You are either with or against!!
Elias Bejjani

Let us pray that this new year of 2004 will bring peace, love and liberation for occupied Lebanon, and joy to its persecuted people. Let us pray that before the end of this coming year the world will witness the end of all the horrible human rights infringements that have been inflicted on our people for the last 28 years because of Syrian hegemony and dictatorship. Most importantly, may this new year witness the end of the ongoing dilemma of hundreds of innocent Lebanese citizens arbitrarily detained in Syria's notorious jails.

The Lebanese Diaspora has a holy and patriotic obligation to its oppressed people in occupied Lebanon. Its prime duty is to be the voice of those people whose voice has been muffled by the Syrian Baathist occupation. This mission is not an easy one, it has never been so, and will never be.

Every time the Diaspora's sovereignist organizations decide to advocate for a patriotic cause, face one of the Beirut regime's mercenary envoys, or endeavour to shed light on acts by a derailed clergy, the same difficulties of hesitation, fear, and calculation of personal gains and losses surface. In this context the sovereignists have learned the hard way how to confront obstacles and abandonment with faith, patience, perseverance and devotion, always hoping that the next campaign will be better appreciated and understood, attract more cooperation, and accordingly generate stronger support--although no apparent changes have taken place to date.

Are we asking for the impossible? Are we waiting for a miracle to happen? Not at all, because in spite of these many disappointments that at times border on despair, repugnance, and a deep sense of failure and hopelessness, the sovereignists have succeeded in ignoring all the negatives, focusing on the skills of the elite members of our communities, encouraged by the bright side, and ultimately fully achieving every objective as planned. The remarkable achievemnent of the "Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act" is the foremost example in this domain.

Why are the elite members so positive, enthusiastic and determinate while others are not? It is because they strongly believe in what they do and have never ever measured their involvement in any activity or campaign on a scale of personal gains and losses. With each confrontation they become more and more determined to peacefully pursue their patriotic goals and noble objectives. We can assure each member of the Lebanese Diaspora communities that our work shall continue and all our pre-set aims will be pursued regardless of what sacrifices might be required.

We ask each Lebanese living in the Diaspora to join us in taking a clear stand for Lebanon, be decisive, and always remember what Saint John said in Revelations about those who are hesitant and scared of taking a clear stand for what is right in their lives: "I know what you have done; I know that you are neither cold or hot. How I wish you were either one or the other! But because you are lukewarm, neither hot or cold, I am going to spit you out of My mouth. (Revelation 3:14)

It is time for the Lebanese Diaspora communities to unite in one enormous, harmonious and cohesive team, capable and willing to preserve Lebanon's rich heritage, ethical values, its distinctive cultural identity, and advocate for a free, multi-cultural, secular, and democratic Lebanon free of all foreign armies and their proxies.

It is time to effectively and intelligently reach out to all non Lebanese communities in the Diaspora and lobby for the cause of our beloved occupied Lebanon and its people who are oppressed, persecuted and deprived of their basic human rights.

The Syrian Baathist occupation and its Lebanese proxies are trying to radically change the social infrastructure and demography of Lebanon, impoverish the people, annihilate its unique distinctive identity, eradicate its deeply rooted history, destroy its democratic mosaic system and force its people into emigration.

Let us, we the Lebanese of the Diaspora, be the loud and strong voice of our homeland's oppressed people and the conscience of our occupied country. Let us unite and start lobbying for Lebanon's noble and just cause of liberation with neither fear nor hesitation. Let us always remember that a strong unified Lebanese Diaspora can have a strong and effective voice. A kind of voice our people in occupied Lebanon are longing to hear.

Each and every one of us has to take a stand in regard to Lebanon's occupation and the oppression of its people. There is no neutrality in life and death matters. Accordingly he who is not against the Baathist Syrian occupation of Lebanon is actually pro-occupation.

Jesus Christ was very clear on the issue of ideological ambivalence in Luke 11:23 when He said: "Anyone who is not for Me is really against Me; anyone who does not help Me gather is really scattering (My followers)."

By God's will and the faith of all Lebanese sovereignists, Lebanon shall be liberated.

***Elias Bejjani
*Human Rights activist, journalist & political commentator.
*Spokesman for the Canadian Lebanese Human Rights Federation (CLHRF)
*Media Chairman for the Canadian Lebanese Coordinating Council (LCCC)