Worried Lebanese

thought crumbs on lebanese and middle eastern politics

Archive for the ‘Memory’ Category

Credo in form of a decalogue (changes I believe in)

Posted by worriedlebanese on 15/07/2010

Some people have very rightly said that my approach to “Laïque Pride” (among other things) is too negative and that instead of simply criticising, I should be presenting some alternatives. So I took two hours to think about it and came up with this decalogue.
1. I believe that we should pressure the parliament into establishing the “communauté de droit commun” that was recognised in the 1930s!!!! And allow it to have its own institutions and its own laws in matters of mariage and inheritance, and also its own courts. In other words Create a democratic and liberal “op out” mechanism to communal membership.

2. I personally think the Lebanese state should stop financing the muslim clergy and the muslim courts, because it is discriminatory towards non-muslims and it contradicts the principle of separation between religion and state. In other words Enforce the principle of  separation between State and Religion.

3. I also believe that the civil inheritance law that applies to Christians should be abolished because it is patriarchal and discriminatory. I believe Christians should be allowed to have their own inheritance laws (the catholic inheritance law for instance is more liberal than the secular Lebanese inheritance law), just like Muslims do… In other words: Enforce the principle of equality between communities.

4. I believe that the “clergy” has the right to express its political opinion, like all other citizens do. And that we have the right (and the duty) to criticize it when we don’t agree with it. However, the Muslim “clergy” BY LAW doesn’t have the right to express political views because it holds the status of “state agent”. If it wants to benefit from this right, it should set itself free from the state. In other words Enforce the principles of rule of law.

5. I also believe that people who belong to a community should pay a specific tax for this community (like in Germany) in order to to finance each community’s institutions (courts and non-clerical representative institutions) and give it the means to have a properly trained personnel (most importantly judges)! And where there are taxes, there’s accountability! In other words Guarantee a greater autonomy to communities.

6. I also believe that pressure should be made on state courts to reinterpret Law 534 of our criminal law that doesn’t mention homosexuality but speaks of sexual relations that are “contradicting the laws of nature”… I believe this sentence’s interpretation should be restricted to bestiality… and not include adultery, homosexuality and what have you: In other words “upgrade” Personal Freedom to international standards.

7. I also believe that there should be NO censorship. And that the censorship board should be replaced by a rating board (like in the US). I believe freedom of opinion and information should be guaranteed. For this we need a new legislation and excerpt  a lot of pressure on our political class (that controls the media and restricts the creation of new media). In other words “upgrade” Freedom of Expression to international standards.

8. I believe that military courts should not be allowed to try civilians. And that even soliders should be given the right to oppose a military court’s ruling by bringing the case to a higher civil court (Constitutional court, Court of cassation, Council of State or preferably a common supreme court that replaces them). In other words Extend the principle of Due Process.

9. I believe that the history of communities should be taught in schools because people are extremely ignorant about these things and they replace their lack of knowledge with prejudice. Our students should learn about communal persecutions, conversions, liberal and conservative religious movements… They should learn about the dhimmi laws, and that they were not always applied. They should learn about religious extremism (how Syriac and Protestant converts were persecuted by the Maronite church, how Chrisitans, and non orthodox Muslims were persecuted by the Mamlouk, how the Eastern Catholic churches were latinised by Rome and missionaries, how the Oriental Orthodox clergy were discriminated against by the Greeks (and how the Arab speaking orthodox clergy revolted in the 19th century, how the Iranian clergy and schools changed the Lebanese Shiites religious practice, what sunni religious reformers proposed in the 19th century… In other words, Replace prejudice and ignorance with knowledge.

10. I believe that the confessional system can be reformed… But this reform should keep in mind the basic principles on which this system is based: inclusiveness and diversity. That’s why all recognised communities should have a representative in Parliament! Today, the rule applies only to 11 communities out of the 17 established communities (the “communauté de droit commun” just like the Ismaeli community is recognised but not established, once it is established it will become the 18th community). Moreover, we should have a law that sets a procedure for the recognition of other religious communities (the Czech law is quite a good one). I also believe that there are competent people in all communities and that “confessionalism” shouldn’t be an excuse to choose the most corrupt or the least competent of them, or an excuse to strengthen the power of patrons over people who belong to their community (within the state and outside it). In other words, Enforce the principles of Inclusiveness and Diversity inherent in Confessionalism.

