Israel, Lebanon

The Future of Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon

I just spent the last hour and a half watching a fascinating webcast of a seminar on the Palestinian refugee situation in Lebanon. It was organized by the Aspen Institute, and featured Nadim Shehadi (former director of the Centre for Lebanese Studies at Oxford, current Associate Fellow at Chatham House, and friend of the blog) and Ghaith al-Omari (lead Palestinian drafter of the Geneva Initiative, former senior advisor to Mahmoud Abbas, and participant at the Camp David summit and Taba talks, etc.)

For those of you interested in both the situation of the Palestinians in Lebanon (see my thoughts here) as well as the refugee issue and the right of return, I highly recommend that you watch the entire thing. Here, though, are some interesting bits:

13:00 – Nadim discusses the complexity of any issue involving Palestinians in Lebanon, even something as trivial as “the width of a staircase…”

41:00 – Ghaith discusses “the bitter pill that the Palestinians will have to swallow when it comes to accepting a deal” on the right of return, which he says that the PLO has not prepared the refugees adequately to accept.

49:00 – Nadim explains that the bottom line for any final deal on the refugees is that it cannot make their situation worse than it is now, which is a very real threat.

59:50 – Ghaith discusses the various mechanisms (compensation, settlement in host countries, etc.)

62:45 – Firas Maksad asks about how the situation of the refugees might be improved, considering that this issue is seen by many in Lebanon (and manipulated by political actors) as the first step towards naturalization.

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99 thoughts on “The Future of Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon

  1. QN,
    Since you have already today plugged my post on Sovereign debt I am going to take advantage of your hospitality to let those who might be interested know about my latest post; 5 days ago; on the Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon. It was posted, as usual on plus a copy on my blog:

    Some of the exchanges at Yalibnan are also informative since many are what I would call extemporaneous but candid reactions of individuals with different political points of view.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 7, 2010, 10:21 pm
  2. I just can’t see how any sane person would want to enter Ayn al-Hilwi and yell (George Bush-style on the truck after 9/11) that “everyone must now walk to Nablus.”

    Maybe Lebanon just needs a brash dictator to end that screwy system and impose a Marxist/Maoist regime that knows only rich people and poor Palestinians.

    The Israelis will like it… after all, Marx was a Jew.

    Posted by Abu Guerrilla | June 7, 2010, 10:39 pm
  3. AIG said:

    I, a second generation Israeli (both my parents were born in Israel and so was I) have as much right to be here as any Palestinian?

    Very good, we’re getting somewhere. Then allow any Palestinian to live with you there, if (s)he wishes so. 😉

    Posted by Badr | June 8, 2010, 2:28 am
  4. The logic of Lebanon’s anti-naturalisation policy has always seemed absurd to me. It starts with a reasonable idea — that the refugees should be able to exercise their right to return to Palestine — but draws an absurd conclusion: that Lebanon must therefore deny them any other rights, particularly the right to become citizens of a country that they’ve lived in for sixty years, in order to make sure they’ll still want to exercise their right to return whenever that becomes possible. In other words, it seems that the logic is to deny their rights in the name of protecting their rights. This also seems to infantilise the refugees by assuming that the Lebanese government knows better than they do which rights they should exercise, and that it should therefore force them to exercise one right rather than another.

    Also, political discourse seems to assume that all the refugees would still actually want to return. Has anyone actually done a study of Palestinian refugees, especially those born in Lebanon, to find out how many of them would prefer to move to Palestine, and how many would prefer to become citizens in Lebanon, which is for many of them (most of them?) the country they were born in and the only one they’ve ever lived in?

    Posted by Benjamin Geer | June 8, 2010, 2:28 am
  5. Benjamin,
    The laws denying the refugees has little or nothing to do with their right of return and everything to do with local politics – Mainly Maronite concern of diluting their presence (and authority) further that it has been especially that historically (but of course not of late) the power struggle in Lebanon has been between Maronites and Sunnis (which most Palestinians are).

    Read Beware of Small States, an excellent book that gives quite decent summary of Lebanese history and the Palestinians place in it.

    Posted by mo | June 8, 2010, 4:48 am
  6. Benjamin,
    It is ironic that the Lebanese group that is normally the least supportive of the Palestinian cause becomes the most supportive of the Palestinian right of Return. But it is also worth noting that local politics has conspired to unify all the Lebanese factions on this issue. Shia do not want another 400,000 Sunnis and the Sunnis do not want to lose the support of their Christian allies.
    I will never justify the Lebanese position against naturalization of the Palestinian Refugees but for the sake of understanding the real dynamic that has led to these absurd positions one must acknowledge the widely held mistaken belief that naturalization prejudices the Right of Return. That all Palestinian organizations have always held that view has facilitated the Lebanese bigotry on this issue.
    But Naturalization and universal human civil rights are not the same issue. Even if one is to accept the position on naturalization this does not justify the human rights abuses by the Lebanese.

    “Ali Hweidi, director of the Palestinian Organization for the Right of Return, an organization which assists Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, said refugees were undecided about the Palestinian passport proposal. “We need to know more about what President Abbas means by this,” he told The Media Line. “If the passports are to help facilitate the right of return of Palestinian refugees to their homes in Palestine, it will be supported by all Palestinian factions, but if it is to facilitate the rejection of those rights, we will reject it.” Hweidi argued that most Palestinian refugees in Lebanon do not support local nationalization. “We are against Lebanese nationality,” he said. “If it is given to all Palestinians it will mean the rejection of our right of return.” “What we want is to be treated like the Palestinian refugees in Syria and have our civil rights acknowledged,” Hweidi added. “Civil rights are not about Lebanese nationalization, they are about hospitalization, education, social services, relief and the ability to register Palestinian organizations.” “

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 8, 2010, 6:00 am
  7. Ghassan, there’s a paradox in the last sentence you quoted from Hweidi. In a democratic country, the way you get better hospitals and schools in your area is by voting for political candidates who will support the provision of those services. In many countries, poor areas have inadequate public services, and voting is the main way for poor people to change that. It seems to me that voting would probably be the most effective way, and perhaps the only way, for Palestinians in Lebanon to make sure that they get the services and infrastructure they need, and that can’t happen unless they become citizens.

    Posted by Benjamin Geer | June 8, 2010, 6:18 am
  8. Benjamin,
    On a personal level I support naturalization if for nothing else but being pragmatic.
    I included the quote by Mr. Hweidi only to show that the official position of the Palestinians themselves does not favour naturalization. Syria and Jordan have not offered naturalization but have offered greater access to all governmental services.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 8, 2010, 7:16 am
  9. Is there much demand coming from Palestinian refugees themselves for naturalisation?

    Posted by Netsp | June 8, 2010, 7:54 am
  10. Ghassan said: “one must acknowledge the widely held mistaken belief that naturalization prejudices the Right of Return. That all Palestinian organizations have always held that view has facilitated the Lebanese bigotry on this issue.”

    Why is this a mistaken belief? If the Palestinians in Lebanon were given the right to become citizens — and not just “permanent residents” with improved human rights — would they not forfeit their status as refugees and thus their right of return?

    Is there not some legal basis for this argument? Note that I’m not arguing that this shouldn’t happen. People should be given the right to make their own decision.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | June 8, 2010, 8:37 am
  11. Ghassan, I understand your position; I was just trying to explore possible responses to a position like the one expressed by Ali Hweidi. I’m not yet convinced, though, that Hweidi’s views are representative of Palestinian refugees generally. If they are undecided, as he claims they are, perhaps this is simply because they have never really thought about the issue and don’t understand the functions of citizenship, never having experienced it in practice. He said:

    If the passports are to help facilitate the right of return of Palestinian refugees to their homes in Palestine, it will be supported by all Palestinian factions, but if it is to facilitate the rejection of those rights, we will reject it.

    This suggests a lack of understanding of the concept of citizenship. The purpose of Lebanese citizenship would be neither to facilitate the return to Palestine, nor to reject the right of return, but rather to give Palestinians more political power in Lebanon now, enabling them to improve their quality of life there, regardless of whether they later return to Palestine.

    I would like to see a real poll of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, asking them clearly whether they would prefer (a) to stay as they are until the creation of a Lebanese state, (b) to become Lebanese citizens now, as well as citizens of a future Palestinian state, i.e. to have dual citizenship, or (c) to become Lebanese citizens now, without becoming citizens of a future Palestinian state. Whoever does the poll would have to explain that Lebanese citizenship would enable them to vote in Lebanon and thus to gain power over their living conditions. I would think that (b) would be the most rational choice.

    Ghassan, you wrote:

    Syria and Jordan have not offered naturalization but have offered greater access to all governmental services.

    I think this just shows that residency without citizenship is a lottery. If you’re lucky, the host country treats you well; if you’re unlucky, it treats you badly. It might even depend on the mood of those who have political power in the host country. This is analogous to depending on the whims of philanthropists to care for the poor, instead of using taxes to fund social services. It would be better for the refugees to have enough political power to ensure their own well-being, whichever country they’re in.

    Qifa, the Palestinian refugees who have Jordanian citizenship still seem to be considered refugees: “In Jordan, where 2 million Palestinian refugees live, all but 167,000 have citizenship”.

    Posted by Benjamin Geer | June 8, 2010, 9:37 am
  12. Typo above: of course I meant “(a) to stay as they are until the creation of a Palestinian state”. 🙂

    Posted by Benjamin Geer | June 8, 2010, 9:41 am
  13. QN,
    I have just seen your comment regarding “mistaken belief”… I will respond but I cannot at the moment.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 8, 2010, 10:14 am
  14. Benjamin,
    but rather to give Palestinians more political power

    Thats exactly why they dont get it.

