Beirut’s lessons for how not to rebuild a war-torn city

By Julia Tierney – Washington Post: Link to Original Article

The Syrian conflict has divided and destroyed many of the country’s most important cities. Should the fighting cease, they will require massive reconstruction. Yet I spoke with urban development specialists at the National Agenda for the Future of Syria who fear that the war-torn cities of Homs and Aleppo will never be rebuilt. Instead, they will be razed to the ground and another Solidere will be rebuilt in their place.

Their references to Solidere are intriguing. Solidere is the name of the private company contracted to rebuild downtown Beirut after the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990). However, Beirut’s reconstruction had wide-ranging political and economic repercussions that offer an object lesson in how not to rebuild a devastated city.

Solidere turned Beirut into a city of exclusion. Its iconic architecture and tax incentives attracted foreign investment, in turn helping the country’s economic recovery. But more buildings were torn down during reconstruction than were destroyed by the war, transforming Beirut’s war-scarred layers of history from the Roman, Mamluk, Ottoman and French periods into a city without memory.

During the civil war, Beirut was separated by checkpoints between Christian East and Muslim West. Daily movement today is disrupted by what Mona Fawaz, a scholar of urban planning, describes as architectures of security. Soldiers and blast barriers guard the entrances to Solidere’s downtown. The sidewalks outside public buildings are protected by concrete walls and barbed wire, forcing pedestrians onto the road. The areas surrounding politicians’ homes or political party headquarters are blocked by checkpoints. The only public park was, until recently, closed to the public for security reasons. The sentiment that those living here need to create a bubble and live inside the bubble for them not to lose their minds is one often expressed to me, and which I also feel after two years of living in Beirut. These frustrations mean that half of Lebanon’s young and educated emigrate at some point in their lives.

Solidere also symbolizes the extent to which reconstruction has blurred the boundaries between public interest and private profit. The process of postwar rebuilding was especially lucrative for members of government and their business associates, none more so than billionaire Prime MinisterRafiq Hariri, who upon purchasing $125 million of shares in Solidere became the largest shareholder in the very company to which his cabinet awarded the most lucrative reconstruction project. Hariri also owned Lebanon’s largest private construction company, whose director was appointed the head of the Council for Development and Reconstruction, meaning, in the words of architect Hashim Sarkis, that “the agency that the government used to control private development has now reversed its role.”

Lebanon went deeply into debt to finance reconstruction, and with a debt-to-GDP ratio of 149 percent, it is today the world’s third-most-indebted country. The interest payments total more than a third of the government’s annual spending. Yet because politicians and their families control one-third of all banking assets — and because Lebanese banks own around 85 percent of the debt — these payments profit the very political leaders sinking Lebanon deeper into debt.

Lebanon’s reconstruction has preserved the war economies once lining the pockets of militia leaders. During the civil war, the militias established civil administrations to service their sectarian constituencies. In return for taxing the population under their control, they collected garbage, provided water and electricity, managed traffic and maintained roads. Yet the militias also turned war into a strategic resource. From drug-trafficking to pillaging the port to speculating against the Lebanese pound, the militias procured about $1 billion annually, creating personal fortunes for their leaders and perpetuating the civil war.

Postwar reconstruction came without political reconciliation. The former warlords are today Lebanon’s politicians, ministers and heads of government. These include (but are not limited to) Walid Joumblatt, the Druze leader who despite displacing tens of thousands during the war was named minister of the displaced; Nabih Berri, who led Shiite forces and has been speaker of parliament since the civil war’s conclusion; as well as presidential candidates Samir Geagea and Michel Aoun, whose Christian militias battled each other throughout the war. Their inclusion may have persuaded them to lay down their arms, but according to Reinoud Leenders, these politicians are less willing to surrender the economic windfalls from violence and state collapse. Today, they sit in a paralyzed parliament — which has failed to elect a president in more than two years (or pass a budget in over a decade) — where they line their pockets through a system of sectarian patronage.

