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OpenDemocracy and Zionist conspiracies

This is a cross post by Dave Rich from The CST Blog

OpenDemocracy is a news, commentary and analysis website that claims in its mission statement:

openDemocracy publishes high quality news analysis, debates and blogs about the world and the way we govern ourselves.

We are not about any one set of issues, but about principles and the arguments and debates about those principles.

openDemocracy believes there is an urgent need for a global culture of views and argument that is:

  • Serious, thoughtful and attractively written
  • Accessible to all
  • Open to ideas and submissions from anywhere, part of a global human conversation that is not distorted by parochial national interests.
  • Original and creative, able to propose and debate solutions to the real problems that we all face.

On the whole OpenDemocracy fulfills this mission admirably: it regularly publishes well-informed and thought-provoking articles on range of issues. Even more strange, then, to read today’s offering of a predictable conspiracy theory regarding the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, written by Dyab Abou Jahjah. A commitment to “ideas and submissions from anywhere” is commendable, but surely even that has its limits.

The potted biography of Abou Jahjah which OpenDemocracy provides describes him as “founder and former president of the Arab European League, a regular contributor to the Arab press, and author of books on the Middle East and the issue of immigration“. It does not mention that, according to various media reports, Abou Jahjah is a former Hezbollah fighter who has claimed to have received ‘’some military training” from the organisation. He was also the head of the Arab European League when it published a Holocaust Denial cartoon for which the organisation was fined earlier this year, and was excluded from the UK by the last Labour government.

In a style typical of conspiracy theorists, Abou Jahjah makes it clear that he thinks America and Israel were responsible for Hariri’s murder, without saying so explicitly:

But maybe the real beneficiaries of the bomb of 14 February 2005 that killed Hariri could be thought to be the Americans and the Israelis, for whom the murder of Hariri removed an ally who had become troublesome to the extent of protecting Lebanon against their wrath by claiming it as his turf and territory. With him out of the way, they had a much clearer run at orchestrating the so-called ‘Cedar revolution’, a CIA-led copy paste version of the Ukrainian orange revolution (only more cheesy, racist and posh as is everything in Lebanon), which they could use to push Syria out of Lebanon, and Hezbollah into a tight corner.

The next step was to try and physically destroy Hezbollah in 2006. That war was not a reaction to the operation of Hezbollah against an Israeli patrol on July 12, 2006 as was afterwards claimed. That event served as a mere pretext for a war that was planned and ordered well in advance.

He goes on to claim that the evidence which suggests Syria and/or Hezbollah were responsible for the assassination is fabricated, presumably by Israel:

Today, Hariri’s murder continues to stand the Israelis and their friends in good stead, as the efforts of the international tribunal for Lebanon that is housed in the Hague are now focusing on framing Hezbollah for the deed. This is done through engineered telecommunication evidence that implies that a Hezbollah network of operatives conducted the operation. Yesterday, the Lebanese minister of telecommunication, Charbel Nahas, outlined in a press conference the level of Israeli infiltration in the Lebanese telecommunication network, and proved beyond any doubt that Israel not only could but did manipulate cellular phone networks and lines in Lebanon, including those used by some Hezbollah operatives. This came after the Canadian CBC network aired a documentary outlining some of the evidence against Hezbollah and oddly enough against a certain colonel, Wissam al Hassan, a close aid of Rafik Hariri and the head of the current Lebanese police intelligence department, and a very close aid to Saad Hariri, son and political heir of Rafik Hariri.

Al Hassan is an arch enemy of Hezbollah and is suspected among others of being the brain behind the biggest fraud operation in this case, including the fabrication of false testimonies in order to indict Syria for the Hariri murder. Nowadays, it is widely stated that these testimonies were fabricated and that Syria had nothing to do with the hit. Nevertheless, no one is willing to indict the false witnesses. Why so? Many believe the reason is that Al Hassan and his ilk fear being exposed as the source of these false testimonies, and becoming themselves major suspects of the murder.

It is widely expected that the UN will soon issue indictments against Hezbollah figures for Hariri’s murder. Hezbollah’s leader Hasan Nasrallah claims to have evidence that Israel was responsible for the murder, and has threatened to attack the existing Lebanese government if indictments are indeed issued. Abou Jahjah seems to imply that the conspiracy against Hezbollah would justify such a move:

The primary judicial organ of the United Nations, the International Court of Justice, has from its inception been a political tool in the hands of the powerful. It is now being used to create a pretext to destroy the Lebanese resistance. The pretext is that Hezbollah killed Hariri, and the context is a sectarian war between Sunni’s and Shia’s in Lebanon as a result of the allegation that will undermine Hezbollah’s standing, further isolating it and paving the way for an Israeli military attack to finish it off.

When the indictment will be issued in the coming weeks (maybe days) things will take a dangerous turn in Lebanon. Hezbollah will be obliged to defend itself. But the web of lies is being drawn again, and soon the media will be telling us that it is a Sunni/Shia war that is the background to the problem, and that Hezbollah and behind it Syria and Iran want to seize control of Lebanon.

The reality is that the only bid for control that we are witnessing is that cooked up by Israelis and Americans neo-cons. All resistance against such a plan must be destroyed. This is and always has been the background to every single event in our region since 1991.

This is where the article moves from being nonsense of the sort that is often heard in the Middle East, and becomes rather more sinister. Abou Jahjah is essentially parroting Hezbollah’s justification to launch a civil war in Lebanon – if that is what it chooses to do, which is far from clear – in the event that some of its members are indicted for Hariri’s murder. He does this by cooking up a conspiracy theory that has obvious echoes, for anyone familiar with the history of Jews or Zionists being blamed for conspiring to foment just about every European or Middle Eastern war or revolution in the past century or so. It is not to OpenDemocracy’s credit that they publish this under their masthead. It certainly fulfills their commitment to “creative” writing, although it is not that original. But no website truly committed to “serious, thoughtful” writing should publish this.