Herzl, the father of the Zionist movement, stated in The Jewish State that the Zionists would assist the imperialists if the Great Powers would grant Palestine to his movement and guaranteed its existence. "We would there form a portion of the rampart of Europe against Asia, an outpost of civilization as opposed to barbarism. We should as a neutral State remain in contact with all Europe, which would have to guarantee our existence". (Theodor Herzl, The Jewish State: An Attempt at a Modern Solution to the Jewish Question, p. 30).
The proposed borders of the Zionist State were officially submitted by the Zionist Organization to the Paris Peace Conference in 1922, where the victorious imperialists met to divide the loot. This map included, in addition to the whole of the Mandate of Palestine, southern Lebanon up to the Litani River, the Golan Heights, and an area to the East of the Jordan River which runs from the North to the South parallel to the Hijaz railroad.
Two important sources on the Zionist plans for Lebanon are the diary of Moshe Sharett, who was the Prime Minster of Israel in 1954-1955 and who was considered a "soft Zionist", and Livia Rokach's Israel's Sacred Terrorism: A study based on Moshe Sharett's Personal Diary, and other documents. In the latter we find some very interesting information, and it is worth quoting from Sharett's diary at length:
"Then he [Ben Gurion] passed on to another issue. This is the time, he said, to push Lebanon, that is, the Maronites in that country, to proclaim a Christian State. I said that this was nonsense. The Maronites are divided. The partisans of Christian separatism are weak and will dare do nothing. A Christian Lebanon would mean their giving up Tyre, Tripoli, and the Beka'a. There is no force that could bring Lebanon back to its pre-World War I dimensions, and all the more so because in that case it would lose its economic raison-d'etre. Ben Gurion reacted furiously. He began to enumerate the historical justification for a restricted Christian Lebanon. If such a development were to take place, the Christian Powers would not dare oppose it. I claimed that there was no factor ready to create such a situation, and that if we were to push and encourage it on our own we would get ourselves into an adventure that will place shame on us. Here came a wave of insults regarding my lack of daring and my narrow-mindedness. We ought to send envoys and spend money. I said there was no money. The answer was that there is no such thing. The money must be found, if not in the Treasury then at the Jewish Agency! For such a project it is worthwhile throwing away one hundred thousand, half a million, a million dollars. When this happens a decisive change will take place in the Middle East, a new era will start. I got tired of struggling against a whirlwind. (27 February 1954,)"
The next day David Ben Gurion sent Sharett the following letter:
"To Moshe Sharett the Prime Minister,
Sdeh Boker, February 27, 1954
"Upon my withdrawal from the government I decided in my heart to desist from intervening and expressing my opinion on current political affairs so as not to make things difficult for the government in any way. And if you hadn't called on me, the three of you, yourself, Lavon and Dayan, I would not have, of my own accord, expressed an opinion on what is being done or what ought to be done. But as you called me, I deem it my duty to comply with your wishes, and especially with your own wish as Prime Minister. Therefore, I permit myself to go back to one issue which you did not approve of and discuss it again, and this is the issue of Lebanon.
"It is clear that Lebanon is the weakest link in the Arab League. The other minorities in the Arab States are all Muslim, except for the Copts. But Egypt is the most compact and solid of the Arab States and the majority there consists of one solid block, of one race, religion and language, and the Christian minority does not seriously affect their political and national unity. Not so the Christians in Lebanon. They are a majority in the historical Lebanon and this majority has a tradition and a culture different from those of the other components of the League. Also within the wider borders (this was the worst mistake made by France when it extended the borders of Lebanon), the Muslims are not free to do as they wish, even if they are a majority there (and I don't know if they are, indeed, a majority) for fear of the Christians. The creation of a Christian State is therefore a natural act; it has historical roots and it will find support in wide circles in the Christian world, both Catholic and Protestant... D.B.G. (27 February 1954)"
Sharett responded a few weeks later with the following:
"Mr. David Ben Gurion, March 18, 1954, Sdeh Boker
"As far as I know, in Lebanon today exists no movement aiming at transforming the country into a Christian State governed by the Maronite community...
"This is not surprising. The transformation of Lebanon into a Christian State as a result of an outside initiative is unfeasible today... I don't exclude the possibility of accomplishing this goal in the wake of a wave of shocks that will sweep the Middle East... will destroy the present constellations and will form others. But in the present Lebanon, with its present territorial and demographic dimensions and its international relations, no serious initiative of the kind is imaginable.
"The Christians do not constitute the majority in Lebanon. Nor are they a unified block, politically speaking or community-wise. The Orthodox minority in Lebanon tends to identify with their brethren in Syria. They will not be ready to go to war for a Christian Lebanon, which is for a Lebanon smaller than it is today, and detached from the Arab League. On the contrary, they would probably not be opposed to a Lebanon united to Syria, as this would contribute to strengthening their own community and the Orthodox community throughout the region... In fact, there are more Orthodox Christians in Syria than in Lebanon, and the Orthodox in Syria and Lebanon together are more numerous than the Maronites...