    Posted by mo | June 8, 2010, 11:03 am
  15. I’ll simply reiterate what I said a few days ago on this matter.

    The treatment of Palestinians in Lebanon is inexcusable, even if one is to (for argument’s sake) play along with the “right of return” card. It’s still absolutely no reason why temporary rights cannot be bestowed on refugees. It does not in any way dilute their right of return.

    But taking it one step further, and breaking free of the rotten sectarian system in Lebanon, to a more humanistic philosophy (to which I happen to subscribe). What’s the harm in naturalizing Palestinians anyway?
    Lebanon should be abolishing the sectarian system anyway. So it shouldn’t matter if there are 400,000 more Sunnis or not. To me, there’s just 400,000 more productive members of society, contributing to the economy. Lebanon has such potential, economically, to be a boom state in the region, yet we continually shoot ourselves in the foot with stupid issues such as these. It’s time to stop thinking in tribal terms and start thinking as a more global community.

    Of course, the flip side to this coin is that the same should apply to Israel. Israel is just as sectarian as Lebanon, and applies the exact same “sectarian balance” argument (only they call it “Jewish character”). Time for these stupid labels to go away. Let productive members of society be productive, regardless of whether they are jewish, sunni, shia, or christian. Regardless of whether they are in Lebanon or Israel or Palestine or anywhere else.

    The solution to all these problems is so simple. Yet it continues to evade us all, for one and one reason only: TRIBALISM.
    If religion/race/tribe was not an issue that occured to the human mind, all of this would go away in an instant.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | June 8, 2010, 12:32 pm
  16. QN,
    Sorry about not responding to the question that you raised earlier in response to my making ths claim that there is a mistaken belief that naturalization prejudices the right of return.

    As a result of the delay , I will be brief:
    The right of return for the Palestinians is essentially based on 194 section11, whiac states:

    Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.

    As it is obvious it was assumed that the return would take place in a short period of time.

    Add to the above Security Council Resolution 242 which called for a comprehensive solution to the refugee problem plus the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Law , the Fourth Geneva Convention and a couple of General Assem,bly affirmations of 194 and one winds up with a very tight case for the right of return that does not get watered down by naturalization.

    I have attended , participated in and read a very large number od major studies on this issue and I have never ever seen even one mention that naturalization prejudices the right of return.

    Even UNRWA does not believe that naturalization should be an issue when it comes to the rights of Palestinians , rights guaranteed by international law. UNRWA defined a Palestinian refugee as such: ” Persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine between 1946-1948″ and then expanded the definition to include all patrilinial descendents.

    Lebanon has no leg to stand on in its totally unacceptable policy of discrimination. When the government of Lebanon signes the Casablanca Protocol ion Aug. 3, 1966 it did so with reservations that rendered the Protocol void. That is when the Lebanese state passed all of the restrictions about travel, work, access to services etc.. based on reciprocity. Make no mistake about it the laws were passed only in order to single out the Palestinians without mentioning them by name. How convenient that only the Palestinians, stateless would not qualify.

    It is unfortunate but the Lebanese state and the Lebanese people continue to practice the decption under various disguises.

    Posted by ghassan karam | June 8, 2010, 3:16 pm
  17. Ghassan

    Good to know. Thanks for the info.

    Now I know what to tell Joe M. the next time he tries to tell me that granting the refugees citizenship eliminates their right of return…

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | June 8, 2010, 3:21 pm
  18. and also if i can add to Ghassan’s excellent points, even if Palestinians are naturalised in Lebanon, Syria or wherever, they remain unfairly displaced from Palestine. As long as that displacement remains uncompensated, their status as refugees from Palestine continues.

    Posted by SydneySider | June 9, 2010, 1:01 am
  19. In other words, it seems that the logic is to deny their rights in the name of protecting their rights.


    In a nutshell, that’s how the Middle East works. The Arab governments, including the Palestinian leadership, will treat the Palestinians like shit, decade after decade, to “show” how bad Israel is and to promote continued resistance without having to pay a cost.

    People come last, conflict with Israel comes first.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | June 9, 2010, 11:52 am
  20. AP,
    You do not often read what you write do you? If you did then you would get of your high horse of being different and superior , at least in your twisted logic.
    Your complaints about the treatment of Palestinian by some of their host countries never rises above crocodile tears. How can you possibly complain about the treatment of the Palestinians when it was Israel that initiated the process, denies not only their rights but at times their humanity. Even if you are right that in the Arab states conflict with Israel comes first maybe that has something to do that Israel is consumed by its conflict with its neighnours. Your complaints are the perfect example of the pot calling the kettle black.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 9, 2010, 12:13 pm
  21. AP, Jordan is a counterexample to your assertion; it naturalised all its Palestinian refugees in 1948.

    Here’s an interesting book chapter by Joseph Massad on the history relationship between Palestinian refugees in Jordan and the Jordanian state. It seems that nationalism has been one of the main sources of conflict in this relationship, particularly the state’s attempt to impose its official nationalism on all citizens (though not to the extent that Israel imposes Zionism on its citizens). Still, Massad says:

    Many East Bank Palestinian Jordanians are content to be both Jordanians and Palestinians, wherein they realize that their Palestinian identity is thoroughly inflected by its development in the national context of Jordan, and wherein, for the majority among them, Jordan is the only physical home they ever knew. They vehemently reject the recent attempts to de-Palestinize them by an exclusivist Jordanian nationalism. Moreover, although a large number of Palestinians supported the PLO in 1970, many others did not, evidenced by those who served the regime. . . . The fact that after 1970 many Palestinian men, like Transjordanian urban men, began to speak in a hybrid accent of Palestinian and Jordanian, that since 1970, mansaf, Jordan’s invented national dish, is cooked equally by urban Palestinians . . . and that intermarriage between the two communities is so high in the cities that it would be difficult to disentangle the national “origins” of the offspring except through paternalist conceptions of nationality, all attest to the conclusion that these aspects of state-sponsored Jordanian national identity are not repudiated, but rather adopted and internalized as they are not taken as substitutes for or competitive with Palestinian national identity, but rather as complementary.

    Perhaps there are lessons there for Lebanon?

    Posted by Benjamin Geer | June 9, 2010, 1:00 pm
  22. Benjamin,

    A cursory internet search shows a slightly different story:

    Also addressed in the report is Jordan’s halt on granting citizenship to Palestinian refugees in 1988 and the subsequent plight of 250,000 Jordanians of Palestinian origin who worked and resided in Kuwait during the institution of this policy. Many returned home after Iraq’s invasion of the neighbouring Gulf state to find their citizenship in question.

    Even if you are right that in the Arab states conflict with Israel comes first maybe that has something to do that Israel is consumed by its conflict with its neighnours.

    Ghassan Karam,

    Without addressing fault (pot/kettle/black), Israel has managed to defend herself and still progress economically. Why does it have to be “either/or” in Arab countries?

    Why can’t Arab countries continue the “conflict with Israel” and still put people first? Am I missing something?

    Posted by Akbar Palace | June 9, 2010, 2:34 pm
  23. Now this whole thing is not as complicated as you guys make it sound. The problem is much simpler than coordinating the efforts of two bloggers: one floats up the idea of Lebanon’s national being as unsustainable, and the other blogger highlighting the plight of the refugees. Do you see the connection between the two? Forgive our so-called unsustainable debt and we solve the refugee problem. Shame on you both. As I said it is much simpler than that. First the national debt is sustainable since it is owed mostly to local banks. So, Mr. Ghassan we do not need to sell the right of return for few handouts – enough pontificating and nonsense from your end, you blew it big time this time, man. Then for the other blogger, i.e. Q.N and his Aspen webcast I say this: A Lebanese is a Lebanese and a Palestinian is a Palestinian. A Lebanese belongs in Lebanon and a Palestinian belongs in Palestine. End of story and enough nonsense.

    Posted by ijlisa nabki | June 9, 2010, 3:33 pm
  24. “A Lebanese is a Lebanese”.

    Good one!
    You mean to say “A maronite is a maronite, A druze is a druze, a shia is a shia and a sunni is a sunni.” Right?
    Cause we sure don’t seem to act like “Lebanese is a Lebanese”.

    We seem to like it more when “The Shia belong in the south, the druze belong in the jabal, the maronites belong in the kesrouan and the sunnis belong in Beirut and Tripoli.”

    What a freaking joke.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | June 9, 2010, 4:51 pm
  25. Ijlisi Nabki,
    Do you always go out of your way to interpret anything and everything in such a way as to fit your sick vision of Islamists dominance? Honestly I feel sorry for you. But hey you can make your life much easier by not reading whenevr you see my by line.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 9, 2010, 5:03 pm
  26. BV,

    You can make as much reductions as you wish. It cannot get as simple as I made it it. You find it a joke? That’s up to you. Perhaps this is the only way to blow up this whole discussion which is nothing but absurd. If SHN says they belong in Palestine then that is where they belong. You find that a joke?

    [The rest of this comment has been removed by the moderator]

    Posted by ijlisa nabki | June 9, 2010, 5:06 pm
  27. Ah yes. Threats of violence. Always the refuge of those who can think of nothing better…

    Yes. I think it’s a joke to say “Lebanese belong in Lebanon”, for the simple reason that the Lebanese people have shown themselves undeserving of a country by whoring themselves out to every Iranian, Syrian, Israeli or foreigner who’s dangled a few dollars and Kalashnikovs their way.
    The Lebanese people have proven, time and again, that they have no concept of a “Lebanon” other than in empty rhetoric and demagoguery. They’ve acted as a loose collective of tribes with no allegiance to their own country, over the decades. So give me a break with your “Lebanese belong in Lebanon.”