When are we going to start doing something about these issues instead of parroting an almost centennial discourse that is produced and manipulated by politicians and that leads to nowhere?

Posted in Diversity, History, Intercommunal affairs, Islam, Judaism, Levantine Christians, Memory, Patronage Networks, Personal, Prejudice, Reform, Religion, Secularism, Values | 6 Comments »

Fourth anniversary of July War

Posted by worriedlebanese on 12/07/2010

Haret Hreik... before and after the war

To put it bluntly, I have no clue about what I’m going to write under this heading. Many ideas have been swirling in my head, and going in all directions. I’m not sure what I want to comment on. I’ve read four newspapers and found only two articles about this commemoration. Nothing in the Orient-Le Jour, nothing in the Daily Star, two articles in al-Akhbar, and two translated israeli articles in the Safir. There doesn’t seem to be a consensus around this commemoration. But this doesn’t mean that the July war has been forgotten, or that it has lost  meaning in Lebanese politics. Hezbollah and Amal outlets refer to it as frequently as they could; so does March XIV® (and its outlets) when it wants to attack Hezbollah and its weapons. So why are there so few articles about this war on the day it started 4 years ago?

Commemorations serve many purposes. But whatever purpose that is,there is a political will behind it, the decision to mark that day as a day of remembrance. The political will obviously lacks in Lebanon. The parliament, the government and society is divided in its understanding of this war and that day. Some blame Hezbollah for starting the war with its operation against the IDF, others consider that Israel only used a legitimate Hezbollah operation as a pretext to wage war against Lebanon.

This deep division certainly explains the lack of public commemoration. But with all this talk about a future war between the two countries (that many consider inevitable), shouldn’t this day be used to clarify things and reflect on ways to prevent that war?

On a personal note, I can’t help but commemorate this day. It represents an important turning point in my life. It sparked my interest in blogging and in Peace work, two activities that I’m still hooked to.

Posted in Hezbollah, Israel, Lebanon, Memory, Violence | 9 Comments »

Commemorating what?!

Posted by worriedlebanese on 14/04/2010

“You should do activities that have to do with the memory of the war. The most important thing is to remember what happened during the war”, that’s what a socially very active woman said the other day when she learnt about the activities we were doing in the peace organisation. A few years ago I would have congratulated her for her stand, but now, I wasn’t so sure how to react. Why is remembering the war so important? Are people forgetting what happened during the war? Is this dark experience not being transmitted to the younger generation? Would this knowledge prevent future wars from happening. I’m not so sure about that any longer. I’ve been interested in that topic for a long time. I remember back in college a teacher in anthropology launching a large research project on that. I remember the many authors and books he suggested I read. I remember reading them, I remember them. And yet I’m not so sure that “remembering” the war should be everyone’s priority.
I’m not saying that the war should be forgotten. Quite the contrary. I firmly believe that we should preserve some of its physical traces. I also think the work many organisations and individuals are doing is crucial. They are collecting the traces of this war, trying to understand what happened and why it happened. They are gathering data, providing narratives. But all this isn’t enough to prevent a new war from happening. However, it is more than enough to condemn the perpetrators: the politicians, the militiamen, the hate-mongers… Oddly enough, this elements is usually overlooked by those who work on the “memory of war”. Those on the “left” still believe that Kamal Jumblatt, or Yaser Arafat were good blokes (and absolve them of all criminal intent and behaviour), the few that are on the “right” have the same feelings for Bachir Gemayel or Dany Chamoun. If these men and their wrongdoings are not condemned, is it really worth remembering or commemorating the war? and what exactly is being remembered?

