I am a trustee of President Clinton´s foundation. Since last year the foundation organizes the Clinton Global Initiative. This conference, other than being one of the most important conferences in the world in terms of attendees, has one feature that makes it stand out from all the other gatherings of global leaders. At the Clinton Global Initiative conference participants are asked to make committments with the objective to address specific problems of the world.

For this year conference I am thinking of presenting an initiative that I call Jews for Lebanon (I registered the domain www.jewsforlebanon.org). The idea here is that I believe that there are probably many other Jewish people out there who believe –like myself– Israel made a mistake attacking and seriously damaging all of Lebanon when its real target was Hezbollah. Yes, it is clear to me that Hezbollah hides among the general population and that it is hard to go after this militia, which is fighting a proxy war on behalf of Iran and Syria. Nevertheless, most of the Lebanese are not members of Hezbollah nor their supporters, and the large numbers of civilian deaths and infrastructure destruction that affects all Lebanese is in my view both sad and unlikely to make it less likely for Hezbollah to recruit members for future attacks on Israel.

As a result I personally felt I wanted to donate funds for the reconstruction of Lebanon as one of the many different causes I donate funds for, but then I thought that it would be important if many Jews acted in unison and donated as a group for this objective. This is why I thought of creating Jews for Lebanon but, before actually doing so, I decided to blog this idea as there may be other views that I may not have considered. The plan here is to either allow people to donate to specific NGO´s operating in Lebanon directly through the site or to collect a fund and appoint a board that then chooses the best NGOs to work with. My blog is frequently a good source of common sense and I appreciate both the people who write directly to me or the relevant comments in the blog. Depending on the feedback I get I will either just donate directly to NGOs participating in Lebanon´s reconstruction or create www.jewsforlebanon.org.

Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter: twitter.com/martinvars

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Ray on September 5, 2006  · 

I say go for it!

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Benedikt on September 5, 2006  · 


if you go for the idea, try to convince Giora Feidman to join you. The two of you will make a great team in this special effort.

Giora (www.giorafeidman-online.com)

Viel Glück!


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Anonymous on September 5, 2006  · 

This would be a good platform, not just for Jews to donate but for all people. From what many of my Lebanese friends have told me, it is quite difficult to find ways to send monetary support for the refugees — mainly because of a lack of electronic platforms for making the transfers. It would be great to be able to do so with PayPal.

The next question is after you get people to donate, where do you send the money to. There are a bunch of interesting organizations. Only General Aoun’s party has a platform that accepts credit cards: http://www.tayyar.org. Other sites that permit wire transfers are: http://www.samidoun.org (very grassroots) and Lebanon Solidarity (www.lebanonsolidarity.org). A good source of open news from bloggers in Lebanon and the region is http://openlebanon.com/

I fully encourage your efforts.

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killy-the-frog on September 5, 2006  · 

Very good idea, but if the money collected is very few, with very few people giving… it can have the reverse effect that the one wished (be an example that the Jews people do not care about civilian casualty, and the destruction of a democratic country).
Whatever more money to rebuild Lebanon is always good 😉

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David Weinberger on September 5, 2006  · 

I’m a Jew. I’m for Lebanon – especially a stable, sound Lebanon that sees that Hezbollah is not advancing Lebabnon’s interests. So, I like the idea.

Perhaps a combination of your two possible paths would work: Let us donate to JewsForLebanon, but give the money to established NGOs doing good work there.

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Rima Batal on September 5, 2006  · 

Hi Martin,
I think this is a great initiative. Being Lebanese myself, it pains me to see this beautiful country constantly being brought to distruction and turmoil for causes that the Lebanese people do not support. I tell you, the Lebanese want to live in peace – no one wants war. We do not want innocent civilians to die in Lebanon nor Israel. This is a war that was not desired by the Lebanese, however their soil and lives were used and destroyed in this conflict.

It is very sad that so many innocent civilians mostly children have been killed in this conflict and they are soon forgotten by the international community.

I want to thank you personally and on behalf of Lebanon for this initiative.

I look forward to seeing you at the London conference.

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Andreas on September 6, 2006  · 

Great idea, Martin,
but focusing on jews I find it rather too narrow. This is about doing justice where unjust things happened. That ought to have little to do with an individual’s beliefs and/or origins.

