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Wednesday, October 15, 2003

George Matar has died

Death toll from Haifa restaurant bombing rises to 21
After fighting for his life for 11 days, George Matar, 59, succumbed to his injuries – sustained at the suicide attack on Maxim restaurant in Haifa – and died on Wednesday in the city's Rambam hospital. The death toll of the attack thus rises to 21.

The Matar family are the Arab co-owners of the Maxim restaurant, jointly run by Jews and Arabs. George, a Haifa resident, was an employee of the restaurant, and was working there at the time of the attack. He will be buried Thursday in Haifa's Christian cemetery.

On October 4th, a female suicide bomber detonated herself in the packed beach-front restaurant that served as one of the city's beacons of Arab-Jewish coexistence. Twenty one people, including four children, were murdered in the attack, and scores wounded. -JPOST

The following is taken from "Lessons from the Haifa Suicide Attack (Part II), by Walid Phares:
The owner of "Maxime," the South Haifa restaurant is a Lebanese Christian. George Matar is not an Arab. He is a Maronite from Lebanon whose roots are Aramaic. Many of the workers who got either killed or injured are Lebanese Christian as well. Al-Jazeera -and many Arab media- missed that point, possibly intentionally. For indicating the real ethnic and religious identities of the owners and the workers would open a new file on the Jihadists both in Israel and in the Middle East. Why would the Islamists suicide bombers target a Lebanese Christian restaurant in Israel, knowingly, while they could have attacked an Arab-Muslim culinary establishment. Mainstream Jews in Haifa eat at all kinds of restaurants, especially on a Sabbat. So what's behind Hanadi's mission. Was she there to kill Jews or Christians, or both?

How did "Abu Charbel" (George Matar's acronym) ended up being bombed in Israel by Palestinian Islamic Jihad? Was he part of that war between the Islamists and the Israelis or was he not? If you look at the micro-destinies of law abiding civilians anywhere in the world, they basically want peace and security, should they be Jews, Christians or Muslims. Ideologies transforms them into "missiles" - such as the bomber Hanadi Jaradat or the bombed George Matar. But while we know more about the Jihadists and their views of the world, most around us knows much less about those Christians of Lebanon, crushed in an exploding Middle East.

George Matar, his family and his relatives, including a nephew who died during the blast, few days before his wedding, all of them came from across the border. Up in Lebanon, one million and a half Christians live under Syrian occupation and Hizbollah intimidation. Almost half of the country's population, the Christian ethnic group is the older community of Lebanon. Descendent from the ancient Aramaic, known also as Phoenicians, the Lebanese Maronites and other groups have resisted the onslaught of the Arab-Islamic conquests for more than 13 centuries. Defeated after a 15 years long war with the PLO, Syrians and Islamists, the Christian community fell under the fate of occupied nations in 1990. But for a whole decade, a small portion of these Christians, along with a number of Muslims and Druze, chose to ally themselves with their Jewish neighbor. In the most southern part of the country, they formed an enclave, called by the world, Israel's "security zone." In May 2000, the Clinton Administration and the Barak Government abandoned those "last of the Mohicans" to Hizbollah. More than six thousands Christian Lebanese crossed the borders into Israel, in an unprecedented exodus. Baathist Syria, Khumainist Iran and the Wahabi Jihadists claimed victory. The "infidels were driven out of Lebanon, tomorrow the other infidels will be driven out of Palestine," chanted the Jihadists. Among the thousands of refugees in the Galilee, were men and women who had no other choice but to restart their lives of "infidels" south of their homeland. Matar opened a restaurant in Haifa.