Posted in Civil Society, Lebanon, Memory, Peace, Violence | 4 Comments »

A debate on how to manage a virtual network

Posted by worriedlebanese on 29/03/2010

I tried to access Palestinian Mothers a couple of minutes ago but couldn’t do it. The site’s introductory page announced that “this Ning network has ben taken offline by its owner”. It was a bit surprised by this announcement even though things haven’t been going very smoothly on that network. Its owner and main animator Iqbal Tamimi had informed all members that she will be terminating a certain number of accounts. And soon later she started implementing her new policy. I voiced my objection to such proceedings and a rather animated debated was launched surrounding Iqbal Tamimi’s policy and my complaint.
Oddly enough, Iqbal Tamimi had problems publishing some articles two weeks ago (on her own network) and today the network was shut down, for reasons I don’t know. I though the debate that my comment launched was rather interesting, so I will publish it here (the discussion is found in the first comment).

Blogging under Damocles’ sword
Posted by JC|WorriedLebanese on March 16, 2010 at 10:40pm

As I write this entry, I cannot help but think of the sword of Damocles that hangs over my head. Like all members of this network, I’ve received of late two emails from the creator and animator of Palestinian Mothers threatening the following categories of members of expulsion:

  • Anonymous members (people who do not share a “real name” and “personal picture”);
  • Old members with false identities (because they cause the creator and animator of Palestinian Mothers a great distress);
  • Passive members who do not participate (because they do not take the Palestinian cause seriously) ;
  • Peepers (a sub-category of passive members who are busy with other stuff but who indulge in their voyeuristic urges from time to time);
  • Spies (people who are here to eavesdrop on other members’ activities).

I have a problem with this type of “spring cleaning” or screening, and not only because I’m very likely to fall victim to it. I believe the logic behind it is flawed. Doesn’t everyone find this compartmentalisation impoverishing? What is great about the internet is that if offers us the opportunity to hear voices that we are not likely to hear in our every day life. It allows us to interact, argue, learn, teach, inform, question our certainties. I’m not sure all this is possible in a network of totally “like-minded” people. The reason I came to Palestinian Mothers in the first place was precisely because it offered a different voice that was no longer heard on MEpeace after several members were either excluded or driven out because their views were different. And I followed them here so as not to loose their voice.

Posted in Blogosphere, Check them Out, Culture, Intercommunal affairs, Israel, Justice, Memory, Middle East, Palestinians, Peace, Personal, Pluralism, Political behaviour | 1 Comment »

InsepArab: Hélène Cixous’ take on Jewish & Arab identities

Posted by worriedlebanese on 20/03/2010

Odd word, isn’t it? “InsepArab“. Hélène Cixous is actually quite fond of such neologisms. Most of the words she coins have a very literary quality to them (I quite like another one she had coined earlier in her career: “Oublire” which borrows from “Oublier”, to forget, and “lire”, to read, and has a proactive quality to it). With “insepArab” she brings out from the adjective “inseparable”, the noun “Arab”, and then removes the last two letters hinting at the complexity of her relation to Arab(s)/Arabic, but not “Arabness” or “arabité”, that is specifically left out of the picture.

Arab and Jewish identities as mutually exclusive

Hélène Cixous has spoken on more occasions than one about her identity, and most notably in her autobiographical essay/novel “Reveries of the wild woman”. But I will stick here to an interview that she made on the BBC two weeks ago (and that is available on an “Arts & Ideas” podcast), insofar as it doesn’t contradict her earlier stands.

“I didn’t want to be an Arab, I knew I was Jewish” and she explains that the “history of Jews was heavy enough” and that she didn’t want to escape its burden and responsibility”. This is probably the strangest argument in the interview. Hélène Cixous claims that becoming Arab or identifying as an Arab would prevent her from carrying on the burden and the responsibility of her jewish identity. The notion of “burden” and “responsibility” of an identity is already quite difficult to fathom, but the supposed effects of an Arab identification by a Jew are indecipherable.

And then Cixous procedes with the type of argument that give culturalism a bad name. She speaks of the pragmatism that she got from her German mother and talks about the “culture gap” between her Arab classmates and the others (including herself) and illustrates it by saying that “they had never slept in beds”. She also speaks of their “family culture that was so far from modern culture”. Her argument would have been completely different had she spoken of western culture, but instead of space, she prefers time, presenting Algerian Arab culture as archaic, a sentiment that is reinforced when she speaks of the “prominent positions within arabic tribes” of her Arab classmates’ fathers.