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Sameer Nadkarni on September 6, 2006  · 

Great idea Martin, go for it!!! I particularly admire your effort to organize Jews to act in unison for Lebanon. I really believe this would make a huge statement that there are Jews who disagree with how Israel destroyed Lebanon in the name of fighting Hezbollah. Hopefully it will help to balance out the damage that Israel has done in the minds of the broader Lebanese population.

In that context, I absolutely don’t think that focusing the effort only on Jews for Lebanon is too narrow of an effort.

In fact, when communities are represented by the irrational few, the rest of the community has an obligation to show their disagreement. Along these lines, I would like to see more Mullahs and Muslim leaders speak out against the actions of those who are turning to terrorism and killing of innocents in the name of Islam.

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Jonas on September 6, 2006  · 

I find the claim that Israel has severly damaged all of Lebanon missleading but it is being repeated time after time till people belive it. Beirut has been largely unaffected by the war apart from the southern Hezbolla suburbs. These are areas that were off limits to regular Lebanese before the war, even the police force could not enter. It is a state within a state. I heard from people in Beirut that it was difficult to get a dinner reservation before 9:30 even during the hight of the conflict. The other areas affected are the Hezbolla strongholds of the south and the Beeka valley not Lebanon in general.

It is true that Israel bombed the Lebanese army’s costal radars but only after the Lebanses army colaborated with Hezbolla in the missile attack on one of Israel’s war ships.

Last week Prime Minister Siniora promised Lebanon to be the last arab country to make peace with Israel. This is despite that there is no territorial conflict between Lebanon and Israel. As long as the Lebanese government acts as a puppet regim for Iran and Syria I dont see why anyone but Iran should spend a dime on rebuilding Lebanon.

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Joseph Haslam on September 6, 2006  · 

Yes Martin, in this case your activism will speak louder than your $$$$$

But even more significant, you need to convince Bill Clinton to become a special envoy for the region.

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Antoin O Lachtnain on September 6, 2006  · 

Rebuilding Lebanon is as much (probably more) the responsibility and as much in the interest of those who supported the war as those who opposed it.

I hate to be so blunt, but what is the point in rebuilding a country that is just going to get bombed again in a few years? Realistically that is what is going to happen in the absence of a settlement that can bring lasting peace.

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Nadim Saad on September 7, 2006  · 


As Rima #6 already mentions it, thank you on behalf of all the Lebanese for thinking of such an initiative and I hope that it will come to fruition. It is a shame that people like Jonas #9 think that Lebanon has not been severly damaged (I invite him to come and see for himself) and thanks god that there were many places (such as the heart of Beirut) that were not bombed!
If you need any help in this great initiative, please let us know as I am sure that many people reading your blog would gladly help.


PS: I am sure that you must have already received many invitations to visit Lebanon again but I would be delighted to be your host if you do decide to go back!

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Me on September 7, 2006  · 

Dear Nadim,

some places, as Beirut center, was not bombed, not thanks god, but thanks to Israel, that tried by all means (sometimes without success) not to kill civilians.

Let’s be rational, and not emotional.

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Me on September 7, 2006  · 

Hi Martin,

It’s ok that you want to help this people, but you are not helping the peace in the world.

The problem is not Israel, the problem is the radical islam, and you are afraid to take position against the islam.

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Killy_the_frog on September 8, 2006  · 

to Jonas : # 9: A few weeks of heavy bombing of the roads, bridges, (even water treatment facilities) cause lot of damages… around 3 billions USD…. have a look to these pictures… Even it is a place where many people support Hezbollah, I do not think all these buildings were Hezbollah “weapon factories”, more chance it is habitations… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Haret_Hreik_Before_After_22_July_2006.png
Same as the cluster bomb used which paralyse the south, leabanese will loose tourism for years, etc… How can you say that Lebanon has not been severly damaged by Israel ?

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Killy_the_frog on September 8, 2006  · 

Sorry, I made a mistake. the cost for Lebanon is not 3billions but nearly 10 billions
source: http://www.hindu.com/2006/08/21/stories/2006082103411400.htm

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JS on September 9, 2006  · 


The road to hellis paved with good intentions …

I am sorry for the REAL innocents … but don’t forget that many of them are also israelis that suffered the attacks from hezbollah … are you also planning to get some help for them ?