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | June 9, 2010, 5:16 pm
  28. AP, you missed my point. Yes, the Jordanian case is far from perfect, but it would be far from the truth to say that Jordanian governments have always treated the Palestinians badly, as you seemed to be claiming. “How the Middle East works” is not as simple as you seem to think.

    Posted by Benjamin Geer | June 9, 2010, 5:17 pm
  29. BV,

    If that is what you think of Lebanon then stay where you are and leave Lebanon to the Lebanese who live in Lebanon.

    [The rest of this comment has been removed by the moderator]

    Posted by ijlisa nabki | June 9, 2010, 5:32 pm
  30. You don’t know anything about me or what amount of blood I did or didn’t shed for Lebanon. I’m willing to bet you weren’t really around back then.

    Who the **** are you to tell me where I should or shouldn’t stay or go?

    If you’re simply here to act like a 12 year old and get a rise out of people, then bravo, you have succeeded.

    If you’re here for some civilized debate, then try to exercise a modicum of civility.

    Apologies to our host if I’ve overstepped my place here.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | June 9, 2010, 5:37 pm
  31. “If SHN says they belong in Palestine then that is where they belong. You find that a joke? Show us your real face in Lebanon and let’s see who can make better jokes. That also applies to QN and GK.”

    Are you real? I really sorry that you have an inferiority complex. yes Lebanese (whatever the flavour of the month is) in wherever Ali Khameini tells Hassan Nassrallah to say.

    Great logic and thinking!

    Posted by danny | June 9, 2010, 5:38 pm
  32. And for the record, these “Lebanese” were too busy kidnapping and executing their fellow Lebanese back in 1976 or 1983 to “stand up for their country”.

    I sincerely would not wish the horror that was visited upon some of us back then on anyone, even mister IjlisaSmartyPants here.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | June 9, 2010, 5:43 pm
  33. BV,
    Do me a favour and just drop this discussion . Nothing positive is going to come out of it. Just ignore the threats.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 9, 2010, 6:02 pm
  34. [This comment has been removed by the moderator]

    Posted by ijlisa nabki | June 9, 2010, 6:09 pm
  35. BV,
    I know what you are saying about Lebanese “whoring” themselves out to foreigners and each side accuses all the others of being so.

    My problem with that accusation is that it is too simplistic.

    The fact is the reason it happens is that from the get go, and this isn’t meant to be accusatory of anyone, just a reflection of the facts, Lebanon was split into the Western/Eastern Camps. At the outset of Lebanons history it was the Maronites who ran the country and even they were split into Arabist/Non-Arabist camps. The Non-Arabist camp had strong support from the newly established Israel who saw an opportunity to have a Maronite Lebanon as an ally (two bastions of Judeo-Christianity in a sea of Muslims, and is the reason Lebanon was rarely involved in the Arab-Israeli wars). Therefore the Arabist camp needed to get its own backing which it did from Syria (who were still pissed that France and sliced Lebanon off from it).

    Over the next 70 years, as each group has risen in power it has needed foreign backing to counter what the last group got from its own backers – In fact the real whoring, esp. in the civil war was internal; as militias massacred each other only to become the best of friends when convenient and alliances rise and fall according to what suits this or that zaim.

    I would therefore suggest our problem is not that we look outside but that internally the main parties continue, in a mostly sectarian manner, to push for their people to be top dog. And as long everyone tries to do that, everyone else s going to push back.

    Just for the record, good people died standing up for their country from Israeli invasions – Lets not belittle their sacrifice because a good many more were too busy being criminals.

    Posted by mo | June 9, 2010, 6:29 pm
  36. Ijlisi Nabki,
    I just asked BV to ignore you but I found out that I cannot. It is interesting that the best that you can come up with are expletives. So you seriously believe that the best way to win an argument is to threaten physical violence. Whose enforcer are you? Why do you feel so threatened by the written word? Is it because you cannot think for yourself or is it because your positions are so weak that they cannot be defended?
    Ijlisi nabki, you ought to be very ashamed of yourself and the way that you have been acting. You have exhibited every single obnoxious characteristic of a bully and that is an ugly picture that you are painting of yourself. I will not respond to your threats again since the regular readers of this blog need to be spared this personal venum that you are consumed with.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 9, 2010, 6:30 pm
  37. For the record, there are plenty of Lebanese living in Lebanon who believe that the Palestinians should be given the option of naturalization at some stage. Those who disagree are not entitled to threaten those who do.

    I’m going to delete the previous threats, and any further ones will result in a ban on the violator.

    I repeat: any more threats and you can go amuse yourself on another blog.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | June 9, 2010, 6:38 pm
  38. mo,

    “I would therefore suggest our problem is not that we look outside but that internally the main parties continue, in a mostly sectarian manner, to push for their people to be top dog. And as long everyone tries to do that, everyone else s going to push back.”

    I agree. That was my point in my “Lebanon belongs to Lebanese” rant. We have shown time and again that we never think of a “Lebanon” as such, but more as tribes (maronites, shia, beirutis, druze, northerners, southerners, whatever). Time and again.
    To the point that we took up arms against each other (under the banner of arabism/Palestinian cause/Phoenician claptrap/Nasserism/Khomeinism) and have been doing so to this day, repeatedly. The notion of a “Lebanese people” is a joke, I am sorry to say.

    This is not to diminish the actions of a few good people (and yes, there are a few good people, even amongst a rotten apple such as ours).

    PS: Note that of the above mentioned “isms” (and any more we can probably think of), hardly any, if at all are about Lebanon. What does that tell you?

    Arabism/Nasserism? Not really about Lebanon
    Palestinian cause? Not about Lebanon
    Phoenician-ism? Really? I’m supposed to take that seriously? How is that “Lebanese”?
    Khomeinism? (Wilayat Al Faqih): Not Lebanese.

    And I haven’t even mentioned the more minor or insignificant types like the “Greater Syria” (SSNP) crowd…

    In the history of modern Lebanon, there has not been a single “movement” for a purely nationalistic Lebanese ideology. Not ONE.
    (Bashir’s 10452km and Hizbollah’s “free occupied Lebanon come close, but both ring hollow as covers for something else).

    I’ll say what I’ve been saying over and over. We have no one but ourselves to blame for the mess we’re in. We perpetuate at every turn, through tribal and sectarian mentalities. We never really had a state in the real sense of the world. We’re just a group of antagonistic tribes who were slopped together into a bucket, as carved out by the French mandate. We’ve never had a sense of nationalism or patriotism (short of the hollow shows of patriotism we seem to exhibit only when abroad, touting the accomplishments of Salma Hayek or Rima Fakih).

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | June 9, 2010, 6:44 pm
  39. Ok, heres my thoughts on that and see what you think.

    I don’t believe the state is the way it is because the Lebanese are sectarian/tribal etc.

    I believe the Lebanese have become sectarian/tribal on a political level because of the the way the state is.

    I’ll see if I can explain that.

    On a personal level and from personal experience, outside of a few communities and neighborhoods were there is some extremism of attitude, I have rarely seen this tribalism. I look to my friends and family and i see friendships and marriages that cross both the sectarian and religious lines.

    On a political level it is different, but different because of circumstances and history.

    The country was born and gifted to one sect of people, namely the Maronites. Naturally, other Lebanese rallied against that monopoly of power, it was just one sect, the Sunnis, that was truly represented because it was the next most powerful one and the one most empowered by Nasserism.

    The influx of the PLO gave power and prestige to Kamal Jumblatt which gave the Druze some weight in politics.

    And finally, via Moussa Sadr, came the “Shia Awakening”.

    So you see the problem. Each time there has been a rally to make Lebanon more Lebanese it has been on a sect by sect basis. And yes each time, they have brought their foreign sponsors in with them – Which in all the accusations of Lebanese taking orders from abroad, the irony is that Lebanese have mostly used those abroad to further themselves!

    What I believe then is that this has resulted in that people have become used to being represented by parties that represent that sect. This in turn makes those parties stronger and the cycle is completed because as those parties get stronger, the more they are supported. And to make matters worse, what happens is that if you oppose the policies of a party politically, people simply accuse you being anti that sect!

    And the non-sectarian parties, such as the SSNP and the Comminists simply do not offer policies that are attractive to the Lebanese.

    IMHO, the answer is that only when there appears parties that cannot be accused of representing a single sect that also have the muscle and resources to appear strong (because heaven help us we do seem to like our strongmen) can things change. In other words, Lebanon will remain sectarian as long that is what the people have to choose from.

    Which brings up one final point. I know that you, GK and QN are on the opposite end of the political spectrum to myself. And I know what I’m about to say is a hard sell but I believe the MOA between Hizballah and Aoun, even if you hate the two parties to the ends of the earth, is something the Lebanese should applaud as historic because it is based on mutual respect and acceptance rather than being an alliance of convenience – If it were an alliance of convenience I think it would have fallen apart long ago.

    I would be more than happy to see more MOA’s like this, even amongst M14 because it is this kind of path we need to go – Acceptance and understanding that can rise above the sectarian. Its not a cure but a start that will allow people to look past their sectarian polity when they are give the opportunity to do so.

