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Solidarity: Lebanon & Palestine

March 15, 2007 by  


By Susan Schwartz, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)

Dr. Paul Larudee, a leading activist in the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), spoke to an audience at UCLA Wednesday evening in a fascinating and informative event sponsored by the school’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). His primary topic was Lebanon. He spoke of his personal involvement in that beleaguered nation’s ordeal in the aftermath of the Israeli attack last summer. This was done against the background of a film titled “One Lebanese Summer”.

His presentation was soft spoken and informal. The horrors of the Israeli attack on Lebanon as told by Dr. Larudee and as seen and heard on the screen spoke for themselves. They were scenes that were largely absent from the American media.

Dr. Larudee began his presentation by posing some fundamental questions. They included (but were not limited to): Does Israel have a right to exist as a Jewish state?; Do Jews have a right to a homeland in Palestine?, and Should the Israeli military renounce the use of violence?

He spoke briefly about his experiences in Palestine including an injury received in April of 2002 and arrest and detention at Ben Gurion Airport in June of 2006. Then he told his audience that tonight he wanted to speak about Lebanon.

Dr. Larudee had just returned to the United States from visits to Lebanon and Jordan when the Lebanon war began. He received a call from Adam Shapiro, the cofounder with his wife, Huaida Arraf, of ISM, asking him to come to Lebanon. Soon after his arrival other groups came to show solidarity. This included groups from the United States, Europe, Syria and Egypt.

A map of Lebanon appeared on the screen, and Dr. Larudee pointed out the Litani River. He told the audience that Israel has said it believes that the Litani River should constitute its northern border. He pointed out the site of a power station bombed by the Israelis to deprive Hezbollah of electricity. He added wryly that it also deprived many Lebanese civilians of power. Then Dr. Larudee indicated a large oil slick created by Israel’s bombing of a diesel tank that not only gave birth to the oil slick but to toxic fumes. “Hezbollah members are not the only ones in the area who breathe”.

Dr. Larudee showed village after village with more rubble than standing structures. The screen showed homeless families left with only the clothes on their back often in mourning for a murdered family member.

He said that the Israelis claimed to attack these villages to kill Hezbollah members within. Even taking, for the sake of argument, the highest estimate of Hezbollah membership, surely that cannot be true of all the villages. It would beggar reality.

The list of villages destroyed continued: Sheba Farms, Houla, Deir Kifa, Bint J’Beil – till destruction became the norm for the landscape. The list is partial.The Israelis attacked the water supply which often consisted not only of reservoirs and pumps but water tanks on the roofs of each home.

If the Israelis thought that they would turn civilians against Hezbollah, they were sadly mistaken insisted Dr. Larudee. Israel is the rightful perpetrator, and the citizens of Lebanon know it full well. Signs were visible which contained messages such as: “He {Bush} must have no feelings”, “He {Bush} can stop it in 5 minutes”, and “Israel does the dirty work of the U. S.”

One tearful and angry woman faced the camera and said: “Let Bush come and see”.

There are now one million refugees.

After the film ended, Dr. Larudee spoke briefly of the origins and history of the ISM. Those who wish to contact him may use the following information:

Dr. Paul S. Larudee, 405 Vista Heights Road, El Cerrito, Ca, 94530.. His telephone number is: (510) 236-5338. His email is: larudee@pacbell.net

The contact information for the International Solidarity Movement Support Group in Northern California is as follows: www.norcalism.org and info@norcalism.org. The telephone number is: (510) 235-4250. At the present time the forgoing information applies to the entire state of California.
Dr. Larudee is a Fulbright scholar, a former supervisor of a Ford Foundation project in Lebanon, a Fulbright-Hays lecturer in Lebanon and a United States contract advisor to Saudi Arabia.

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