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memri
November 23, 2005 No.
1031

Presbyterian Church USA & Families of 9/11 Victims Delegations Meet with Hizbullah

On October 20, 2005, the Lebanese press reported that a delegation from the Presbyterian Church USA, headed by Father Nihad Tu'meh and with Robert Worley as its spokesman,[1] visited southern Lebanon at the invitation of Hizbullah, and met there with the terrorist organization's commander in southern Lebanon, Nabil Qawuq.

During the meeting, Qawuq expressed his doubts about U.S. actions in the region and the intentions of the Bush administration. Worley, on his part, assured Qawuq that he was not defending the U.S. administration, that all delegation members had voted Democratic, and that the Presbyterian Church had been pressured by U.S. Jewish organizations because of its campaign to divest from corporations working with Israel.

A year previously, on October 17, 2004, a Presbyterian Church USA delegation visiting Lebanon also met with Qawuq. MEMRI TV translated excerpts from a report on the meeting that was aired by Hizbullah's Al-Manar TV. During the meeting, church elder Ronald Stone [2] said, "We treasure the precious words of Hizbullah and your expression of goodwill towards the American people. Also, we praise your initiative for dialogue and mutual understanding. We cherish these statements that bring us closer to you. As an elder of our church, I'd like to say that according to my recent experience, relations and conversations with Islamic leaders are a lot easier than dealings and dialogue with Jewish leaders." The release received extensive coverage by media outlets in the West; the delegation was condemned by U.S. congressmen, and ultimately two delegation members were dismissed from their positions in the Church. TO VIEW THIS CLIP ON MEMRI TV GO TO http://www.memri.org/legacy/clip/294.

It should also be noted that shortly after the October 20, 2005 meeting, a delegation of families of U.S. victims of 9/11 went to Lebanon met with Hizbullah Deputy Leader Sheikh Naim Qassem. A report on this meeting was also aired on Al-Manar TV and translated by MEMRI TV. TO VIEW THIS CLIP ON MEMRI TV GO TO http://www.memri.org/legacy/clip/920.

The following are excerpts from reports in the Lebanese press on the October 20, 2005 meeting.

Hizbullah commander in south Lebanon Nabil Qawuq told the delegation: "Lebanon, like the other countries in the region, suffers from the [political] American storms that have hit the region and are threatening its stability. Any foreign patronage is a bad thing, and the American patronage over Lebanon is the worst, because it is pushing the region towards sectarian segregation. All Lebanese fear the chaos created by the American policy." [3]

He said: "We doubt the American intentions. Are [its intentions] towards the Lebanese honest? The U.S. administration provides political and economic aid to Israel, and [then] comes to Lebanon in order to impose Israeli goals. Does the Bush administration [really] want to help Lebanon economically, [although] the extent of its aid is negligible compared to what it is giving Israel? Is his administration [really] concerned about Lebanese sovereignty, while it encourages Israel to violate Lebanon's air space, all the way to the capital [of Beirut]?

"... The main problem is that Bush devised his plan based on wrong principles because he is unfamiliar with Lebanese reality and its uniqueness. The most dangerous thing regarding the American plan is the religious dimension attributed to it. Bush claims that Allah commanded him to wage war on Afghanistan and Iraq. Did Allah command him to intervene again in Lebanon on behalf of Sharon's interests?! Sharon wants to turn Lebanon into a bridge to harm Syria. All Lebanese agree that Lebanon will not be an American representative in order to harm Syria or a bridge for the Israeli enterprise." [4]

Delegation spokesman Robert Worley said: "We do not wish to defend the U.S. administration. We all elected the Democratic Party against the Republican Party. Rest assured that we will return to the U.S. in order to continue our activity for peace, and we want to hear about the charity activities and the cultural and social activities organized by Hizbullah in south [Lebanon]. The Americans hear in the Western media that Hizbullah is a terrorist organization, and they do not hear any other opinion. They know nothing about the party's concern for the people of the south. We have suffered much pressure on the part of Jewish organizations in the U.S. because [of our help in] divesting corporations working with Israel. We want Jerusalem to be a united city, just as we encouraged the Palestinians and the Jews to work for peace, and we demanded that our administration adheres to this position." [5]


[1] According to Presbyterian Church USA sources, Robert Worley taught for 35 years at McCormick Theological Seminary and has since taught at the Near East School of Theology in Beirut, Lebanon and at the Armenian Theological Seminary in Yerevan, Armenia. He regularly leads groups to the Middle East at the request of the Middle East Task Force of the Presbytery of Chicago. See for example: http://www.pcusa.org/pcnews/oldnews/1999/99131.htm.

[2] Reported by Al-Manar TV as "Dronel Stone," but according to the Presbyterian Church USA website, http://www.pcusa.org/acswp/wwd/wwd-violence-workgroup.htm, his name is Ronald Stone.

[3] Al-Mustaqbal (Lebanon), October 21, 2005.

[4] Al-Nahar (Lebanon), October 21, 2005.

[5] Al-Mustaqbal (Lebanon), October 21, 2005.