    Posted by mo | June 9, 2010, 7:33 pm
  40. P.s Say what you like about Salma and Rima but if you bring Haifa into it I will be severly put out!

    Posted by mo | June 9, 2010, 7:34 pm
  41. I think the MOU was positive.

    But I think that the FPM got the short end of the stick.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | June 9, 2010, 7:35 pm
  42. Shigemitsu signed for the civil government, while Gen. Umezu signed for the military.
    Aoun signed for FPM…

    Posted by danny | June 9, 2010, 7:46 pm
  43. How so Qifa?

    Posted by mo | June 9, 2010, 8:55 pm
  44. Yes, the Jordanian case is far from perfect, but it would be far from the truth to say that Jordanian governments have always treated the Palestinians badly, as you seemed to be claiming.


    Your point is well taken.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | June 9, 2010, 10:59 pm
  45. QN,

    article 1(c) of the refugee convention says:
    “C. This Convention shall cease to apply to any person falling under the
    terms of section A if:
    (1) He has voluntarily re-availed himself of the protection of the country
    of his nationality; or”

    that’s the relevant law, ghassan just doesn’t know.

    Posted by Joe M. | June 10, 2010, 12:53 am
  46. Ooops. let me repost the appropriate clause. it is 1(c)(3):

    “C. This Convention shall cease to apply to any person falling under the
    terms of section A if:
    (1) …
    (3) He has acquired a new nationality, and enjoys the protection of the
    country of his new nationality; or…”

    Posted by Joe M. | June 10, 2010, 12:56 am
  47. Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees:

    Click to access 3b66c2aa10.pdf

    Posted by Badr | June 10, 2010, 2:45 am
  48. But in practice, it’s the UNRWA definition, rather than the UNHCR definition, that has been applied to Palestinians:

    The operational definition of a Palestine refugee is any person whose “normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948 and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict.”

    Palestine refugees are persons who fulfil the above definition and descendants of fathers fulfilling the definition.

    This definition says nothing about citizenship; hence many Palestinian citizens of Jordan are registered with UNRWA as refugees.

    Posted by Benjamin Geer | June 10, 2010, 3:16 am
  49. Maybe it would be better to think in terms of concrete scenarios. If a two-state solution is adopted, I can’t imagine that any Palestinian state would deny Palestinians the right to move there, regardless of their citizenship elsewhere. Similarly, if a one-state solution is adopted, Palestinians will be in the majority; in a democratic state, I doubt that they would consent to an immigration law denying entry to Palestinians.

    Posted by Benjamin Geer | June 10, 2010, 3:43 am
  50. Joe M,
    I never claimed that I knew everything but in this case I sure now UNHCR. I am surprised that you are quoting a convention that says clearly on page 1 of the official document that it does not apply to the Palestinian refugees:

    “The Convention does not apply to those refugees who are the concern of United Nations agencies other than UNHCR, such as refugees from Palestine …”

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 10, 2010, 5:29 am
  51. [This comment has been removed by the moderator.]

    Posted by Ijlisa Nabki | June 10, 2010, 12:01 pm
  52. Mo

    We’ve had that discussion already (about the MOU) too many times. 🙂

    But let me ask you this, since we’re on the subject of the refugees. Are you in favor of giving the refugees the right of naturalization, in the context of a comprehensive peace deal? Let’s say there is a two-state solution with limited right of return, as discussed by Ghaith al-Omari, whereby refugees would be entitled to compensation. Those who don’t return to Palestine obviously have to go somewhere, right? Do you think that Lebanon should absorb them?

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | June 10, 2010, 12:44 pm
  53. mo,

    We’re getting into a chicken/egg discussion there. Ultimately it doesn’t really matter if the Lebanese became tribal because of the maronites being favored by the political system (I disagree. I’ll simply point you to the events of 1860 to prove that we’ve been sectarian long before 1943).

    In the end, societies evolve into the modern age, at some point, by moving away from feudal notions and into the realm of modern “civic” or “nationalistic” thinking. The Europeans started off just as sectarian as we did. Look back at all the wars pitting protestants/catholics, or similar through the centuries.
    In the end, they all realized a few important steps towards moving forward into a modern era: The separation of religion from politics (The French Revolution, etc.) which brought us the notions of states revolving around nationality (The French are French first and foremost, the Germans are German, and so on).
    The next step forward is moving away from nationality-based tribes into a more “European” and eventually “Global” citizenship. But the world isn’t there yet.
    The problem with the Middle East (not just the Lebanese, but all Arabs, and Israelis too) is that they are still stuck in archaic mentalities of religion-based tribes. Simple as that.
    To take a macro historical level of it, one can blame Colonialism for having put the Middle East (and Africa) a few steps behind the rest of the world in that progression from “medieval” to “nationalistic” to “globalistic” mentalities. But what’s done is done.
    At this point, I’d say Europe is well on its way somewhere between nationalistic and globalistic, whereas we’re somewhere barely ahead of “medieval”.
    My hope remains that the progression is inevitable, albeit slow, and that some day, after you and I are long gone, Middle-eastern mentalities will evolve past sectarianism and move into a some kind of nation-based thinking.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | June 10, 2010, 12:50 pm
  54. Tony Judt, superb as ever:

    Israel Without Clichés
    By Tony Judt | The New York Times

    THE Israeli raid on the Free Gaza flotilla has generated an outpouring of clichés from the usual suspects. It is almost impossible to discuss the Middle East without resorting to tired accusations and ritual defenses: perhaps a little house cleaning is in order.

    No. 1: Israel is being/should be delegitimized

    Israel is a state like any other, long-established and internationally recognized. The bad behavior of its governments does not “delegitimize” it, any more than the bad behavior of the rulers of North Korea, Sudan — or, indeed, the United States — “delegitimizes” them. When Israel breaks international law, it should be pressed to desist; but it is precisely because it is a state under international law that we have that leverage.

    Some critics of Israel are motivated by a wish that it did not exist — that it would just somehow go away. But this is the politics of the ostrich: Flemish nationalists feel the same way about Belgium, Basque separatists about Spain. Israel is not going away, nor should it. As for the official Israeli public relations campaign to discredit any criticism as an exercise in “de-legitimization,” it is uniquely self-defeating. Every time Jerusalem responds this way, it highlights its own isolation.

    No. 2: Israel is/is not a democracy

    Perhaps the most common defense of Israel outside the country is that it is “the only democracy in the Middle East.” This is largely true: the country has an independent judiciary and free elections, though it also discriminates against non-Jews in ways that distinguish it from most other democracies today. The expression of strong dissent from official policy is increasingly discouraged.

    But the point is irrelevant. “Democracy” is no guarantee of good behavior: most countries today are formally democratic — remember Eastern Europe’s “popular democracies.” Israel belies the comfortable American cliché that “democracies don’t make war.” It is a democracy dominated and often governed by former professional soldiers: this alone distinguishes it from other advanced countries. And we should not forget that Gaza is another “democracy” in the Middle East: it was precisely because Hamas won free elections there in 2005 that both the Palestinian Authority and Israel reacted with such vehemence.

    No. 3: Israel is/is not to blame

    Israel is not responsible for the fact that many of its near neighbors long denied its right to exist. The sense of siege should not be underestimated when we try to understand the delusional quality of many Israeli pronouncements.

    Unsurprisingly, the state has acquired pathological habits. Of these, the most damaging is its habitual resort to force. Because this worked for so long — the easy victories of the country’s early years are ingrained in folk memory — Israel finds it difficult to conceive of other ways to respond. And the failure of the negotiations of 2000 at Camp David reinforced the belief that “there is no one to talk to.”

    But there is. As American officials privately acknowledge, sooner or later Israel (or someone) will have to talk to Hamas. From French Algeria through South Africa to the Provisional I.R.A., the story repeats itself: the dominant power denies the legitimacy of the “terrorists,” thereby strengthening their hand; then it secretly negotiates with them; finally, it concedes power, independence or a place at the table. Israel will negotiate with Hamas: the only question is why not now.

    No. 4: The Palestinians are/are not to blame

    Abba Eban, the former Israeli foreign minister, claimed that Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. He was not wholly wrong. The “negationist” stance of Palestinian resistance movements from 1948 through the early 1980s did them little good. And Hamas, firmly in that tradition though far more genuinely popular than its predecessors, will have to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist.

    But since 1967 it has been Israel that has missed most opportunities: a 40-year occupation (against the advice of its own elder statesmen); three catastrophic invasions of Lebanon; an invasion and blockade of Gaza in the teeth of world opinion; and now a botched attack on civilians in international waters. Palestinians would be hard put to match such cumulative blunders.

    Terrorism is the weapon of the weak — bombing civilian targets was not invented by Arabs (nor by the Jews who engaged in it before 1948). Morally indefensible, it has characterized resistance movements of all colors for at least a century. Israelis are right to insist that any talks or settlements will depend upon Hamas’s foreswearing it.

    But Palestinians face the same conundrum as every other oppressed people: all they have with which to oppose an established state with a monopoly of power is rejection and protest. If they pre-concede every Israeli demand — abjurance of violence, acceptance of Israel, acknowledgment of all their losses — what do they bring to the negotiating table? Israel has the initiative: it should exercise it.

    No. 5: The Israel lobby is/is not to blame

    There is an Israel lobby in Washington and it does a very good job — that’s what lobbies are for. Those who claim that the Israel lobby is unfairly painted as “too influential” (with the subtext of excessive Jewish influence behind the scenes) have a point: the gun lobby, the oil lobby and the banking lobby have all done far more damage to the health of this country.

