Speech by Hezbollah Secretary General Sayed Hassan Nasrallah on March 20, 2020, devoted to the Amer Fakhoury case and the coronavirus pandemic.
Lebanese-American binational, former head of the pro-Israeli militia of the South Lebanon aRMY, nicknamed “the butcher of Khiam” (famous Israeli interrogation and torture center in South Lebanon), Amer Fakhoury fled in Israel upon the Liberation of Lebanon in 2000, then settled in the United States, obtaining US nationality. He was sentenced in absentia to 15 years in prison in Lebanon, where he did not return until September 2019, either because he thought that his case had reached its statutory limitation, that his American passport would protect him, or because it was a provocation. He was arrested and detained ever since, awaiting trial by a military court, despite considerable pressure & threats from the Trump administration to secure his release. On March 16, while the country was in covid-19 lockdown, a military court ordered his immediate release. The United States chartered a special plane for him, but the Lebanese authorities refused to allow it to land, prohibiting Fakhoury from leaving the country. Washington therefore illegally exfiltrated him by helicopter from its embassy in Beirut on March 18, 2020.
The Amer Fakhoury case
In this speech of rare emotion, Nasrallah began by addressing the Amer Fakhoury case. He began by stressing the gravity of this violation of Lebanese sovereignty by the United States, and the need to protest by all legal means against this illegal exfiltration, heralding more American interference in the future: if Trump can get what he wants through diplomatic pressure and economic blackmail, he won’t stop there. But the Secretary General of Hezbollah recalled the fact that many States in the world, in the Gulf or even in Europe, would not have held 48 hours in the face of such threats & pressure from Trump, while Lebanon resisted 6 months before some judges & soldiers yielded without the knowledge nor approval of the government.
Then, Nasrallah responded to the accusations of passivity or even of complicity which were brought against Hezbollah as for the release and the flight of Amer Fakhoury, answering point by point to all that was said in Lebanon on what would have known Hezbollah (neither omnipotent nor omniscient, Hezbollah learned of Fakhoury’s release only on television, and immediately condemned it), what he would have done (he opposed it with all his strength via legal channels, and the justice system prohibited Fakhoury from leaving the territory, but could not do anything more as the events were precipitated) or what he should have done: should the government be brought down, adding a political crisis to the serious economic and health crises raging in Lebanon? Should Hezbollah give in to provocation and foment a coup or start a civil war by attacking the Lebanese forces ensuring the security of Fakhoury during his journey from prison to the American embassy, or start a regional war by shooting down the US helicopter? Was it necessary to gather the Lebanese in front of the embassy after having insisted on the importance of scrupulously respecting the sanitary confinement due to Covid-19? Was a criminal and traitor worth wreaking havoc in Lebanon & the region? None of this would have been in the interest of Lebanon or Hezbollah.
Nasrallah concluded this issue by recalling that if the criticism and reproaches were always legitimate, insults and accusations of treason were unacceptable, especially on behalf of allies, denouncing all the Lebanese pseudo-friends of Hezbollah who carried or relayed these accusations contrary to common sense (how could Hezbollah have approved or stood idle the release of one of its greatest torturers and murderers?), and without even consulting the Party to know its side of the story; henceforth, neither Hezbollah nor the masses of Hezbollah should treat them as close relatives.
We translate the end of this section and the last 15 minutes of a 75 minutes speech, devoted to the coronavirus.
[…] I want to emphasize that we never act under the influence of emotion, anger or pressure. We are a Resistance party and a political party, enjoying the support of huge popular masses, endowed with a cause, foundations, principles, guidelines, vision and order of priorities. We operate through study and internal dialogue, because this party is not led by a single person. This party is a real organization. We debate, and when we see the interest of the country, the people and the Resistance in an action which is in accordance with our principles & foundations, we act with strength and courage, and without any hesitation. Anyone who imagines that through a media campaign, moral pressure, accusations of treason or insults, he can force our hand and push us to make choices that are inappropriate and contrary to our cause, our vision, our priorities and our responsibility, he deludes himself and shouts himself hoarse in vain. […]
I am not a guru. Let no one say that he respects and cherishes the Sayed (Nasrallah), while insulting the Party, the Resistance and our ministers, deputies and officials, in no case. I am one of them. They are my brothers, and I am one of them. We walk side by side on a path strewn with martyrs. And this Resistance (Hezbollah) is the noblest, the most worthy, the most disinterested, the purest and the most rational of all the Resistance movements of our time. In this regard, I want to be very careful and very clear.
