Leaders cause – compare and contrast

Bachir Gemayel and Moussa al-Sadr

Couple of days ago, I read a story about Imam Moussa al-Sadr and the new information about his case. What struck me the most is how a community kept the case of its leader alive. It did everything it can to find out what really happened to him. Is he dead, alive, in prison, …. . In the 1970s, Sadr found himself increasingly at odds with the Palestinian factions that had taken over southern Lebanon from where they launched attacks into Israel. The residents of southern Lebanon, including Sadr’s Shi’ite constituents, inevitably bore the brunt of Israel’s retaliation. Then, in August 1978, Sadr traveled to Libya with two companions, apparently hoping to persuade Gaddafi to use his influence to curb the Palestinians in Lebanon. The imam was last seen in public on Aug. 31, 1978, shortly before his scheduled meeting with Gaddafi.
Since 1978, the Shiite community did everything it can in order to find out what really happened to the founder of “Amal”. Organizations were established to keep his cause alive. They kept following all investigations, Libyans, Italians, Lebanese… . Kept pressuring to find the truth about his disappearance inside and outside Lebanon (1978 lebanese investigation, first Italian investigation in 79, seconf Italian investigation in 81, Lebanese court in 81, lebanese investigation in 2001, Amnesty reports in 2001, in 2004 families of Sadr and his companions claims against Qaddafi in 2004, indictment of Qaddafi by Lebanese court in 2004, reopening the case in Italy in 2005, follow up with Italy in 2006, … the list is long. Lately, after the fall of Qaddafi initiatives are doubled, Lebanese delegation went to Libya and Libyans visited Lebanon. You can look up everything that is related to his case on this site: http://www.imamsadr.net/

Reading how the Shiite community kept the case of al-Sadr alive made me look at the inability of the Christian community to keep the case of their assassinated leader Bachir Gemayel alive. Bachir Gemayel came out from the Kataeb rank and founded the Lebanese Forces. He was elected President of Lebanon on August 23rd, 1982 and was assassinated on Spetember 14, 1982. One person, Habib Shartouni, was arrested in relation to his assassination. Shartouni confessed that he was the person who planted the bomb and he was given the orders by Nabil al-alam from the SSNP (Syrian Social Nationalist party). It was presumed that Syrian Baath regime was behind the assassination. The investigation stopped at Shartouni for years. No one else was arrested. The investigation file was thrown  away. Shartouni escaped from prison during the Syrian offence and invasion of the last free regions in Lebanon on October 3rd, 1990. Since then, Shartouni was spotted walking free in the area where Bachir was assassinated, he got married and have kids, he gave an interview to a Lebaense newspaper recently, ….

What struck me the most is the inability of his followers and family to keep his case alive. There is a huge difference in how the Shiite handled al-Sadr case and how the Christians did in Bachir’s case. There are couple of websites that talk about Bachir’s past and his vision. His wife created the Bachir Gemayel Foundation, but this foundation is no match to Imam Sadr foundation. Bachir Gemayel Foundation did barely nothing in keeping his assassination file alive. Even their website is almost out of commission. His son, MP Nadim Gemayel failed in reopening his father case. His son and the Lebanese Forces failed to include Bachir Gemayel case in the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. They only managed to reproduce his speeches and make few songs.

Looking at what the Shia did for al-Sadr case and what the Christians did for Bachir case, you see the difference between two communities. One is eager to keep its case and cause alive and another who sank into producing songs.

 

While Israel Seeks to Turn Gas to Gold, Lebanon will turn it to certain pockets.

Israel seeks to turn gas to gold according to the AP story published today. In short Israel is setting a plan for a national investment fund that would tap an anticipated natural gas bonanza to fuel both an export-geared economy and provide a nest egg of $10 billion in under a decade for future generations. Some of the revenues would be invested in strategically critical targets such as education and health. Lebanon will use the revenue from oil excavation primarily to lower public debt according to Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Miqati. Public debt in Lebanon rose to $55 Billion Dollars in 2010. In 1992, Lebanon’s national debt was around 4382 billion Lebanese pounds (around 2.9 billion dollars). Late Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri took office and since then the debt kept Mushrooming in alarming rate. By 1997, the net public debt of the gross domestic product (GDP) have  increased more than 100%. There are many reasons for such increase, they are complicated and connected. You had the Syrian regime occupying Lebanon and taking cuts from every deal done in the country. You have the development initiated by Late Prime Minister Hariri. You have corruption on every single level, …..