    But the Israel lobby is disproportionately influential. Why else do an overwhelming majority of congressmen roll over for every pro-Israel motion? No more than a handful show consistent interest in the subject. It is one thing to denounce the excessive leverage of a lobby, quite another to accuse Jews of “running the country.” We must not censor ourselves lest people conflate the two. In Arthur Koestler’s words, “This fear of finding oneself in bad company is not an expression of political purity; it is an expression of a lack of self-confidence.”

    No. 6: Criticism of Israel is/is not linked to anti-Semitism

    Anti-Semitism is hatred of Jews, and Israel is a Jewish state, so of course some criticism of it is malevolently motivated. There have been occasions in the recent past (notably in the Soviet Union and its satellites) when “anti-Zionism” was a convenient surrogate for official anti-Semitism. Understandably, many Jews and Israelis have not forgotten this.

    But criticism of Israel, increasingly from non-Israeli Jews, is not predominantly motivated by anti-Semitism. The same is true of contemporary anti-Zionism: Zionism itself has moved a long way from the ideology of its “founding fathers” — today it presses territorial claims, religious exclusivity and political extremism. One can acknowledge Israel’s right to exist and still be an anti-Zionist (or “post-Zionist”). Indeed, given the emphasis in Zionism on the need for the Jews to establish a “normal state” for themselves, today’s insistence on Israel’s right to act in “abnormal” ways because it is a Jewish state suggests that Zionism has failed.

    We should beware the excessive invocation of “anti-Semitism.” A younger generation in the United States, not to mention worldwide, is growing skeptical. “If criticism of the Israeli blockade of Gaza is potentially ‘anti-Semitic,’ why take seriously other instances of the prejudice?” they ask, and “What if the Holocaust has become just another excuse for Israeli bad behavior?” The risks that Jews run by encouraging this conflation should not be dismissed.

    Along with the oil sheikdoms, Israel is now America’s greatest strategic liability in the Middle East and Central Asia. Thanks to Israel, we are in serious danger of “losing” Turkey: a Muslim democracy, offended at its treatment by the European Union, that is the pivotal actor in Near-Eastern and Central Asian affairs. Without Turkey, the United States will achieve few of its regional objectives — whether in Iran, Afghanistan or the Arab world. The time has come to cut through the clichés surrounding it, treat Israel like a “normal” state and sever the umbilical cord.

    Tony Judt is the director of the Remarque Institute at New York University and the author, most recently, of “Ill Fares the Land.”

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | June 10, 2010, 12:52 pm
  55. QN,

    I’ll let mo answer for himself, but i’ll provide my answer (a repeat of what I said before).

    Given a peace deal, and a two state solution, I firmly believe that Palestinian refugees should be given a choice, on an individual basis.

    1) Return to the newly created Palestinian state.
    2) Obtain citizenship in their host country (Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, etc.)
    3) Obtain fast-track citizenship in a western country (US, Canada).

    There would have to be some manner of compensation in addition to whichever choice the individual Palestinian were to choose, alongside a pledge to give up any future claims (meaning, once you take the deal, you give up any claims on previously owned/dispossessed lands or whathaveyou in today’s Israel).

    I’m probably in the minority on this one…

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | June 10, 2010, 12:55 pm
  56. That was a fantastic read, QN. Thanks for the Jundt article!

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | June 10, 2010, 1:02 pm
  57. BV/QN/Mo
    In the same way that a two state solution is the only logical step out of the current Arab/Palestinian/Israeli quagmire the right of return and naturalization have also one solution that has been obvious for decades.
    Israel , as part of a package will admit a few back into the the territories that it held after 1948 but before 1967. Others who left after 1967 will go back to the new Palestinian state . Compensation will be offered to others and many countries Arab and Western will offer naturalization. It will be morally repugnant if Lebanon does not do that . Actually I do not see what is Lebanon gaining by insisting on violating every single internaional human right law and treaty that it has ever signed. The Palestinian refugees have been in the country for over 60 years, many were born in Lebanon and do not know any other country. How dare we deny them their intrinsic rights. Let me repeat their civil and human rights are not an act of charity, you cannot give someone something that is already theirs. The only thing that we can offer them is the right to become fully functioning citizens. (And please remember that the argument about naturalization prejudicing the right of return is a pure canard as we have already discussed earlier).
    Let me add one more thing, I used to know rather well a very high ranking official of the PA; I will not mention his name; and he always said that even Arafat wanted to use the right of return as a bargain9ng chip. They (the PA) know that you cannot send 2-4 million Palestinian into Israel. Actually the international laws do offer the idea of compensation when it is acceptable to the refugees)

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 10, 2010, 2:44 pm
  58. Ben in 48.

    I think you are right.

    Click to access 2010011995652.pdf

    Posted by Badr | June 10, 2010, 2:46 pm
  59. Badr/Ben
    Of course he is right. I neglected to acknowledge Ben only because the exact quote had already been used in # 16.
    Actually what some neglect is the fact that the UNRWA definition was extended as to include all the patilinial descendants.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 10, 2010, 3:03 pm
  60. QN,

    What topics have we not discussed to death on here?!! 🙂

    From a moral and personal point of view, and as an Arab nationalist, I am in favor of giving the refugees the right of naturalization now, especially given that, as you know, I do not believe in any peace deal with Israel.

    Also, I think it would be far harder to convince those adamantly against Palestinian naturalization after a peace deal (where they will claim the refugees now have somewhere to go) than before one.

    My only caveat in whether Lebanon should absorb them is economic. I am sure Ghassan could tell us, but could Lebanon economically handle as many as 400,000 refugees becoming citizens especially considering that the vast majority of them are very poor?

    Even in this scenario, my caveat is not based so much on the effect it would have on Lebanon, but any backlash the refugees may suffer, and God knows they have suffered enough.

    I can only agree. In fact, I find it quite pathetic that the Arab world in general clings to these so called states that were created by Sykes-Picot when as Arabs while we may not be exactly the same, certainly have more in common with one another than say an Irish man and Romanian!

    Unfortunately such border-free enterprises are predicated on democracy I think. The various dictators and kings are not going to risk their cushioned backsides on anything so grandiose.

    Saying that, I don’t know if you are comparing apples and oranges in the case of the whole separation of Church and State in Europe.

    Yes its great that they did it, but I think they only were able to do it because a good many of the people didn’t by then care much about the Church side of things and/or in many cases one sect or another completely defeated the rest.

    And, for the historic and progressive achievement that the EU represents, there is still a large amount of hostility towards it from those in the centre-right and right wing parties.

    But at the end of it all, I think the future you wish for is unavoidable and will come.

    Posted by mo | June 10, 2010, 4:22 pm
  61. Tony Judt as usual applies circular logic. He starts with his conclusions and then (surprise,surprise) proves them.

    For example, he says:
    “But the Israel lobby is disproportionately influential. Why else do an overwhelming majority of congressmen roll over for every pro-Israel motion?”
    How about not because the influence of the lobby but because they believe Israel is an important strategic asset to the US? Did Judt just miss how Turkey voted against sanctions against Iran? Even Lebanon abstained. When the first Arab country falls to the Islamists, who is going to protect the other countries from falling also except Israel?

    Judt also says:
    “As American officials privately acknowledge, sooner or later Israel (or someone) will have to talk to Hamas.”
    Why? Because that is how things were in the past: “the story repeats itself: the dominant power denies the legitimacy of the “terrorists,” thereby strengthening their hand; then it secretly negotiates with them; finally, it concedes power, independence or a place at the table.”

    Israel has conceded power in Gaza to Hamas. Now it is a Palestinian problem, not an Israeli one. In the same way, Israel has conceded power in South Lebanon to Hizballah. It is your problem to deal with them. You see, Judt thinks like an American, not like an Israeli. We really don’t care what happens in Gaza and Lebanon, just keep on your own side of the fence. These are simple rules that anyone can follow and no negotiations are required.

    I also find very strange the following:
    “But since 1967 it has been Israel that has missed most opportunities: a 40-year occupation (against the advice of its own elder statesmen); three catastrophic invasions of Lebanon; an invasion and blockade of Gaza in the teeth of world opinion; and now a botched attack on civilians in international waters. Palestinians would be hard put to match such cumulative blunders.”
    Really? If that is the case, why is the situation of the Palestinians so much worse since 67 and the situation of the Israelis so much better? Has Judt forgotten about the peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan? Has he forgotten about the differences in economic growth between the countries?

    By the way QN, I thought you were bored with this subject.

    Posted by AIG | June 10, 2010, 4:56 pm
  62. Nasrallah recommends building a holocaust museum in Bint Jbeil:

    Posted by AIG | June 10, 2010, 5:14 pm
  63. The testament of a liberal Arab aboard the flotilla:

    Posted by AIG | June 10, 2010, 5:20 pm
  64. A leading Palestinian in Lebanon advocates non-violent resistance:

    Posted by AIG | June 10, 2010, 5:34 pm
  65. Mo,

    1) About the economic impact of 400,000 refugees becoming citizens:

    I’m no economist. But my guess is that said impact would be positive. Right now these refugees are a drain on society, being unable to contribute to the GDP or the economy except in very tiny numbers. But the drain they represent is quite real. These 400,000 people live in our cities, drink our water, use our electricity, eat our food. But contribute very little.
    Give them the right to work, educate themselves and contribute to the economy. The impact could only be positive. We lose NOTHING economically.

