The Nudnik File

Nudnik - n. U.S. colloq. Esp. in Jewish usage: a pestering, nagging, or irritating person

Thursday, February 24, 2005


              Hey! Hey! ... Ho! Ho! ... The Syrian Military has Got to Go!

Thousands of protestors fill the streets of Beirut. They scream "Enough!" and carry signs that read "Syria Out Now!"







An opinion article by David Ignatius in today's Washington Post titled "Beirut's Berlin Wall" describes this new voice of the "Arab Street."

"We have nothing to lose anymore. We want freedom or death," says Indra Hage, a young Lebanese Christian. "We're going to stay here, even if soldiers attack us," says Hadi Abi Almouna, a Druze Muslim. "Freedom needs sacrifices, and we are ready to give them."

Brave words, in a country where dissent has often meant death. "It is the beginning of a new Arab revolution," argues Samir Franjieh, one of the organizers of the opposition. "It's the first time a whole Arab society is seeking change -- Christians and Muslims, men and women, rich and poor."
And even the most radical are starting to feel the winds of change in this "New Arab Revolution." Take Walid Jumblatt, for example. He is the leader of the Druze, a Lebanese minority group that has supported the Syrian occupation of Lebanon for the past 20 years. Jumblatt is also the head of the Lebanese Progressive Socialist Party, a self-described Marxist group founded by his father, Kumal Jumblatt. Historically, the Jumblatt clan has not been much of a friend to the US or Israel.

Ignatius interviewed Jumblatt the Younger this week, and made a startling discovery:

[S]omething snapped for Jumblatt last year, when the Syrians overruled the Lebanese constitution and forced the reelection of their front man in Lebanon, President Emile Lahoud. The old slogans about Arab nationalism turned to ashes in Jumblatt's mouth, and he and Hariri openly began to defy Damascus.

"It's strange for me to say it, but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq," explains Jumblatt. "I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, 8 million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world." Jumblatt says this spark of democratic revolt is spreading. "The Syrian people, the Egyptian people, all say that something is changing. The Berlin Wall has fallen. We can see it."
This self-described socialist, this Syrian occupation apologist, this enemy of the US and Israel ... this man speaks of "the start of a new Arab world?" Maybe the winds of change that are blowing from Washington to Kabul, Baghdad, and Ramalah have finally reached Beirut? Other headlines today may help to convince the skeptics:

Syrians flee Lebanon fearing reprisals after Hariri assassination

A growing exodus of Syrian workers, fearful they will be scapegoated for last week's killing of ex-premier Rafiq Hariri, threatens to cost Lebanon's construction and agriculture sectors millions of dollars.

Businessmen say many building sites are scarcely functioning amid reports of a spate of beatings, robberies and arson attacks targeting the 300,000-plus Syrian migrant workers.
Lebanon's Syrian-backed PM says he's ready to resign

Beleaguered Lebanese Prime Minister Omar Karameh said he was ready to quit in the face of intense pressure to end Syrian domination of his country and find the killers of ex-premier Rafiq Hariri.

"I am ready for the resignation once we agree on a new government in order to avoid a vacuum," Karameh told AFP.

After a meeting in the home of Druze leader Walid Jumblatt later, opposition MPs announced they were demanding the "departure of the entire (pro-Syrian) regime."
Remember the name Walid Jumblatt. History may recognize him as Lebanon's Founding Father. And why does any of this matter? Who cares about whether or not Syria remains in Lebanon? President Bush (increasingly on message these days) answered these questions during an address to the troops at the Wiesbaden Army Airfield Base in Germany today:

The sacrifices you have made will change the world for decades to come. By fighting terrorists in places like Baghdad and Karbala and Tikrit, you are making sure we do not face those enemies at home. By helping captive peoples gain their freedom, you have made a critical contribution to the history of liberty. And that means the world will be more peaceful, and our children and grandchildren will be more secure. Your success is sending a clear message throughout the Middle East, that the only force powerful enough to stop the rise of tyranny and terror, and replace hatred with hope, is the force of human freedom.
The freedom of the good people of Lebanon is directly related to the safety and security of every American and Israeli. And those who record history will one day laugh at the irony surrounding this tidal wave of freedom sweeping through the Middle East. They will giggle that it all started with a sick old man hiding in a small cave in the mountains of Afghanistan who ordered his followers to fly airplanes into buildings in an effort to destroy the United States and Israel.

Irony can be so ironic sometimes.

Let freedom reign!

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