On Hiatus

We’re going to take a short break here at QN, seeing as how not much is happening in Lebanon these days besides the odd clash between Ahbash and Hizbullah gunmen, a pending indictment by the U.N. Special Tribunal for Lebanon, prospects of severed Congressional funding for the Lebanese Army, and a handful of other inconsequential news items.

To those of you debating each other in the comment section of the last post (over 300 comments at last count!), might I humbly propose that you go outside and enjoy what’s left of the summer? As stimulating as this forum is, it surely can’t beat a game of backgammon and a tall glass of lemonade.

I’ll be back in a week.


205 thoughts on “On Hiatus

  1. I’m checking into a detox clinic to survive withdrawal from QN 🙂

    Posted by Honest Patriot | August 24, 2010, 8:18 pm
  2. Or you can read about Yemeni Jews sneaking khat across the Blue Line to Nasrallah … ? Qnion?


    Posted by Abu Guerrilla | August 24, 2010, 10:02 pm
  3. I’ve always wanted to try Khat. Seems like a mild buzz that would make it easier to mulch my yard or dig some holes for some fruit trees.

    Posted by Nasser V | August 24, 2010, 11:32 pm
  4. Lemonade sounds good, as long as it is Lebanese made. Just kidding. Actually, I’ve heard that down south have some good quality citrus as well.

    Have a great time off QN. We’ll try to behave.

    Posted by Ras Beirut | August 25, 2010, 12:17 am
  5. Khat is really interesting. It’s the drug for writers, intellectuals and anyone looking to drive a semi on the Yemeni freeway for over 6 hours.

    I tried it in Israel – as most of the Yemeni Jews in Tel Aviv sell it now in a pill form. It’s nothing out of control; in fact I didn’t really even see it as a “drug” – but it is a great thing try if you want to write satirical pieces about Yemeni Jews smuggling khat to Nasrallah in Lebanon for his “extra kick” in his speeches.

    Posted by Abu Guerrilla | August 25, 2010, 3:00 am
  6. If I have one complaint with the stylings of our dear leader, Qifa Nabki, it is that his is most often a ‘reading of the headlines.’

    Thus, I am delighted to see Qifa go all Hariri on his flock of devotees.

    It is a wise zaim who knows when to shout, when to listen and when to go … yachting in Sardinia.

    Lemonade for all!

    Posted by david | August 25, 2010, 3:14 am
  7. Ya QN-

    What’s this “outside” place you talk about?


    Posted by MSK* | August 25, 2010, 10:19 am
  8. Barra, barra, tla3 la barra ya MSK*

    Posted by Honest Patriot | August 25, 2010, 10:42 am
  9. Is Khat the secret weapon Nasrallah speaks of?

    Posted by Nasser V | August 26, 2010, 10:16 am
  10. Slip in a mickey.. 😀

    Posted by danny | August 26, 2010, 12:22 pm
  11. The LAF et al could be HA’s secret weapon…..

    FLC has an excerpt of a hysterically tinged piece by WINEP’s David Schenker. The *expert* is flailing about in trying to deal with the changed landscape.

    OTOH, Nasrallah would be most pleased to have some anti-aircraft thingies. Given that HA capability is one of Israel’s causus bellies, most secret they would be.

    Posted by lally | August 27, 2010, 12:51 am
  12. Posted by Honest Patriot | August 27, 2010, 4:29 am
  13. A couple of interesting articles:

    Peace talks –


    Lebanon –


    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 27, 2010, 10:42 am
  14. QN, upon your return the first thing we expect is your review of the extensive posts on the “interview with Michael Young” section and then a grading of your contributors, using some scale similar to the one you used back on SyriaComment which then included the order of the falafel and the order of the whathaveyou etc.
    I was angling towards the order of the Mlookhieh, my favorite dish, so we’ll see.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | August 27, 2010, 6:35 pm
  15. Regards from lovely Marina del Rey, CA… 🙂

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | August 27, 2010, 7:59 pm
  16. Ah, QN is in my neck of the woods!
    Although, you chose our one “heat wave” week of the year to swing by…I assure you, it’s usually a lot cooler than this. 🙂

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 27, 2010, 8:10 pm
  17. BV, we’re in the same state. I’m in the northern refined portion though. Just kidding. Marina Del Ray is very nice, been there few times.