Westernisation would have been a much suited and  fruitful approach because one could see its effects on Algeria’s native population: some sectors of the Muslim population that voluntarily integrated into Algerian-French society, and the Jewish population that was quite vigourously westernised since the 1870s (through the systematic transformation and replacement of their native institutions by Jewish institutions coming from France).

What is also quite strange is that Hélène Cixous has no problem identifying her mother as German (and giving her supposedly “germanic traits”), while she refuses to do the same thing with her father  who is denied both Arabic and French identities). When she speaks of him choosing her two language instructors, one for Arabic and one for Hebrew, she attributes this to his socialist leaning, and not to the fact that Arabic was the language of his ancestors for centuries (and the most important cultural language of Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews) and that of the vast majority of the population in Algeria. So while Jewish and Arab identities are mutually exclusive, Jewish and German identities are not.

Weighing oppressions and odd equations

“I wanted that the Jews and the Arabs who were equally oppressed to join”, Cixous says. When asked if it was true that at that time (after 1945) and at that place (Algeria) “Jews and Arabs were equally oppressed” she answered that “it was true” because “there was a double racism, one against the Arabs and one against the Jews” and then spoke about the differences between Arab and Jews under Vichy and Nazism. She concluded this argument by saying that she “knew about history”, about “the conditions of the different oppressions” and “thought that the oppressed should become allies”. It is quite obvious that she is struggling with her argument, she starts by equating “oppression” and “racism”, then shifts in time to a specific period (which was off topic) to shift the balance between the two oppressions, and after that historical argument slips back to an ahistorical approach (devoid of any contextual element).

Posted in Culture, Discourse, Discourse Analysis, Identity, Intercommunal affairs, Judaism, Memory, Values | 6 Comments »

Lanzmann, the Holocaust and I

Posted by worriedlebanese on 21/01/2010

Claude Lanzmann in the early 1980s

I just finished watching the first part of Claude Lanzmann’s 1985 documentary on the Holocaust:  Shoah. I’ve been viewing it for the past 4 hours and a half. The full version runs 613 minutes, but Arte chose to show it in two parts. The second half will air next Wednesday, but I’m not sure I’ll have the courage to follow it.

This documentary is considered by many historians as a watershed in European historiography of the Holocaust. I had seen bits and pieces of the documentary on two occasions before. But this is the first time I see such a large chunk of it. I’m a bit frustrated because this viewing prevented me from finishing a report that I’ve been editing for the past two days, but I thought to hell with deadlines, this film could help me on another project that I’m working on, a socio-cultural peace project: how to discuss the holocaust in the Middle Eastern while the Arab-Israeli conflict rages on. Some work has been done on this issue, some material has been made available in Arabic, however I haven’t found them very convincing and I know they wouldn’t work very well in Lebanon. I’ll explain the reasons in a forthcoming post.

As I watched this extremely long documentary I grew increasingly uncomfortable with it. Caude Lanzmann’s approach wasn’t informative. He was conducting an inquisition. Sure, the director is a trained journalist, sure, this project took him more than eight years to realise. But his approach to “oral history” is a very disturbing one. Instead of letting people express themselves freely on a subject, he cross-examines them. He doesn’t listen to them, he makes them say what he wants to hear. His approach is extremely manipulative. His judgement is already made. What he’s looking for is the right footage that would express it.

In this documentary he uses no archive footage, no dramatic reconstructions. He insists on restricting the images he uses to contemporary shots of landscapes, villages and the sites of concentration and extermination camps. He defended this choice as an ethical one. He believes that the suffering in the camps cannot be recreated on the screen. So he leaves it to our imagination to recreate the actual scene by offering us very graphic descriptions of what happened, showing us the sites where these dramatic events took place and adding some suggestives images (such as factories with smoking chimneys).

He is quite present in the documentary. You see him on many occasions interviewing people. These interviews are actually cross-examinations. With survivors, he shows extreme compassion (which is only natural). With guards and local villagers (those who live or have lived in former jewish houses or next to the camps), his approach is very different. His long conversations with local villagers has one specific aim, to prove that they were either active participants in this barbaric process or at least passive collaborators in this crime against humanity (that seems to him to be restricted to Jews).

