Worried Lebanese

thought crumbs on lebanese and middle eastern politics

Archive for March, 2007

Arab Initiative… experiencing a deja vu

Posted by worriedlebanese on 29/03/2007

The Arab League has reaffirmed its support for the Arab peace initiative. They insisted that anything short of that framework simply will not work. Interestingly enough, the Israeli governement and the American administration have showed more interest in it this year than they had in 2002 when it was penned in Beirut.
This doesn’t mean that they condone it. In fact, they support it as a start for talks, while Arab leaders present it as a package deal; the base threshold for an acceptable and sustainable peace.

Last week, the Arab peace initiative was mentioned by Dennis Ross, Clinton’s principal Mideast negociator a week ago, in a meeting in which I participated. I didn’t know then that the think tank in which he works is closely related to AIPAC (American-Israel Public Affairs Committee).
He explained that two things in the agreement had shocked the Israelis in the Declaration: the fact that it did not condemn terrorism and that it mentioned the right of return of Palestinian refugees to Israel. He believed that this was unacceptable because it threatened the existence of Israel as a Jewish State, something that should be preserved as a premisse.

So basically we have two conflicting premisses. And one common missing consideration… human rights that are systematically sacrificed in the name of political collective rights.


Posted in Israel, Lebanon, Middle East, Palestinian territories, Peace | Leave a Comment »

Pretty noose

Posted by worriedlebanese on 26/03/2007

I open the Orient-Le Jour today for the first time in 10 days. And unsurprisingly, nothing new. Same people saying the same things. Except I noticed two quotes mentioning nooses: Geagea on the opposition (they want to tie a noose around our neck), Jumblatt on Hariri’s assassins (the rope is tightening around their necks).
The effect is certainly dramatic and it does show that the “game” is a deadly one. It interwines two different issues: (1) the participation of Shiites and Christian leaders as equal partners on a common program with the Sunni and Druze leadership (2) the legal prosecution of Assad regime.
Putting it that way could seem quite biased, but how can one state the interwining otherwise?

Posted in Intercommunal affairs, Lebanon, Syria | Leave a Comment »

Demographic threats

Posted by worriedlebanese on 19/03/2007

In the Middle East, the concept of “demographic threats” or “demographic timebomb” is a basic component in political discussions in two countries only: Lebanon and Israel. One can remark incidently that these are the only democracies in the Middle East, but of a particular type. The democratic factor explains the fact that these issues are in the public debate. The particularities of these democracies could explain why demography is perceived as a threat. They are both communally based democracies: Israel based on one dominant group seen as the “raison d’être” and one of the defining component of the State (hence the qualification of “ethnocracy”), while Lebanon is based on a power sharing forumla (hence the qualification of consensus democracy or “concensocracy”). Demographic change can in effect threaten this main feature of each country (the jewish character of Israel and the power sharing forumla in Lebanon).
In Israel, demography has become a security issue. Oddly enough, in Lebanon, hasn’t been analyzed in these terms withstanding the fact that demographic change has been used by several actors to define or redefine the main characteristics of the State.

Posted in Intercommunal affairs, Israel, Lebanon, Security, Violence | 8 Comments »

Soha, return to Hezbollah country

Posted by worriedlebanese on 04/03/2007

This is a very interesting documentary produced by a Swiss tv on the aftermath of the summer war and the support that Hezbollah enjoys in Shiite circles. The documentary revolves around interviews conducted by Soha Bechara, a former member of the communist resistance against Israel.
The interaction she has with pro-Hezbollah Shiites in the South is very interesting because they see in her a fellow resistant (she was held in Khiam for several years for trying to assassinate the Lebanese Southern Army’s commanding officer), even though she is secular (probably atheist) and of a christian-communist background.


Posted in Hezbollah, Israel, Lebanon, Secularism, Violence | Leave a Comment »

Shooting individuals: Real people in the World Press awarded Photo

Posted by worriedlebanese on 02/03/2007

platt_winner_adjust.jpgReporting for the german magazine Der Spiegel, Ulrike Putz shared the story of the people photographed by Spencer Platt in his award winning photo. He interviewed one of the girls sitting in the car.
The interview shows how quick people are in making a moral judgement of people they know nothing about. It seems that our judgements say more about us that about what we are judging.
Here is the article: world-press-photo.doc

I leave the last word to Mai Ghoussoub who in her analysis of the picture left out all judgement of the people in the picture so as to focus on the meaning of war photography and what it says about the person that is looking at it (as a spectator): “I believe that the photo is stunning in the metaphor it creates about war photography. It tells us about the voyeurism of the photographer, of the act of taking photos in tragic situations: if there is a contradiction, it is in the encounter between art, beauty and tragedy”.

For Mai Ghoussoub’s article check out: worriedlebanese.wordpress.com/2007/02/21/216/

Posted in Lebanon, Prejudice, Violence | Leave a Comment »

Where does an Israeli-Palestinian couple go?

Posted by worriedlebanese on 01/03/2007

starcrossed1.jpgThe BBC published an interesting article on a young Israeli Jewish woman and a young Palestinian Muslim who fell in love, got married and saw their union rejected on both side of the divide. Their present plan is immigration.

Here’s the article: star-crossed-lovers-bbc.doc

Posted in Intercommunal affairs, Israel, Palestinian territories, Peace, Prejudice | Leave a Comment »