    Posted by Ras Beirut | August 28, 2010, 5:16 pm
  18. Ya QN,

    The week is over.

    We’re waiting …


    Posted by MSK* | August 31, 2010, 3:32 pm
  19. Here’s something to talk about…Just saw this headline:
    “The Lebanese Higher Defense Council (HDC) on Tuesday decided to tighten security across Lebanon and enforce stricter security measures in Beirut and the South.”

    I’ll spare you the rest of the story.

    They decided to tighten security? Really? For reals? No foolin?

    WHAT THE BLOODY F*** WERE THESE PEOPLE DOING UNTIL NOW? Isn’t their job to protect the citizens of the country?
    “Oh, well, until now, we were letting you guys have a little fun…but now we’re REALLY gonna start cracking down”.

    Really? People DIED and continue to DIE in Beirut and in the South, due to idiotics..And well, NOW THEY’VE DECIDED to start doing their job?

    Mind you, not that I believe any security will get tightened anyway. We all know nothing will be done. But why even make such announcements? These people should be ashamed to make such “decisions”.
    YOUR JOB IS TO DEFEND THE CITIZENS…You don’t “decide” to tighten up security. Security being “loose” should not even be an option to decide on, should it? At least not in a normal civilized country.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 31, 2010, 5:39 pm
  20. Aha! another critic!
    What would You do? (taking into accounts all the constraints at hand).
    You are indeed Bad, BV 😉

    Posted by Honest Patriot | August 31, 2010, 5:50 pm
  21. Oh stop it already. Your “critic” act has gotten old. There are plenty of solutions that we all can agree on, as civilized people.

    How about these idiots start doing their job? Is that too much to ask? How hard is it?

    I said the same thing in May 2008. Declare martial law. Any douchebag seen carrying a weapon is shot on sight. No questions asked.
    How many times have we heard about Beirut being a weapons-free city? Why is that never enforced?

    How about applying the law?

    Even if we are to accept “The Resistance” and its holy weapons, for the sake of this discussion (I don’t. But let’s say I did).
    There is no reason for said weapons to be in Beirut. Last I checked, the Israeli border was not in Bourj Abu Haidar.
    There is also no reason for a disciplined militia (again, accepting for now that it’s ok to have such a militia to defend the nation) to have to carry their weapons in town. There are such things as armories in the modern world. Even when it comes to non-military personel (ie militias, patriot and citizen defense forces made up of volunteers), there can be rules that come into play when a foreign invasion were to occur. Weapons can be handed out in an orderly fashion to defend the nation.

    Again, playing devil’s advocate here. I do not like such an idea.

    But my point is, there are a million things these jackasses can do to preserve the peace and security in Lebanon without letting armed gangs of thugs roam around EVEN if we accept the premise of a non-state controlled “resistance militia against Israel”.

    There is absolutely no excuse for this crap. And there is even less of an excuse for so-called “higher defense councils” to meet and make asinine pronouncements.

    Know what I mean?

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 31, 2010, 6:02 pm
  22. With the exception of countless internal and external WARS, lack of SECURITY, SAFETY and TRAFFIC LAW ENFORCEMENT, NO HUMAN RIGHTS for its citizens or the poor SLAVES who work there, NO CONSUMER PROTECTION, horrible Land Sea and Air POLLUTION. And last but not least a RUDE, OBNOXIOUS and PRETENTIOUS population.
    Lebanon is the best place to live in or vacation there if you are rich 🙂

    Posted by V | August 31, 2010, 6:11 pm
  23. Very well said, V…

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 31, 2010, 6:32 pm
  24. QN,