You hear Claude Lanzmann flattering the people he is interviewing and leading them on. While I watched him asking his question, interrogating the “witnesses”, I had the impression of watching a court room drama. I knew exactly what he was getting at, but the “witnesses” weren’t aware that they were dealing with a prosecutor. They weren’t aware that they were being cross-examined, that their weakness, their fragility was being exploited, that the interviewer was actually denouncing their complicity, getting them to express things that could easily be interpreted as anti-semitic, that he was actively participating in writing the “oral history” that they were expressing. He was imposing on them the Nazi racial division between Jew and Pole, Jew and German. He was refusing to acknowledge the suffering that Poles and even ordinary Germans endured because of the war and the persecution they encountered. He mocks their pride, and their national feelings, the clumsy strategies with which they deal with a painful past. These are  strategies that all humans would use. I’m not sure he’ll get a different kind of answer if he asked Israelis about the Palestinians who owned their house or  who lived in their neighbourhood before 1948.

Furthermore, he obliterates the presence of non-Jews in concentration camps (and their systematic persecution). He discusses the Chelmno concentration camp quite lengthily and mocks a German woman who lived next to the camp when she fails to give him the figure he wants to hear when he mentions the victims: “I don’t know, maybe 40 000” she asks… “400 000” he answers, to what she clumsily replies “I knew there was a 4 in the figure”. Well, interestingly enough, many historians think that the figure is closer to 160 000 and that it includes catholic poles, soviet prisoners and gypsies, three other categories of victims that Lanzmann doesn’t even acknowledge. He is too busy hunting down anti-semitic feelings and actions in the past… and in the present. For him, things are pretty simple: you have the survivors (Jews), the bystanders (guilty for not doing anything, and thus behaving inhumanly) and the perpetrators (monsters).

Posted in Antisemitism, Communication, Discourse, Judaism, Memory, Politics | Leave a Comment »

Can we stop the reconstruction of St Vincent de Paul?

Posted by worriedlebanese on 30/12/2009

(that's the kind of picture u get at 3 o'clock in the morning)

I learnt  from a friend four days ago that the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul planned to restore their church in downtown Beirut. I was totally shocked by the news. I realised that I always hoped that the society would never come up with the funds to rebuild it. I wished this church would become Beirut’s Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche. You’ve certainly heard of this church in the center of former West-Berlin. All that remains of this neo-romanesque building bombed by the allies in November 1943 is its damaged tower. It stands today as a reminder of the destruction of war and the symbol of the city’s resolve to rebuild itself after the war.
In Beirut, there is no strong reminder of the war and the city’s resolve to rebuild itself. Solidere has erased all traces of the war and added to the destruction of the old to make way for the new, the expensive, the profitable. The semi destroyed St Vincent the Paul church is a strong symbol that is worth preserving. I wonder if I will be able to convince many people of this. Is there any reader ready to help me

Posted in Civil Society, Culture, History, Lebanon, Memory, Personal, Speculation, Values, Violence | 2 Comments »

Bachir Gemayel le 14 septembre: Messe, spectacle ou arène?

Posted by worriedlebanese on 15/09/2009


Drapeaux FL autour du député Kataeb

Cette année, comme toutes les années, les Libanais ont assisté à la grande messe commémorative de l’assassinat de Béchir Gemayel. Libanais est sans doute trop large comme terme. Cet évènement ne concerne que les Chrétiens d’entre eux. Si l’on aborde cette messe pour ce qu’elle est, un spectacle politique, on a tout intérêt à s’intéresser à ses spectateurs autant qu’à ses acteurs en raison de l’importance que son audience lui accorde.
Côté acteurs, il y a d’un côté les premiers rôles, et de l’autre rôles secondaires qui se confondent avec celles des (simples) figurants. Toutefois, ce spectacle n’étant pas comme tous les autres, il est bon de s’intéresser également aux absents, ceux qui n’ont pas été sélectionnés, les candidats malheureux du casting.

Tout d’abord les acteurs principaux. Ils se divisent en trois groupes.