The pathologies of reconstructed Beirut are laid bare in the deterioration of basic services. Every summer when the faucets run dry, the streets are blocked by tanker trucks delivering water to the plastic cisterns atop apartment buildings. Compared with the average international broadband speed of 22.4 megabits per second, Beirut’s internet crawls along at 3.2 Mbit/s — and only when there is electricity. There are daily blackouts of three hours in Beirut and up to 18 hours in the rest of Lebanon. The government subsidizes the public electricity provider $2 billion annually, totaling 40 percent of the public debt; but with half the bills uncollected and politicians divided over privatization, the World Bank refers to Electricité du Liban as “the Poster Child of Confessionally-Induced Waste in Public Spending that Plagues Public Finances, Businesses, and Households since 1981.”

Everyone must purchase potable water, and those who can afford it pay for a generator, but there is no individual solution to garbage. A private company is responsible for both the collection and disposal of Beirut’s garbage. The council of ministers renewed its contract three times without an open tender and its payment per ton of garbage is one of the highest in the world. So when the landfill, which had long reached its absorptive capacity, was closed last summer and putrid garbage began piling on the streets, the Lebanese people participated in the largest protests since the assassination of Hariri in 2005 and the withdrawal of Syrian occupying troops. They were demanding not simply a solution to the trash crisis but an end to corruption disguised as sectarianism.

As the economic downturn and insecurity of the Syrian war bleed across the border, Lebanese policymakers point to the business opportunities of reconstruction. I spoke with real estate developers who hope to be called upon for rebuilding and commercial bankers who want to reopen their offices in Syria.

But as international donors and development specialists look towards reconstructing Syria, they should heed the lessons from Lebanon. Politically paralyzed, infrastructurally fragile and deeply indebted, Lebanon is a model for what postwar Syria should avoid. A cessation of the hostilities is essential in Syria. Yet reconstruction without dismantling the war economies and political patronage networks perpetuating them means that Syrian reconstruction will resemble Lebanon, in all its division and dysfunction. More than rebuilding, what is required is reorienting the political economy away from war. Lebanon reveals this is especially problematic when the same perpetrators and profiteers of the conflict hold political office in the postwar era.

Julia Tierney is a doctoral candidate at the University of California Berkeley in city and regional planning.

On the 80th Memory of Gebran Khalil Gebran

I leave you with his own words:

khalil_gibranMy Countrymen

What do you seek, my countrymen?
Do you desire that I build for You gorgeous palaces, decorated With words of empty meaning, or Temples roofed with dreams? Or Do you command me to destroy what The liars and tyrants have built? Shall I uproot with my fingers What the hypocrites and the wicked
Have implanted? Speak your insane Wish!
What is it you would have me do, My countrymen? Shall I purr like The kitten to satisfy you, or roar Like the lion to please myself? I Have sung for you, but you did not Dance; I have wept before you, but You did not cry. Shall I sing and Weep at the same time?

Your souls are suffering the pangs Of hunger, and yet the fruit of Knowledge is more plentiful than The stones of the valleys.
Your hearts are withering from  Thirst, and yet the springs of Life are streaming about your Homes — why do you not drink?

The sea has its ebb and flow, The moon has its fullness and Crescents, and the ages have Their winter and summer, and all Things vary like the shadow of
An unborn god moving between Earth and sun, but truth cannot Be changed, nor will it pass away; Why, then, do you endeavour to Disfigure its countenance?

I have called you in the silence Of the night to point out the Glory of the moon and the dignity Of the stars, but you startled From your slumber and clutched
Your swords in fear, crying, “Where is the enemy? We must kill Him first!” At morningtide, when the enemy came, I called to you Again, but now you did not wake From your slumber, for you were Locked in fear, wrestling with The processions of specters in Your dreams.

And I said unto you, “Let us climb To the mountain top and view the Beauty of the world.” And you Answered me, saying, “In the depths Of this valley our fathers lived, And in its shadows they died, and in Its caves they were buried. How can We depart this place for one which They failed to honor?”