    It is a week , are you back ,

    Posted by Norman | August 31, 2010, 10:35 pm
  25. BV, it’s complicated!
    There hasn’t been a lack of efforts to push for the removal of weapons from Beirut, at the very least, and of course the disarmament of HA and its turning into a purely political movements. The fact is, as you know, or should know, there are significant international – hmm, let’s call them “interference agents” – that get in the in the way. Things are complicated enough when it comes to Lebanon and its evolution. When you add all these external factors and the immature population, by which I mean its not having reached the point of evolution to true allegiance to the country first before the individual religious and other affiliations, then one comes to recognize the factors that have gotten in the way of stability and disarmament.
    It’s easy to say “shoot on sight” any unofficial armed person in Beirut. What do you think would happen if this were to be done? I’ll tell you: another civil war, unless and until full agreement is reached among the myriad faction leaders – but most importantly the key movements, not the least of which is HA.
    Wishful thinking is one thing, and no one disagrees with you on that, realistic measures to achieve it is another. What does one do with HA and his weapons? They have them and have shown that they’re ready to use them internally. Attempts to remove them by force is a recipe for catastrophic civil war and a risk of HA succeeding, becoming radicalized (again, and beyond where it is now), and turning Lebanon into an Iran satellite. The risk is real. My turn to ask you, “know what I mean?”

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 1, 2010, 2:09 am
  26. V, way to take a country struggling with its evolution and dealing with true problems and throw generalized insults around.
    A Lebanese patriot will be the first to engage in more self-criticism than you level but will also recognize the good throughout the centuries, the real struggle of many to make a difference against impossible odds, to celebrate the successes of countless Lebanese on the world stage.
    Take any country and you can identify horrible things to say about it:
    US – ghettos and misery in parts of the U.S., true slavery in the U.S. history, first use of weapons-of-mass-destruction (Hiroshima) killing innocent civilians, etc…
    Turkey – Armenian holocaust, further perpetuated by its continued denial
    Germany – Jewish holocaust
    Israel – Self-admitted ethnic cleansing (by Israeli on this blog) that created the state of Israel and continued oppression and discrimination
    Syria – “Hama” !

    I’m sure patriots from each of these countries will react to the words I use above, place the referenced events in context, mention the good, etc.

    Lebanon has its problems. It’s a small country. Civic sense is one of the most important lacking characteristic that can help with its evolution. Insulting it and its population the way do, generalizing the negative characteristic as you do, all this is only a reflection on your immaturity and probably hidden hatred. I’ll remind you that hatred and love are two forms of the same passion. Does this mean that you secretly love Lebanon and your love is frustrated so you end up hating and demonizing it and its population?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 1, 2010, 2:20 am
  27. Take it easy on QN, folks. Summer doesn’t officially end till Labor Day.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 1, 2010, 4:40 am
  28. Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock

    Posted by marillionlb | September 1, 2010, 5:46 am
  29. HP,
    Please allow me to remind you that patriotism is the refuge of scoundrels, to borrow a phrase.
    I am glad if individuals succeed in contributing meaningfully to the betterment of humanity in general and the life in particular but I will never ever even contemplate for a second celebrating the so called monetary success of an individual on the bases that both of us were accidentally born within the borders of an artificial political entity.
    I do understand the spirit in which your remarks were written but I also feel that I must register strong disagreement with practically every phrase in your post. Cheers.

    Posted by ghassan karam | September 1, 2010, 10:03 am
  30. GK, ok, but does that then mean that you agree with V in #23 and the cheering from BV in #24?
    My point was to give counter-examples that negate the generalizations about Lebanese as in “a RUDE, OBNOXIOUS and PRETENTIOUS population” as V put it.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 1, 2010, 10:17 am
  31. QN or David or Badr or marillionlb, how do you change the symbol to the right of you post to show something other than the random pattern that it defaults to (as in picture for David, Arabic text for Badr, etc.)?
    – Thanks

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 1, 2010, 10:20 am
  32. GK, also, it’s not just monetary success. I’m also thinking of Khalil Gibran, Danny Thomas, Keanu Reeves, Nadine Labaki, Feyrouz, Nicolas Hayek, St. Charbel, and my former classmate in Lebanon who went on to invent the Nespresso system of worldwide fame and success (based in Switzerland, and many other examples. To the extent one can characterize a “population” as V does, then these folks belong to it and had at least part of their life (or at least their genes) reflected from experience there.
    What I am, for example, includes my birth and upbringing in Lebanon. As much as I yearn to see the negative items there changed, including some of the characteristics that V refers to (although I would take out the generalizations from them), part of what I am – including any successes – is due to this combined experience.

    In the end, though, one cannot really rationalize or justify feelings. There is a certain nostalgia and attachment and maybe call it “emotional pride” in one’s native land, particularly if one spent formative years there, that creates and maintains an attachment, longing for improvement, and pride in the good that emanates or is in anyway related to that land and its people.