    2) About the separation of religion from state. That’s my point exactly. The reason I keep going back to the PEOPLE being at fault. You said it yourself: “Yes its great that they did it, but I think they only were able to do it because a good many of the people didn’t by then care much about the Church side of things.”

    That’s my point. It starts with the PEOPLE. The Arab people still live in a mentality where they DO care about religion. Trying to impose any kind of secular system of governance is moot and doomed to fail until we, as a people, grow out of this mentality and start accepting that religion is best left out of governance matters as it is a private matter that’s completely unrelated and irrelevant to matters of governance (for the most part).
    For right now, Arabs (and Jews) seem to be insistent that matters of religion are intrinsically tied to governance, and so it is no surprise that we allow tribalism and sectarianism to govern us.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | June 10, 2010, 5:34 pm
  66. mo,
    I am sure that you will agree withme that there are things that should not be measured in purely monetary terms but since we do live in a materialistic society your question about the economic burden needs to be addressed.
    As is often the case in Lebanon all sorts of people make all kinds of judgments based on o factual evidence and no studies.
    Let us assume that the Palestinian refugees are a burden to Lebanon, which I do not believe that they are. Whatever is the final cost of having them in the country is already being absorbed i.e there are no additional costs attributed to the Palestinian refugees at the moment that will materialize if they are given access to all their civil right and /or naturalized besides the current spending by UNRWA , which one assumes will stop to function and the cost of access to health benefits and educational institutions.

    How expensive is that? Roughly my liberal estimate is under$200 million a year. The figure is simply based on our 2009 budget of around $11.5 billion. That figure includes debtservise., national defence,foreign affairs, presidential allocation etc.. none of which will change if 400,000 people are nationalized. The two items that will be impacted are expenditures on education that amounted to (don’t laugh) $670 million and public Health which added another (try not to cry) $292 million. As you can see the sum total of both the major budgetary expenditures on the impacted areas will be just under $1 billion. If the clients are to increase by 10-15 % and we want to make a conservative estimate then total expenditures on these two areas will increase by less than $200. Note though that I believe that access to these services should be provided irrespective of whether naturalization is offered or not. By this calculus it is clear that naturalization will not add any cost to the above estimate in addition to monies that would substitute for the UNRWA budget.
    But this is only the expected additional cost. What about the potential benefits? This will be more difficult to arrive at but it is also clear that 400,000 people will have to demand food, utilities clothing etc.. i.e. they will increase the aggregate demand for the goods and services. By how much are they going to increase these demands depends on how successful is their integration. But it is possible, I would say very highly probable, that the gains in taxes, aggregate demand and competitiveness of the labour force at the low skill end will more than compensate for the fiscal costs.
    Let me tell you very briefly why I feel relatively confident about this. I have done rather extensive research about immigration in North America and Western Europe. In every single major credible study the conclusion is always the same. immigration does not carry a burden but is beneficial. What is important though is to note that the over all benefits or even costs are miniscule. Immigrants both legal and illegal essentially do not impose a cost on the receiving country. Nativists, and Lebanon appears to be full of them, look only at a very small limited and may I say bigoted part of the picture. They stress only the direct fiscal costs and refuse to estimate the benefits to the macro economy. Why talk about immigration? Well the refugees in Lebanon are in a sense in a situation similar to illegal immigrants in North America and in Western Europe and according to some estimates in similar proportions ie. up to around 10% of the native population.

    There is only one down side to migration. It will increase the ecological stress on the receiving country. But even for those that are passionate about sustainability the fact of the matter is that this issue is not applicable to the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon since they are already here. Let me also add that Lebanon fails miserably each and every single metric of sustainability anyway.

    One more thought which I have probably dealt with before. Civil rights ought to be provided immediately but a formula to phase in naturalization could be worked out to take place over a period of time.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 10, 2010, 5:34 pm
  67. Ghassan, thanks there are good points there that can be used in “conversation” with others. I didn’t realise the budget spend on education was that pitiful.

    Its ironic that its the Palestinians who got the ultimate negative effect of immigration in 1948. In writing this I was going to ask what you thought the effect would be on the employment levels in the country but remembered that in 2006 it was estimated that over half a million Syrians were working in Lebanon so I guess it would be Syrian labour they would mostly be displacing.

    You are right that one cannot measure things in pure monetary terms, there is a higher reasoning here. But I had to ask because it isn’t you and I who would be effected if there were to be affected but those already struggling to get by. And like I said to QN, from my point of view, if you are right and the net effect is negligible, then I doubt it makes that much difference to them if its rights or naturalization, as long as they are given the chance to live with dignity and freedom.

    I don’t think its fair to judge peoples beliefs or judge them by their beliefs. And you certainly can’t blame religion for the leadership of the Arab people if we look around the Arab world surely? There are “secular” leaders in Egypt, Tunisia, Syria and Jordan and we are a hell of lot better of as a country when it comes to governance and freedoms than they all are.

    And I dont know what you think, but in Lebanon is our problem sectarian or just the leaders fanning the sectarian flames to keep their high office? I don’t know tbh but I bet that once soemone comes along with the resources to build a strong, cross-secterian party that elects its leadership and runs on a broadly secular platform promising change, I daresay that party may just get a fair few votes across the country (ok, not in Keserouan, Nabitiyeh or Verdun but many other places..)/

    Posted by mo | June 10, 2010, 6:28 pm
  68. Oh and “How about not because the influence of the lobby but because they believe Israel is an important strategic asset to the US? ”

    Stop reading MEMRI and start reading some real papers – you might even notice the preponderance of articles in the US suddenly questioning whether Israel is an asset or liability…Tick tock Israel, tick tock.

    Posted by mo | June 10, 2010, 6:36 pm
  69. AIG

    I am bored with this subject. But I am even more bored with what’s happening in Lebanon these days. Someone, please inspire me.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | June 10, 2010, 6:41 pm
  70. mo,

    I wouldn’t call the current stock of arab leaders “secular”. Self-described labels not withstanding.
    And if you look at said countries (Egypt, Syria, etc.) they are anything but secular. Once again, it’s not about the leadership. The leadership is truly a reflection of the society’s mores and mentalities. People in the “west” would not stand for a Mubarak or an Assad, or a Nassrallah for that matter. Leaders like that would be laughed out of the room as buffoons simply because the kind of mentality they play upon does not really resonate in the minds of a less-tribalistic society.


    Nothing too exciting going on out there. Sorry….It’s all pretty boring these days.
    Well, the World Cup starts tomorrow and Chicago just won the Stanley Cup…Discuss!

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | June 10, 2010, 7:12 pm
  71. Nothing exciting? We just signed free trade and visa waiving agreements with Jordan, Syria and Turkey! The Eastern Union!

    Posted by mo | June 10, 2010, 7:25 pm
  72. Every day we learn morefacts that make the official Israeli line regarding the blockade weaker and weaker. See the attached link for an official explanation that the bloackade is not for military reasons but for economic warfare and collective punishment.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 10, 2010, 7:44 pm
  73. “Ghaith al-Omari discusses ‘the bitter pill that the Palestinians will have to swallow…'”. The Palestinian people will make Ghaith al-Omari and Mahmoud Abbas and the likes swallow more than their words. Those shitty collaborators.

    Posted by Jihad | June 10, 2010, 8:31 pm
  74. Jihad or should I say Ijlisi Nabki,
    You have the right to disagree with Ghaith Al Omari and with president Abbas but you have absolutely no right to question their honesty, integrity, nationalism and patriotism by making such unfounded and totally irresponsible accusations.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 10, 2010, 11:31 pm
  75. Ghassan Karam,

    Israel is at war with the Hamastan in the Gaza strip. If Israel just wants to let basics through, why do you call it collective punishment? Why do we have to trade with our enemies at all? Do countries at war, usually trade? Does Lebanon allow trade with Israel? You know, it is collective punishment that Israelis cannot get the famous arak of Zahle.

    Posted by AIG | June 11, 2010, 12:21 am
  76. AIG, very weak argument, there’s obviously a big difference between boycott and blockade.

    And hey, you never know what crosses the border along with all that premium hash you’ve been getting. Maybe next time, they’ll throw in a gallon of arak or two. 🙂

    Posted by mas | June 11, 2010, 2:57 am
  77. Ghassan,
    I know next to nothing about Ghaith Al Omari but Abbas? honesty, patriotism, integrity? We are talking about the same guy right? The guy who employs Mohamed Dahlan? The Abbas who would “never deny Jews their right to the land of Israel”, the same Abbas who diverts US aid in the form of loan guarantees meant for Palestinian farmers and other small to mid-sized businesses to his sons mobile-phone firm? The same Abbas who tried to have the Goldstone Report quashed? The same Abbas who connived wit the US and Israel to annul the Palestinians democratic choice? The same Abbas who continues to call himself “President” but whose tenure ran out long ago?

    C’mon Ghassan, surely you dont believe that?!

    Posted by mo | June 11, 2010, 4:10 am
  78. mo,
    I am not trying to justify corruption but if Abbas is not a patriot then neither was Arafat nor any of the PLO leaders. We have the right to critique them but it is a cheap shot to call them collaborators only because we might disagree with them. That was my basic point .(I guess that I did give myself too much of a “poetic license” :-)).

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 11, 2010, 7:26 am
  79. As always when QN touches on the Palestinian/Lebanese issue discussion starts exploding at the seams. But I would like to ask a couple of questions directly related to the post (i.e. the round-table discussion).

    Question 1:

    The new model for governance of Nahr el-Bared Camp and for other camps in Lebanon: How do you think this might work? How do you think this might be achieved?