Developing Lebanon, I should say reconstructing downtown Beirut, and the corruption of the Lebanese political system are the one to blame for the $55 Billion Dollars deficit. If we look at what was called “development” of Lebanon, all we see is new fancy building in downtown Beirut with couple of new bridges. Lebanese still get around 4 hours of electricity per day, no water system, no infrastructure, no sewer systems, no recycling plants, ….. nothing. Just few new buildings and bridges. Oh and by the way, the new buildings are owned by a company called Solidere that was formed by Rafiq Hariri himself through a parliament decree  …. oh well this is another story to talk about.

Add to all that the corruption. Or as Lebanese call it “Shatara” (cunning). If you are not “cunning” in Lebanon they call you stupid. This “cunningness” is at its top level in the Lebanese political system. You see politicians arguing on TV all day and behind the scenes they will be wheeling and dealing with each others and use their “shatara” to fill their bank accounts.

To solve our debt problem, Lebanon needs implement several solutions and modifications. The problem resides in the fact that all these modifications require political and administrative reforms that the political class could not want or not afford to operate in the present situation. Why would they change a system that is making them millionaires (some billionaires).

With gas and oil extraction, they found the solution for the debt, they will use the revenues to pay it off. For sure, they will pocket millions of these revenues. They already setup companies in order to suck all the profits to themselves.

So while Israel is setting up its future generation, Lebanon will be setting up its politicians and their families. They will be doing it twice. The first by paying a debt that they accumulated and stole part of it. the second by allowing them to rip the benefits of the revenues to their own companies.

What will the Lebanese say? He doesn’t care as long as the deputy, the minister, the za3im, the leader, …. hires his son for few hundred dollars per month.

Lara Fabian Cancels Lebanon’s Valentine Concerts

It is normal that a singer cancel a concert. What is not normal is that a group of pro-Palestinians activists force the singer to cancel her shows in Lebanon. Lara Fabien was supposed to present two concerts in Lebanon on February 14th and 15th.  Mr. Asad Ghsoub, from the Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel in Lebanon, was lobbying for few month the Lebanese government to cancel these concerts because Lara sang in 2008 in an event celebrating the creation of Israel. I am disappointed that Lara felt threatened by this intellectual terrorism imposed on us, the Lebanese, by Mr. Ghsoub and his friends.

I guess Mr. Ghsoub doesn’t have the balls to join the so called “resistance” and fight Israel. Ghsoub and his friends do not have the balls to lobby against their fellow Arab regimes who  are in support of Israel, who signed peace agreement with Israel, who meets Israelis, …. All they can do is attack an artist and force her to cancel her show. What did they accomplish by that? They proved to the world that they are really what the word sees them. They complain that Israel painted an ugly image about them in the west. By their action, they are joining Israel rank and putting the final touch on this image.

Lara Fabien issued a letter to the Lebanese people when announcing the cancellation of her concerts. She said that she won’t let her physical presence in Lebanon trouble the peace we have and that those who asked for her concerts to be canceled do not understand the message of love she was trying to get across. She will be having a concert, however, which will air on the days her concerts should have taken place.

Mr. Ghsoub and his fellow “activists” are nothing but constipated people that needs to be relieved. They have a mental constipation. Their “activism” is nothing but intellectual terrorism and nothing else. They are forcing their views on the rest of the Lebanese. Their constipated mind will soon ban Lebanese from listening to a song that an Israeli listened to.  Maybe they will ban it our radios from broadcasting the song.

Mr. Ghsoub and his “brothers the activists” are bunch of hypocrites. If they want to cancel the concert of a singer who sand for Israel because Israel did harm to Lebanon, how come they do not as to ban singers who sang to and in countries who did to Lebanon worst than Israel did. How about Syrian singers or Lebanese and Arab singers who sing in Syria or for Syria and its regime? Mr. Ghsoub and his blind and hypocrite group of friends do not see what Syria did to Lebanon? How about those who sing in the Arab world? Didn’t they see how the Arab world financed the civil war in Lebanon?

None of us asked to ban these singers. Why? Because we do not mix politics with art. We are not ignorant. We are not hypocrites.

The Lebanese should stand against these mentally constipated group and invite Lara Fabien to come another time and sing in Lebanon. To teach Mr. Ghsoub and his group what Love means.

I leave you below with the letter that Lara Fabien sent to the Lebanese People:

To you my Lebanese’s friends a Love letter

To Love…
The only source of peace and reconciliation…
To Love…
The only true intelligence, deep and endless
To Love…
The only weapon against its sworn enemy, HATRED…

To us who live under the same sky,
I wish us love… and all the cure it can get…
To us who make only one, may love give us the strength TO ALL BE HUMAN.
To us who suffer, often beaten by foolishness and absurdity, may love light us the only way we are travelling on together: LIFE

Only music can erase differences and break mental, religious and cultural barriers…
Those who make a distinction are a minority of scared people…
They are living with hatred because they weren’t loved enough.