Now there are people who have views and ideas (about us): they want Hezbollah to fight the United States, while we are fighting it (already)! We are on the front line! And we are the ones who suffer the sanctions, the (economic) siege, the suffering, etc. (These people) want us to fight Israel, to defend Lebanon, to liberate Al-Quds (Jerusalem), to fight takfiri (terrorist) groups (in Iraq and Syria), to fight against corruption, they want us to vote for the electoral law that suits them, and that we fight against absolutely all our allies, leaving nothing standing, destroying the whole country for their eyes, sowing discord between all friends, all allies. This is what they imagine, and they have convinced themselves (of the legitimacy of these self-righteous demands).
In any case, we pride ourselves on any friend, any ally, any brother, but we are people who act with a (high) sense of responsibility. And as I said and repeat, our sense of responsibility does not care about the way history will look at us —this is what Imam Khomeini taught us, this is what our religion teaches us— or what people say about us. All that matters to us is to act so that we can stand before God the Most High and Exalted on the Day of Judgment, to answer His questions with a radiant face (from the light of the righteous ). This is our vision, this is our culture, and that is why no one can put pressure on us, impose on us (to act as he please) or push us into impulsive and thoughtless actions. I’m not exaggerating. And since we are talking about the Day of Judgment, with the coronavirus, everyone has started to realize that phew, by God, the Day of Judgment can happen (at any time), at least for some people, because anyone can die from it, even if he is young, athletic, in great physical condition, able to bear diseases, etc. Faced with the coronavirus, there is no immunity, and the Angel of Death can take anyone. [This has always been the case, but today even those who doubted realize it.] As far as we are concerned, we are always acting with the Day of Judgment in perspective, and in this regard (the Fakhoury case), it will be the same.
Let me turn to another subject. I wanted to speak for an hour (at most), but I must also say a few words about the coronavirus. But before that, let me say a (personal) word, because I am a man, I have feelings and emotions. Listen to me carefully: it is a sign of the times, a sign of the times… I expected, for example, to have to bitterly discuss subjects such as Hezbollah’s position with regard to such an electoral law, granting confidence in such or such government or participating in such or such (political) alliance. [These issues are understandably matter of polemic]. But to see the day, with my beard whited (by a long life devoted to the Resistance), where I must speak on television to defend Hezbollah and the Resistance about an Israeli collaborator, an assassin, a criminal that we fought and defeated, who caused (so many) martyrs in our ranks, who imprisoned our brothers and sisters, who tortured us, attacked us… It is really a sign of the times that we live. It’s all I wanted to say.
The fight against the coronavirus
The second point (which I wanted to address) is the coronavirus. Very briefly, all the global data indicates that this health crisis will last for several months at least. Some speak of a resolution of the crisis in summer, others in autumn, still others evoke the beginning of next year… But at the very least… Even if at all times, God the Most High and the Exalted can shower His goodness on humanity and put an end to it all by opening the way to healing and health and putting an end to this disease, we must act according to reality, and take the measures imposed by caution. Since we are talking about a long battle that can last several months, as all the countries of the world say, this is what it imposes on us.
We must remain committed to applying sanitary measures (confinement, etc.). Lately, in some regions, we saw a certain relaxation, but we must remain firmly attached to it: isolation and maintenance in the houses, unless it is impossible (due to work, basic errands, etc.). Any failure to comply with these measures must be considered as an error and even a fault, an act of disobedience (to human and divine law), a reprehensible and shameful act, which endangers one’s life and that of others. People should refrain from such (irresponsible) acts and prevent each other from committing them. In any district, borough, village and city, in any place, it is necessary that popular and social committees are formed to put pressure on the refractory. We must not put everything on the Lebanese State. It is wrong to consider that everything must be the responsibility of the army, the State, the security forces, who should take to the streets to prohibit, crack down and repress. People have to take responsibility for this. In my first speech, I said that it was everyone’s responsibility, whether they were Lebanese, Palestinian refugees, displaced Syrians, (foreign) residents in Lebanon, etc.: everyone is responsible for preventing the spread of this danger, of this disease. It is therefore everyone’s responsibility to scrupulously ensure compliance with all the sanitary measures.