    I have been working in Nahr el-Bared Camp for some time now and it seems that while Lebanese/US/British officials seem to be content to invoke a ‘new model for governance in Nahr el-Bared’ none of this has come to light in the last three years. Instead the LAF have simply hunkered down and continue to control access of goods, services and labour in and out of the camp and its surroundings. This may be a ‘new’ thing for Palestinian camps in Lebanon but it certainly doesn’t constitute governance.

    If Lebanon’s policy continues to refuse to a normalization of relations with Palestinians, (by for example allowing the ISF to police the area like any other Lebanese town) the camps will continue to be viewed as alien spaces with alien people inside them. As alienated ‘others’ the camps and their residents become easier to attack, easier to segregate and easier to neglect. The negative impact of these works both ways; eroding Palestinians respect for Lebanese law and society and giving Lebanese a pretext to deny Palestinians basic rights (even if they are non-negotiable and inalienable).

    Without convincing Lebanese leadership that there is political mileage in improving the lot of Palestinians in Lebanon it seems impossible to suppose that anyone will stick their neck out in solving any of these issues.

    Question 2

    Will it ever be possible to decouple not only the Palestinian rights issue from that of tawteen but also to decouple the issue of Palestinians in Lebanon from ‘security’.

    Nadim Shehadi talked about the need for Palestinians to have faith in the peace process/negotiations, etc. before any other steps are taken. It remains clear to me, and most of the Palestinians I know, that US funding for UNRWA is simply an opiate to the people. A slow drip feed to ensure that they are kept quiet. The fact that the US is fixated on the issue of security in all is discussions regarding Palestinians in Lebanon is testament to this. This way of interacting with Palestinians internationally of course bolsters Lebanon’s ability to think of Palestinians only as a security risk. This of course convinces Palestinians that their faithless attitude is justified. No-one (not even their own leadership as Abbas Zaki made clear when he basically gave the green light to the Lebanese army’s over-exaggerated efforts in Nahr el-Bared) can be trusted to look out for the interests of Palestinians. With no one to trust Palestinians are easy targets for groups with nefarious interests.

    Any ideas?

    Posted by The Medlar | June 11, 2010, 10:03 am
  80. To Mr. Ghassan Karam,
    I am neither ijlisa nabki nor one of those “na7ib” people. I have every right to question the honesty, integrity, nationalism and patriotism of every sellout pretending to speak in the name of the Palestinian people, although I speak for myself here. And many, many, many Palestinians and non-Palestinians think that anyone who tries to sell the Palestinian people’s right has none of the above mentioned qualities. I bet Ghaith al-Omari and the likes would like one day be named “Chief Negotiator” and awaiting the death of the pathetic Saeb ‘Uraikat. I won’t go back into history. But did you read this week’s newspapers about Mahmoud Abbas pontifications at the White House and in front of rabid Zionist Jews in Washington. If not read this:

    “Abbas “accepts the Jewish people’s connection to the land of Israel and their connection to Jerusalem as its capital,” Wexler continued. “He readily accepts the 1967 borders with swaps that acknowledge realities on the ground, and he accepts a third party intermediary for security purposes on his in his state so long as it is not Israeli. It could be American, NATO, he has even said it could be composed of Jewish people.”
    I know that some in or from our region have grown accustomed to the idea that even collaboration with the occupiers is a question of opinion. Fortunately, many more do not.

    Posted by Jihad | June 11, 2010, 12:19 pm
  81. Medlar,
    Thank you for taking the discussion back to where it should have been from the beginning.
    Allow me to say that both questions that you ask are essentially manifestations of the same problem; lack of trust between te Palestinians in the camps and the Lebanese government.
    I do not want to point fingers but in order to provide a meaningful resolution then one must have an understanding of what brought the conditions to be what they are.
    The camps were originally tent cities that were expected to be temporary but here we are after more than sixty tears dealing with a population that has increased substantially but is limited to essentially the same area of land. Add to that the restrictions on jobs, the often severe levels of poverty, the low level of funding (about $250 per person per year), abundant weapons and total absence of law and order and you get essentially a toxic stew of every single factor imaginable for lawlessness discontent and social tensions.

    The experience of the Cairo agreement in 1969 has left a bitter taste in the mouths of the Lebanese that lingers until this moment. That is one of the reasons that camps are looked upon as a security issue. The Palestinian leadership itself is to share blame because it has not worked towards eliminating the rule of committees in camps that often degenerates to a law of the jungle.
    What is needed is a comprehensive plan that will remove any and all restrictions on the civil rights of the Palestinian refugees that will be implemented in conjunction with giving the ISF the authority to regain the security function in the camps. It will be difficult to argue that the refugees are to be treated just like anybody else but yet they are to live in camps that are essentially a state within a state.

    Both sides must understand that you cannot address security concerns without addressing social concerns and civic rights. You cant solve one without solving the other.

    All the good will on both sides to arrive at an understanding will not bear fruits without adequate fundings. Lebanon , burdened by debt will plead poverty when asked to find the additional funds required. That is why it would be helpful if UNRWAs’ expenditures can be increased or at least supplemented by a few generous gifts from Arab countries for the initial phases of the transformation.

    So in conclusion a new governance is needed but it will not happen unless both sides adopt major changes :
    Lebanon removes restrictions
    Camps are rehabilitated
    Palestinian arms withdrawn
    ISF responsible for security
    UNRWA services upgraded
    A phased in naturalization for those that ask for it.

    (A good place to experiment with all of this is Nahr Al Bared camp.)

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 11, 2010, 12:22 pm
  82. I am neither “ijilisa nabki” nor from the “na7ib people” and I speak for myself as should the so-called “President” Abbas and the Saeb ‘Uraikat wannbe Ghaith al-Omari. Many, many, many Palestinians and many, many, many Arabs think and believe that Mahmoud Abbas and the likes can be sellouts (as they are really are), but they have no right to sell the right of the Palestinians. And I am talking about the apparatchiks in the collaborationist “Palestinian” Authority in Ramallah. Therefore, they have no sense of dignity, nationalism or patriotism.
    Some people in or from the Arab world think that even collaboration with the occupiers and rabid racist colonizers is a question of opinion. Fortunately, many, many, many do not.
    But without going back to Oslo and the role of “President” Abbas who was negotiating with his team without comprehending what they are negotiating for and on behalf of whom, did you read what he said this week during his visit to the White House and his meeting with rabid Zionist Jews in Washington. He is worse than Arafat in his 2004 interview with Ha’aretz a few months before his death. Here it is:
    “Abbas “accepts the Jewish people’s connection to the land of Israel and their connection to Jerusalem as its capital,” Wexler continued. “He readily accepts the 1967 borders with swaps that acknowledge realities on the ground, and he accepts a third party intermediary for security purposes on his in his state so long as it is not Israeli. It could be American, NATO, he has even said it could be composed of Jewish people.”
    They call it “charm offensive” and not kneeling like a pathetic collaborator.

    Posted by Jihad | June 11, 2010, 1:11 pm
  83. Jihad

    Who is the true representative of the Palestinian people? If it’s Hamas, then is Khaled Mash3al a collaborator for agreeing to end the resistance to Israel if a 2 state solution is adopted on the basis of the 1967 lines?

    If not, then what makes his position different from Abbas?

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | June 11, 2010, 1:28 pm
  84. Jihad,
    The two state solution is anchored very solidly on the 1967 borders with minor modifications provided they are done on a one to one basis. That is also part of the Arab peace plan isn’t it?
    As for a third party such as NATO or whoever, I think that it is an idea that needs to be applauded. It will make both sides feel secure and gives them enough time to get adjusted to each other. It will also reduce the unnecessary military burden on the new and not so wealthy state. If the idea is secured borders then what is better spend say $3 billion a year to equip an army or have somebody else carry that burden?
    It is not only Abbas that accepts the historical connection of Judaism to Jerusalem. It is a historical fact that they had at one time lived there. If they are to be his next door neighbours then he is being pragmatic as are all the Arabs when they speak of a two state solution.
    If we are really interested in a solution and if we are to live side by side with Israel then sacrifices have to be made by both sides.
    Of course an injustice has been committed but it is time to minimize the hurt and pain of the Palestinian people by seeking an honorable solution based on two states. It is very highly unlikely that there is a chance of forming a one state in the short to medium run. A two state could potentially lead to a one state and it is infinitely superior to the alternative.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 11, 2010, 1:47 pm
  85. The two state solution is dead. Abbas is trying to see how many backsides he can kiss, how low he can grovel in order to revive it.

    Israel is in descent. The mistakes are coming every two years, but I expect the next big one will be next spring after they deploy their much vaunted “iron dome”.

    Posted by mo | June 11, 2010, 2:05 pm
  86. mo,
    If you think that the end of Israel is around the corner or a one state is about to be realized then I beg to disagree in no uncertain terms. I believe that you are just misreading the tea leaves and setting yourself up for a major disappointment.
    I guess time will tell.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 11, 2010, 4:16 pm
  87. AIG,
    Can you give us a candid idea about what the typical Israeli citizen thinks of the arguments of Shlomo Sand?
    For those that might not know Shlomo Sand. He is the author of “The Invention of the Jewish People” and is a Professor at Tel Aviv University.
    He does not argue against the state of Israel but against a racist state of Israel. He argues that the Jewish people are essentially converts and so have no right to claim the biological purity that Zionism preaches. But ( and I guess that is what attracts to him) he sees the two state solution as the first step towards a single federation.; and I always thought that this was an original idea of mine 🙂

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 11, 2010, 4:35 pm
  88. Ghassan Karam,

    The average Israeli thinks (and here I am very much presuming to talk for the average Israeli) that Sand is very much pissing against the wind. As a proud product of the Israeli education system I never once was taught about biological purity, directly or indirectly. We were of course taught about our Jewish heritage through history, bible etc., but as an immigration absorbing country the education system always emphasized a shared destiny and not a shared biology.