  • Le premier groupe se résume au clan Gemayel : Amine (le frère, rival et successeur de Bachir), l’ancien président coopté Za’im par les Zu’ama, Sami (son neveu) et Nadim (son fils), les députés, Joumana (sa fille), nouvelle dirigeante de la fondation Bachir Gemayel, Patricia Pierre Gemayel (veuve de son neveu), Solange (sa veuve), ancienne députée, ancienne dirigeante de la fondation mais locutrice principale de la journée. C’est le clan qui organise la cérémonie.
  • Le second groupe se réduit à Samir Geagea, dirigeant des Forces Libanaise, ancien chef de guerre, ancien prisonnier politique, parrain de  huit députés chrétiens, et donc de la troisième plus grande formation “chrétienne” au parlement (la première est celle du Za’im chrétien Michel Aoun, avec ses 17 députés chrétiens, la seconde est celle du Za’im sunnite Saad Hariri avec ses 11 députés chrétiens). Samir Geagea a été exclu de l’organisation de la cérémonie, mais c’est lui qui a ramené le plus grand nombre de partisan, ce qui lui a valu la plus grande ovation… et donc une bonne récupération de l’évènement.
  • Le troisième groupe est représenté par l’Eglise maronite, dominée par le patriarche Nasrallah Sfeir qui se voit son incarnation. L’Evêque Roland Abou Jaoudé a présidé à la messe en tant que représentant du patriarche. Le célébrant ne se limite jamais à une approche pastorale de la commémoration. Il ne s’attarde pas non plus sur la personne de Béchir Gemayel, il réaffirme simplement sa valeur en tant que symbole et le rattache à l’histoire des Chrétiens Levantins et de l’Eglise Maronite.
  • Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Lebanon, Memory, Political behaviour, Version Francophone | 5 Comments »

Un petit jeu: Fill in the blanks

Posted by worriedlebanese on 11/06/2009

Ice_Chess_Jovanka_CallumIl s’agit d’un jeu très simple.

Un groupe politique a célébré la victoire de ses élus dans une circonscription. Les extraits suivants ont été recueillis par une journaliste qui ne cache pas ses préférences politiques. Ils ont été publiés dans un journal partisan (à en croire les opinions de ses éditorialistes qui ont quasiment tous donnés des consignes de vote).
Pouvez-vous reconnaître de quelle région il s’agit, et trouver les mots absents ?
Je me suis permis de les classer par postulat thématique.
Etes-vous prêt?

1. Seul le 8 mars est tourné vers le passé et la guerre

  • « J’étais jeune, je me suis battu sur les barricades. Mes camarades sont morts dans ce quartier ». De qui s’agit-il ? …………………………………..
  • « Ici, on s’est battu sur les barricades depuis 1976 ». De qui s’agit-il ? …………………………………….
  • « Si ………………….{un quartier} voulait se souvenir, chacune de ses rues pourrait témoigner de la mort de l’un de ses enfants par une balle, un éclat d’obus ou une voiture piégée ».
  • « …………………….. {un quartier} ne votera jamais pour celui qui l’a obligée à boire de l’eau de pluie en 1990 ». La journaliste précise, « lors de la guerre contre …………………. {une milice aujourd’hui parti politique}.

2. Seul le 8 mars souffre du confessionnalisme et de l’influence du religieux

  • « Mes amis ……………………. {une autre communauté} m’ont téléphoné hier. Je leur ai dit que je ne veux pas les voir cette semaine, le temps de me calmer ».
  • « Ce parti ………………….. {une communauté} est en train de voter contre la volonté de la majorité de la rue ………………..{une religion} ».
  • « Si ……………………… {un homme politique } avait gagné, nos femmes auraient été obligées de porter le tchador ».
  • « ……………………{homme politique} s’en est alors pris à notre ………………… {homme de religion} ».
  • « ……………………. {homme politique} a remporté ses sièges grâce au vote …………………{une autre communauté} et du {nom d’un parti d’une autre confession}.

3. Seul le 8 mars représente une culture de la mort

  • « Nous ne pouvons pas trahir nos martyrs. Nous sommes fidèles à tout le sang versé ». De qui s’agit-il ? ……………………………………….
  • « ………………………{un quartier} a bien montré qu’elle n’a jamais oublié le sang qui a été versé pour payer le prix de sa liberté ».

