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On Feigned Tears Shed for Beirut and Lebanon

On Feigned Tears Shed for Beirut and Lebanon

Wednesday, 19 August, 2020 - 09:45

Many of those we know well are feigning tears for Beirut and Lebanon. Those who plundered it and who governed it in a manner that resembles robbery more than politics.

Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah was the most prominent exception among those in power, in the broader sense of the term. He did not even find what warranted pretending to cry. He was busy celebrating what he called "the victory of the July war." He was concerned with other things. His grin covered his face.

Besides those in power, in Lebanon and the Arab world as well, many honest people cried genuinely, and many liars feigned their tears. The liars referred to are those who have never had any affection for Lebanon, nor have they ever seen it as anything more than a stepping stone on their path to another objective or cause.

They reject what Lebanon stood for, namely, its assumption that progress comes from pluralism and being connected to the outside world, especially the democratic Western world, and its attempt to emulate parliamentary democracy, while being careful to avoid being dragged into direct armed conflicts. We can add to this category of what this Lebanon represented the various developments and institutions that emerged in the region during the modern era, such as the parliaments and public administrations that arose and survived until they were overthrown by coup d'etats, and before them the construction of the Suez Canal or the founding of the American University in Beirut. Of course, also in this category are the Arab colored revolutions that have demanded, and are still demanding, freedom and human dignity.

Those opposed to these ideas adopted another concept of progress in which opposing the West and doing away with "dependency" is the gateway to the future and a sense of meaning. "Westernized" Lebanon seemed to them a hideous thing. In the pain of the Palestinian people, they found their path to the resumption of this eternal struggle in which compromises are rejected and politics is despised. Their model is that of a regime of tyranny that militarizes society and casts it in a single and controlled body with a final and absolute identity, which seemed to them to oscillate from glorification to endurance: some of them glorified this military security regime as a tool for salvation, and others saw it as a tax that ought to be paid on the path to salvation. In all their forms, these regimes were the sources of bullets fired at Lebanon.

Since the country was established, these sentiments have been declared unambiguously.

In 1925, during the insurgency in southern Syria led by Sultan Pasha al-Atrash, such sentiment was summed up very nicely by the "village poet" Rashid Salim El-Khoury, an ardent Arabist, who was disgruntled that the Lebanese had abstained from fighting alongside Atrash:

"Lebanon, O Lebanon, but it did not harm me

If I said, O country without a population. "

And he, for this reason, wished on his "people", the people of Lebanon,

"An emminent death

By the edge of the enemy’s sword. "

Because it is inflammatory by nature, this inclination found its major refuge in poetry. In 1950, for example, and in his elegy of the Lebanese politician Abed al-Hamid Karami, the Iraqi poet Muhammad Mahdi al-Jawahiri could not find anything to say better than to lampoon the country to which Karami belonged. He satirized a “gang”

Colonialism terminates and rules over her, and “the dollar” gives her salvation and relaxation.

Jawahiri, who was considered close to the Iraqi Communist Party for many years, spent the last years of life in Damascus, praising Hafez al-Assad. On the other hand, all the peoples of the region are today desperate for “the dollar”.

These poets competed in their shoddy mockery of the fact that the Lebanese speak foreign languages, the relative freedom that the Lebanese woman had, about which they had moral reservations, the mellowness that the military-natured scorn, and of course some of the country's symbols and patriotism, which resemble the symbols of other countries and are neither better nor worse. Talking about a pluralistic model in the Middle East that contradicts the Israeli model only induced giggles.

Beyond the mockery and poems were the ideas. The most important of which is that elections, freedoms, education and the presence of a middle class are matters that do not warrant consideration. What counts is what takes us from the "Lebanese arena" to another place: before, it had been the "liberation of Palestine", and later it became ensuring the Assad regime’s victory in Syria.

The stationing of two armies in the "Arabs’ Hanoi " was desired, the Palestinian resistance in the sixties and seventies, and then Hezbollah starting in the eighties. Whether or not the Lebanese agree or disagree to this is not important, for Lebanon is nothing but a means justified by the end, the struggle.

However, the small country afflicted these kinds of haters with two tiers of confusion: those in Lebanon who refuse militarisation are not a handful of agents and spies, as the easy narrative claims. They are in fact the majority, whose positions are based on solid political and historical choices and a certain vision of the future.

In addition, hating Lebanon does not prevent its haters from preferring it as a place to live, and the opportunity provided to express that hatred is part of this life. The fact is that the most deprived ideas are those that consider, for ideological reasons, that living somewhere is not considered a preference for the counties of residence over the countries from which those in opposition flees (East Germany, the former Soviet Union, North Korea and today China and Russia). Ideologues do not think that the pursuit of freedom, knowledge or work is worth being taken into consideration.

Indeed, this hatred is as ideological as it is miserable. The crocodile tears shed today are miserable, though they are in luck: after the revolution for freedom was defeated in Syria, it defeated the bastion of freedom in Lebanon.

Today, we are all equals in our honorable ruin, like a comb’s teeth. But we will certainly liberate Palestine!

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