Friday, August 17, 2007

We Want To Live… But not in Lebanon

Joseph El-Khoury

When I first came across this slogan, a less than subtle twist on the ‘We Love Life’ pro-government campaign in Lebanon, I smiled… thinking it was the brainchild of Lebanese youth disaffected with the current political deadlock threatening their future. Reading further the original article in the Lebanese daily I smiled again when I realised the authors were actually Palestinians claiming to represent some of those affected by the tragic events in Nahr-El-Bared. As expected in the traditionally Pan-Arabist Assafir the writer went on to condemn these slogans, in the name of the illusive Arab cause, as the work of traitors and cowards.

I personally found it refreshing to hear of Palestinians as individuals with feelings, desires, aspirations beyond the symbolism of their national plight .A change from the usual over inflated patriotic zeal of Abbas Zaki and other PLO officials. This discourse is not isolated and echoes in part the cry of fellow Palestinians in the occupied territories through the lyrics of the excellent West Bank rap Group’ Ramallah Underground’. In essence: resistance is good but what about the basic requirements for a decent life. The situation of the refugees in Lebanon is untenable and the Lebanese authorities cannot continue to ignore the social disaster brewing slowly on national soil under the lame excuse that they oppose forced settlement. Qatari money might clear the rubble and rebuild the camp but 60 years of personal and commercial relations between the inhabitants and local villagers have been damaged possibly irreversibly.

My words in no way exonerate the different Palestinian factions from their responsibility in turning a blind eye to the growth of various Jihadists groups over the years or to their unwillingness to deal with the consequences following the events of 20th May. But while I am in no position to ask for their accountability, as a Lebanese citizen I ask my government to give the ordinary Palestinian refugees their human right to work and make a decent living. This also is a condition to the building of a modern, fair and Democratic Lebanese state.


Wassim said...

Is it not lovely when racism, treason and surrender find a place in reasoned and polite conversation? I guess I too am "traditionally" Pan-Arabist.

Arab Democracy said...

I am not sure if you are accusing me of racism and treason. But if you are then you have not understood anything to my post.

You say you are tradionally pan-Arabist and this is exactly the type of Nostalgic Pan-Arabism that offers no horizon, no solution for the people of this region. You lament the loss of the Great Islamic/Arabic civilization while mllions live in poverty and ignorance. The Palestinians in Lebanon are oppressed not only by those who hate them but also who pretend to love them (and probably they also belong to your tradional pan-Arabist lineage).

I am eager to hear your solution to the suffering of the Palestinians in Lebanon.But I suspect you will struggle to come up with something original.



Anonymous said...

I think Joe, if one reads Wassim's latest post of his own blog, one begins to understand that his definition of pan-arabism or what have you is more in line with anti-everything else.

Wassim has quote pieces of your post to launch accusations against the Lebanese, all the Lebanese calling them anti-muslim, anti-arab, anti-syrian, anti-palestinian, and self-hating arabs by acclaiming their phoenician heritage. Somebody needs to perhaps remind Wassim, that Phoenicia existed and I for one I proud that it is part of my heritage. Somebody needs to remind Wassim, the Syrian Arab, that he perhaps should remember the role Syria and Mr. Arafat and his posse played in Lebanon and vis-a-vis Muslims in Hama and the Palestinians. Wassim is quick on accusing the Israelis or the Lebanese for that matter of wrongdoing at every step of the way yet he fails to see - by choice I suspect - the miseries inflicted on arabs by other arabs.

But as in your previous post Joseph, Wassim, is after all a good arab, one that loathes the west but chooses to live in it.


Wassim said...

Your narrow interpretation of what democracy should be, based on an American fuelled idea of economic driven democracy is itself precisely the vision which offers no horizon and no solution. Your solution reduces the human being to numbers and targets, resulting incredibly in reducing the already pale slogan "We want to live" into "We simply exist and consume". Cows do that Joseph, the human being is a bit more complicated than that and no figures or charts you can produce will make reality fit the model.

