BEIRUT: Activists slammed over the weekend anti-Israeli campaigners who had rallied against a planned, but now canceled, visit by singer Lara Fabian to Lebanon.
“These suspicious campaigns do not affect Israel but reflect on Lebanon's image and reputation,” the Association of Reporters Against Violence said in a statement released Saturday.
On Thursday, Belgian-Italian singer Fabian canceled her tour to Lebanon scheduled for Feb. 14 and Feb. 15 at Casino du Liban after anti-Israeli campaigners rallied against her visit.
The Campaign to Boycott Israeli Supporters in Lebanon cited an online video showing Fabian singing in a 2008 concert on the anniversary of the creation of Israel. Fabian sang in Hebrew and then later before getting off the stage said: “I love you Israel.”
The establishment of Israel in 1948, termed the Nakba (catastrophe) by Palestinians and many in the Arab region, saw the forceful expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland. Lebanon and Israel are technically in a state of war and last fought each other in a 34-day conflict in 2006.
“One of the campaigner's goals is to isolate Lebanon from the world and transform it to the image which Brig. Gen. Qassem Suleimani of Iran’s elite Al-Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards Corp seeks to create by establishing a state of Islamic jurisprudence,” the Association of Reporters Against Violence said in its statement.
On Friday, local media quoted Suleimani as saying that south Lebanon was under the control of Iran and its ideas. His remarks, carried by Iran’s official news agency IRNA Friday, were mistranslated by Arabic media and interpreted by March 14 politicians to mean that south Lebanon was under Iran’s influence.
The activists said Fabian was the latest victim of campaigners’ moral terror and held Lebanese authorities responsible for the cancellation of the international singer’s tour.
“The Lebanese authorities are responsible for the cancellation and the distortion of Lebanon’s image,” the statement said, adding that the government should have provided the necessary security measures to ensure the safety of performers.
“But they [government officials] failed, as usual, to the campaigners and organizations that have nothing to do with Lebanon, its culture and role,” the activists added.
In an apparent reference to Hezbollah, the activists also slammed the tripartite formula of "army, people, the resistance," which they claim is for the purpose of transforming the system in Beirut to a Tehran-style regime.
There have been other incidents where artists have called off their visits to Lebanon over links to or showing sympathy with the Jewish state.
In 2009 for example French stand-up comedian Gad Elmaleh canceled his three-day tour to Lebanon after activists, saying Elmaleh was pro-Israeli and served in the Israeli army, rallied against his visit.