This week, under the watchful eye of UNIFIL, the United Nations peacekeeping force in Southern Lebanon, there was a fatal border skirmish between the Lebanese Army and the Israeli Defense Forces. This tussle reminds us of one of the great absurdities of the United Nations: Hezbollah, widely known as the most lethal terrorist group operating today, responsible for the killing of hundreds of American marines and embassy employees, and the slaughter of 85 civilians in a Jewish community center in Argentina, has a de facto seat on the Security Council.
During the course of filming U.N. Me, my feature documentary about the failure of the United Nations to live up to its founding principles, I have come across countless examples of the organization's shocking indifference to, and inability to act against, evil. This one is near the top.
The mechanism which has allowed this super-terrorist organization a seat at the international table was the election of Lebanon to the Security Council, a country which is militarily and politically dominated by Hezbollah.
Hezbollah has grown from a mini-state within Lebanon into the most powerful force in the country. The degradation of the Lebanese army has, not coincidentally, overlapped with the exponential growth of the military might of Hezbollah. In fact, much of the Lebanese army has been co-opted by Hezbollah. As Ousama Safa, director of the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies put it, "Hezbollah has already captured the state. That is a fact on the ground."
I experienced Hezbollah's influence first hand when I called the Lebanese government for permission to film in southern Lebanon. The gentleman with whom I spoke immediately gave me the mobile number for the local Hezbollah commander to ensure that I cleared any activities with him first. This is not the first time that the U.N. has installed a terror state in the Security Council. Syria was elected to the prestigious and critical body less than one month after 9/11 and elevated, to the presidency of the Security Council shortly thereafter.
The Security Council is currently dealing with a whole host of critical issues that directly concern Lebanon. Of course all of their deliberations and decisions will be compromised the moment the Lebanese representative passes it on to his Hezbollah handlers.
This absurd position of Hezbollah within the United Nations brings into focus the United Nations' abysmal failure in accomplishing any of its stated goals within Lebanon. Since 1978, the United Nations has been attempting to address the power vacuum in Lebanon and the various rogue entities that have been filling it over the ensuing years. The result has been painfully consistent failure ever since.
The United Nations has issued dozens of resolutions over the years with the charming belief that the repetition of farcical language will somehow effect change. Most recently security council resolution 1701, which prohibits the supple of weaponry to Hezbollah (Hezbollah has more weapons now then it did before that resolution). On the rare occasion that they use more than language, their attempts seem as toothless and pointless as their words. UNIFIL, the U.N.'s peacekeeping force in Southern Lebanon, has been loitering in the area for 31 years. It has not only been embarrassingly impotent, but it has also actually been an obstacle to peace. The mission reinforces the delusion that steps are being taken to disarm and deter Hezbollah, when in fact the opposite is taking place. The peacekeeper presence discourages Lebanon from rebuilding and reinserting its forces in the south, handcuffs Israel when it needs to respond to attacks from its northern border and the U.N. force has, on numerous occasions, literally watched Hezbollah rearm and become more powerful.
To be clear there is an epic and mortal power struggle taking place within Lebanon. On one side are the factions that support Hezbollah's domination, a side which is financed and directed by Iran and Syria. They are arrayed against those who understand that the road that Hezbollah is paving will once again lead to the eventual destruction of their country, once the pearl of the Middle East. The Cedar Revolution that rose after the assassination of Rafik Hariri netted real and tangible gains, starting with the expulsion of Syria, Hezbollah's partner, from the country. The Lebanese rightly looked to the United Nations for help in cementing their gains. They have been betrayed by the U.N. and they have been paying the price of that betrayal and failure ever since.
For a great overview of the film, check out the article about our World Premiere at IDFA 2009 on indiewire.
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