And upon all the cedars of Lebanon, that are high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan Isaiah 2:13
“Lebanon” is mentioned in the Bible; it is one of the few existing countries with a proper Hebrew name. Moreover, the name has been properly derived from a Semitic root—L.B.N.—which refers to the color white. Years before European Empires robbed the symbolism of this color, it referred to the whiteness of Mount Lebanon. Spoiling the European feast, in Eastern Asia white denotes death; funerals there are sparkling white.
In a fashion that is difficult to translate into Indo-European languages—like English—a proper root allows the creation and conjugation of verbs and nouns. Most Hebrew readers would immediately understand the title of this article without any troubles. However, modern readers would probably miss the Biblical reference and link it to the Israel-Lebanon war of 1982-2000. They would understand the title in the fashion I intended it: “The Cantonization of Syria.”
Lubnan, as this country was named in Arabic, was a multi-cultural society far before Europe knew this term. Maronite Christians, Twelver Shia Muslims, Alawi, Sunni, Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholic, Armenians, Druze and others lived peacefully for much of their common history. You won’t find in their history the mass-murders and state-violence that characterize regimes portraying themselves as free and democratic, despite their presidents no crying in fake sorrow.
During its long occupation of the White Country, Israel tried hard to bring to its cantonization. In the south, it supported a puppet-organization, the Southern Lebanon Army.* The drama caused there is not over yet, as reported in Israel Abandons Former Arab Collaborators. After being resettled in Israel, they were forgotten. In parallel, Israel tried to impose a Maronite regime on the country through an unholy alliance with Bachir Gemayel. In the Israeli media, the process was often referred to as “cantonization” of the country. In a variation of its “Divide and Rule” politics, Israel wanted to create a controllable Swiss-style confederation out of Lebanon. It failed.
In the last week of June 2012, I commented on the possibility of the recreation of the Alawi Republic of Latakia. By restoring this historical entity related to the French Mandate, Bashar al-Assad could save his regime and end the civil war; at least for a long while. In May 2013, what looked incredible one year before was presented by Hebrew media as Greater Latakia, shown as a highlighted area in the map below. In the last days of May 2013, there are signs that Israel is pushing forward the cantonization of Syria.
Bashar al-Assad Options according to Haaretz – Republic of Greater Latakia highlighted see:
Israelis in SyriaA few days ago, Venezuelan news network teleSUR reported that an Israeli jeep and its crew had been captured within Syria by the Syrian Government. Since I couldn’t find any Israeli source making mention of the credible event, I kept it for a secondary comment within an article like this one. There are at least three IDF commando units that regularly enter Syria. Yet, the Venezuelan report had all the signs that the captured people didn’t belong to these units. The way they were moving, and the composition of the force hinted that they belonged not to an attack force, but to people related to the IDF Civil Administration in the West Bank.
I waited, monitoring Hebrew media for related events. On May 23, Haaretz acknowledged its possibility, when it mentioned that the IDF has created a network of informants in Syrian villages. This means the outskirts of Damascus. This was the way the Southern Lebanon Army had started. The IDF is supplying the villages with resources, creating an increasing dependence on Israel. In exchange, the IDF is getting intelligence and allowed free access to the area. Was a jeep kidnapped? The IDF keeps silent; this is not unusual in sensitive cases. Around 10% of IDF elite commando soldiers die in service. Their deaths are seldom reported; when reported it is with a long delay.
The war between Syria and Israel is warming up. A few days ago, Syria counterattacked the Israeli airstrike earlier this month. Israel is intensifying its actions within Syria in an attempt to create a parallel to its former puppet-state in southern Lebanon. Even now, the northern areas of the Golan Heights are populated mainly by Druzes who have families across the border. Majdel Shams is a Druze village in the northern part of the Golan Heights. Near it is the infamous “Shouts Hill,” where Druze families separated by the war speak by shouting at each other from both sides of the electrified and landmined fence. It would be easy for Israel to transform the eastern side of the border into a fiefdom, in a new attempt to split a neighboring country. They have family members who can be used as leverage. “Help us, or we cut the water to your relatives,” would the Civil Administration officer threat.
An indirect collateral corroboration arrived on May 25, when Israel acknowledged a Syrian attack in Haifa. Lt. Gen. (res.) Prof. Yitzhak ben Yisrael, who heads the R&D National Council at the Ministry of Science and who supervised the creation of the National Cyber Headquarters, said to Haaretz that in recent days Israel is under cyber-attack arriving from Syria, at a rate of hundreds of events per minute. “It is difficult to comprehend the numbers in this field,” he added. He didn’t specify targets except for an attempt to sabotage the fresh water supply in Haifa.
The cantonization of Syria is on; the coming international encounter in Geneva may push this idea forward. Meanwhile, Israel feeds Syrians while Syria attempts to stop the violent flow of white Western waters.**
* The link was ironically embedded in the name. “Tzahal” acronym for “Tzva HaHagana LeYisrael,” “Israel Defense Army,” “Tzadal” acronym for “Tzva Drom Lebanon,” “Southern Lebanon Army.” Since Israelis would regularly refer to them by the acronym, they sound almost the same.
Roi Tov is a graduate—among others—of Tel Aviv University and the Weizmann Institute of Science. In addition to his memoir, Tov is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Molecular Physics and other scientific journals. He won various travel writing and photography awards.
In his writings, he tries to reveal life in Israel as a Christian Israel Defense Force (IDF) officer—from human rights violations to the use of an extensive network of underground agents. He was recognized first as a refugee and subsequently as political prisoner of Bolivia.