Bachir Gemayel interview – July 9, 1982

Bachir Gemayel Born on the 10th of November, another Scorpio!

Bachir Gemayel ( 10 November 1947 – 14 September 1982) was a Lebanese leader and president-elect. He was a senior member of the Phalange party and the supreme commander of the Lebanese Forces militia during the early years of the Lebanese Civil War (1975–90).

He was elected president on 23 August 1982 while the country was torn by civil war and occupied by both Israel and Syria. He was assassinated on 14 September 1982, along with 26 others, when a bomb exploded in the Beirut Phalange headquarters.

He was assassinated by Israel.
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There is half the interview here in this Youtube.

 

 

 

 

And the FULL complete transcript is below.

bachirgemayel
42 Interview with Bashir Gemayel on A.B.C. television, 9 July 1982.

 

In this interview, Gemayel expressed the hope that “we are living now in the last hours of the eight years of war. “ He also uttered the phrase that “Lebanon is easy to eat, but almost impossible to digest.” He called for the withdrawal of all foreign forces, including the United Nations forces, and for the creation of a strong central government and central army in a reunited Lebanon.

He evaded the question of whether Israel was his ally and talked obliquely of taking the “maximum advantage and benefit of the changing of the balance of power and equilibrium of power in the Lebanon. “

He again explained his refusal to join in the fight by saying that “It’s not my fight. I told you, the Israelis are not doing that for me. “

Full Transcript:
Q: Will the fighting ever stop?
Bashir Gemayel: Definitely it will have to stop. Definitely, we are living now the last hours of eight years of war. Definitely, we are starting now to think about the after-war.
Q: Bashir Gamayel – commanding general of the Christian Lebanese forces – has been fighting the Palestinians and the Syrians on and off since 1975. But it took the Israeli invasion to give his side a chance at victory.

Gemayel: We always kept saying that Lebanon is easy to eat, but almost impossible to digest. The Syrians and the Palestinians didn’t understand that; they kept playing tricks in Lebanon, they kept playing with fire in Lebanon. We kept telling them, don’t. They never understood, and here we are.
Q: Until very recently, it was Gemayel who was never understood. When 20/20 first interviewed him a year and a half ago, he was a political unknown outside his own country – a man with a cause virtually no international diplomat or newsperson even wanted to hear.
Gemayel: Until now, the U.S. public opinion didn’t know that we are fighting the same combat and the same fight, for the same values and the same interests.

Q: As the United States?
Gemayel: As the United States. And I think that this is why we were destroyed.

Q: A year ago, or less, American officials wouldn’t even return your telephone calls. What have they discovered?
Gemayel: I must say, to be fair, that when we started to be organized, the U.S. started to understand us more and more. And the more united and the more organized we were, the more the U.S. was giving us a more responsible ear, and they were listening more and more to what we had to say. You are right to say that a few months ago they would not even return my calls; I must say that today it’s basically a different situation.

Q: The United States Government, after years of pretending Gemayel did not exist, last year officially invited him to Washington. And America’s new-found interest in Gemayel is not the only thing that’s changed.
The moderate Arab powers now apparently see him as Lebanon’s last best chance. As commander of the tough 24,000 Christian militia, 34-year-old Sheikh Bashir is perhaps the most potent home-grown military and political force left intact in his country. A leading candidate in Lebanon’s Presidential election scheduled for later this summer, he is also one of the key figures in a kaleidoscope of personalities intensely seeking an end to the current bloodshed.
Gemayel: As far as we are concerned, we are looking for the liberation of our country – we are looking that all the foreigners get out – Syrians, Palestinians and Israelis and even UNIFIL – we don’t need any foreign, armed presence in this country. As Lebanese, as a strong central government, as a strong central army, as once again the nation reunited, we will take care of the security of our own country; we don’t need anybody in this country – and Arafat should understand that.

Q: Is Israel your ally?
Gemayel: In politics, there is nothing permanent; you don’t have permanent allies and permanent enemies. We are taking the maximum advantage and benefit of the changing of the balance of power and equilibrium of power in the Lebanon.

Q: The Lebanon is unique among nations in the region. Until the mid-1970s it was an important banking center which, for centuries, performed a delicate balance act between its diverse Christian and Moslem populations.

