Saturday, May 10, 2008

Dear Sayyed Hassan

By Joseph El-Khoury

Picture courtesy of

I am Lebanese, for more than 10 years…just like you. And I happen to love my country…just like you.

Our paths have never crossed. And since the 7th May I hope they never do. I am writing this following the ‘liberation’ of Beirut by your brave and loyal fighters after two days of heavy fighting that brought us back to the ugly days of the 1980s. At the time you were in the early days of building your resistant organisation slowly and quietly while keeping away from the absurd infighting plaguing other militias. You went on to defeat the mighty Israeli army once in 2000 and again in 2006. I bet you did not expect that one day your men would be pleased with having seized control of Corniche El Mazraa.

Sayyed Hasan! Let me start by saying that I do not share your views on God, religion, alcohol, sex, music, women rights, taste in movies, relations with Syria and a lot more. I reckon that we do agree that the Palestinian question is central and that peace with Israel is not an option unless of a fair and just solution for it. How this is achieved is a matter of debate that would most likely end up in a disagreement. Unfortunately neither debate nor disagreement is possible in a Beirut under the control of an armed militia whatever moral high ground it holds. You talk of the ‘resistance’ as an abstract concept that you and only you engage in, in the name of a divine mission. Resistance for the sake of Resistance is neither constructive nor desirable. Your resistance is Islamic, more specifically Shia Islamic. Nonetheless you state nationalist credentials, supported by a collection of allies that the devil himself would hesitate to claim as his. But I have bad news for you. At least 50% of the nation’s population do not support you and have learnt to loathe and fear you over the past few days.

Trust me Sayyed Hassan. This country does not deserve a resistance of Hezbollah’s calibre. Lebanon is at best a whore house corrupted by Western influence and the Lebanese are mostly cowards with no sense of duty (obviously you and your men are not included in that sample). This people cannot live up to your expectations and will fail you again in the near future. Already we have dragged you kicking and screaming into Hamra and Verdun when your only desire consists of facing the enemy in Shebaa and Maroun El-Rass. I wish we could help you find another place worthy of your effort and leave us be to our incurable moral and social corruption. Or at least, if our questions are a nuisance and our presence a hindrance in the path towards divine victory then at least provide us with a timetable. We would leave you and other patriots to get on with the business of resistance. We promiss to come back (if you allow us back of course) when you are done.


Anonymous said...

Good god joseph ! u don’t have to share yr taste in “SEX, DRUGS & ROCK’N’ROLL” with sayyed Hassan, in a matter of fact, I don’t think that his allies in Lebanon (al-tayyar al-watani, el-7izb elkawmi, al-Nasseriyoun, el-marada, el7izb el-democrati el-loubnani, el7izb elshouyou3eh etc etc) do. Hezbollah is free in his believes, just like the “”Salafiyoun”, Hariri’s allies, r free in theirs too, the essential matter is that they don’t impose it on the others. As for the military action of the “National Opposition”, mind u , not only in Beirut- u’ll have to interrogate the Government, the “Internal Security Forces”, the Lebanese Army…
What happened dear is, obviously, beyond yr understanding, beyond mine, and , believe it or not, beyond Siniora’s.
The international position is amazing, kind of surreal; did u check the official discourse of the USA? Israel? good god joseph!
Personally, I think that it would have been even better if u addressed, too, a letter to M.Siniora, to M.Saad Hariri, to the leaders and theorists of “March 14” : they owe a huge explanation to their popular bases, don’t they ?
Moreover, they have a double responsibility vis-à-vis their supporters and the Lebanese People, especially the one who are completely shocked and against this “coup d’état” (?)- referring to u, they represent the majority of the population- is it the result of survey, or ?
Anyway, the status quo hasn’t been established yet, and we have to wait and see where this “Shiite vandalism and sabotage” will lead us, and what’s the real positioning of the “International Community” towards it- or have we not?


Anonymous said...

Sirine - You should have wished for a million dollars! Ask Joseph to forward you that email I sent him last night.

P.S. I didn't know Communists especially the liberal ones enjoyed rock and roll. Sex, maybe, though I find libertarians to have better performance in that Department that either conservatives or liberals, but I am not going to toot my horns, so to speak.

Marwan - As always, keeper of the obvious.

Arab Democracy said...

I am not sure how valid a survey would be with Hezbollah's arsenal hanging over our heads.

But Sirine, just make a few phone calls to your friends and relatives and I am sure you would come out with at least 50% having similar attitudes towards Hezbollah's behaviour.Please lets's stop playing the silly numbers game.

