wahabi Jihadists claimed victory: The infidels had been driven out of Lebanon. Tomorrow, they hope, the remaining infidels will be driven out of Palestine.

Among the thousands of refugees now in the Galilee are men and women who had no other choice but to restart their "infidel" lives south of their homeland. For Matar, that meant opening a restaurant in Haifa.

Hizbullah and Palestinian radicals are now stalking Lebanese Christians in exile. Out of Beirut, scores of Khomeinist and pro-Syrian propagandists are calling on the jihadists of the "occupied lands" to strike not only against the Jews, but also against their "agents" who took refuge amongst them.

Anti-Maronite hate literature abounds in Syrian-occupied Lebanon, and in cyberworld. Throughout the 1990s jihadists and their allies vilified the Christians of Lebanon. Those living in the south Lebanese security zone were the most abhorred. For they were among the very few Christians who openly allied themselves with the "Zionists." In jihad logic, they were also Zionists, and hence needed be targeted as such.

Although many Muslim Arab regional leaders warned against further persecution of Middle East Christians in the wake of September 11, the jihadists to the contrary escalated their war against all "people of the book."

The lowest of the people of the book, in the eyes of the intolerant jihadists, are those Lebanese Christians who chose to live in Israel as a free people instead of abiding by Hizbullah's and Syria's diktats in occupied Lebanon. Hence, their fate has merged with Israel's: annihilation by martyrdom operations.

The attack on Matar's Maxim restaurant may be understood as a direct result of jihadist intolerance. Middle East jihadists have long chanted "Today Saturday, tomorrow Sunday" - al-yom al sabt wa ghadan al-ahad. This alludes to their war against the Jews first, then followed by the Christians.

Thus, in the Haifa operation, the jihadists are showing their impatience. For the soldiers of Osama bin Laden around the world there is only one day from now on: Saturday is Sunday.
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