Worried Lebanese

thought crumbs on lebanese and middle eastern politics

Reading Haaretz in Lebanon

Posted by worriedlebanese on 22/10/2006

HaaretzI have no statistics under hand, but it seems to me that more and more Lebanese internet users are becoming regular readers of the Israeli daily. This certainly says something about the quality of the paper, but also about the awakening interest of Lebanese in  Israeli affairs. These are the reasons I check the Haaretz site almost every day.

I felt the increase of the Lebanese readership through reading the posts on the “talkback” section of the internet site. More and more Lebanese are participating in the online debats. I’ve noticed at least 4 regulars that post comments underneath articles pertaining to Lebanon,  Palestinian issues, the IDF and Israeli-diasporic relations. They are now actively participating in these sections more than any other Arabic speaking group.

They are not really entering into dialogue with Israelis. The interaction is mostly polemical. But this isn’t due to the Lebanese participants but usually to international hardliners who use this section to criticise the Haaretz journalist for trying to be open about “Arab issues” and comprehensive in their approach. Reading talkback is becoming more and more tedious for me because the same ideas, the same arguments come back all the time. People are aggressive and assertive, throwing arguments at each others and loosing track of what the article is about.

The Lebanese participation could come from the growing interest of the Lebanese media in the Haaretz.  Some articles published in the Daily Star are written by journalist for the Haaretz, and this is mentioned in the English language Lebanese daily newspaper. The Safir, a Lebanese daily pubished in Arabic (which has a Muslim conservative readership)  also translates and publishes articles from the Haaretz. And the Israeli paper is quoted regularly on the Lebanese television (even on the Manar, Hezballah’s television).

I wonder if this is the case in Egypt and in Syria, two countries that have signed a peace agreement with Israel, but honestly doubt it. I think this shows how curious the Lebanese are to things that effect them, and how ready they are to interact, speak up, and discuss issues they find important, even with their enemies and rival. All you have to do is give them the opportunity to do so.

So one can only imagine the interaction there will be oncr a peace treaty is signed between the two countries. Withstanding the antagonism, I beleive interaction between both societies will be intense (and at times fierce).

There is a very popular expression in Lebanon that says “there will be no war between the Arabs and Israel without Egypt, and no peace without Syria”. I think the Lebanese have proved this saying wrong. War has continued between the Arabs and Israel through Lebanon in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and in 2006. And only Lebanon can play an effective role in Peace because of its open society and the willingness of its people to discuss publicly the most contreversial topics, even with their ennemies.

I think it’s now quite obvious, the road to war and peace between Israel and the Arab speaking nations passes through Lebanon.


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