    Cheers back at ya! :-_)

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 1, 2010, 10:29 am
  33. (An that was a John Wayne style smile at the end of the last post ;-))

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 1, 2010, 10:30 am
  34. HP,
    For one reason or another I have always enjoyed John Wayne, and not only the Western films. I must have seen the Quiet Man 30 times !!! I had many Irish friends 🙂

    Posted by ghassan karam | September 1, 2010, 10:39 am
  35. Hi guys,

    Will try to get around to writing something this weekend. Currently swamped with work, as the semester has just begun.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | September 1, 2010, 11:22 am
  36. HP- when was the last time you drove in Beirut? or when was it you last had to conduct any business or achieve any normal transaction you take for granted here in the US, if you did recently you will come to the very logical conclusion that the population is indeed rude, pretentious and very corrupt. Please don’t be so naive to contribute the success of few Lebanese outside Lebanon to being Lebanese. Last, I do love Lebanon and I have lost much over there. Unlike you I do not lie to myself and pretend everything is hunky-dory over there just because of silly patriotic feelings or pride. Lebanon is a failed state and the only reason it is a failed state because of its inhabitants who have proven over the years that they are not worthy of freedom.

    I have to say there is nothing HONEST about your kind of Patriotism! 🙂
    (That was a Clint Eastwood smile)

    Posted by V | September 1, 2010, 12:26 pm
  37. In this Great Country of yours LEBANON does anyone and I mean anyone a Journalist, Politician, Poet, Writer, Teacher, Taxi Driver, Citizen have the Courage, Decency, Humanity to loudly protest and condemn the senseless act of violence that took place recently in Hebron where 4 people were gunned down and new orphans made.
    Al Safir newspaper calls it a “Courageous Resistance Operation”

    Posted by V | September 1, 2010, 12:48 pm
  38. HP,

    I fully realize that my talk is wishful thinking. I know how complicated the situation is.
    But forgive an old grouch for ranting when I see stupid headlines like “higher security council decides to improve security”.

    If these assclowns can’t do anything, because of “foreign agents” and whathaveyou, as you pointed out. Then at least stop pontificating and making “decisions”. If you have no decision making power, you don’t run around saying “I’ve decided blahblahblah”.

    I know I’m not providing anything constructive. That really wasn’t my intent. I’ve given up on that. I save my “constructive” stuff for my real life, here in the US, with my family, my friends, my job, etc. Where it matters.
    What’s the point of being “constructive” towards a country and a bunch of people who insist on being the very opposite of “constructive” at every single term?

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | September 1, 2010, 1:51 pm
  39. HP,

    Check this site: http://en.gravatar.com
    You can provide your selected image after registration. It should be a straightforward process, but are you computer savvy? 🙂

    Posted by Badr | September 1, 2010, 2:46 pm
  40. Speaking of images, let’s see if this will work fine. I’m trying to show an image here, but maybe the security settings of the blog don’t allow this sort of thing:

    Posted by Badr | September 1, 2010, 3:16 pm
  41. @HP, I also used gravatar, but since I am old and technically handicapped I had to resort to a friend’s help.

    In the news today, the LF freed 2 kidnapped tourist in Baalbeck killing one of the abductors, from the Jaafar family nonetheless. That same family has been in the news more than once for various misdeeds and armed conflict (even against the Lebanese army). Will the “high security council” ever deal with, or even put on its agenda, such recurrent blatant disregard to the rule of law? Or will we ever see it discuss the security issue (or the lack of) in many of the areas that are still controlled by drug lords and feudal families?
    I very much doubt it.
    Many Lebanese truly feel that they have to protect themselves, as they are convinced that the ISF and LAF are not capable (and not because they are not equipped to do so); and every time we watch on the news clashes between two fractions the army seems to be directing traffic (when they actually deploy), and never have we seen them take swift action.
    What surprises me even more is the fact that on a daily basis I come across army personnel zigzagging the streets of Beirut (mainly in what we might call safe areas), but they never happen to be present when any arm conflict ignites.

    Posted by marillionlb | September 1, 2010, 3:46 pm
  42. Thanks, Badr. Let’s see if this works!

