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Now Is Not the Time for Chants About Jerusalem!

Al-Arab, London, May 29

Despite the chants coming from senior members of Hizbullah, who vow that we will all soon be praying in Jerusalem, there is only one truth in the region, at least in the foreseeable future: Israel was, and still is, the sovereign in Jerusalem. And it is not going to vanish overnight. There is, unfortunately, nothing other than this reality. Announcing that we will pray in Al-Aqsa will not change the truth. Before Hassan Nasrallah and his aides prepare to pray in Jerusalem, it is necessary to look at some figures related to Syria and Lebanon. Today, 86% of Syrians live below the poverty line, while Iran considers how to recover the estimated $30 billion it spent in the country to protect the Bashar al-Assad regime. Syria needs at least $500 billion to rebuild itself. Who exactly is going to come to Syria’s help given the current financial crisis caused by the coronavirus epidemic and the drop in the price of oil? Frankly, no one. In parallel to the figures coming out of Syria, we’re also witnessing alarming figures in Lebanon. The Lebanese banking sector is quite literally on the verge of collapse, and the country’s education system is about to be obliterated. People who want to pray in Jerusalem forget that hunger and poverty threaten a million Lebanese citizens. This is what the regional director of the World Food Program and his representative in Lebanon, Abdullah Al-Wardat, warned of. Al-Wardat said that a million Lebanese are at risk of falling below the food poverty line this year, noting that the program is preparing to provide emergency food assistance to support some 50,000 Lebanese families exposed to the repercussions of the current economic crises. Yes, before praying in Jerusalem, there is hunger, there is suffering, there is death, and there is a need for real political leadership that speaks truth to its people. Syria and Lebanon are in shambles. Nevertheless, there are those who want to pray in Jerusalem. This does not mean, of course, that the Israeli occupation of the holy city can be justified. It also does not mean that we should condone Israel’s desire to perpetuate its occupation of Jerusalem and the West Bank. But before delivering promises to pray in Jerusalem, it might be wiser to think of ways to avoid a disaster in Lebanon and Syria. The numbers don’t lie. They show the raw and harsh truth unfolding around us. People must confront these figures before making empty promises. Turning Israel into a ploy or a distraction undermines the magnitude of both our problems at home, as well as the plight of the Palestinian people. – Kheir Allah Kheir Allah (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)