State of emergency and dangers of sectarianism
Regarding the government, I said the last time that we have no problem with the government declaring a state of emergency, and some of our local philosophers said that I was giving a green light (implying that Hezbollah was ruling the country). If I said that we had no objections, it was precisely because before I spoke, some people were working to make people believe that the government wanted to declare a state of emergency, but that Hezbollah was opposing the move. It is an example of the daily injustice in Lebanon (whatever we do, we will always be accused). In parentheses and to reassure you, know that during the last days, it is true that on the one hand, I was angry and moved (by the attacks against me), but on the other hand, I was extremely at ease, because when one is unjustly oppressed, one is truly at peace (because he who undergoes injustice is in his right, and will be assisted and compensated by God). In any event, regarding the fact that we would prevent the declaration of the state of emergency, basically, the state of emergency was not even raised within the government, and nobody submitted the idea. The truth is that some local and media sides have suggested this idea, and we have said that we would have no objection if the government wished it. Because if it was Hezbollah itself that had called for the state of emergency, we would have had an outcry, with accusations that Hezbollah is undermining the economy, daily life, education, the chance for everyone to earn their bread, and advocates the culture of death. That is why we just said that we had no objection, but the government did not do anything like that. He opted for a lockdown.
This is why I want to say about this, because yesterday there was again talk about the isolation of regions, and some in the media have pushed the idea of setting up quarantines on sectarian bases. I want to reiterate to the government that if it considers that in such and such a region, and I apologize to the Lebanese people, in such and such a city or in such a Shiite village, (the spread of covid-19) imposes an implementation quarantine, have no hesitation, confine it. But it is shameful to speak in sectarian terms. It’s a shame! The behavior of some in Lebanon is inhuman! In any region where the virus has spread, and where the government deems it necessary to confine or quarantine it, let it do so, whether this region is Shiite or otherwise! It is really unfortunate that we are forced to express ourselves in these (sectarian) terms. Because we are the same people, living in the same country! We are all exposed to this danger! It’s shameful, shameful, shameful…
I saw today that someone on social media has done something magnificent: he is setting out the covid-19 mortality data worldwide, country by country, giving the total for each country: Italy, China, Iran, France, Germany, Switzerland, (South) Korea… and he gives the total of victims in thousands, etc. But when he comes to Lebanon, he no longer gives a total figure for the country, but indicates the prevalence of the virus for each sect: the Shiites, the Sunnis, the Christians, the Druze… This is what he did! What a shame! What a shame! What a shame! What a shame! What a shame! Repeat it until you lose your breath! It means that we are not human. This means that we have no humanitarian feelings. It is as if each sect does not consider the other sects as human beings, for which it should feel a minimum of compassion. There are really people who think like that! But (luckily), most Lebanese are not like that. There are people like that, yes, there are people (sectarian to this extent). They exist. They are more dangerous than coronavirus! I swear by God, they are more dangerous than the coronavirus for our country, for the future of this country and this people! [for example, Samir Geagea, Head of the Lebanese Forces, asked to quarantine the Palestinian refugee camps.]
That is why I would like to tell the government that whatever they consider to be in the interest of the Lebanese people or of any region of Lebanon, let they have the courage to take the necessary decision, and we will be by its side, we will support it and we will help it, even if that affected us.
The issue of prisons
Another subject on which we also wish the government to act is the question of prisoners and the high density in Lebanese prisons. Some countries have taken action in this regard. Some are asking for a general amnesty. We support such an approach (at least in theory). Competent bodies should consider it. We would be ready to participate, even if it is an old question and one that can arouse passions. But let’s just talk about the detainees in our prisons now, without extending the question to those convicted in absentia who are abroad and are asking for amnesty. Some countries have taken steps in this direction. They released some inmates from prison, sent them home, and intend to return them to prison after the crisis. Whether they take advantage of it to escape or not is another question. But these countries have put in place measures of alleviation, by reducing the prison population and by sending certain prisoners home. Perhaps they have added house arrest measures, with the threat of arrest if they leave their home or their city for example, but this is just a detail. What I mean is that the issue of prisoners and the density of the prison population must be considered, so that certain categories of (non-dangerous) prisoners can be released (provisionally). This can for example concern those who are imprisoned because of unpaid fines. Just take inspiration from what other countries have done. It is a humanitarian issue on which we can draw inspiration from other countries, our decisions do not necessarily have to be all of national manufacture. In any case, unfortunately, our national production is very small, and it must be strengthened.