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 1, 2010, 6:25 pm
  43. test

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 1, 2010, 6:36 pm
  44. Badr, so I signed up at gravatar and uploaded an image. What’s next?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 1, 2010, 6:45 pm
  45. V, you are misinterpreting my messages. You might be surprised to know that I agree with much of what you just wrote, and, if no one expressed outrage and condemned the Hebron incident in Lebanon that this in itself is an outrage. I know how bad things are in Lebanon. How does the kind of taunting you use and the lumping of all the population into one bin of bumbling incompetence and arrogance help? How does writing off the country as a failed state help? Doesn’t it lead, down the line, to a full takeover by HA?
    Some may argue they want this to happen so that Israel can then level the country.
    Also, when it comes to civilian casualties, no one holds the moral ground.

    BV, I certainly understand the frustration leading to rants. The fact is there is a silent majority, the future generations always carry hope, and I certainly hope that, with time, civic sense and secularism (not as in atheism but as in separation of church and state) will evolve and prevail, along with a true sense of nationalism. Efforts are underway although not always appreciated.

    Here’s an example of a public message which is a part of a campaign to mitigate (and eventually eliminate) confessionalism. For those who don’t speak Arabic the Lebanese actors refer to belonging to their respective religions instead of their country. The final message asks when will we all identify ourselves as Lebanese?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 1, 2010, 7:09 pm
  46. HP,

    How old are you? If you don’t mind me asking?

    All that optimism for the future is well and nice. But I’ve been around long enough to have seen the same crap again and again.

    Lebanon IS a failed state. There’s no shame in telling it like it is. Let’s stop trying to make excuses for it, and let’s stop calling it anything but what it truly is.

    There was also a silent majority in 1958 and 1976, and 1982, and 1990…You carry on hoping they’ll wake up some day and throw out all the clowns. Truth is, I’m fairly convinced that the silent majority is perfectly happy with the status quo, contrary to popular belief. They like the way things are right now. They like being told what to do, and they like skirting around the system, and having no accountability.

    I’d argue that it’s a MINORITY (silent or otherwise) who has any desire for a truly democratic, free, and secular Lebanon.

    The rest may claim so. But when push comes to shove, they still marry their daughters to their coreligionists and hire Sri Lanki maids who they treat like dirt.

    They’re just a bunch of hypocrites who talk about secularism and democracy out loud, but refuse to set the example themselves and whisper behind your back…

    V is right. The Lebanese, as a whole, are quite arrogant.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | September 1, 2010, 7:18 pm
  47. BV, 52.
    It’s easy for you and me, assuming you’re originally Lebanese (?) and are well established outside Lebanon, to make those statements and write off the country. That’s the easy part.
    It’s very tempting for me to do the same. But then is it fair to the poor chaps who don’t have the opportunity to leave and who genuinely want something better? The very existence of this blog here and all the commentators’ engagement in it says something else to me. It says that there is a strong interest in seeing things change, for the better, not only for Lebanon but also for the whole region. I doubt very much that folks engage here because they want an edge to contribute the annihilation of this or the other entity. There are exceptions of course.
    Is it fair to conclude as you do that the Lebanese brought this upon themselves and still want the status quo and the perpetuation of feudalism? I don’t pretend to know the answer but you seem to. Anecdotally I can tell you that I know many good folks who don’t want this. In the final analysis, the transformation of a nation, especially one as young and small as diverse as Lebanon, does not happen easily. Giving up hope is easy but is self-defeating.

    Here’s a subject for debate and analysis. The most bewildering figure in Lebanese politics, to me, is Gen. Aoun. For the life of me I can’t figure out how he arrived at his positions assuming that he is a patriot and not just after power for himself. Maybe QN, upon his return, can do an analysis of the different scenarios of how Aoun’s thinking has evolved and what may have motivated it.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 1, 2010, 7:48 pm
  48. HP,
    I commend you for this optimism and Idealism. I hope and wish it will lead somewhere but I doubt it would. 20 years from now we will watch the sons of Walid Beik, Nabih Berri and the rest of the thieves and murderers do the same things their fathers are doing now and Lebanon will be dirtier, more crowded more unjust and miserable.
    As BV said, you are a minority. soon enough you will join the ranks of the old tired “warriors” who have thrown in the towel and became observing cynical grouches

    Posted by V | September 1, 2010, 7:55 pm
  49. Yup. Admitted cynical grouch here.