4. Seul le 8 mars représente un comportement et des valeurs archaïques

  • « Les …………….… {une communauté} sont fidèles à la résistance »
  • « Ici sur chaque immeuble, à chaque balcon, on voit des portraits de ……………….{chef tué}, de ……………………. et de …………………… {deux enfants de chefs tués} ainsi que des drapeaux des ………………… {parti politique, ancienne milice}, des ………………….. {parti politique, ancienne milice} et du Liban.
  • « Nous sommes prêt à verser notre sang pour …………………..… {une figure politique} ».
  • « Nous avons prouvé que …………………… {un quartier} est fidèle et qu’elle vote pour ses enfants.
  • « Nous avons voté comme un seul homme pour la liste du …………………….… {coalition électorale}».

5. Seul le 8 mars prône une vision monolithique et nie l’existence de l’autre

  • « Les habitants de …………………….. {circonscription} avaient fait la fête […] célébrant ainsi la victoire ».
  • « …………………………… {la circonscription} a fait la fête jusqu’à l’aube ».
  • « Les habitants de ………………………..{nom de la circonscription} ont dansé au rythme des chants partisans, ont brûlé des feux d’artifices et ont acclamé leurs députés ».

Posted in Anticonfessionalism, Civil Society, Culture, Democracy, Discourse, Journalism, Lebanon, Memory, Political behaviour, Semantics, Values, Version Francophone | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Waltz with Bashir

Posted by worriedlebanese on 27/06/2008

When you watch such a film with a group of Lebanese, you expect a heated debate when you exit from the theatre. Among the little group I was with, I was the only one to appreciated it (it’s not really one of those films you can enjoy). Most of the people I know disliked it because they found it biased, inaccurate, cold, arrhythmic. 

I personally found it thought provoking and disquieting. I really appreciated it’s basic themes (war and memory, and how you deal with them) and most of all the writer’s approach to his personal memory of the war. 

I couldn’t understand why most of my countrymen who had seen “Waltz with Bashir” only focused on how the film treated the responsibility for the Sabra-Shatila massacre. And they felt that it cleared the Israelis completely of it. This criticism seems to me ill-deserved. This cartoonumentary (cartoon/documentary) isn’t about the massacre or anyone’s responsibility in it. It’s about a person who is trying to undertand  why he has no memory of his participation in the “First Lebanon War” (except one image – that is featured here – which turns out to be false). 

The film brought me back to my recollection of the Israeli invasion of Beirut: the way I watched the bombing of Beirut from the balcony, my first encounter with the israeli military, how Sharon’s convoy blocked our car… Scattered images. I had trouble sleeping that night, and that wasn’t because of the real images of the massacre that Ari Folman shows at the end of his film, but because of me and my countrymen’s incapacity to deal with the war and our memory of it.

Posted in Discourse, Israel, Lebanon, Memory, Violence | 1 Comment »

The Zaïm’s magical power

Posted by worriedlebanese on 10/12/2006

Faith might move mountains, but what brings together a fragmented nation? These two years have told us that it’s probably the alliance of two zaïms (or more)!

Since the Syrian evacuation, the different Lebanese zaïms have revealed their true power, and it’s magical: they can bring about ‘national reconciliation’, mix people of all walks of life and of different faiths, get them to embrace yesterday’s enemy, sing his partisan hymns, walk under his partisan flag, borrow his political slogans. There seems to be nothing a Lebanese zaïm can’t make his followers do.

Does that mean that their followers behave like sheep, that they follow the heard wherever it goes? I don’t think so. Instead of attacking the people, those who are not comfortable with the present situation and mobilisation, should try to see how these zaïm exert their powers, what makes them so effective, and what there exact effect are.

– How did Sitrida Geagea manage in 2005 to bring hundreds and hundreds of muslim Sunnis to Bechari (a very Maronite christian town) during her electoral campaign?
– How did Walid Jumblatt convince his men to walk behind the Kataeb flag?
– How did Michel Aoun manage to persuade his (mostly Christian) followers to back Hezbollah today and participate in all the demonstrations they are waging?

A dozen different questions then flock to mind. What role does the media and the political system play in it? What about the influence of money and clientelist pressure? And last but not least, for how long do the accomplishements of the zaïms last?

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