On the issue of whether I should be having more balanced views. It is not my job to remind everyone of the 'other's sides deficiencies' in every article in order not to offend. Others do it(And that is why we will be publishing Marwan's indirect response to mine).This time it is quite clear who is the aggressor and the nature of the aggression. For my opinions of their opponents you are invited to read my previous articles if you are interested.

No one is talking of 'Shiite' vandalism. But vandalism,terror and aggression it is. If you fail to recognise that then you are praising the totalitarian antidemocratic practice of imposing your point of view by violent means. And I am not sure I want to live in a country where this considered routine behaviour.

And Sirine, I dont think the Sayyed has any views on music... Imagine living in a place where music is banned.

Wait ...that place exists.It is called Iran (And yes yes Saudi Arabia, but thats another story)



Anonymous said...

I think Joseph the problem here is that of perspective. On the one hand, the government considers its acts legitimate and pushes policies that are not widely popular (and I am refraining from using statistics here as this is baseless and at best inaccurate these days) and on another you have a section of the population that feels alienated, through its own fault or the government's fault, this remains up for discussion.

With that in mind, what are we to do? There are clearly things happening under the table that we either are not discussing out in the open or are not sure of. Nasrallah has imposed his will by force especially recently but the government's passive aggressive approach with the opposition and the most recent move regarding phone communications are anything but kosher.

I frankly find your current positions somewhat unexpected given your seemingly staunch support to the Palestinians. Sometimes the end justifies the mean say both Arabs and Israelis and this applies to both the government and the opposition in Lebanon.

I will reiterate this - I don't see value in either the opposition or the government. Both groups are a bunch of loonies that have to stand by their principle of bringing this country back on its feet. The problem is, and you shrewdly point this in your article, that Lebanese have not yet awaken from this fake dream that one tiny group (and yes they are all tiny groups) can impose its will on others. Tribal politics is still de rigueur in the land of sophistication and brand names.

I may have a more capitalistic approach to things, but given the issues at hand, I don't see how you can find a beneficial solution to the problems in Lebanon without changing the current government and without ensuring that all are happy. If it were up to me my friend, I would have imposed a separation of state and church and banned all leaders age 40 and above to enter the political arena with the hope that the new generation would bring more sensible policies to the table. The problem is, there may be a few that agree with me, but we are a tiny group and as I said earlier tiny groups cannot impose their views on all citizens. At best they can compromise with one another.

We have yet to see the compromises in our country.

Marwan -

Anonymous said...

I have always "dreamt" that one day I will become the president of Lebanon, even though I do not qualify under the current sectarian system of government. I have to say that you shattered my "dreams", seconds after you have given me the hope that it might be possible in my life time with your proposed separation of state and religion. You actually said church rather religion, but since I am secular and an atheist, it did not really matter to me whether it is a mosque or a church with all due respect to the pious, religious and the divine victories and miscalculations that Lebanon and its people are so blessed with. I was before banned from becoming president because of the sect I happen to be born into. Now and according to your "enlightened" recipe for the salvation of Lebanon I am banned because I am 40+. I wonder what else you would have in store for all of those who are 40+ besides banning them from running for political office, if it is up to you as you mention in your comments. Adding insult to injury, you expects the 40+ to be happy. I take this back. Perhaps, you were only referring to the 40-, as you obviously have a different agenda for the 40+. I would like to remind you that all of those who are now in positions of power in Lebanon where once 40- and active participants in the 15 year old Lebanese civil war and the militias that brought wanton death and destruction to country. I am also sure that you would agree that those who were involved in the fighting in Lebanon in the last few days are mostly 40-, if not even 30 and 20 minus.

The problem in Lebanon is not and was never generational. It is cross generational. It is historical. It is structural and endemic to the Lebanese sectarian political system. This system keeps reproducing and regenerating the sectarian wars that has plagued Lebanon since the 1860s. It is those sectarian divisions that invite and make outside interventions possible and not the other way around. Anything short of the complete overhaul and the abolishment of the sectarian system and its replacement with a secular democracy of one man one vote and proportional representation with Lebanon as one electoral unit, will only maintain the status quo, irrespective of whoever is in power. Both the government and opposition are two faces of the same coin.

With regard to what you referred to as the "land of sophistication and brand names", there is a fundamental similarity between the capitalism that you seem to favor and tribalism. They both deal with their respective constituencies, territories and institutions that they control as their private properties and businesses. Capitalism and its pretense of "sophistication and brand names" has always coexisted and prospered within tribal and sectarian structures of Lebanon and other "3rd world" and "4th world" countries, as long as it is profitable and gives it political and communal legitimacy.

Well, I am 50+ and I do not have time to wait for the next generation, especially those who think like you.

Anonymous said...

I am glad you responded to my comment.