    So most people don’t understand what Sand wants and why his argument even matters. I really don’t care whether my ancestors were Khazars (though recent research conclusively refutes this: )

    The Jews are a nation because that is how we self determine ourselves and our genes have nothing to do with that. The average Israeli Jew feels part of the Jewish nation because of many factors mostly related to culture, language, history and how outsiders view us. This has nothing to do with genes. Raphael Eitan, one of your favorite Israeli generals from 1982, came from a family of Russian converts. He was only second generation Jewish.

    The Arab world is very much defined by Islam which is a rich but very dominant culture. Just as the Europeans do not want the Turks in Europe because of this, Israelis reject the idea of one state or one federation. Maybe after Islam goes through some radical changes, but we are talking centuries from now. In the meantime, we would like a Jewish state and we are very serious about keeping ours.

    Posted by AIG | June 11, 2010, 9:49 pm
  89. Ghassan,

    All though I do not represent it as around the corner, I do believe it is coming but like you say only time will tell.

    Posted by mo | June 12, 2010, 2:09 pm
  90. mo,

    We’ve been hearing this for the past 62 years starting from Haj Amin al-Husseini to the present day Iranian theocrat.

    Don’t hold your breath.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | June 12, 2010, 3:34 pm
  91. …Shlomo Sand is arguing not against the state of Israel but against a racist state of Israel… A good joke to read this morning. As if there are any differences between the two. It is like that hypocrite Martin Buber who so-called spoke for coexistence between racist Zionist Jews and Arab in Palestine while occupying Edward Said,s family home in Talbiyah, a quarter of Jerusalem, that was later turned into a center for the rabid International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem. And those hypocrites like Mahmoud Abbas, Gaith al-Omari, Saeb ‘Uraikat, and all those of the Collaborationist Authority and other US graduates hypocrites now living in Ramallah and who only care about their green dollars and Scotch Whiskey as Joseph Massad once wrote, who are trying hard to sell the rights of the Palestinian people, better for them to leave their places for Palestinians from the camps. And the chief collaborator among them Mahmoud Abbas, that some dare call “President” even though he needs a green light from the colonial settler state to go from his office to the washroom, told the White Man president Barack Obama THAT HE IS OPPOSED TO LIFTING THE NAVAL BLOCKADE OF THE GAZA STRIP BECAUSE THIS WOULD BOLSTER HAMAS. THE COLLABORATIONIST GOVERNMENT IN CAIRO SUPPORTS THIS POSITION.

    Posted by Jihad | June 13, 2010, 8:32 am
  92. Jihad,

    What are you going to do to change this situation?

    Posted by Akbar Palace | June 13, 2010, 10:50 am
  93. In other news, Naharnet is reporting that Erdogan will soon extend an official invitation to Hassan Nassrallah to visit Turkey. The report states that Nassrallah will leave Lebanon with the help of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards to ensure his safety.

    First, the meeting in Damascus with Ahmadinejad and Assad, now this.

    Can we once and for all start calling Nassrallah the head of state and stop the charade of there being this other Lebanese state headed by Michel Suleiman?
    What a freaking joke our country is when a non-elected, bunker-hiding, militia leader is treated like a head of state by other governments and when the Iranian Revolutionary Guards get to ensure his safety…

    I’m ashamed to be a Lebanese. There I said it. And to think Lebanon is not only a member of the UN, but also sitting on the security council. Let’s see:
    – According to Israel, Hezbollah is the “government of Lebanon”.
    – According to Syria, Hezbollah is the govt. of Lebanon
    – According to Turkey and Iran, Hezbollah is the govt. of Lebanon.

    Michel Suleiman, Hariri, and the others might as well sit around twiddling their thumbs and picking boogers out of their noses.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | June 13, 2010, 11:42 am
  94. BV
    But that is exactly what Sa’ad Hariri has been doing . As we have stated before many times I can understand his personal motivation to avenge/complete/replace his father but the fault of allowing such an amateur to occupy a position that he has no qualifications whatsoever for is simply that of the sheeple.
    As for Suleiman Lebanon, as usual, is in a state of denial. The Lebanese prseident does not have any power so when are we going to accept that. What ever you want to call our system, and it defies categorization:-), just do not call it a presidential system. So please stop showing us daily the pictures of who the president has met with. I for one do not give a hoot whether he met with X, Y, or Z. His only power, and that is fine by me, is that of accepting credentials from foreign ambassadors. He has no other powers whatsoever.

    Maybe someone should either confiscate Sa’ad Hariri’s passport or better yet ask him to go back to running his Saudi business.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 13, 2010, 12:35 pm
  95. BV,

    The same Naharnet is reporting that “Geagea Discusses with Mubarak Bilateral Ties”

    Why do you not also rally against the fact that an unelected and known war criminal is discussing Lebanese issues with another head of state?

    Posted by mo | June 13, 2010, 1:29 pm
  96. mo,

    I don’t particularly like Geagea or Jumblatt discussing bilateral ties with foreign heads of state either.
    But one would be disingenuous putting those on the same level as Nassrallah’s visit to Damascus for the tripartite summit with Assad and Ahmadinejad.
    It is fairly customary for unelected heads of parties from many countries to take visits abroad and meet officials (look no further than the number of US “delegations” that routinely visit Damascus).
    The difference, in my mind, is the stature of said visits. Nassrallah’s visit to Damascus and his photo op with 2 heads of state clearly set him as an equal (i.e. head of state) to Ahmadinejad and Assad for what was clearly a “state visit”.
    I haven’t seen Geagea or Jumblatt taking Yalta style pictures side by side with the G8 heads of state, or, say, alongside Obama, Merkel and Cameron. You get the idea.
    There is very specific protocols, when it comes to state visits and the messages they convey and it is quite clear that Geagea and Jumblatt are not treated as heads of state.
    The other big difference is that neither Geagea nor Jumblatt conduct what amounts to Lebanon’s foreign policy and security matters. Whereas Nassrallah pretty much does (whether we want to admit it or not). Nassrallah is “in charge” of negotiations with Israel over prisoners. Nassrallah decides whether Lebanon goes to war with Israel and what red lines can be crossed within Lebanon when it comes to security. For all intents and purposes Nassrallah is the “commander in chief” (to use American parlance).

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | June 14, 2010, 12:14 pm
  97. BV,

    I grant you that the picture with Ahmadinijad and Assad broke protocol (although I daresay Suleiman and Hariri would have been more that happy for him to represent Lebanon in this regard as being pictured with those two doesn’t go down well with the west).

    But your specific complaint was about Erdogan’s invitation to Turkey which is not different that Geageas visit to Egypt.

    And I think you are letting your emotions get the better of your logic by making Nasrallah commander and chief.

    If he was setting foreign policy would Lebanon have simply abstained at the UN last week? If he was setting foreign policy and security matters would the US Embassy be getting telecoms reports?

    Yes, he is head of an org. that sits outside the state apparatus. Yes, they once took and action that led to war, but lets keep the debate on the ground.

    Posted by mo | June 14, 2010, 5:16 pm
  98. mo,

    Getting emotional? Perhaps.
    But I stand by my comment. Hezbollah dictates, for all intents and purposes, security and foreign policy in Lebanon.

    Don’t be fooled by Lebanon’s abstention. Or various other empty gestures that are for show only. HA is more than happy to let that aborted fetus of a state “play house”, so to speak, as long as it doesn’t pertain to matters that count.

    When it comes to ACTUAL decisions (not empty posturing and speeches at the UN), it really comes down to HA. End of story.

    So yes. I stand by “Commander in Chief”.

    Who gets to negotiate with Israel EXCLUSIVELY? Nassrallah.
    Who gets the last word in airport security, and monitoring of our borders?
    Who gets to approve before any Lebanese Air Force helicopter flies in the South?
    Who has control over the border with Israel? And who gets to decide where and when missiles get deployed, launched, or operations mounted?

    Those are pretty much the definitions of “Commander in Chief”.

    The day Michel Suleiman or Hariri or Jean Qahwaji get to issue an actual ORDER to anyone, let me know, and we can have this conversation again.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | June 14, 2010, 5:43 pm
  99. BV,

    You can’t have it both ways. You can’t call something that done by the govt. against Hizballahs wishes empty gestures and something done by them control of the state.

    Which actual decisions do you mean?

    You are mistaken with the examples you cite.

    Hizballahs negotiations with Israel were not exclusive. There were prisoners, no one was doing anything about it so they did.

    Airport security? You are turning a story about one guy into the last word on airport security? I happen to know quite a few people at the airport and I can assure you it is mostly run by M14 supporters.

    The helicopter incident was an accident but LAF does not need approval. The Lebanese Army and the Resistance work very closely in the South.

    Control of the border? With the thousands of UNIFIL soldiers you really want to contend that Hizballah “controls” the border? How do you define control?

    Ok, I’ll grant the missiles one; I would much rather that it was the Lebanese Army deploying the missiles but sadly they aren’t allowed any, so meanwhile…

    Posted by mo | June 14, 2010, 6:28 pm

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