Tag Archives: Lebanon

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Ancient Phoenician Relics Unearthed in Lebanon

Alan Boyle wrote the following article to NBCNEWS

Archaeologists have found a treasure trove of ancient artifacts at a dig in the southern Lebanese city of Sidon, including a 4-foot-high (115-centimeter-high) statue of a Phoenician priest dating back more than 2,500 years.

“Nothing comparable has been found in Lebanon since the early 1960s,” Lebanon’s Daily Star quoted the excavation’s leader, Claude Doumit Serhal, as saying. The priest portrayed in the statue is wearing a pleated kilt, and in his left fist he holds an object that experts suggest could be a scroll or a handkerchief.

To read the article, follow this link.

jala'

The ninth anniversary of the evacuation of the Syrian army from Lebanon

On this day, I found the words of a friend, Selmen Smeha, are the best to describe, this day and what many of us are thinking about. Sorry it is in Arabic:

الى ابي و امي و اخوتي،
اليوم الذكرى التاسعة لجلاء الجيش السوري من لبنان…
في هذا اليوم اقدم اعتذاري لكم، لكل ما قضيتموه بسببي طيلة وجود هذا الاحتلال…
لكل السهر و القلق و الزعل و الغضب و الدموع و القهر الذي تسببته لكم…
لم اكن لاعتذر اليوم لو لم يدس كل رفاقي منذ ذلك اليوم وحتى يومنا هذا على كل تضحياتكم…
لم يتعلموا شيئاً من ظلم و ظلامية تلك السنوات…
لبسوا الشالات الحمر والبييض متباهين متبخترين…
غرتهم المنابر و الشاشات…
اضاعت توازنهم القاب ” المناضل” و” المقاوم “….
باللبناني الدارج بيقولوا ” شم ريحة باطو”…
تسابقوا من يريد ان ” يقطفها ” قبل الثاني…على حساب “الثاني” لا مانع…نكاية ” بالثاني” لا فرق…
تنازلوا للجميع وعلى كل شيئ…ولم يتقدموا بخطوة واحدة تجاه بعضهم
تصالحوا مع الجميع…واستعادوا حقدهم وعدائهم لبعضهم البعض…
لكل ما سبق…ولكل ما سوف يأتي من هزائم نهرول اليها بايدينا و ارجلنا…
اعتذر منك امي…ابي…اختي..اخي…
A Syrian refugee holds a baby in a refug...A Syrian refugee hold

Regional differences in the conditions of Syrian refugees in Lebanon

A good paper written by Sam van Vliet and Guita Hourani. “This paper explores these variations by analyzing, first, differences among host communities and, second, by examining the dissimilarities among geographic settlements. The paper reveals that the conditions of Syrian refugees depend on the geographical areas of their settlement within Lebanon. Host-refugee relations also show a direct relationship to the variant geographical areas and their socio-demographic compositions. This paper concludes that geographical differences are of vital importance to be considered when studying the living conditions of refugees, developing policies, or designing aid programs.

To continue reading this article online follow this Link.  Or you can Download a PDF version.

 

charles-malik-note

2013 closed on yet another assassination

2013 closed on a yet another ugly picture, the assassination of ex-minister Mohamad Chatah. How many car explosions and assassinations do Lebanese need to stand up together and restore the sovereignty of the country? How many innocent people need to be killed so the Lebanese will understand that they MUST find a way to coexist together.  When will Lebanese realize that the country is not heading to civil war, we are already fighting one. Assassinations, bombings, clashes, weapons all over, ….

What is sickening is that the Lebanese will never learn. 30 plus years of war and they learned nothing. The country was invaded by Israel and Syria and they learned nothing. They lived under occupation and they learned nothing. They knew what civil war is and they learned nothing. They know the toll that a military strife and they learned nothing.

It seems they enjoy being the lackey of regional and international powers. It seems they love to bow and serve foreign masters. They treat their political leaders as Gods. Each section wants to silence the other section of the community. Each group thinks it holds the ultimate truth and a sacred cause. Each group has its own Lebanon. Its own vision of Lebanon.

Many Lebanese, they just want to live. Live in peace and with dignity. they want to build a better future.  They hold Lebanon in high esteem. many will say Lebanon is like the Phoenix bird, it obtains new life by arising from the ashes of its predecessor. But do we really have to repeat this resurrection over and over? Isn’t in enough that we paid the price several times already?