And I said unto you, “Let us go to The plain that gives its bounty to The sea.” And you spoke timidly to Me, saying, “The uproar of the abyss Will frighten our spirits, and the Terror of the depths will deaden Our bodies.”

I have loved you, my countrymen, but My love for you is painful to me And useless to you; and today I Hate you, and hatred is a flood That sweeps away the dry branches And quavering houses.

I have pitied your weakness, my Countrymen, but my pity has but Increased your feebleness, exalting And nourishing slothfulness which Is vain to life. And today I see Your infirmity which my soul loathes And fears.

I have cried over your humiliation And submission, and my tears streamed
Like crystalline, but could not sear Away your stagnant weakness; yet they
Removed the veil from my eyes.
My tears have never reached your Petrified hearts, but they cleansed The darkness from my inner self.

Today I am mocking at your suffering, For laughter is a raging thunder that
Precedes the tempest and never comes After it.

What do you desire, my countrymen?
Do you wish for me to show you The ghost of your countenance on The face of still water? Come, Now, and see how ugly you are!

Look and meditate! Fear has Turned your hair grey as the Ashes, and dissipation has grown Over your eyes and made them into Obscured hollows, and cowardice
Has touched your cheeks that now Appear as dismal pits in the Valley, and death has kissed Your lips and left them yellow As the autumn leaves.

What is it that you seek, my Countrymen? What ask you from Life, who does not any longer Count you among her children?
Your souls are freezing in the Clutches of the priests and Sorcerers, and your bodies Tremble between the paws of the Despots and the shedders of Blood, and your country quakesUnder the marching feet of the Conquering enemy; what may you Expect even though you stand Proudly before the face of the Sun? Your swords are sheathed With rust, and your spears are Broken, and your shields are
Laden with gaps, why, then, do You stand in the field of battle?

Hypocrisy is your religion, and Falsehood is your life, and Nothingness is your ending; why, Then, are you living? Is not Death the sole comfort of the

Life is a resolution that Accompanies youth, and a diligence That follows maturity, and a Wisdom that pursues senility; but You, my countrymen, were born old And weak. And your skins withered And your heads shrank, whereupon
You become as children, running Into the mire and casting stones Upon each other.

Knowledge is a light, enriching The warmth of life, and all may Partake who seek it out; but you, My countrymen, seek out darkness And flee the light, awaiting the
Coming of water from the rock, And your nation’s misery is your Crime. I do not forgive you Your sins, for you know what you Are doing.

Humanity is a brilliant river Singing its way and carrying with It the mountains’ secrets into The heart of the sea; but you, My countrymen, are stagnant Marshes infested with insects And vipers.

The spirit is a sacred blue Torch, burning and devouring The dry plants, and growing With the storm and illuminating The faces of the goddesses; but
You, my countrymen, your souls Are like ashes which the winds Scatter upon the snow, and which The tempests disperse forever in The valleys.

Fear not the phantom of death, My countrymen, for his greatness And mercy will refuse to approach Your smallness; and dread not the Dagger, for it will decline to be Lodged in your shallow hearts.

I hate you, my countrymen, because You hate glory and greatness. I Despise you because you despise Yourselves. I am your enemy, for You refuse to realize that you are The enemies of the goddesses.

Kataeb party and rape

"There are certain circumstances where we need to ask ourselves if women have a role in pushing men to rape them" MP Marouni
“There are certain circumstances where we need to ask ourselves if women have a role in pushing men to rape them” MP Marouni

Lebanese MP Elie Marouni blames Lebanese women for getting raped. When asked about the Lebanese penal code law that stipulates that a rapist can marry his victim whereby absolving him of his crime. His reply was as follows:  “There are certain circumstances where we need to ask ourselves if women have a role in pushing men to rape them,” Marouni said. Hey idiot, there are no circumstances. Rape is rape and its a crime. Marouni is a chauvinist pig. Rape is never the victim fault. Rape is the fault of those who committed this ugly crime and specially the fault of people like MP Marouni.

