[...] The third point concerns the normalization (of relations) with the Israeli enemy. This is a point of dispute and debates in Lebanon, which were held (again) recently. I call that, in a particular place – such as the government, the Assembly -, calmly, with all departments, all people, all parliamentary groups concerned, is held a discussion that will lead to a position on what is to be considered as a sign of normalization with the Israeli enemy. The (rejection) of the principle of normalization (with Israel) is an official Lebanese position. Lebanon is determined not to normalize relations with the Israeli enemy, as long as there is no “just and comprehensive peace” as they call it. Well, where is the “just and comprehensive peace”? Lebanon must implement its commitment not to normalize relations with the Israeli enemy.
This issue must be addressed and resolved, so that there are no problems in the country. In the sense that tomorrow, on the pretext that this or that falls under the category of art, tourism or whatsoever… We will not go into religious or intellectual debates in this political question. For example, a Lebanese director [Ziad Doueiri] will go to Occupied Palestine, to the Israeli embassy, apply for a visa, goes back and forth, finally makes it (after obtaining the visa) and shoots a movie there, and it would not be normalization? If this is not normalization, you must explain me what normalization is.
O my brother, I’m Lebanese and I ask you to explain what normalization of relations with the Israeli enemy means. What is it ? That is why this issue is very sensitive, especially now, at this stage. After the latest developments in the Palestinian cause, there are many people in Lebanon – let nobody underestimate them, and we are part of them – who will never tolerate (perhaps on some other things we could be understanding and tolerate) normalization measures which occur under the eyes of the State, and sometimes with the agreement of officials in the Lebanese State.
Well, let us translate it, explain it. No one is opposed to art, nobody asks to close cinemas or not to go to cinemas, never. Nobody has even raised the matter. But that in the name of art, cinema or tourism, you normalize relations with Israel, it is opposed to the Lebanese State’s commitments. Let no one say tomorrow “the Sayyed, as usual, takes decisions of war and peace by himself.” O my brother, this is a decision of the Lebanese State. It is a decision of the Lebanese government. Therefore stand fast and hold on to your decisions, your strategy, your positions. Be true to your word. That’s the position of principle.
Second, as to the implementation (of the decision). In Lebanon, in intra-Lebanese discussions, some of our Lebanese brothers always tell us that “Lebanon stands by the decisions of the Arab League.” And they create all sorts of problems, claiming that they are Arabs and we are not Arabs, and that they stand by the decisions of the Arab League. Well, among the decisions of the Arab League that are not applied by some Arab countries, there is the non-normalization of relations with Israel. Among the decisions of the Arab League, there is the formation of an office called the Arab Boycott Bureau, a committee made up of delegates from countries – Lebanon used to be part of it, I don’t know if that’s still the case – who meet and discuss. It’s not about normalization. We must not confuse the two things. Sometimes they agree among themselves, sometimes they diverge. What do they decide? For example, such company, which is not an Israeli company but a Dutch company, Japanese, Chinese, whatever you want, American, etc., but which helps Israel, which supports Israel. Within the Arab boycott office, they study closely the information about that company and write it (eventually) on the blacklist that they distribute to Arab countries.
In general, which countries stand most (by this boycott)? Lebanon and Syria. And we encourage other Arab countries to comply. Imagine, for example, an Arab Committee composed of 14 countries, which makes the decision to boycott (such company), and there are only 3 or 4 countries that actually boycott it. Such is (the level of) the Arab commitment. But it exists. There is an Arab Boycott Committee.
Well, the Arab Boycott Committee placed on the blacklist… Now, if the information that I will give proves to be incorrect, I apologize to the officials, but if it is true, I ask them to take responsibility. The Committee designated an American film director – it has nothing to do with religion, he is Jewish but it’s not a problem -, an American director named Steven… whatever. Wait, let me look for his name (in my papers). His name is Steven… Sbel… Berg…[Spielberg] whatever, whatever. Anyway, he made a film called The Post. Certainly, this film is not a normalization of relations with Israel. We do not claim that. Because he speaks of Vietnam for example. I did not see it, but that’s what I read. But the problem is not the film itself. The problem is the director.
This director is on the (boycott) black list. There is a decision of the Arab Boycott Committee, to which the delegate of Lebanon participated, to boycott the director and his films. Why? Not for the sake of Palestine. For the sake of Lebanon, O people. This director, during the 2006 war, announced his support for the Israeli aggression against Lebanon. He publicly supported it. And I hope my point, through the media, will reach His Excellency the President of the Republic, the President of the Assembly, the President of the Council of Ministers, the Minister of the Interior and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and that they will hear me.
This man has announced his support for the Israeli war against Lebanon in 2006, which caused more than 2,000 martyrs and thousands of wounded, tens of thousands of homes destroyed, 33 days of the most atrocious Israeli war against Lebanon, and this man supported this war. And he paid $1 million of his own money, $1 million of support for Israel of his own money. This means that when you bring a movie to the theaters in Lebanon and the Lebanese see it and pay for it, when this Steven receives his share of this money, the money may end up in the hands of Israel.
Well, the Arab Boycott Committee which was composed of 14 Arab countries, when it took the decision to boycott this Steven, it was for the sake of Lebanon, O people, because he supported the Israeli war against Lebanon. Because he supported Israel with $1 million of his own money, for the murder of your children, the crushing of your bones, the destruction of your houses. And after that, they should allow Steven, in the name of art, freedom and tourism, to project his film in Lebanese cinemas without any problems?!
We reject this decision and consider it a mistake. I will not say more than that now, it is a mistake. Maybe your information was not correct, in which case you must correct it. And if my information is wrong, correct me, there is no problem. We do not claim Infallibility. But this is the result of our research made a few days ago. We hope this problem will be fixed. We hope this problem will be fixed, and not only this, but the whole (normalization) issue. We are not opposed to art, nor to cinema, nor to television, nor to internet, nor to tourism, we are absolutely not opposed to any of that. Let no one confuse the issues. Let no one underestimate their importance. And let nobody work us up.
As for Israel, there must be a Lebanese unanimity on the fact that Israel is an enemy. And there must be an official Lebanese decision to boycott Israel and to respect the decisions of the Arab League regarding the boycott of companies (or individuals) that are designated as supporting Israel. Stick to your decisions, that’s all. [...]