|Like countless other places of worship across Lebanon, the synagogue was ironically damaged by Israeli forces, but unlike most mosques and churches that have been or are being rebuilt, Maghen Abraham has remained in a state of disrepair since 1982.|
BEIRUT – Since its emergence into the public sphere in 1985, Hezbollah has frequently been subjected to hostile media coverage that has effectively branded the group as a "terrorist," "Islamo-fascist," "anti-Semitic" entity. The party's repeated attempts to dispel these misperceptions have had limited effect, largely because the debate boils down to Hezbollah's word against that of the vast majority of the Western media. But the party is currently facing an opportunity to back some of its oft-repeated words with action––and thereby help repair its image both in Lebanon and abroad.
Many Hezbollah officials have tried, especially in recent years, to stress that although the resistance arm of the party is at war with Israel, the group does not have any animosity toward Judaism or members of the Jewish faith. But because the Jewish community in Lebanon has dwindled to such small numbers, rarely does Hezbollah have a chance to demonstrate the sincerity of these statements. But an opportunity to do just that might be located in Downtown Beirut's Wadi Abu Jamil district, the home of the Maghen Abraham Synagogue.
Like countless other places of worship across Lebanon, the synagogue was ironically damaged by Israeli forces, but unlike most mosques and churches that have been or are being rebuilt; Maghen Abraham has remained in a state of disrepair since 1982. A leader of Lebanon's tiny Jewish community, Isaac Arazi, is reportedly engaged in an effort to raise $1 million to restore the synagogue to its previous condition, but he has so far only secured a small fraction of the needed funds. Hezbollah spokesman Hussein Rahal has already been quoted in the Western media as saying that his party supports the restoration of the building, so why doesn't the party demonstrate the truth of these words by acting on them?
Hezbollah has already helped several churches in the country secure the funds needed to rebuild their properties that were damaged by the Israelis during their 2006 bombardment of Lebanon, including the Mar Youssef Church in the southern suburbs of Beirut. It is only logical that the party's leadership would be willing to expand this initiative and help rebuild the Maghen Abraham Synagogue, or at least call upon its supporters to contribute to the Jewish community's fundraising effort. Such a gesture would go a long way toward demonstrating Hezbollah's genuine commitment, as expressed by the party's leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, to preserving Lebanon's pluralism.Recommend this Post