Women do not ask to be raped. Neither by the way they dress, the way they behave or their line of work. It is sickening to hear an MP blaming a victim of a crime for the crime that someone else committed against them.

Here we have, an MP that represents the Kataeb party, covering rape. What will be the position of the party? Do they agree with his position? If Marouni is not asked to resign and kicked out of the Kataeb party, then it is clear that the party, its leader Sami Gemayel and all Kataeb members are defending rapists.

My question to all members of the Kataeb party, from Sami to the newest recruit, when will you kick this chauvinist pig from the party and force him to resign as an MP?

The most corrupt groups in the region.

“In Lebanon, numbers are alarming as nine in ten people (92 per cent) say that they think corruption has increased. Government officials, tax officials and members of parliament are perceived to be the most corrupt groups in the region” according to the new Transparency International new survey.

“In some countries the situation is perceived to be particularly bad. In Yemen and Jordan three quarters or more of respondents (84 per cent and 75 per cent, respectively) say that they think corruption rose in the 12 months prior to the survey. This rises to over nine in ten people (92 per cent) in Lebanon, which was the highest of any place we surveyed in …. Citizens in Yemen and Lebanon think that the public sector in their country suffers from particularly widespread corruption. More than two-thirds of respondents (68 and 67 per cent, respectively) say “Most” or “All” individuals working in these institutions are corrupt, while a further quarter say that “Some” are corrupt (26 and 22 per cent, respectively). Only one in twenty (5 per cent each) thinks that the national public sector institutions are completely free from corruption …. People in Yemen and Lebanon are particularly critical of government efforts to address public sector graft. In Lebanon three-quarters (76 per cent) rate their administration’s efforts as either very or fairly bad, while in Yemen this proportion rises to nine in ten (91 per cent) …”

Rubbish job: dissatisfaction in Lebanon’s waste services Citizens in Lebanon are very critical of their government efforts at fighting corruption, with over three-quarters saying it is doing a bad job (76 per cent) in this area. Recently, many people have taken to the streets in Lebanon to protest over the government’s failure to dispose of waste in the country’s capital, Beirut, as part of the “You Stink” campaign, and public dissatisfaction is reportedly growing in the country over the extent of alleged corruption. iv Garbage collection services were stopped in some parts of the city in July 2015, after the country’s largest landfill site was closed. It took until February 2016 for the government to agree on a new site for the city’s refuse to go to – while, in the meantime, the growing piles of rubbish are causing a terrible stench and posing a significant public health risk to the city.  Campaigners blame potential corruption and political paralysis for the delay in solving the crisis. In Lebanon, refuse processing can be part of the bargain used by politicians when exchanging favours behind the scenes. The lack of transparency in such types of deals means that citizens can foot the bill for inefficient or expensive service delivery. The failure of the political system to deal swiftly with the garbage crisis has caused greater attention to be turned to such behind-the scenes-deals, as people became tired of the slow response from their elected representatives.


Citizens in Morocco, Algeria, Lebanon and Egypt are more divided on this issue. Only around a half of the citizens of these countries (from 50 to 53 per cent) agreed that ordinary people can make a difference in fighting corruption, while a sizable minority feel disempowered…  People in Lebanon are the most pessimistic; a third (32 per cent) of citizens there say that there is nothing people can do … The second most common reason why people don’t report more cases of corruption is that they feel that it won’t make a difference, as nothing will be done about it (19 per cent). In Yemen and Lebanon (26 and 30 per cent, respectively) this is particularly the case, which perhaps reflects the lack of government capacity in both these countries.

The widespread extent of corruption in Yemen, Lebanon and Sudan in particular is also considered another factor why more cases of corruption are not reported there. In these countries respondents are particularly likely to say that the reason why people don’t report is that corruption is normal and everyone does it (between 11 and 14 per cent), or that the officials to whom they would report corruption are often also involved in it (between 14 and 15 per cent). When corruption is endemic within communities it triggers a feeling of resignation and apathy, which is why greater efforts need to be made to tackle bribery and other forms of corruption head-on.