The solution is very simple, Charles Malek wrote few years ago (see attached picture in Arabic) that in order to have a free, sovereign and independent Lebanon, we need to have these criteria:

  • Lebanon doesn’t follow any country
  • Lebanon doesn’t take an enemy in order to please befriend another
  • If he was told: “We befriend you but you must become the enemy of another”, Lebanon should refuse such proposition.

Neutrality is important but in order to treat the division in Lebanon, we must change the political system that been running Lebanon to the ground. Its about time, to really look into federalism as a tool to unite the country and put it back on the right track. It is about time that we recognize the political and religious reality of the country.

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To bomb or not to bomb

For the past two days the news buzz around is “to bomb or not to bomb”. According to American intelligence sources, Assad regime used chemicals weapons on his people. The results over 1,400 people killed. A friend wrote on his Facebook status something interesting and maybe many had missed. He asked how come the U.S. is ready to bomb now when a chemical weapon was used and didn’t intervene while thousands died in the past 2 years. He asks what is the difference between killing with a bullet or a bomb and being killed by a chemical agent.

I replied to his status about the radicalization of the Syrian opposition and how the western media and intelligence reports state that Jabhat al-Nusra is leading the opposition in several parts of Syria. What I get is an ignorant reply from another member concerning Sunnite-Shiite. Well this ignorant and his reply are not worth debating here.

I would like to raise another point, how come the U.S. gave Syrian a free hand in Lebanon from 1976 to 2005? How come the U.S. allowed the Syrians to kill thousands of Lebanese, displaced half of the population, assassinated any political leaders that opposed the occupation, kidnapped thousands … ? When this Syrian regime sided with the U.S. in its war against Iraq ( In August of 1990 Iraq invaded its neighboring country of Kuwait), it was given the green light to launch aerial and ground attacks and occupied the last free regions in Lebanon.

In short, human lives do not count when there is a common interest. The Syrian regime should have been stopped long long long time ago. It shouldn’t have been allowed to enter Lebanon in 1976, it should have not given Lebanon as a trophy for siding with the U.S. in its war in Iraq.

Are the lives of those killed in Lebanon during the Syrian occupation and those who died in Syria in the past two years are less important than those who were killed by the use of a chemical weapon?

How come U.S. officials had no problem sitting on one table and sharing bread (see picture) with a president and a regime that they know have killed thousands of people and they just remembered yesterday that its an ugly and monstrous regime?

 

 

 

Who killed them?

Yesterday, they assassinated Brigadier-General Wissam al-Hassan. Before him, they killed Rafik al-Hariri, Bassel Fleihan , Samir Kassir, George Hawi, Gibran Tueni, Pierre Gemayel, Walid Eido, Antoine Ghanem, Brigadier-General Francois Hajj. They also attempted to assassinate Marwan Hamadeh, Elias Murr and May Chidiac. The majority of the Lebanese point their fingers to Syria and its agents in Lebanon and accuse them for executing these assassinations. Few fingers point at Israel. The majority might be right but there is something important that the Lebanese are missing. They are the one behind these assassinations.

You killed them as well as those who were assassinated before them and every innocent Lebanese who was at the crime scene at the wrong moment. By you, I mean all of those who divided the Lebanese people between March 14 and March 8 groups and their supporters. Every single person who pledged alliance to a political leader who in return is serving the interests of foreign countries and projects that do not serve Lebanon. Every Lebanese who stands in line in front of Lebanese politicians’ houses and bow in front of them hoping he will get a job for his son, to solve a personnel problem, to get financial aid to pay for his kids tuition… Each one of you who breaks the law every single day, pays or accepts bribery…. I blame each one of you for re-electing the same people or their sons after them to rule you.

You stand with those who divide the country and you complain about the division. You add to insults, attacks, increase the schism between Lebanese communities and you complain about what the others are doing to you. You support illegal weapons and complain about either Hezbollah weapons or March 14 weapons (depends on the side you are on).

I blame you for all these assassinations because not only you failed to create a change but you support politicians who only survive on division and chaos.

You barley came out from a civil war and you are eager to plunge all of us in a new one. Enough is enough.