Both yourself and Marwan profess concern for the Palestinian people, denouncing me for a hypocrisy which I have never worn. I'm quite familiar with how the Palestinians have been oppressed by everyone, but I do believe this is a post about the Palestinians in Lebanon? I'm sorry was I also supposed to talk about those in Syria, Egypt, Jordan or Iraq? The bombing of Nahr al Bared would not have happened if it was in East Beirut would it? The Lebanese are cheering on their army for pulverizing a refugee camp, of course you denounce the method but "support the boys". As somebody concerned with finding Arab democracy I expected you perhaps to dig beneath the news facade that is produced for mass consumption yet you reinforce it's hold on you at the end of your article. The fact you can't realise that you don't know this is indeed part of the problem for many people in the region.

Incidentally Marwan, I must tell you that when you squeeze the lemon it is for the juice, not so you can keep the lemon. Please stay focused and realise that your conception of yourself as a Phoenician really is quite ridiculous. That is what I criticised, not that Phoenicia ever existed.

Finally, I quite enjoyed your previous post Joseph, but again I direct this to Marwan who is keen to make me wear a shoe that does not fit. Marwan where did you see me say I loathe the West? Don't charge into a bank to rob it if you don't have any bullets.

Arab Democracy said...

Wassim with all due respect if you had replied in the way you did today I would not have the same reaction. But you chose instead to throw accusations and use excerpts from my post on your blog out of context to support your deeply entrenched views of the Lebanese.

I never claimed I was a Phoenician or that I support any of the sides in the Lebanese conflict.You dont know my background but I do not support the US plans to spread their vision of democracy in the Middle East. This is one of the reason why we called our website arabdemocracy in reference to Arabs not needing lessons from anyone on this subject.(And if they wouldnt be from the Bush Administration)

If you read my article on NAHER-EL-BARED last month you would see that I was for using every effort to spare civilans... but the reality is that you and others are confusing the genuine rights of the Palestinians to claim back their country with the efforts of a radical fundamentalist barbaric group to destabilise the country and spread terror.

As a non-muslim I do not have to tolerate this kind of barbary from any religious group and I do not have to apologise to anyone for fighting for my right to exist as an equal in this land .

But I ask you as a Muslim Arab yourself have you done enough to condemn these people and their actions? By not doing so you are allowing the US and Israel to paint everyone with the same brush when they oppose their policies: That of a Terrorist.



Anonymous said...

Wassim - I see the pattern now. You make derogatory comments which hold no truth only to rush and justify yourself later.

I have been reading your numerous posts and they are clearly anti-everything you don't stand for. I am fine with you not agreeing with my or others. However, I don't enjoy your constant disrespect of people's opinion masked under uncalled for perfectly worded cynicism. You want to be respected for your views Wassim, start by respecting others. You attack people on a very personal level, and you have absolutely no right to do so.Please share with me what you have done for the sake of Palestinians, beyond feeling sorry for them, and hating American and Israeli policies in the region?

I have never claimed to be a Phoenician; it is clear in my post that I refer to a Phoenician heritage which really is a matter of fact in Lebanon and parts of Israel and Syria. However, even if I chose to believe I was a Phoenician, it really isn’t up to you to decide whether this makes me ridiculous or not. Get a dose of reality will you and realize that the Middle East is a little more than what goes on inside your mind or mine for that matter.

The difference is however, I am confident enough to criticize every aspect of my government, Arabs, Lebanese, Christians and Jews, and other people I can relate to, you don’t.

While you claim you have issues with almost every nation in the Middle East and the Arab World, your criticism only appears to gravitate around Israel, your favorite topic, and of course Lebanon, more specifically those that live in East Beirut. How about you tell us a bit about your views on Syria, the Assad Regime, The Palestinian governments, I stress on the S, Saudi Arabia? There must be something you can say, no? Unless of course there is only one side to each of your stories.


mobivox said...

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