I won’t sing under the threats I’m victim of…
I don’t want to deal with Hatred …
I believe in tolerance, generosity and truth.
I LIVE and LOVE.

Those who don’t understand that; and don’t want me to come in their beautiful country; where I already had the chance to sing once before,don’t have to worry .
I won’t come and disturb your quietness with my physical presence,
But I will be there my way.

On An evening of Valentine’s Day, love songs and music will alleviate everyone’s heart and soul.
I will give a unique show, created for the occasion, it will be my contribution for peace…
I will broadcast it for free , on the evening my show in Beirut should have taken place.

In that way ,I will continue on the path that i have chosen, the path of LOVE and light…
May this enlighten every spirit to the end, in order to alleviate their sorrow and dissolve their hatred

In my soul and conscience I know that the love is immutable.
And that it doesn’t know the restrictions of time and space…
I write you this letter of love, because even if I’m forced to do it from a far , I will sing for YOU my Lebanese friends.

Lara

Neglect on every single level

When I asked a relative why she left a western country and returned to Lebanon her answer was “chaos”. It is the same chaos that we witnessed yesterday. A chaos that took lives of innocent people. So far 20 dead and several injured is the result of “chaos”. Sunday night a building in Ashrafieh (a neighborhood of Beirut) collapsed and put an end to dreams, lives, families, …

So far there are several indications to why this building collapsed:

  1. Old Building
  2. No inspection
  3. Neglect (reports say that one of the building columns collapsed last week and no one gave a damn)
  4. Construction of a new building near the old structure

A witness, Gladiss Noaim, told LBC TV on Monday morning that the residents heard an explosion during Christmas which turned out to be cracks in one of the building’s foundations. A crack in the foundation and no one moved to inspect the damage !!!!

But why are we all surprised, this is the “chaos” that many enjoy living in. Who is to blame for such tragedy? For sure, in this state of “chaos”, finger will pointed at many people: The owner of the building, the inspectors (do we have building inspectors in Lebanon?), the city of Beirut, the construction company, those who give building permits, …. the list will be long.

At the end of the day, those who died will be the only one to blame in Lebanon. The poor people who had no place to go even when they knew that there was a crack in the foundation.

The inspectors, the owner (if he has connections, the city of beirut, construction company, the issuers of building permits, …. all will be found innocent and the blame will stick on the poor people who had no place to go in this state of “chaos” that they call a country and the beacon of the Middle East.

Beirut has been destroyed many times by earthquakes and tsunami (‘tidal waves’) most notably in 551 AD. Lesser quakes have occurred since. The country falls on a seismic fault. We saw yesterday how the country is not prepared for a single building collapse. Just imagine what will occur if a large earthquake hits the country.

When it does, let me know if you are still enjoying “chaos”. God bless who died in this tragic incident.

 

The percentage of criminals in Lebanon

Every other day (if not everyday) I read in the news that the Lebanese Internal Security Forces (ISF) arrest between 25-45 person wanted for criminal acts. Those arrested are wanted for either killing, theft, drug charges, breaking and entering, fraud, kidnapping … So in short, all kinds of crime. According to World Bank Data, Lebanon population is around 4.5 Million and if we do the math the ISF is arresting around 5000 wanted criminal per year. This is a high number of criminals arrested per year for a small country like Lebanon.

Some people might argue that the crime rate is up due to the years of civil war. These people tend to forget that the war ended a decade ago. It is more than the war effect. What we are facing today is the decline of a society, the break in family ties and most important the vanishing of the values that these families used to hold dear to their hearts.

What we need is to educate the young generation with a massive PR campaign in order to enlighten the older one. It is not enough to educate the young and leave their parents out of the process. Those kid will return home and what ever they learned in school will be demolished when they see their parents doing the opposite.

Lebanon needs to introduce civic education to its school curriculum. We need to prepare our young to carry their roles as citizens. Amy Gutman describes civic education as “the cultivation of the virtues, knowledge, and skills necessary for political participation.

But schools are not enough to educate the young. That is why we should put a great importance on educating simultaneously the community. It is a project that needs the effort of the families, house of worship, civic organizations (do we have any in Lebanon?), unions (if we take politics out of them), sport teams (if we take politics and sectarianism out of them), mass media (do I need to explain about Lebanese media!).

So do you realize what kind of work is needed in order to establish a better future for the young society? It is not only about few civic courses given in school.

What is needed is a total transformation of Lebanese mentality. What we need is a revolution.

A revolution to build a new society.