The Guardians of the Cedars, an outlawed ultra-nationalist mostly Christian party set up during the 1975-1990 civil war has resurfaced in Lebanon. Lebanon’s Al-Safir newspaper reported that at a Sept. 14 news conference, the long-dormant faction announced that “the civil war has never ended,” and called for “every Lebanese to kill a Palestinian.” It also declared that “not one Palestinian will remain in Lebanon.” (Ynet, Sept. 15) The three members who gave the press briefing were arrested by Lebanese authorities for “issuing a statement that incites internal sedition.” The group’s leader, Etienne Saqr, was sentenced to death in absentia in 1996 for collaboration with Israel, where he is believed to be residing.
The GOTC statement called for Lebanon’s withdrawal from the Arab League “because we are not part of the Arab world.” (JPost, Sept. 14) It added that “Arabism is a retarded idea that has caused nothing but disasters.” (Daily Star, Sept. 14) The party also believes that Lebanese are descended from the Phoenicians and are not Arabs, and calls for restoring the Phoenician language.
In Sidon during the civil war, the Guardians of the Cedars acted as a death squad, believed to be responsible for killing hundreds of Palestinian civilians. Saqr told the Jerusalem Post on July 23 1982: “It is the Palestinians we have to deal with. Ten years ago there were 84,000; now there are between 600,000 and 700,000. In six years there will be two million. We can’t let it come to that.” His solution: “Very simple. We shall drive them to the borders of ’brotherly’ Syria … Anyone who looks back, stops or returns will be shot on the spot. We have the moral right, reinforced by well-organized public relations plans and political preparations.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guardians_of_the_Cedars)
The Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora condemned the statement, saying it was “issued by a group that is still living in the fantasies of the past.” He added that the Palestinians “are our brothers, and Lebanon is committed to their cause.”
The Daily Star also noted,
Despite serious reactions, Sidon residents made fun of the Cedars Guard’s talk. For example, a Lebanese driver would mockingly tell his Palestinian passenger: “Prepare yourself. … I will kill you.”