“Nabatieh is part of Lebanon”, “South Lebanon is part of Lebanon”; I’ve been seeing these slogans all over social media for the past couple of days but I find myself asking who ever said they’re not part of Lebanon? Where is this coming from exactly? Ever since the Gaza war started, we’ve had an open front in the South between Hezbollah and Israel with over 200 casualties so far and hundreds of houses reduced to rubble, yet we’re still not sure if we’re at an open war or not and have no idea of what’s happening there because we’re not allowed to.

The South has been controlled politically and militarily for over 20 years now by the same entities and the Lebanese state is practically inexistent there. People who oppose the traditional parties in every day life or during elections are threatened, intimidated and even beaten up, political activists or opponents are assassinated and even UNIFIL troops are attacked. Similarly, the decision to start a war is taken without consulting the government or any other parties or even the locals, as if the whole South is an entity on its own and not part of this country.

This is the perception Hezb and his allies want to give of the South, and not what most Lebanese see in it. I am fully confident most people in the South have no appetite for war even if they’re not standing against Hezbollah. Those people are being forced to leave their villages and homes because of a war they don’t want any part it, and those staying are paying a heavy price like we saw today in Nabatieh.

This being said, it is important to distinguish between the rhetoric and cheap propaganda that Hezb and his allies want to impose and between standing in solidarity with Lebanese civilians being attacked by Israel. Whether we support Hezbollah or not, we should never be desensitized towards the murder of innocent civilians in the South and we should support and stand in solidarity with all civilians in any area.

So let’s cut the “Nabatieh is part of Lebanon”-like slogans and the guilt trip and focus on helping the victims in South Lebanon of Israel’s barbaric attacks, on lobbying towards ending the hostilities all together and on keeping Lebanon from being a regional playground between Iran & Israel.