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Come to think of it, wasn’t it just a matter of time before the Bush administration would get around to declaring the Lebanese registered construction company, Jihad al-Bina, yet another “terrorist organization”? It finally did put Jihad al-Bina on the list this week.
Still smarting from Israel’s defeat in the July war, the White House and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) as well as their friends in the US Congress have been busy tightening the screws on Iran and the Lebanese Resistance. The Lebanese Resistance is led by Hezbollah which Iran, along with virtually the whole of the Middle East, admires for its military achievements in defending Lebanon against Israel, and perhaps equally, for its social, educational, health, housing and infrastructure achievements.
This latter fact alone is a big problem for AIPAC. With an annual budget of $55 million dollars, a paid membership of more than 125,000 and a full time paid staff of 122, with 12 satellite offices around the US, AIPAC is not happy these days. It is not enough for AIPAC that the recent Congressional elections, which increased the number of Zionist Jews in Congress from 26 to 31, is the largest pro-Israel contingent elected to Congress in American history. No, AIPAC is not satisfied.
Nor is AIPAC comforted by the fact that 7 of the 11 key subcommittees in Congress, on just the House side, dealing with the Middle East, Intelligence and Appropriations are now securely under Israel’s control.
AIPAC wants more. Having failed in its recent ‘hot’ war in Lebanon, Israel has unleashed its agents in Congress to destroy Hezbollah with ‘cold’ war tactics including attacking its social institutions.
The US Israel lobby has been after Jihad al-Bina for years but the organization became a prime target following the August 14, ceasefire. A quick glance at Jihad al-Binna makes clear why it was slated for the ever expanding Bush administration “terrorism list”.
* Established by Hezbollah, and licensed by the Lebanese government in 1988 Jihad al-Bina quickly evolved into one of the most effective and prominent nongovernmental organizations of Lebanon’s civil society.
* Its primary objective is “to alleviate the hardships that the disadvantaged population and deprived families face”.
* Between 1988-2002 Jihad al-Bina completed nearly 11,000 projects involving the construction and rehabilitation of schools, homes, shops, hospitals infirmaries, Mosques, Churches, Cultural Centers and Agricultural Cooperatives. According to the annual report of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, Jihad al-Bina is “by far one of the best-equipped organizations engaged in reconstruction”.
* In addition, Jihad al-Bina has been the major source of the provision of potable water and electricity in areas bombed by Israel.
* In the last 14 years it has built 400 reservoirs of potable water for 900,000 Lebanese citizens of Beirut’s southern suburbs, satisfying nearly 50% of the areas needs. It has also dug more than 75 artesian wells, divided evenly between the Bekaa Valley, South Lebanon and Beirut.
* Jihad al-Bina’s electricity department has manufactured and installed more than 20 large power generators n South Lebanon and the Bekaa.
* Its achievements in agricultural and rural development are as impressive as in the field of engineering. It provides technical assistance to farmers in land reclamation and cultivation, opening agricultural roads and building irrigation networks.
* Jihad Al-Bina also helps farmers with credit to improve their farms.
* Since the August 14 ceasefire, Jihad al-Bina has already cleared much of the rubble caused by Israel’s bombing and is well into a major rebuilding of private homes in the Bekaa, Beirut and South Lebanon, where thousands of structures are being rebuilt.
Many American news reports have commented on the efficiency with which the Lebanese reconstruction began and refugees were resettled, in contrast to the continuing debacle in post-Katrina New Orleans. In Congress jokes were heard to the effect that the Bush Administration should immediately contract with Hassan Nasrallah to provide for Hezbollah to come over to the US and rebuild New Orleans. AIPAC and the White House were not amused.
Nor was US Ambassador to Lebanon Jeffrey Feltman, a fan of Jihad al-Bina or Hassan Nassrallah.
Feltman’s colleague, Stuart Levey, the US undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, in the Treasury Department, said in a statement on February 20, 2006 that “Hezbollah uses the firm for its own needs as well as to attract popular support through the provision of civilian construction services.” Without question, an ‘A class’ terrorism offense.
A blatant crime, according to Levey and the Bush administration, perpetrated by Jihad al-Bina against the thousands of Lebanese bombed out of their homes and trying, yet again, to rebuild their lives following the latest of Israel’s serial attacks on their Country which have spanned more than a quarter-century.
Levey is still searching for other Hezbollah backed institutions to label ‘terrorist’. Are Hezbollah supported hospitals, schools, and child care and rehabilitation centers next?
As the Bush administration crumbles into history part of its sordid legacy will be the disgrace it brought upon our country by this sort of malicious interference in the rebuilding of Lebanon, a rebuilding that is necessitated by Congress and the US government agencies providing Israel with $ 15.1 million dollars every day for an annual total of 5.7 billion dollars along with 83% of the weapons Israel used to carpet bomb South Lebanon.
US Ambassador to Lebanon, Jeffrey Feltman, who favored putting Jihad al-Bina on the Bush administration ‘terrorism list’, owes an apology to the American people as well as to the people of Lebanon.
FRANKLIN LAMB, PhD was former Assistant Counsel, House Judiciary Committee,Washington,DC, 20002 He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org