Sectarian and tribal violence has occasionally erupted. Example, if the U.S. Marines do get involved here, it will not be their first time. In 1958, President Eisenhower sent them in, to prevent an earlier war between Christians and Moslems.

But it was the influx of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians expelled by King Hussein from Jordan in 1970 that really unhinged Lebanon’s fragile balance.

The pendulum skidded unstoppably toward violence in 1975. Since then, with less than two percent of America’s population, Lebanon has already lost twice as many people as we did during the ten years of Vietnam.
Gemayel: In short, if I must figure something, I will say that we have, out of a population of three million inhabitants, more than 100,000 killed, more than 300,000 wounded and almost half of the population uprooted from its villages and its homes.

Q: In eight years of fighting?
Gemayel: In eight years of fighting. And now, a lot of people are coming back to the south because the Israelis are here. Today a lot of people are coming to all the villages where the Israelis are entering and the situation – I’m not going to say that it’s becoming normal; but since then, this country is being reunited every day more and more.

Q: Despite the almost continuous violence, there is a gritty determination among the Lebanese to maintain a bizarre sort of normalcy. Even now in East Beirut, you can see how citizens try to adjust. Traffic engineers, for instance, make allowances for tanks – while business goes on.

The beaches boom, although along the lines separating Christian east from Moslem west Beirut, gunfire does not. Even at the height of the Israeli attack, there was less fighting between the Christians and their Syrian and P.L.O. enemies than there was before last month’s invasion.

So despite the fact that his army has in part been trained and equipped by the Israelis, by not fighting alongside them, Gemayel is trying to demonstrate his independence.

Why didn’t you join this fight?
Gemayel: It’s not my fight. I told you, the Israelis are not doing that for me. The Israelis don’t need me maybe on their ground. They have the strongest army in the world, or in this part of the world. They know exactly what they are doing and they are doing it for their own purposes.
Q: But for the record, it must be pointed out that the Lebanese Christians, although not fighting alongside the Israelis, have certainly cooperated openly with them. For instance, it was the Lebanese forces, under orders from the Israelis, who temporarily cut off food supplies to west Beirut. 20/ 20 have learned that two weeks ago, the Lebanese held these secret manouevers in the mountains – an hour and a half drive from the capital.

Furthermore, on June 28, at least one reinforced infantry battalion apparently battled the Syrians in the area west of Hammana – that’s a town near the Beirut-Damascus highway. A week ago today, I toured the Lebanese forces’ front lines to confirm the situation. If there is a total breakdown of the current search for a political solution, then this Christian militia may play an escalating role in the fighting.

If, however, away out of the lethal crisis is found within a reasonably short period of time, and especially if it happens without the Christians having to join the fight, then Gemayel’s election should be a sure thing…
Historically, the president of the republic has always been a Christian, while the premier has always been a Moslem. Bashir Gemayel definitely needs some Moslem support if he is to be elected. But as a Christian, given the religious rules of Lebanon’s political game, he’s clearly the odds-on favourite.
Gemayel: My aim and my goal and my target is that this country being free, we will establish a new political regime for both Christians and Moslems on a new basis of equilibrium, equal chances, equal rights, equal opportunities for everybody – a real modern state, democratic state, liberal state, with a real democracy.

Q: A final if – Gemayel’s dream for a new Lebanon will come true only if he has strong international support. In Lebanon, history has always repeated itself. The Phoenicians, the Egyptians, the Persians, the Babylonians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Arabs, the Crusaders, the Turks, the French – Lebanon is an ancient place, but it’s almost always been controlled by someone else…

Will Lebanon ever be free to decide its own destiny? It’s ironic, but the answer to that question, in all likelihood, will be decided by still another foreign power, the United States.
Gemayel: Under President Reagan, under the new administration, I feel absolutely secure and I’m sure that the Americans, and later on, the West, have started to realize that by stabilizing Lebanon, we are stabilizing the whole area.

http://mfa.gov.il/MFA/ForeignPolicy/MFADocuments/Yearbook6/Pages/42%20Interview%20with%20Bashir%20Gemayel%20on%20ABC%20television.aspx

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