I find your good intentions not only naive but also misguided

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Hernán L. Romay on September 10, 2006  · 

I don´t like the idea. At least not as you presented it.

I understand your good intentions, but charity should not be signed by anybody. (remember FUNDACION EVITA!) I always had a problem with the fine line jews throw when it comes to divide religion and nationality. I remember AMIA and journalists calling death tolls of Argentinians and Jews. And, as far as I know, they were all Argentinians. So, the reason why I don´t like this idea is basically because no matter who runs it, it should not advertise your religion as a way to counterfight the excesses by the Israeli government. (religion vs. politics).

If you want to help the victims of this 2006 holocaust, you´re welcome, but avoid any propaganda. It should be harder, but better, trust me.

The political side should be fought democratically through vote, by the Israeli, and all those allowed to vote in Israel. If they choose to continue with this murderers in office, then let´s seek a political solution/sanction.

Politics for the politicians.

And here lies the heart of the matter. Do you feel you need to separate yourself from the Israeli leaders and/or those who put them in charge? Or do you feel the leaders of your religion have failed you? Are there any leaders of your religion screwed? or just the Prime Minister of a country that has nothing to do with you…?

It´s great to help people. There are millions of people who need help from guys like you. Just make sure you do things for the right reason, and don´t mix charity with politics.

kind regards.

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Martin Varsavsky on September 10, 2006  · 


First I am not religious. Second my proposal is to make a simple statement and that is that not all Jews equate Hezbollah to all of Lebanon a country populated by a very large Christian group and other groups who are not Hezbollah supporters.

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Martin Varsavsky on September 10, 2006  · 


Yes, in the page that I am preparing there are also links to NGOs that help Northern Israel.


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Martin Varsavsky on September 10, 2006  · 


I don’t think the Lebanese people who have to use this essential infrastructure to make a living would agree with this comment. In any case hopefully Hezbollah will not attack Israel anymore and this conflict will be over.

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Martin Varsavsky on September 10, 2006  · 


I should have clarified that. That’s the idea. Donate as a fund to the right NGOs. Even list so people directly donate.


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Hernan L. Romay on September 10, 2006  · 

Martín, your statement is a political one. Then I don´t see the point in sending money or any kind of help, unless you want to buy the opinion of those you say you want to help.

I know that´s not your point.

That´s why I emphasize that charity cannot be politicized. Or shouldn´t be.

I would love to see allforlebannon.org!

Many of us, not jews, can tell the difference between Hezbollah and Lebannon.

Congrats anyway. You´re good.

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Phil on September 13, 2006  · 

Hi Martin,

I’m Jewish and I like your idea! Here’s another one: A new symobl for Jews. I’m not talking about the Star of David, I am talking about Israeli Flag which people think seems to represent the entire Jewish people. I would like a new flag or symbol which represents non-zionist (not necessarily anti-zionist, since some of us have family over there and need to reconcile that) Jews which could would be the Star Of David, but be completely different from the Israeli flag. This would be a symbol for those who love Arabs, Jews, and everyone else and something that Arabs, Jews, and Everyone else would be proud of.

And this way, if Arabs carried such a symbol that they are not against Jews, but against Israeli policies. I think this would bring a lot of North American Jews to their side as well, who equate anti-Israel with anti-Jewish for some reason.

Of course there would have to be some compromises. People who belonged to this new group of Jews would have to recognize:

Whether you agree with history or not, Israel exists and has a right to continue to exist.

Beyond that though, I don’t believe in any Religious State. Jews have had a pretty shitty history but the way to a secure a future is by fighting for our rights and against ignorance in all countries, just like every other minority does.

What would be behind this symbol, anyway, would be some organization promoting our principles–perhaps a simple web site and nothing more for now….

Anyway, just an idea I felt like throwing out there…

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Phil on September 13, 2006  · 

Here’s a sit you may find interesting:


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david on September 14, 2006  · 


I think it is a hell of an idea. I fully back it and I will contribute.