Lebanon and Yemen stand out in the region as having the most negative ratings by citizens. Since Yemen was on the verge of collapse when the survey was conducted, these ratings indicate a larger malaise within the country just prior to the civil war and the imminent crumbling of public infrastructure and services. Lebanon, which is divided along sectarian lines, has failed to produce a functioning government since the former president stepped down in 2014.The public sector suffers from high levels of corruption according to its citizens, who are critical of government efforts at fighting corruption…

Way to go my fellow Lebanese. What are you going to do about it? Will you do something about it? When will you? Municipality elections coming up in couple of days, will you start there? I doubt.

I will call him Adam

This is an Arabic Calligraphy by Nihad Nadam
This is an Arabic Calligraphy by Nihad Nadam

A friend of mine posted on his Facebook page a text written by Tamara Awad. The original text is in Arabic. He translated as best he can to English. It is an interesting short article that I would like to share with you.

“When I will have my baby boy I will call him Adam…..Because our names in our present time can be a charge….I will not name him Mohammed or Issa (with all the due respect to both names)…I will not name him Ali or Omar….I will not name him Sadam or Hussein….Not even Zachariah or Ibrahim Nor even David or George.
I fear he will grow up a racist….I fear that his name will cause him grieve….for the Westerners, he will be a terrorist, for the extremist he will be an oppressor, for the Shiites he is a Sunni and for the Sunni he is a Shiite. I fear that his name becomes his passport!
I want him to be Adam…..Muslim, Christian, Sunni, Shiite….I want him to know nothing of religion except that it belongs to God and that his homeland is for all….I will teach him that his religion is what is in his heart and what his deeds show….not what his name is!
I will teach him that Pan-Arabism is an illusion and that humanity is more important….I will teach him that hunger is blasphemous…..ignorance is blasphemous and tyranny is blasphemous….
I will teach him that he who started the war didn’t know how to end it otherwise, he would not have started it…..and he who allies himself to a side loses whatever he gains…..I will teach him that GOD is in the hearts before he is in mosques and churches…..That GOD is love and not only fear…..
I will teach him what our parents forgot to teach us….not out of negligence…but…because their world was “cleaner”….I will teach him that what we lack is what we have and what we have been what we lack….
I will teach him that I started my speech saying “when I bear a baby boy”….because female “infanticide” is still “practiced” and that the dysfunction in our society is here to stay”…..(Tamara Awad)

سانجب طفلا اسميه ادم … لأن الأسامي في زماننا تهمة فلن اسميه محمد ولا عيسى (مع احترامي للإسمين) …لن اسميه عليا ولا عمرا … لن اسميه صدام و لا حسينا ..و لا حتى زكريا او ابراهيم …و لا حتى ديفيد او جورج … اخاف ان يكبر عنصريا … اخاف ان يكون له من اسمه نصيب … فعند الاجانب يكون ارهابيا..و عند المتطرفين يكون بغيا … و عند الشيعة يكون سنيا و عند السنة يكون شيعيا … اخاف ان يكون اسمه جواز سفره … اريده ادم …مسلم …مسيحي…سني..شيعي… اريده لا يعرف من الدين الا انه لله … و اريد ان يعرف ان وطنه للجميع … ساعلمه ان الدين ما وقر في قلبه و صدقه عمله …و ليس اسمه … ساعلمه ان العروبة وهم … وان الانسانية هي الاهم … ساعلمه ان الجوع كافر … وان الجهل كافر وان الظلم كافر … ساعلمه بان من بدأ الحرب …لم يعرف كيف ينهيها … و إلا لما بدأها … وان من ناصر طرفا … كان خاسر مهما كسب … ساعلمه ان الله في القلوب قبل المساجد و الكنائس … و ان الله محبة و ليس مخافة فقط … ساعلمه ما نسي اهلنا ان يعلمونا …ليس تقصيرا …ولكن … لان عالمهم كان انظف … ساعلمه ان ما ينقصنا هو ما عندنا … و ان ما عندنا هو الذي ينقصنا… ساعلمه انني بدأت حديثي بانني سانجبه ذكرا …لأن الأنثى ما زالت توؤد … وان الخلل في المجتمع باقٍ ..
-تمارا عوض

