Worried Lebanese

thought crumbs on lebanese and middle eastern politics

Archive for May, 2008

Talking in peace

Posted by worriedlebanese on 31/05/2008

I met a group of people today studying Hebrew and Arabic through a French organisation called “Parler en Paix” (Talking in Peace). They had a stand in the International Fair for Peace Initiatives that took place in Paris this weekend. A Lebanese organisation partook in the event too (for the first time it seems). Though every one was busy attending to his or her stand, some exchanges were possible, and they centered on two issues: the political situation in Lebanon and the Israeli-Lebanese conflict. I overheard some heated arguments, but on the whole, people from all sides discussed all issues very openly, and without taboos. It was rather nice for a change. 

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Posted in Civil Society, Israel, Lebanon, Middle East, Peace | Leave a Comment »

Two interesting articles by Bradley Burston

Posted by worriedlebanese on 27/05/2008

I think two of the most interesting articles I read this year surrounding the 60th anniversary of Israel were penned by Bradley Burston, in the Israeli daily HaAretz : 

– We owe the Palestinians a state

– Sixty years of Nakba, 60 years of nothing.

Both articles are courageous and highlight very important things that were obliterated by the imposing celebrations of Israel’s independence day. What I most admired is what Burston terms Israel’s “tragic success”, and how he flips the coin to look at its other side. He invites Israelis to consider on that day what they owe the Palestinians. 

Lastly, he sums up the last two decades extraordinarily. During the 90s, “we lost our belief in the power of peace to solve our problems”, and “then we lost our faith in the power of war to do the same”.  

 

 

 

Posted in Israel, Palestinian territories, Palestinians, Politics | Leave a Comment »

New president, old recipes

Posted by worriedlebanese on 26/05/2008

I just came back to Paris from a week isolation, cut off from the rest of the world: no telephone, no internet, no telly, no newspapers… And the first thing a fellow traveller tells me upon learning that I was Lebanese was “what do you think of the new president?”. I knew then that Michel Suleiman had become president. It didn’t really come as a surprise. He was the only candidate to the post. But I just couldn’t hide my disappointment. The disappointment only grew when I read his first presidential speech (first thing I did when I reached my room). Fuad Chehab was back, with a vengeance. 

Don’t be fooled by the picture you see in this post of a man in civilian clothes congratulated by his mother. What you see is the current commanding general of the lebanese army who stared at the warring parties during our short civil war, and who had stood by for two years while the islamist of Nahr el Bared and almost all the Lebanese parties rebuilt their militias… just like Chehab did in 1968. 

Posted in Lebanon, Political behaviour, Politics | Leave a Comment »

Remembering 1958 – part 1

Posted by worriedlebanese on 14/05/2008

France has been honouring this year its 1968 revolution. Israel has been celebrating for over a week its 1948 establishment… Lebanon, strangely enough, will certainly not be commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1958 civil war. Why?

How come so little is written about this year. How come so little research and analysis was done on it. Sure you can find a couple of good books on it, but they are usually descriptive and tend to show the war’s dynamics, and not it’s immediate and long term consequences on the Lebanese system.

People would argue that this is of little importance considering the present circumstances. But I’m not sure they are right. Comparisons are always interesting. They open up new perspectives and help you consider new paths of interpretation, and assists you in considering new possibilities and scenarios for your predictions.

One cannot help but see the similarities between 1958 and 2008: the international dimension (Cold war then, War on terrorism now), the regional dimension (Saudi and Syro-Egyptian rivalry then, Syro-Iranian vs Saudi-Egyptian now), and local dimension (pro and anti President now, pro and anti Prime minister now).

What about the differences? 

Posted in History, Lebanon, Political behaviour, Politics, Violence | Leave a Comment »

No longer protected from the worst cancers by lack of power

Posted by worriedlebanese on 14/05/2008

Bloomsbury Auctions in Mayfair will be selling tomorrow a letter written by Einstein in 1954 to the philosopher Eric Gutkind. In it he speaks of religion and jewishness. In it, he claims that Jews “are no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power”.

I found this sentence particularly interesting to ponder on, on a day like this, on May 14th, on the 60th anniversary of the creation of the State of Israel (celebrated last week, in accordance with the Jewish calendar). Alfred Einstein’s words were undeniably true before 1948, but how true were they when he wrote them, almost 8 years after the creation of the State of Israel? Israelis, as a nation, certainly do not lack power. As for the way their military exerts it, it seems rather reminiscent of that exerted by the neighbourhood bully. And as Israel declares itself a jewish state, the downfall of its actions reaches all jewish communities throughout the world.  

Posted in Israel, Middle East, Violence | Leave a Comment »

Naming (what’s happening in Beirut)… and necessity

Posted by worriedlebanese on 13/05/2008

It took the Lebanese many years to name the war by its name. At first they called it “the events”. But when it started lingering on and stretching over a decade, they finally decided to call it a war. And then they started looking for adjectives… was it a civil war? a regional war? one war or a series of wars? Some started calling it the “other’s war”… or even the “war for others”… People still disagree on its name. but they do agree that it was a war, one war, and a bloody and destructive one. So much so that every time a spark sets out in Lebanon, people start crying “war, war”. 

But it isn’t war… at least not yet. It’s violence, a new form (or scope) of violence that fits in a larger dynamic that has been expanding for three years. It’s not the outburst of violence that is surprising but the extent of the restraint that has been exercised up to now. 

Posted in Intercommunal affairs, Lebanon, Violence | 2 Comments »

Not in our name

Posted by worriedlebanese on 12/05/2008

For several years now, a worldwide jewish movement has been voicing its rejection of the Israeli policy towards Palestinians, summing it up by the slogan “not in my name”.

I think we should do the same in Lebanon, replacing “my” by “our” because our political actors never refer to us as individuals, but express themselves as representatives of their communities. I personally don’t believe they represent their communities, and the responsibility of their acts certainly do not fall on their communities. It’s time they took on this responsibility themselves.  

Posted in Intercommunal affairs, Lebanon, Middle East, Peace, Violence | Leave a Comment »

Commemorating 60 years of… the other

Posted by worriedlebanese on 09/05/2008

 

Israel celebrated yesterday, it’s 60th anniversary. In a week, Palestinians will be commemorating the Nakba. It’s odd to see these two people commemorating the same event so differently  (and on two different dates, the Israelis follow the Jewish calendar while the Palestinians follow the international one) and regardless of what happened on the other side ever since.

There’s something obscene in the way Israelis (and the world press) are celebrating the establishment of Israel without even mentioning the plight of those who paid the highest price for it (and are still paying it till this very day). 

And to think that in a week the Palestinian will be commemorating the Nakba (the loss of their state and homes) fantasizing on their return as if time had stopped in 1948 and Israel is merely a mirage that would eventually disappear.  

If only there was a way to commemorate this event in its whole, in the same way the book “L’histoire de l’autre was written” (cover shown above).

 

Posted in History, Identity, Israel, Palestinians | Leave a Comment »

“Halat Hatman” by the Future Movement

Posted by worriedlebanese on 08/05/2008

Mohammad Kabbani, Future Movement MP, announced yesterday that it would only take 24 hours to open the Halat Airport. This announcement took me back to  the late 1980s when as a teen I used to watch on the LBC (Lebanon’s number one tv station, operated by the Lebanese Forces yet watched by almost two thirds of the Lebanese population until the 1990s). This announcement promised the imminent opening of the Halat Airport under the slogan “Halat Hatman”. The airport never opened.

Posted in Discourse, History, Intercommunal affairs, Lebanon, Political behaviour | 2 Comments »