Israel Does Not Fear Lebanon’s Failed Political System

In a press conference held by the son-in-law of the Lebanon’s president Gebran Bassil, he spoke of Israel’s fear of a regional competition with the Maronites and called for the West to help Lebanon maintain its political system. This idea has been echoed continually by Lebanon’s Christian leaders with complete conviction, while emphasising Israel's relentless attempt to destroy the Lebanese political sectarian power-sharing agreement borne of the fear that it weakens the principle of a Jewish state by demonstrating the possibility a system built upon political and religious diversity – or so they assume.

The relationship between the Maronites and the Jews as religious minorities in the east precedes the establishment of the Israeli state and centered around an alliance of minorities against the Muslim majority. This relationship was severed with the establishment of the Israel, but was soon renewed with the start of the Lebanese civil war in 1975 in the form of military cooperation. Shortly after the leader of the Lebanese forces, Bashir Gemayel became the president of Lebanon, a political agreement involving a peace declaration between the two countries was reached. But follwing the assassination of President Bashir Gemayel and his brother Amin’s rise to the presidency, the relationship between the two states drastically worsened. In his book “My Story with Bashir”, George Freiha, director of Gemayel’s office who then become his Secretary- General for only a hundred days, writes about David Kamhi who visited him at his home and warned him of the consequences of President Amin Gemayel’s failure to adhere to the Nahariya- Bikfaya settlement which he had agreed to during his meeting with Israeli leaders in Naqqache, on the northern edge of Beirut, Lebanon, shortly after his brother’s assassination. Kamhi told Freiha that this would be the end of the Christians in Lebanon.

To justify their failure in signing a peace treaty with Israel, the Maronites raised the issue of the Israel’s fear of rivalry in the region and their constant quest to destroy the Lebanese system. In order for the Maronites to atone for the guilt of turning to Tel Aviv during the civil war and cooperating militarily with the Israeli Defense Force during Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, Maronite leaders took advantage of anti-Semitism sentiments. But this tactic did not win them any favours with the east nor the west.

Both countries took two different approaches in their economic development. Israel has pursued an economic path based on science and knowledge and developed its infrastructure, while giving industry as well as the service economy equal importance. Meanwhile, Lebanon’s leaders have chosen a rentier unproductive economy that relies on tourism and investments as a primary source of income in addition to its dependence on banking services. Of course, there is no room for comparison between the two economies. There are huge differences in the numbers that Lebanon cannot keep up with. These figures have a direct impact on the quality of life for the residents of the two countries.

The recent developments in the region, such as the growing influence of Iran and its threat to the Gulf states and the Syrian war, have brought Israel and the Gulf states closer, suggesting that they are close to establishing formal and political relations. Meanwhile, Lebanon remains in the hands of the Axis of Resistance.

The aforementioned developments in the region did not prevent Bassil from repeating the ridiculous, long-expired idea that the Israelis’ fear a competition with Lebanon’s Maronites. This is intellectual laziness on his behalf. Did not bother to ask: Where is the competition? In which arenas? In what positions? Even the military capabilities possessed by Hezbollah, which Israel fears, do not belong to the Maronites.

It is clear that Lebanon's political, economic, and social missteps over its first 100 years is precisely due to the failure of political system primarily based on the principle of sectarian quotas. Any support for the preservation of this system is nothing but a miserable attempt to solicit help from the West. The failure of the sectarian power-sharing arrangement also contradicts the theory that Israel fears the Lebanese system. The fact that Lebanon needs to be rescued means that the system has failed.