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May 17 celebrates anniversary

Meiss al Jabal, Lebanon: resistance fighters honor comrades killed in July 2006 war, another instance of Israeli insistence on historical repetition. (Photo by Amelia Opalinska.)

Meiss al Jabal, Lebanon: resistance fighters honor comrades killed in July 2006 war, another instance of Israeli insistence on historical repetition. (Photo by Amelia Opalinska.)

I was reminded this morning by Hezbollah’s Al Manar English news site that today is “May 17 2009, 26 Years on Foiling Humiliating Agreement with Israel”—in other words, the twenty sixth anniversary of the May 17 Agreement.

The agreement was a US-brokered peace initiative between Lebanon and Israel signed by the government of Amin Gemayel on May 17, 1983, following Israel’s 1982 “Peace for Galilee” campaign which caused the deaths of nearly 17,000 civilians in Lebanon. The agreement was later abandoned due to opposition from those who felt that 17,000 civilian deaths should not be met with peace for Galilee.

After scanning Al Manar’s May 17 commemoration, I paid a visit to the English language website of the Lebanese Kataeb Party, currently led by Amin Gemayel. Gemayel’s father Pierre had founded the party in 1936; Gemayel’s son, also Pierre, had been assassinated in 2006 during his stint as Lebanon’s industry minister. Gemayel’s brother Bachir had meanwhile been assassinated during his stint as Lebanese president in 1982, clearing the way for the signing of the May 17 agreement.

The Kataeb website made no mention of the anniversary, although the site did claim at 10.45 this morning that “Israeli fighter jets conduct low flights over [south Lebanese areas of] Marjayoun, Hasbaya, Nabatiyeh, and Iqleem al-Teffah,” something not mentioned by Al Manar. There were a number of possible explanations for Al Manar’s oversight, such as that Israeli over-flights were as intrinsic a part of Lebanese history as Gemayel family involvement in politics and thus considered repetitive news.

The Israeli Haaretz news site in English addressed other impending peace agreements with Israel, speculating that “Netanyahu unlikely to back Palestinian state in Obama meet.” The capacity for repetition in the Israeli context was meanwhile confirmed by the Haaretz headline: “Obama: I can’t tell Israel not to fear Iran.”

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