My decision to contribute is not as a criticism of Israel. I am not Israeli and I don’t have to deal with the geopolitics (or the neighbours) they need to deal with. I want to contribute out of a desire to help the Lebanese people who I feel very close to and who have had their land usurped and used as a battleground by foreign powers.

The desire to contribute through your initiative rather than an NGO is however another decision I fully endorse. As a Jew, I, unfortunately, am consistently forced to take strong positions on issues that relate to Israel (near and far). Often, I don’t want to take position or don’t feel knowledgeable enough to take position but, all the same, I am pushed to take position. If I am forced to take position when I am a passive by-stander… no more implicated than your average Spaniard, Argentinian, Swiss etc… then, for once, why not actively take position but this time on an issue I do know about and feel strongly about?

Thank you for proposing this… you the man!


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Elliott on September 14, 2006  · 


I applaud your humanitarian goals that you have demonstrated as long as I have known you. Jews and other concerned individuals should all want to help a Lebanon that can be free of pressure and control of Iran and Syria. I don’t necessarily agree that Israel over-reacted. Only their leadership has the classified information concerning the threat that they faced from Hezbollah.

“Civilian” deaths in Lebanon as reported by the media are not all civilian. Hezbollah guerillas do not wear military uniforms. Also, Hezbollah officials “acknowledge that other weapons and facilities are present in towns and villages” [NY Times, Sept 14, 2006], where they know that collateral damage will occur. Finally, Palestinians and Hezbollah are adept at manipulating the media, which seeks as much sensationalism as possible without checking veracity [See how in Pallywood: http://www.inthebullpen.com/archives/5123%5D. Several weeks ago I heard a report on NPR [National Public Radio]. In one introductory sentence they stated the total number of Lebanese civilian deaths since the fighting began and contrasted it with the number of Israeli military deaths for that single day. In statistics, there is an old saying, that, “Figures don’t lie; liars figure.” On the other hand, Israeli civilians are called up from the reserves, don uniforms and are then identified as military. The Israeli intervention was not solely about 2 soldiers that were abducted. It was about Hezbollah, over the past 6 years, building up a cache of over 10,000 Katyusha missiles aimed at and used against Israel. Nevertheless, it is sad to view any deaths of civilians or military and destruction of infrastructure and certainly Lebanon will need external funds to rebuild, because sadly the leadership in the oil-rich states is more interested in funding terrorist organizations than in providing the means for gainful employment, education, medical care, etc. Hopefully, though, you will match any donations that you make to Lebanon with donations to Israeli organizations because the need is there and certainly there will not be an inflow of cash from the Arab states to charitable causes in Israel. [There is a site http://www.arabsforisrael.com, which is not for donations to Israel, but, rather is the site of Ms. Nonie Darwish, originally an Egyptian Muslim and now considered an infidel by the Muslims because of her pro-Israel views.]

Best regards.

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Ramzi on September 22, 2006  · 

Dear Martin
thank you for your noble efforts towards Lebanon.
i would like to throw an idea to you.
if we convince the lebanese-jewish community to give it a thought by moving back to their country.
I grew up in zokak elblat next to wadi abu-jmeel where most jews resided.
i befriended lots of jewish families like the scaba’s ,toby’s ,mann’s and mbazbaz’s.htey always treated the others with respect and i always felt they were an integrated community like any other.last year i read a book-jews of lebanon- and felt nostalgic.my relationship with them was based on mutual respect even though they knew that i am anti-israeali but that did not change our relationship.it is sad to see a vibrant community vanishing

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Martin Varsavsky on September 22, 2006  · 


Do you think they would be safe even during times of srtong anti Israel feelings?

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B.D on October 17, 2006  · 

I will be emailing you as I was in Barcelona and we missed each other. I heard your speech. I just wanted to thank you on behalf of all the Lebanese. It is courage to take a stand. There is still a large Jewish community in Lebanon.

My cousin is Jewish Lebanese and she has no problems. We know how to differentiate as a people between Zionism and the Jewish religion. I applaud your efforts yet if I may suggest for you to get others non-Jews to help it will help those who are receiving the money.

What I mean here is that having worked in NGO’s in Lebanon we are always warry of where the money is coming from . Although your efforts are commandable other NGO’s who might not receive the money might start a rumor or negative campaign that the money is coming from Israel which would totally defeat the purpose of your Noble cause.