The issue of rents and credits
The third point regarding the social aspects of the crisis is that since this coronavirus is going to last a long time, it is necessary to foresee that soon, some people will no longer be able to pay the rents for their home, their shop or their office, nor repay their debts or credits, etc. In this regard, we must once again stress the importance of social solidarity, which does not only consist in providing help: for example, if someone rents an apartment or a house, and does not live off this rent, if he can delay the collection of the rent for one, two, three or four months, let him do so. If someone rents a store, and if that store is closed, the tenant will not be able to pay the rent, so let the owner defer the payment if he can. If people have debts to me, and I can delay their collection, let me delay it! Of course, one has to be able to do so, which is not always the case. For example, I was talking with our brothers from the Al-Hassan Loan Association, and when I asked them to defer the due payments, they told me that if a creditor comes to ask them for his money, they risk not being able to repay it. We hope that those who can do it will do so. I thank all the political forces, all the associations and all the people, in all the regions, who act in this direction and try to help others [Nasrallah does not speak of the State and the banks because they play a marginal role in housing and loans to individuals].
Everyone must save money
We also call for savings in spending. In such circumstances, you have to be thrifty and keep an eye on your spending. Unless you are very wealthy, you should not spend all your money, but put aside (as much as possible) in anticipation of the coming months, because it is clear that the crisis will be (very) long. Anyone who has a little money, let him keep it in anticipation (of difficult days) ahead, for the good of his family and in order to be able to help others. We must limit ourselves to the (strict) necessary and refrain from the superfluous. As I said, you have to consider yourself at war, and act accordingly.
Hezbollah’s response to the health crisis
As we said from day one, we consider ourselves at war, and we must all act accordingly. As far as we are concerned, as far as Hezbollah is concerned, of course, whatever the Ministry of Health, the other Ministries concerned or the State ask from us, I announced that we were ready to provide it. Until now, through our associations, our institutions, and our brothers and sisters (who work there), whether doctors, men or women, nurses, paramedics, civil defense organizations, students of medecine and nursing, of all the volunteers in this field, etc., in this battle, in all the cities, all the villages, and all the regions, we have nearly 20,000 of our brothers and sisters who are already at work.
And I repeat that we are ready to do much more, because thank God, our staff is much larger than that. And if the State needs anything, we are at its service, just as we are at the service of other regions (of Lebanon where the Shiite population is small or absent). All our action is naturally located where we are, or near the places where we (Shias) live, and of course, we did not go to other regions in order not to offend anyone, because you know how the country is (sectarianism, etc.). But this battle, we wish to wage it on the whole of Lebanese territory, and we’re ready to go wherever we can be of help and assistance, be it towns and villages all over Lebanon, Palestinian camps, Syrian refugee camps, and any place in Lebanese territory where there is anyone who may need our help. I make it very clear that we are ready to go wherever we are called. We will not flee from this battle and its dangers. [To fight the epidemic, Hezbollah has deployed more than 20,000 people, dedicated to covid-19 an entire already operational hospital, as well as four other disused hospitals under renovation and equipment, created 32 medical centers and 3 field hospitals and rented entire hotels for quarantine… And that was just the beginning! As of mid-April, more than 40,000 Hezbollah people were involved. Compare these actions with the 30 beds of the field hospital praised by Macron… while Lebanon has a population 14 times lower and 100 times less cases of covid-19 than France, its former colonizer, despite systematic screening! No wonder most US nationals who were offered to leave chose to stay in Lebanon!]
I want to conclude by… And of course, again, we’re ready to help in any way in this battle, and because this question has been debated (accusations against the Lebanese Shiites for having imported the coronavirus from Iran), I want to confirm a point: until the flights from Iran stopped, all the pilgrims and all the students who came from Iran, all our young people who were in Iran, and even our young people who are in Syria, who are going to fight there or who are coming back from this battlefront… I want to confirm to everyone that all of them have been subjected to (quarantine) measures, screening, home confinement, most of them having been subjected to isolation, and even those who go to fight in Syria are screened before going there, because we do not want to bring the virus to Syria. And when they return from Syria, our fighters are screened before they can return to Lebanon, so that we don’t bring the disease here if they caught it somewhere there.
All that we can do, within our capabilities, our presence and our influence, we do and will do it on the basis of what I spoke about the other night, namely our humanitarian, moral and religious responsibility on which we will be questioned by God on the Day of Judgment.
Gaza, Yemen and Iran are mercilessly abandoned to the coronavirus
I want to conclude with a position that I address not only to the Lebanese or the Lebanese state, but it is a call to all states, governments and peoples of the world. When I said that we were at war (against the coronavirus), some people opposed me, but today, the whole world recognizes it: it is a war! It is a world and total war, and all governments and peoples are waging it all over the face of the Earth.
