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A Devastated and a Victorious People in a Single Country?

A Devastated and a Victorious People in a Single Country?

Sunday, 30 August, 2020 - 06:45

So, we – by that I mean the Lebanese people – are winning.

There is someone telling us that we are celebrating, on these days, the third anniversary of the “battles of the liberation of the East,” when we eliminated the “takfiri front”, which is said to have sprung on us from neighboring Syria.

There is someone who told us, a few days ago, about the 14th anniversary of the astonishing victory we secured in 2006, when we “humiliated the Zionist enemy and shoved its face in the soil”.

There is always someone coming out to tell us that the era of defeats has passed and that we are on the cusp of enthralling regional developments, like the United States being expelled from the region or praying in the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The victories are abundant. The celebrations are also abundant. Sadness, on the other hand, is more abundant.

It is no secret that the Lebanese, the vast majority of them, become increasingly depressed with each of these mentioned victories. They are not even celebrating what ought to be there day of celebration, the 100th anniversary of the establishment of Lebanon. They await the occasion in pain and with some regret. Celebrations, in any form, are not on their schedule, nor are they in the mood.

Where does the problem lie then? Why are victories met with tears?

It is not new for political powers to make use of victories to consolidate their grip on their people. Some regimes would routinely magnify victories, or even flip defeats on their heads and turn them into successes, to strengthen that repressive grip. Some regimes, lacking any other achievements to brag about, have made such victories into justifications for a legitimacy that has no other basis.

The case of Hafez al-Assad has become very well known to those who want to know: he was not satisfied with declaring himself the “champion of October” in 1973, for he also became the “hero of the Golan Heights” in 1967, bearing in mind that Assad personally supervised, as defense minister, the fall of the Golan at the hands of the Israelis.

The obnoxiousness in Lebanon today is of the same nature, as is the lie: yesterday, we saw a mini-drill for the Sunni – Shiite civil war in Khaldeh, just south of Beirut. Inter-sectarian relations are unprecedentedly tense and hostile.

For Christians especially, but others as well, sentiments about Lebanese national unity oscillate between haplessness and fury. Added to this situation are other crises that the Lebanese are undergoing: an economic crisis reverberating across all classes in society without exception. Political gridlock which is increasingly difficult to fix given the depth of the corruption and the degree of frivolousness that characterize our governance. Losing more and more Arab and international friendships, accompanied by a universal inclination to have nothing to do with this hopeless country. Exacerbation of the helplessness and confusion regarding the many COVID-19 cases. Before and after all this, the horrific crime at the port that is the culmination of years of “the people, the army and the resistance” form of governance.

How can it be reasonable, as we stumble among these various catastrophes, to celebrate all these “victories” that Hezbollah and its supporters invite us to celebrate?

This contradiction explains the pressing need to conjure up lies that achieve both tasks: on the one hand, the impossible task of convincing us that the victories are really victories, and, on the other, pushing us to believe that the catastrophes are not catastrophes, and thus, those responsible for both should not be brought down and thrown in jail. For this reason, the supply of lies in the market is huge, because in reality the victories are not victories while the catastrophes are catastrophes and those who cause them should end up in jail. Day after day, the picture becomes more evident: the victories are not victories in any sense, while the catastrophes are very much catastrophes.

The current attempt at lying is unparalleled except in the famous theory that emerged after the 1967 defeat, that we had been victorious because the “progressive regimes” did not fall.

But the contradiction is also explained by something else, that we really have become two peoples at least: a people that counts the blows it is dealt, and a people that counts, either with certainty, because of deceit or disingenuously, the victories it garners.

As for the sharpness of the divide, it says nothing else than that Hezbollah has succeeded in killing the Lebanese project completely.

In fact, the duality of arms is not the most dangerous thing that the party here represents. What is more dangerous is the people’s duality, which has a striking impact on almost everything we are undergoing today, a deceitful marriage between victorious and vanquished. This is what leads to a duality of reality and truth.

In all cases, it overwhelms any potential pluralism, not only under a democratic system, but also for a stable life.

The overwhelming majority of the Lebanese people today see that the truth in these victories is that they are victories over them. Anything else is a lie and another source of despair and deep sadness.

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