فصل من رسالة مار مارون إلى الموارنة

نقلا عن جريدة الجمهورية

الكاتب: مجد إسكندر

يا اخوتي

أما وقد أسستم بطريركية على اسمي بعد موتي، فلم يعد يُجدي الكلام إن كنت راضياً على ما قمتم به أو معترضاً. وكيف لي أن أزيد في متاعبكم؟ وأنتم بسبب هذا الكرسي البطريركي، خاصمتم الإمبراطور البيزنطي، وأمضيتم سنوات طويلة حتى اعترفت بكم روما الفاتيكان.

في حياتي، وربما بعد مماتي، لم اعرف بطريركية نقلت مقرّها عشرات المرات، كما فعل بطاركتكم هرباً من الاضطهادات. ولم اعرف بطريركية تتكنّى بإنطاكية وليس لها في إنطاكية إلا القليل.

ولم اعرف كنيسة لا يرد في بال أبنائها ضرورة عودة مقرّها الى منطقة المنشأ! ما سر تلك الأرض التي اسمها جبال لبنان، والتي لا تعرفون كيف تستقرون فيها أو ترحلون عنها؟ خصوصاً بعدما علمت أنكم في مرات كثيرة، كنتم تحاربون في وقت واحد أباطرة مسيحيين وجيوش الفتح الإسلامي. أرجو أن يكون هذا العَناء مُجدِياً، وليس بدافع العناد فحسب.

ولأكون صادقاً معكم، لا يسعني إلّا إبداء الإعجاب بكم، وفي الوقت عينه الخوف عليكم من هذا العناد التاريخي الذي أُصبتم به. تعرفون كيف تُقِيمون أوطاناً، ولا تعرفون كيف تَحكمون الأوطان. تعرفون ما ترفضونه، وتجهلون ما هو في مصلحتكم. ساعة تعطون خليفتي مجد لبنان، وساعة تدخلون صرحه وتبعثرون داره وتصفونه بأقذع الأوصاف.

أيعقل أنكم في إحدى محطات التاريخ نَصَّبْتُم بطريركين اثنين في آن واحد؟ وكم أهدرتم من وقت وحبر، لتَسْتَجدوا رضى روما التي اعتقدَتْ أن عقيدتكم الكاثوليكية تشوبها شوائب المِلل والنِحل في هذا الشرق؟ أهي العلة في المياه التي تشربون أو التراب الذي تزرعون أو الهواء الذي تتنفسون؟untitled

أهي عوامل الطبيعة والمناخ، تجعلكم غير راضين عن أنفسكم وتجعل غيركم غير راضٍ عنكم؟ رسالتي هذه لا تحمل إليكم توجيهاً ولا تكليفاً ولا قراراً كنسياً ولا حتى نصيحة. كل ما أريده، إن كان لي حق الشفعة، ما دمتم نصبتموني شفيعاً لكم، هو أن تتواضعوا قليلاً.

الانتصار على الامبراطوريات ليس بطولة وليس فخراً، خصوصاً عندما تعيشون هزيمة ذاتكم. لا تُمَنِّنوا أحفادكم وأصدقاءكم وأعداءكم بأنكم تموتون ولا تركعون. لستم وحيدي عصوركم في الشجاعة والكرامة. معلمكم ومعلمي أراد رحمة لا ذبيحة. ارحموا أنفسكم يرحمكم الله.

ربما بعضكم يسأل، لو كنت حياً، هل كنت أرضى أن تقيموا كنيسة على اسمي؟ أنا الغريب عنكم، كيف أرضى؟ نعم أنا وانتم غرباء بعضنا عن بعض. أنا لا أفهم في شؤون الدنيا، وأنتم لا تفهمون في شؤون الدين! أنا تَنَسَّكْتُ في العراء، لم أنم تحت سقف، وقلما نزلتُ تحت خيمتي. ولم أجلس على كرسي خشب، ولا على كرسي ذهب. على التراب بقيت طوال حياتي لأعود بأسرع ما يمكن الى التراب.