Nonetheless I stick with my comments. I use separation of church and religion as an example. I am not religion and have longed adhered to the philosophy of Deism, not that its anyone’s business. I am further part Jewish, which apparently in Lebanon and the Arab world is worse that spreading disease. So if you’re offended because I didn’t refer to a mosque, I probably could be offended because anti-Semitism is glorified in the Arab world. Of course you can argue the same about Israel, but we are not talking about Israel now.

Regarding the age factor, I would hope that if I enter the political arena, which appears to be not welcomed in the Arab world given my views on the almighty, religion, and politics, I would like to think that come the time when I turn 50 or 60, I would allow the younger generation to play a more significant role in Lebanon. Yes there was a time when the current kings and queens of Lebanon were 20, but that time is long gone, time to move on. And yes the street fighters are under 30 but they are not ruling the country, they are implementing policies and orders from the ruling class, which predominantly is much older than that, unless your someone’s son or daughter. Nepotism quand tu nous tiens!

Regarding your comment on capitalism, you want to call it tribal, I call it profit driven. My response was by no means an effort to glorify capitalism; mind you socialism and communism have failed too virulently in my opinion. The difference here is that capital Markets go where profits are period. In a tribal society additional factors such as nepotism, preferential treatment on the basis of tribal belonging (religion, ethnicity, sex, age, etc) are included, these don’t go hand in hand when you are looking at the profit margin of a society as a whole. Today Hizbollah is benefiting, yesterday in was Hariri, etc. but there is no Lebanon profit in this equation and round and round we go.

At the end of the day you can read my comments in which ever way you want. You can look at the big picture or fall into the cracks of semantics. I am sorry that you feel the need to be disappointed, but in these days people strive for things that offend them. But as Rhett Butler would say, frankly my dear I don’t give a dam.

Finally,you don't have to wait for the next generation or the people that think like me. Just ask your 50+ year old representatives in the government to wake up and be more inclusive, or go. Yeah right, has anyone seen Godot yet?

BTW - do you have a name?

Marwan -

Anonymous said...

Well Marwan, this is 50+ again. You are entitled to stick to your comments as much as I am entitled to debate them on those pages. I sincerely do not know how you came to the conclusion that I am offended because you did not mention a mosque when I clearly stated that I am atheist and a secularist. Do not get me wrong. I respect the right of those who choose to be religious and practice it. I strongly feel that a secular multicultural, multi religious or non religious society is the way to safeguard those rights, whether they are religious or non religious.

You do not have to teach me a lesson about Jews and the way they are treated and perceived in the Arab world. I think anti-Semitism and any form of racism is abhorrent and condemnable.

Marwan, when you excluded the 40+ from the political process it was a blanket exclusion. There is an underlying assumption in your statement that all of those who are 40+ are not fit to rule. This is what disturbed me because it is wrong.

I sincerely do not want to enter into the capitalism- communism debate. While I agree with you that communism as it was practiced in Eastern Europe failed. Capitalism continues to drag humanity to the abyss.


Anonymous said...

Yasar - I think "shattered your dream" sort of gave it away as an indication of how upset/offended you are regarding not including mosques into the discussion about separating religious institutions notwishtanding your religiousness or lack of it.

The reference to Judaism is a respone to that.

I don't adhere to the school of forcing my opinion on others, eventhough it is "chose courante" in the Middle East and in Lebanon as can be attested by the recent events locally. You're more than welcome to question whatever you I feel is written, that should be one of your basic rights.

I tend to use allegoric examples if you will when I describe my views, I feel it lightens the situation. The reference to the 40+ is alluding to the fact that there is a need for new younger and more revolutionary blood. Enough with more of the same.

Marwan -

Anonymous said...


What we need in Lebanon, that we lack right now, is "enlightened thinking". I hope you agree that this is not privy to any age or generational group. So, please spare me such meaningless phrases as "there is a need for new younger and more revolutionary blood". This also applies to phrases such as "older and wiser". I also do not know why we are hung up about using the word "blood" all the time.

A final note, I have a one condition for the becoming the president of Lebanon.:) That it is a secular(separation of state and religion)democtactic multilcultural and multi religious society that is engraved in its consitution and protected by it.

I will also vote for someone else as a president of he r she hold those views.

Arab Democracy said...

Guys. Can I just point out that the current generation of leaders descends from the pre-war. We will be blessed with the leadership of their offsprings in the coming decades.

The problem was never generational. It is a systematic one.


Arab Democracy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

It is a systematic problem, I agree. I do believe though that younger people should be involved.

I wasn't attacking you Yasar, just pointing out where I was coming from when I responded to you.

I don't know how much value the presidency in the republic brings in these days. More enlightment is definitely something that I would vote for.

Marwan -