Our True Colors

The Lebanese flag was adapted on December 7th, 1943 prior to independence from France. It was designed to be a neutral flag, not allied to any one of Lebanon’s religious groups. The flag of Lebanon consists of two red stripes at the top and at the bottom. In the middle portion of the Lebanese flag there is a white band with a fully green cedar tree. Article 5 of the Lebanese Constitution sattes:  “Two red-colored bands symbolizing martyrdom, surround horizontally a white-colored band, symbol of the Lebanese snow-capped mountain peaks; in the center of the flag, the cedar tree that characterized Lebanon since its birth, serving to build temples and ships, thus inspiring immortality and tolerance. Some people tend to use the color brown when drawing the trunk of the Cedar. This is a common mistake, the Cedar tree should be drawn in green.”
These are the colors of Lebanon and their meaning according to the Lebanese Constitution.

In reality, Lebanese colors are affected by the diversity of religious sects, the religious basis of social organization and political affiliations.  The Lebanese are more loyal to their political and religious leader more than to the country. They will die for that leader as well as for the country. Their willingness to stand and fight for the country differs between different groups. One party, for example will see Syria as an enemy and the opposite party sees it as an ally. Same goes to Israel and basically to every country in the world.  Currently, Lebanon is divided in two clans: March 14 and March 8. Each clan has different party with different religious and political affiliations. Both clans claim that they are working for freedom of Lebanon. Yet both are pulling in different directions and each has different regional and International allies. They only common thing between both clans is stepping on Lebanon sovereignty. After the Syrian uprising started in March 2011, the division became clearer. March 8 group staunchly supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad while March 14 group would like to see Mr. Assad overthrown. As usual, due to the division in the Lebanese society and political arena, foreign countries were able to find elements to play their dirty games. Both factions opened their doors (Lebanese borders) to send weapons, fighters, Mujahedin … to the fighting factions inside Syria. They think that they are doing a favour for Lebanon by wearing Iranians, Syrians, Saudis, Qataris, and Turkish … colors. In the name of ideology (that can change in a second) and plenty of dollars, the sovereignty of the country can be stepped upon.

What did we end up with today? A more divided country, full of weapons and on the verge of another civil war, in the name of freedom and sovereignty of Lebanon.

Freedom and sovereignty can’t be preserved:

  • by building a state inside a state
  • by allowing foreign fighters to enter Lebanon
  • by taken orders from foreign countries
  • by being financed by regional countries
  • by assassination attempts
  • by defending other colors than Lebanon colors

Is it time to wear our “True Colors”? Before asking this question, we need to step back and ask more fundamentals questions. What is Lebanon? Why it should be a country? What kind of Lebanon we want? What is the purpose of building a new Lebanon? Is Lebanon a viable country? Do Lebanese belong to one nation? Do Lebanese belong to one culture? Can Lebanese build a nation? Can they build a country? Can they build a country that respects its different cultures?

These questions take me back to the document “The Lebanon we want to build” issued by the Lebanese Front on the 23rd of December 1980. Thirty two years passed on that document and yet we can still adapt its text today. The introduction of the document says: “Three issues are decisively at stake today: the survival of the state of Lebanon as a free, independent and sovereign state; the survival of the society of Lebanon as a free, open and pluralist society; and the survival of the Christian community of Lebanon a free and secure, enjoying complete mastery over its own values and destiny. How to avert these three dangers is precisely what is meant by the term “the Lebanese Cause”. If the political independence of Lebanon should be overwhelmed or undermined, if its free society should be altered so as to conform to the pattern of the other societies of the Middle East, and if its Christian community should cease to be master of itself and its destiny, as it has been in the past, a major transformation in the balance of forces in the Middle East would result.”
One section of this document addressed the Lebanese society. Any change in the country future must start from its own society. The document says:

“The new society of the Lebanon we want to build shall be characterized by the following features: lofty morals; responsible freedom; truthfulness; respect for others; placing the common good above the individual good; curbing material greed; the supremacy of law; promoting community spirit and cohesiveness; social justice; enlarging the scope of social security, and the example of the leaders.”

I strongly believe that the featured stated above are the only ways to create a change in the country. The change will not come from the groups that are taking Lebanon to another civil war. We, as Lebanese, must “implant these virtues, and all that goes with them, through the family, the school, popular literature and art, the public media of information, social intercourse, and the law.”
It is up to us to start this project; no one else will do it for us. Regional and foreign countries only care about their own interests. It is only the “Lebanese hands … They can convulse the entire world if they determine to organize the vast Lebanese potential here and abroad methodically, meticulously and responsibly, without allowing a single particle of it to be dissipated.”