    And yeah, I was born in Lebanon and lived there through the civil war until 1993.

    That was over 15 years ago now. The war ended, and I expected better things.

    But here we are 15 years later, and every day, the news and the mentalities seem to me to be practically identical to where they were in 1975 or 1982 or 1990. I see no maturing whatsoever in the populace. NONE.

    I too was an idealist at one point. That is why I asked your age, HP and whether you lived in Lebanon through the 70s and 80s or whether this is your first go-round (to me, this is all deja vu, see…and to my parents who lived through ’58 this is the third go around of the same exact cycle).

    Other countries have growing pains too. But over time, at least, you expect some kind of maturing. Some kind of progression to something different.

    When I look at Lebanon today, I see exactly the same crap I saw as a child. The same caveman mentality.

    Sure, there are some like you who want change. But a silent “majority”? I don’t think so. I think those who TRULY want change, a modern secular state are few. Don’t count those who pay that idea lip service. Talk is cheap. I’ve seen the two faced Lebanese all my life. They talk big, but when it comes to action, they fall back into their comfort zones. VERY VERY few are actually willing to stand behind their words. You want secularism? Start at home. Stop marrying your sons and daughters to “a good family from the same village.”
    You want a city free of guns? Stop carrying one. Why does every thug in town think it’s ok to take the law into their own hands?

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | September 1, 2010, 8:59 pm
  50. BV, I was born in 1958! and left in 1981. So, to some extent, ‘been there!
    I know and fully understand where you’re coming from and certainly shared the same feelings during a period. Maybe with age a renewed concern about the next generation and a hope that they’ll fare better and maybe be better than the old one triggered renewed hope. I know none of this will happen tomorrow but I do detect a hint of transformation despite the apparent cyclical nature of the changes in the old country. I see it more as a spiral with a convergence towards something good. The “time constant” (or time scale) is a whole different matter. We hope it will be shorter for the sake of everyone.
    One has to admit for example that the political alliances now are indeed crossing confessional lines, something that never or rarely happened before. This is progress, albeit a strangely cynical one. Folks like Michael Young and QN projecting objective and sometimes not-so-objective analyses in an eloquent manner is progress. Heck, even the social discipline and social progress that HA brought about in the Shiite community is a good thing (ignore for this purpose any political or military consideration of HA). The question is the old one of the glass half-full or half-empty. I used to consider it 99.9% empty. Now I perceive a light at the end of the tunnel. Not for me. I’m history. For the new generations.

    I leave you with this:

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 1, 2010, 9:44 pm
  51. V, Walid Bey and Nabih Berri will die one day. So will Gen. Aoun and Samir Geagea. I just don’t see the younger generation being as stupid as the older one, nor as fanatical. Except for religious fanaticism, that is, the true source, in my opinion, of all evil.
    This is why secularism is essential or at the very least evolution of the role of religion in society and the elimination of its role in politics. It’s not going to happen tomorrow, nor am I naive enough to think it will happen soon or easily. But I do believe it will happen and it is inevitable, with technology and communications playing a pivotal role in such transformation. See, here’s a topic for a PhD thesis for a smart guy/gal.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 1, 2010, 10:07 pm
  52. HP,
    The unfortunate thing is that Walid Bey has already made sure that Timur is to inherit the family jewel in addition to the political leadreship 🙂 The same is true for the Salams, hariris, Gemayels, frangiehs etc. As for the video it is nothing but a collection of artifacts. Artifacts do not a nation state make.
    As for your earlier post in which you name Lebanese I have no special respect except for one Gibran . Why should I be proud of Nadine, Reeves, Thomas Hayek? What have they done that will shine and last. Come on all of these are great individuals in their own right but I do not see any special lasting accomplishments do you?