I agree with another poster that General Aoun’s http://www.tayyar.org accepts credit cards online. It is a very transparent political organization that helped a lot the refugees during the war and still trying to help.

With this in mind may your efforts be fruitful. A friend of mine who is Also Jewish – Lebanese – Argentinian is trying to do the same thing as you. Many of my friends who are Jewish Lebanese are wanting to help. The fact that they are Lebanese and we know they are like the Mubazbaz, Oppenheimers and others helps in creating trust. If you can put include some of them in your organization it would have a lot of resonance in Lebanon. What a way for the Jews of Lebanon and worldwide and for the World to redeem itself.

I apologize if my post was long. I was in Beirut during the July War yet I truly believe in Peace.

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Yumna on October 17, 2006  · 

I am a member of the Palestine Solidarity Committee in South Africa.I applaud Mr. Varsavsky’s good intentions.I think that it is a very beautiful thing to contribute to rebuild one of the world’s most historic and beautiful countries.I would also like to agree with Hernan Romay,that there needs to be a distinction between nationality and religion.A Russian Jew is a Russian,and should not be granted immediate citizenship in Palestine because of his religion if a Palestinean who has lived in that land for centuries cannot.In addition i would like to agree with Phil,we need to have a secular state,not just in Israel but all over the world including Mecca.Ethnic states should no longer exist.Finally i would like to comment on an accusation that i face on a daily basis which is that because i stand for the rights of the Palestinean people,i am anti-Semitic.I am anti-Zionist and i have many Jewish friends who join me in my fight against the cruelty of the state of Israel and call for a state where Jews,Arabs etc can live in peace.Let us remember that the conlfict in Lebanon did not start with the formation of Hizbullah or with Hizbullah’s capture of two soldiers,It started with the unjust occupation in 1948.

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Igor on February 15, 2008  · 

It’s for me so personal. My grandparents came from Tripoli-Lebanon to Brazil (where I live now) in 1927, and they are christians with some misterious jewish ancestry. I love the Lebanon and Israel, I already went to Israel three times and I think that I have a double love for both of that countries.

I’ve loved the iniciative of Jews for Lebanon and I think this answer about the real desire of jewish people about midle-east.

Congratulions to Jews for Lebanon!

Am Israel VeAm Levanon Echad!

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Jason on March 16, 2008  · 

Phoencians invented the first wirting system and every other writing system in the world was invented off of that writing system. The phoenicians were the ancient lebanese.the babylonians invented the first number system and the first science and math prerequisites.The babylonians were the ancient iraqis. the world would not have shit if it was not for bunch of lebanese and iraqis.in 1918 the britsh and french took over the middle east and fucked up the economies there this is when all the wars started there. there were no wars in the midlle east before 1918. Lebanese and Jews have similar DNA there is no reason we cannot get along. Europeans are the enemies of both the Jews and Lebs. We should not fight each other but work together and help each other out. It is the only way to end violence in the middle east. Islam or hezbollah is not the problem only Europeans are and Jews, Lebs, Middle Easterners, and even Africans. Should work together to stop them from brainwashing us and manipulating are minds into thinking that are friends are our enemies when in reality they ARE really not.

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Fred on April 19, 2008  · 

To igore from tripoli-lebanon.

I ‘m from Tripoli and I’m a Muslim, it is beautiful city where support each other without haltered. My father always talks to me about old Jews who use to live in Tripoli – Lebanon during his childhood. They use to live in an area called al Nejmeh which me the star. I agree with martin in sending money to support Lebanese affected by the war and the occupation of Israel for more than 30 years. I also would like to suggest building the synagogue of Beirut as part of the complete renovation of the down town (Beirut) which looks immaculate now. Anyway, Muslim respect all Jews prophets and they believe in them, however, it is only after the Zionist invasion of Palestine and Lebanon and the daily killing of Lebanese and Palestinian the haltered and Hezbollah is established. Also believe that Lebanese Jews ho fled Lebanon were without any good reason. No one has attacked any Lebanese Jews during the war on Lebanon.

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sdfesrewr on January 23, 2009  · 

Go for it do it dont hold back in somehing you want to do!!!!!

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