Didn’t we have enough of wars, division, bickering … and wearing others colors? Isn’t about time to wear our true colors? It is imperative that discussion lines should be opened among Lebanese society away from the current political parties in order to establish a way to implant these virtues in our country.

Division on every single issue

Is it election year? Are they all flexing their muscles for votes? Are they really divided on these major issues? In any case, what they are doing and saying will lead to total destruction.
You have Lebanese supporting Islamists, Jihadists, Salafist, … in their demonstrations, sit-ins, roads blocking and others opposing.
You have Lebanese demonstrating in support of the Lebanese army and other opposing.
You have Lebanese shooting as a sign of joy when they heard the news about the death of Syrian officials and others call them martyrs.
Some see Hezbollah and March 8 as a resistance and others see them as agents to Iran and Syria.
Some are supporting the Syrian Mujahedden and their Salafist supporters in Lebanon and others oppose this support.
Some condemns the attack on Manar TV reporters while others condemns the attack on MTV reporters.
The best part is that each group supports something and yet oppose the others in their support to a similar thing but on the opposite side.
Yet they all talk about democracy, human rights, right to oppose, ….
One side sees criminals, the other sees martyrs.
One side sees collaborators, the other sees resistance.
And vice versa …
Great Future you are building for this country. All you have to do is open any Lebanese newspaper that dates 1974-1975 and you will see the same headlines. What happened in 1975 led to April 13 and the start of a civil war. A war that took many shapes, colors, …. and the result was years of wars and occupations.
Did the politicians learn anything from that war? Did the Lebanese people learn anything from it?
Looking at the news headlines and listening to politicians supporters makes me believe that all they learned is “let us wage another civil war in the name of God, The leader, the sect, the religion, the Ummah, the khilafa, the West, Democracy, …..”

Stop it Now before it’s too late


Someone posted this picture on Facebook. The message is clear but to whom it is directed? Who is going to STOP the madness in Lebanon before the countries sink back into civil war? The message can’t be directed to Lebanese politicians. Those are part of the problem. They are the one fuelling the fighting in the country. Go back to early 70′s, to 1958 and you will find out that it was the politicians who always throw oil on the fire. They keep doing it because they know they can get away with it. The Lebanese politicians can start a war that kill thousands, destroy the country and once it is over they will shake hands and rule in time of peace.
The civil war is around the corner. Syrian’s events are about to blow up the country. We have politicians who are ready to sink into the cycle of death in the name of hating the Assad regime or defending it. Who is to blame for the current situation? I don’t blame Assad, Iran, the U.S, …. I don’t blame the Lebanese politicians or the warlords. I blame the Lebanese population. Why do you allow the politicians to take your country to civil war? Why do you allow warlords to have their own militias? Why do you always allow them to import the wars of others to your country? Why do you allow them to turn your country to a place where other countries settle scores with each others? Why do you allow them to turn you to tools in their hands? There are four types of Lebanese:

1- Blind followers
2- Those that do nothing to change the situation
3- Real seekers of change
4- Those who do not give a damn

For sure the first group will not STOP IT NOW. So far, group number “2″ (which I always imagine to be the majority. But I am not sure they are) never attempted to stop anything. Instead, in the past two elections, they elected the politicians that do nothing but import wars to Lebanon. Looking back at the past elections and their outcome makes me belief that there is no silent majority of Lebanon. The majority is as damaged as the leaders are. They have no problem electing to office people who gave orders to kill other Lebanese. They have no problem electing politicians who in time of disaster either they do nothing or become part of the disaster. The majority has no problem to be involved in rigged elections where $200 can buy a vote.
So who will STOP IT NOW? Is group number “3″ able to make a change? Is this group is able to influence group “2″ and “4″. Can they come up with a plan to show the rest that war is never a solution? Can some Lebanese convince others that it is not right to stand still and watch the country heading to total self destruction?

Don’t you think it is about time to put a plan and group the “Independent” and those who care into a movement that lead the real change in the country? Don’t you think that your children’s future deserve a try? I call upon those who say they “Love Lebanon” to act in order to “STOP IT NOW”.