"... There are also decisive economic arguments against it. We are not discussing the issue in 1920/21... but 30 years later. Mount Lebanon has meanwhile integrated into one organic unit with the coastal plane of Tyre and Sidon, the Valley of Baalbeck and the city of Tripoli. They are commercially and economically interdependent and inseparable. Mount Lebanon was not a self-sufficient unit even before World War 1... The annexation of the three regions plus the city of Beirut to the Lebanese State has rendered possible the creation of a balanced economy. A return to the past would not just mean a surgical operation but also a disintegration leading to the end of Lebanon...
"When all this has been said, [I should add that] I would not have objected, and on the contrary I would have certainly been favorable to the idea, of actively aiding any manifestation of agitation in the Maronite community tending to strengthen its isolationist tendencies, even if there were no real chances of achieving the goals; I would have considered positive the very existence of such an agitation and the destabilization it could bring about, the trouble it would have caused the League, the diversion of attention from the Arab-Israeli complications that it would have caused, and the very kindling of a fire made up of impulses toward Christian independence. But what can I do when such an agitation is nonexistent? ... In the present condition, I am afraid that any attempt on our part would be considered as lightheartedness and superficiality or worse-as an adventurous speculation upon the well being and existence of others and a readiness to sacrifice their basic good for the benefit of a temporary tactical advantage for Israel.
"Moreover, if this plan is not kept a secret but becomes known a danger which cannot be underestimated in the Middle Eastern circumstances-the damage which we shall suffer... would not be compensated even by an eventual success of the operation itself...
"M. S. (18 March 1954)"
At that time Ben Gurion did not convince Sharett. The conditions were not ripe for such an attempt. But the idea never went away and remained in the minds of the leading Zionists as an option. The time to put into practice came in 1978 during the civil war when the "Litani Operation" was launched.
Israel was created at a terrible price. The Palestinians were expelled from their homeland, pushed into refugee camps all around the region. Israel thus came into being in an almost permanent state of war against its Arab neighbours. Israel was envisaged as an outpost of western imperialism, a "safe ally" that could police this oil-rich region. For decades it played that role quite successfully. Part of that task involved trying to get at least one "friendly" regime to its north in Lebanon. But this was easier said than done. Because of its delicate ethnic make up, Lebanon dominated by the Christian elite could never be a stable country. Class conflict would emerge and re-emerge in the form of ethnic conflict due to the lack of a clear working class, socialist leadership, that could cut across the ethnic divide.
Today Israel continues to meddle in the internal affairs of Lebanon. This summer's bombing of the country was clearly aimed at provoking a civil war, at re-igniting the ethnic conflict within the country. After the expulsion of Syria from the country - in actual fact a stabilising element - Hezbollah emerged as even more powerful. As it is based on the poorer sections of Lebanese society, the leaders of Hezbollah could only justify their existence by presenting themselves as a constant threat to Israel and by directing their energies against those within Lebanon seen as backing US imperialism and therefore also Israel. This summer Israel attempted to push the Christians into fighting Hezbollah, thus indirectly provoking also class war.
Unfortunately for the Zionist ruling class, Israel has emerged weakened from that war. It can no longer play the role of trustworthy policeman for the imperialists. In fact it is a destabilising element, but one that has less cards to play than in the past. Israel is clearly against involving Iran and Syria in finding a solution to the mess created by US and British imperialism in Iraq. Involving Syria in Iraq would imply strengthening its position also in Lebanon, where it has traditionally had influence over Hezbollah. This would undo the work of the past years, aimed at removing Syrian influence from Lebanon.
Here we see contradictory interests emerging between the needs of the Zionist ruling class in Israel and imperialism in general. This division also exist within the US ruling class itself. The clique around Bush pushed for the Iraqi invasion, but it is becoming more and more obvious as each day passes that this has been an absolute disaster for US imperialism.
Thus, we see how the conflicts internationally have a direct effect on the internal politics of a small country like Lebanon. And so long as capitalism continues to exist there will be powerful economic interests to defend in this region. Ultimately those who pay most severely in all this are the ordinary working people of Lebanon, of all ethnic groups, the Palestinian people who continue to languish in terrible social and economic conditions, and the Arab masses as a whole.
The other side of the coin, of course, is the situation facing ordinary working class people in Israel. They too suffer. While all their rights are gradually being whittled away, they are asked to continue fighting wars that cannot be won, and to live in what is becoming more and more one big prison house surrounded by hostile forces. This is not the safe haven for Jews that many dreamed of.
To all this there is no solution so long as Israel is governed by the reactionary Zionist bourgeoisie and so long as the Arab countries are governed by equally reactionary local elites, whose only interests are to line their own pockets at the expense of their own peoples.
The problems of a small country like Lebanon therefore can only be solved in the long run in the arena of the international class struggle, a struggle that can only end with the overthrow of all these rotten regimes.