    Posted by ghassan karam | September 1, 2010, 10:40 pm
  53. GK, the grooming of feudal succession is regrettable. Should we just give up on that country?
    My point in the enumeration of successful of Lebanese origin was to give counter-examples to what I felt was an unfair generalization in the statement earlier, repeated a number of times, to the effect that the Lebanese population is pompous and arrogant. Success stories, that’s it.
    Although, besides Gibran, I would say that Danny Thomas’ legacy in St. Jude’s hospital is truly a lasting accomplishment, to be admired for sure, and a testament to the benevolence and good spirit of this man. As you may know, it continues to be an excellent charity, represented by the American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities (ALSAC)

    The success and good that the 15-million strong Lebanese diaspora achieves around the world should surely someday translate into an impact and revival of the homeland. To me, it’s sort of being tied to the person who gave birth to you. An underlying love and longing for its success is ever present, dormant sometimes, denied at others, consciously suppressed yet at others, but ever present. We may not see a satisfactory revival in our lifetime but it doesn’t hurt to hope and encourage it, and hey, as they say “the horse might talk,” or “there’s gotta be a pony in there.”

    And yeah, the video is just a feel-good set of portraits and music and song.

    So… here’s a question, WHAT or WHO does a nation make? another good subject for a smart Ph.D. student. Any takers?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 1, 2010, 11:16 pm
  54. Ah! here’s another question. King Hussein of Jordan groomed and left the throne to his son Abdallah. Abdallah seems to be doing quite well, at least as far as being logical, articulate, seeking the best interests of his country, mindful of regional forces and politics. He certainly delivered a compelling speech today at the White House at the inauguration of the direct talks.
    So, one may say, this was a feudal succession plan. A successful one?
    Can we hope that the new generation of feudal lords — hopefully fewer of them than in the previous generations — can we hope that these folks, with a better level of education and openness to the world, would move things in Lebanon towards an eventual goal of secularism and true democracy? What about THEIR children? Ins’t it likely that things converge towards true democracy and diverge sufficiently away from the feudal system?
    I don’t claim to know the answers but I’m not ready to espouse cynical hopelessness,…, yet!

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 1, 2010, 11:23 pm
  55. HP & BV,

    Your discussions guys bring some memories, albeit some that are painfull. I’m from the same generation as you two. Can never forget April 13, 1975, I remember that night and the days following it very well. For 1976 we had no school, so I was lucky enough to go to Europe for school. Came back in 77 as things calmed a bit with all the promises that the cease-fire will hold. Took and passed the Science-Ex test, which by the way the school prepped us for few weeks in a special session kind of year.

    Left to the US in that year, which I am greatfull for, as all hell broke loose right after I left, and didn’t even go back to visit until few years ago for family reason.

    But just because I was away and safe, the agony didn’t stop. My mom stayed behind, by her own choice (couldn’t get her to leave), so I was continously worried sick (sometimes the phone & mail functioned, most of the times not), and followed the news of the war with angst and hurt. I won’t even get into the friends and people I knew who perished. That’s another tragedy of a different dimenssion.

    HP, I hope you are right about your views about the future, but I think there is some validity to BV & V’s views.

    It is tough when folks like us want the best for Lebanon and its people, but reality and results on the ground smack you over the head.

    Posted by Ras Beirut | September 2, 2010, 12:20 am
  56. Amen, RB. I just believe in the good that new generations bring. Of course I might be wrong, and Lord knows it’s been a tough ride for those who chose to stay behind at the old country or for those who just couldn’t leave. As I said earlier, I don’t disagree with a lot of what BV and V write. I just don’t think it fair to generalize and write off the whole “population” there. Then I go back to faith in the youth. Witness QN, our glorious leader 😉

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 2, 2010, 12:35 am
  57. HP,
    I don’t recall who was it that related to me this story recently. Someone who was out of the country went back to Lebanon after a stint overseas and decided to pay his/her electric bill. Guess what ? The only way the bill could be paid was to pay first a “bribe’ TO HAVE THEM ACCEPT THE MONEY:-)
    The point of this story is that Lebanon does not have corruption that could be uprooted, the system is corruption. In that case there is only one solution; revolution. Evolution cannot be a cure. We need to rebuild the whole structure. HP, if you think that can happen then one of us is a dreamer and it ain’t me 🙂
    For a proof that things have not changed by an iota, look at the so called municipal elections. I challenge you to find a glimer of hope in that bankrupt process. And the reason is not the electoral system as much as it is the electorate.
    Should one have hope? Of course one should but revolutions do not take place every day. Realism of the tremendous odds is crucial if one is not to be a participant in the game of deception that is going on. You asked what makes a nation? The answer is both difficult but yet simple at the same time. It needs citizens who believe in an idea and to be committede to doing their responsibility of making that vision become a reality. Our first and maybe only task is to build awarness of what it means to be a citizen, al mowatiniah.

