Worried Lebanese

thought crumbs on lebanese and middle eastern politics

Archive for October, 2007

An example of cross observation of sectors in Israel

Posted by worriedlebanese on 29/10/2007

jumelles.jpgWhile doing some research in the French National Library, I ordered an Israeli booklet written in Hebrew that seemed rather interesting. The book description stated it was accompanied by a summary in English… It became hard for me to resist this book entitled “Religion and the High Court of Justice: Image and Reality – part 1”
דת ובגייץ: דימוי ומעיאת
This booklet published by the Israel Democracy Institute is a critical study of a report published by Manof, the Center for Jewish Information on the output of the Israeli high court of justice that it considers increasingly anti-religious and anti-jewish.
Basically we have a report published by an institute that identifies itself with the secular Jewish sector that criticises a report published by an institute that identifies itself with the ultra-orthodox Jewish sector that criticises the rulings of the High Court of Justice that it identifies as part of the secular Jewish sector.
The seven-page summary is quite riveting. It indicates excellent scholarship with a very clear and scientific methodology. It bases its criticism on the Manof paper’s lack of scientific methodology.
What I found very disconcerting is its final conclusion: “The publication analyzed in this position paper was shown to possess significant deficiencies, which render it an unreliable source for further discussion of the important issue it approaches. We chose to deal with it, despite its errors, since it is currently being used in public debate. Genuine dialogue between sectors can exist only on the basis of a correct reading of facts, and we hope that further analyses will proceed in this fashion”.
The notion of “genuine dialogue”

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Posted in Israel, Political behaviour, Politics, Prejudice, Religion, Secularism | Leave a Comment »

Debating religion and society: a paradox

Posted by worriedlebanese on 27/10/2007

religion-faith.jpgI have been doing some research lately on the issue of State and Religion. I was much amazed by the scope of the debate. I’ve been going through French, Anglo-Saxon and Israeli literature on the subject and I realised how rich the discussion was in some states, and how poor it was in the two countries I’m most familiar with, Lebanon and France. In Lebanon, the whole issue seems to be subsumed by the debate over “confessionalism” (existence of several family law statutes governing family law, and allocation of public positions according to confessional belonging) where some people think it’s an absolute evil and others think it’s a necessary evil. In France, the debate is subsumed by the dominant approach of the “Laïcité” (French doctrine on the separation between State and Church), and the delimitation of the sphere where religion can be expressed.
The comparison between the debate in France and the USA is quite interesting because they both uphold very strongly the principle of separation between State and Church. Only their understanding of the principle is not the same, and neither is the degree of religiosity within their society nor the legal framework they have translated their common commitment.
The comparison between Israel and Lebanon is equally interesting because both societies are openly communal and share a similar system of personal law. Only Lebanon sees itself as a secular State and Israel sees itself as a Jewish State. Moreover, there is no dominant confessional denomination in Lebanon (but a power sharing scheme between the six largest groups) while in Israel there is. So one would expect a richer debate in Lebanon than in Israel, which is clearly not the case.

Posted in Anticonfessionalism, Israel, Lebanon, Politics, Religion, Secularism | Leave a Comment »

Soli and I, or how I came to support a Gnrl for Prsdt

Posted by worriedlebanese on 26/10/2007

In a lecture I gave three years ago, I remember denouncing the way Lebanese intellectuals have systematically supported the Generals who ran for office. In 1958 they supported Chehab (and they stil see in him the best president the country has ever had). In 1988 they supported Aoun and in 1998 they backed Emile Lahoud (I remember getting into an argument with Samir Kassir because of that).

The only explanation I found for this support was the lack of any alternative at those times, and the fact that these Generals promised to fulfill the promises of article 95 of the Lebanese Constitution: transforming Lebanon into a complete jacobine state and nation.

And  now I see myself arguing with people and telling them that Michel Sleiman is the best alternative for an interim premiership (and not the presidency), because he is the only one who could restore trust between Hariri and Nasrallah, the Sunni Mustaqbal Movement and Chiite Hezbollah.

Posted in Civil Society, Democracy, Discourse, Lebanon, Reform, Values | Leave a Comment »