أما أنتم فاستغليتم ضعفي وغيابي وموتي لتقيموا عروشاً، ولتتقاتلوا على ذهب هذه الدنيا. وما حاربتم سلطاناً إلّا لأنّ في نفوسكم سلطاناً يريد أن يحكم مكانه، وربما بظلم أبشع من ظلمه. الحمد للعناية الإلهية لأنّ زمنكم في الحكم كان دائماً زمناً قصيرا. تليق بكم العذابات ولا تليق بكم السلطة، وستبقون تحت وطأة هذه اللعنة الى أن تعودوا عودة الابن الشاطر.

يومذاك أقول كنتم أمواتاً فعشتم، وضالين فوُجدتم. نعم إنكم أبنائي الشاطرون! أخذتم اسمي لتُقيموا مجداً زائلاً لأنفسكم. وبدَّدتم رصيدي على موائد المُقامرات الدولية والمغامرات الشخصية. الحكام والمستبدون لم يضطهدوكم لأنهم قساة، بل لأنهم شعروا بأنكم لا تقدّرون ألمي وصلاتي وعذاباتي.

لم يحاربوكم لأنكم على ديني وعلى دين سيدي، حاربوكم لأنهم وجدوا فيكم شبهاً بهم! صدقوني لو كنتم تملكون ذرة من إيماني، لكنتم قلتم لهذا الجبل الذي اسمه لبنان، انتقل الى جبل قورش وحلب ولكان انتقل. لقد ثَبُتَ بحكم التجارب، أنكم ضعفاء، فأتيتم الى جبل لبنان بدلاً من أن يأتي الجبل إليكم! لا التقى جبل على جبل، ولا التقى إنسان مع إنسان.

وحتى لا تفهموني خطأً، أنا لم أطلب منكم هذه الطوباوية في النظر الى شؤون الدنيا والدين، ولم أطالبكم بهذه الرسولية التاريخية التي تدَّعون، ولكن انتم تنطّحتم الى هذه الابراج العالية، وتوهمتم أن علو النفس يُقاس بقدْر ارتفاع قراكم عن سطح البحر! سيدكم المسيح ظهر مجده حول بحيرة، ولكن أنتم من يتبجح ليل نهار بأن البحار والمحيطات لا تتسع لمجدكم وعظمتكم. تواضعوا. ثم ما سر هذه العلاقة السخيفة بينكم وبين ستة آلاف سنة حضارة؟ من منكم، إلّا قلة، تعرف من هو جدّ جدها؟ المسلم فيكم كان مسيحياً.

والمسيحي منكم صار مسلماً. الأرثوذكسي انتقل ملكياً كاثوليكياً، وعائلات درزية وسنية حولتهم السلطة موارنة، وكثير من “موارنتي” بحسب ما يُقال يغيّرون دينهم ليطلقوا! في عرفي ونهجي وإيماني، أنتم، بصراحة، وثنيون منذ ستة آلآف سنة! توقفوا عن الاحتفال بعيدي، ففي كل عيد أنتم لستم بخير. أُصلي لكم لتصبحوا على خير. وبارك يا سيد.

Rise Above Lebanon

You have to rise above Lebanon to see its beauty. I had mixed feelings when I watched this video. I loved every scene and region (couples were left out). It reminded me why I have this deep love for this country even though when there are times I feel like I hate it with passion and lost hope in it. On the other hand, I felt sad and angry. We have a beautiful country and instead of enjoying and make it better, the Lebanese are following corrupt leaders and are divided by their sectarian sects. I still doubt that one day we will have a decent country without corruption, religious division, hate, and Zbeleh – garbage (be it real garbage or political garbage). Enjoy this short touristic ad about my beloved country and maybe one day the children of my children enjoy it from the street level and not from above.