In this war, unfortunately, some continue to behave with racism, immorality and inhumanity. And there are three regions (of the world) that I want to evoke as a reminder, and which (harshly) suffer from this racist, immoral and inhuman attitude.
The first region is the Gaza Strip. It is true that so far the situation is still under control there. But there are 2 million people in the Gaza Strip, a besieged territory where neither medical equipment, hospitals, aid, or anything comes in. What are they waiting for to lift the siege on Gaza? And we must add the thousands of prisoners present in Israeli jails —and in this regard, the virus spreads quickly in the enemy entity. What will happen to these prisoners, in view of the (Israeli) racist mentality which considers (non-Jewish) human beings as entities created to serve them, and without any (intrinsic) value or (human) dignity? It is legitimate to fear (the worst) for Palestinian prisoners and the Gaza Strip, and for any Arab or Palestinian within the enemy Zionist entity. In this respect, where is the voice of the Arabs, the voice of the Arab League, the voice of the (whole) world?
The second place is Yemen. Yemen which is still subject to war. The world is waging a war against the coronavirus, but the war against Yemen has not stopped, nor have the bombings against Yemen and the siege against Yemen: it is forbidden to bring in drugs, medical equipment and medical teams. Are these not crimes against humanity?
And I conclude with Iran, where more than 80 million human beings face this awful war under the yoke of sanctions and the siege of the United States. Of course, the Iranian people are fighting, resisting and coping (with the epidemic), and carrying out heroic acts. Great martyrs fell in this battle, be it doctors, nurses, nurses and women doctors. They are the pride of the human kind. But is it not time for the international community, for the Security Council, for the UN bodies and for all the countries of the world to shout in the face of this criminal and murderous devil, this bloodthirsty racist named Trump, not to cancel economic sanctions, but simply to lift the sanctions that prohibit medical equipment and drugs from reaching Iran, and allow this country to wage this war? We are talking about 80 million people! Where is human consciousness? Where’s the dignity? Where’s the morality? Where is humanity?
Trump is the worst criminal in history
Anyway, I will conclude in the same way as I did in my last speech: day after day, it is shown that this man (Trump) is racist, and that he is not part of the human race. I’m starting to believe that there are space beings (devoid of any ounce of humanity) among us, and that Trump is one of them. He wants a vaccine reserved exclusively for the Americans (cf. Trump’s attempt to monopolize a German vaccine under development), and too bad for the rest of the world who can die, especially those over 60, it doesn’t bother him at all. What matters is the United States. Secondly, with regard to the financial aspect, the cash: because if Trump monopolizes this vaccine, he will be the master of the destiny of all the peoples of the world. Third, for the upcoming elections because he wants to be re-elected President. Because the error he made in approaching this case (minimizing the danger of the coronavirus) can take away his chance of reelection if he does not make up for his (huge) mistake.
He’s also a racist: the whole world talks about coronavirus, covid-19 or whatever, etc., except Trump who talks about the ‘Chinese virus’. He has mixed the virus with the economic and political war which opposes him to China. And I don’t know where it will take him internationally. Every country in the world, China, Europe, Russia, and the rest of the world has asked Trump to ease sanctions on Iran, but Pompeo has come to step up sanctions against Iran.
I don’t know if… There are people who are older than me, but since I was born, and in all the history books I’ve read, I’ve never heard of someone who is more arrogant, puffier, more monstrous, more devoid of humanity, morals, honor and intelligence —and … I mean… well, that’s enough, if I continue I’ll start to be vulgar— there is no worse than Trump. Yes, we all have a responsibility to raise our voices. I talk about it in my speech, and those who can write (articles) on this subject must do it, it is necessary to denounce the US sanctions on Twitter, just as all countries must demand that the siege be lifted, peoples must put pressure on their governments, etc.
On the Day of Judgment, just as we will be asked about what we have done for our country and our people, everyone will be accountable for 1/ Gaza, Palestine and the prisoners; 2/ Yemen which is still subject to war and abandoned to cholera, to diseases, and if the coronavirus spreads there, God only knows what catastrophe it will be; and 3/ 80 or 85 million Iranians besieged by the arrogance and outrageousness of the United States.
Anyway, I repeat that by patience, resistance, endurance, trust in God and placing our hopes in Him, by invocations, intercession (with Prophets & Saints), by appropriate actions and measures, by the reign of reason and science, through due care, we will win in this battle.
Peace be upon you and the Mercy of God.
“Any amount counts, because a little money here and there, it’s like drops of water that can become rivers, seas or oceans…” Hassan Nasrallah