In the context of normalizing relations with the Israelis, a Lebanese association in California was hosting a joint event with an Israeli council to raise funds.
The declared aim of the “charity fundraiser” event organized by the Lebanese Social Club (LSC) at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) along with the Israeli Leadership Council was to raise funds for “the disadvantaged children of Israel and Lebanon.”
The group is part of the Lebanese Collegiate Network (LCN), which Al-Akhbar newspaper revealed earlier this month is heavily sponsored by the CIA, leading to claims that it was little more than a recruitment center for the American spy network.
The tagline for the “Night of the Arts” event, scheduled for May 6 in the Ackerman Student Union at UCLA, says it “will be a grand celebration of the culture, passion, and ethos of the Israeli and Lebanese peoples.”
It adds “all profits will be divided equally 50/50 among orphanages in Israel and Lebanon,” without mentioning the thousands of Lebanese and Palestinians killed by the Israeli occupation in recent decades.
Lebanese Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour said the government was to look into the legality of the event under Lebanese law. “We will investigate whether the Lebanese Social Club consists of Lebanese citizens or Lebanese Americans,” he said.
The Israeli Leadership Council, which is co-organizing the event, aims at "building an active and giving Israeli-American community in order to strengthen the State of Israel." The group also has a close relationship with the "Friends of the IDF" charity.
Event co-organizer Patrick Malkoun, from the university's Lebanese Social Club, said he had not been aware of any legal issues concerning Lebanese citizens having dealings with Israelis.
"We are all here as college students to prove our worth in this world, what we can do in the business world. If we can put on events, if we can put on charity fundraisers, if we can contact people to show off communication skills and business skills," he said.
Samah Idriss, Director of the Campaign to Boycott Israel Supporters in Lebanon, said the group's decision undermined attempts to isolate the Zionist entity.
“At a time when tens of artists and thousands of people around the world are boycotting Israel, a bunch of "Lebanese" students attempt to normalize relations with Israel. I hope Lebanese students at UCLA who know the meaning of national dignity stand up to those Israeli-Lebanese,” he said.
Following the article, Al-Akhbar has learned that a board member of the group has resigned. “The CIA taints the LCN in the perspectives of those in Lebanon, and even many people here. CIA associations damage the credibility of anyone and everyone in the Lebanese public sphere, especially in light of recent events,” the board member said in a resignation letter obtained by Al-Akhbar.
“The very fact that the CIA is one of the largest LCN donors has created a negative stigma that will follow the LCN. I hereby resign and call on those within the LCN to boycott this organization if they share similar opinions to mine,” it added.
In a similar but honorable act, a Tunisian child withdrew from international championship sports when he learned that he would face an Israeli one.