    Posted by ghassan karam | September 2, 2010, 1:09 am
  58. HP,

    Log in to your Gravatar account. Make sure the image you want displayed is selected for the same e-mail address as the one you are using for this blog.

    Posted by Badr | September 2, 2010, 3:04 am
  59. Testing – QN, do you have to “approve” this post for the gravatar to show?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 2, 2010, 5:28 am
  60. Thanks, Badr. I am using the same email. I see the new gravatar in the Dashboard (and I can see this blog within that, and the new gravatar shows in the toolbar) but when I switch to this blog the old generic ones reappears in the toolbar. Sorry to bore everyone with this.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 2, 2010, 5:43 am
  61. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129594828&ft=1&f=1001

    Maybe Hamas and the Settlers should form an alliance called the association for perpetual conflict.

    Here’s a question: do the saboteurs in the Hamas military wing constitute a majority on the Palestinian side? do they enjoy a support from a majority?
    Ditto for the settlers on the Israeli side?

    It takes a second to destroy and a decade to build. Figure out the time ratio.

    It will take a Sadat on the Palestinian side and the kind of Menachem Begin that signed the peace treaty with Egypt on the Israeli side to make these talks succeed. What are the chances? Are Abbas and Netanyahu up to the challenge?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 2, 2010, 5:54 am
  62. HP

    There’s a comment from you that I did not approve because the user name is your real name, and I don’t know if you want that to be public.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | September 2, 2010, 11:16 am
  63. Gotcha, thanks! I was playing with this gravatar thing and it was in that context. Anyway I think I reposted the same comment, or something to the same effect the “classical” way. Sorry for using so many comments for my (unsuccessful) learning how to use a different identifier than the default random pattern…

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 2, 2010, 1:01 pm
  64. Oh, wait! It works! maybe it was just a matter of time for servers to refresh? Anyway, sorry again for the hijacking and THANK YOU Badr! You’re a gem!

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 2, 2010, 1:01 pm
  65. @HP post 54:

    Note that you say “of Lebanese origin”.
    And note that the accomplishments you list are for the most part accomplished not in Lebanon, but abroad.
    What does that tell you?

    People who have left the cesspool because it provided no chance of accomplishing anything. They go abroad, where people are given a chance to accomplish, regardless of their sect or country of origin. Ironic.

    As for Berri, Jumblatt, etc. dying one day.
    We’ve seen that one before. Sleiman Frangieh Sr. already died. Kamal Jumblatt already died. Rafik Hariri already died. Pierre Gemayel and Bashir Gemayel already died.

    We’ll be saying the same of Timur/SleimanJr./Nadim Gemayel/Saad Hariri in 30 years, when they’re old and grooming their sons…Trust me.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | September 2, 2010, 1:41 pm
  66. BV, do you then think it’s hopeless and the only hope for decent folks is to get out and stay out? In that case, what is the long term prognosis?
    Do you see any hints of any progress?
    Just curious.
    I recognize that wishful thinking is one thing and reality may well be another but at the same time it would be a pity to let crystal seeds of reform be crushed just because of cynicism rather than encouraging them so they crystallize the whole melt.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 2, 2010, 3:02 pm
  67. I think it is indeed hopeless in our lifetimes.

    I think (and you will forgive me generalizations here) that if we look at the Arab world as a whole, in a historical perspective, we fall somewhere in the equivalent period to the pre-French revolution Europe.
    We still have a very long ways to go to evolve into some of the notions that have come to be commonly accepted, philosophically speaking, in the the West: Human Rights, the notions that every human being has the right to self-determination. The separation of church and state. The notion that women aren’t objects or possessions. etc.

    Europe went through an age where this “thinking” translated into the common folks and stopped being the perview of ivory tower intellectuals and thinkers.

    Europe went through further changes in mentality after that. Nationalism (which in turn made things like the 2 World Wars possible), Communism/Socialism, etc.
    Europe also went through 2 terrible wars before it came to understand at a fundemental “gut” level that violence doesn’t work. And I truly believe Europe as a whole evolved into a new, more modern and enlightened kind of humanity.

    Sorry for the long dissertation. It’s kinda hard to condense all this in a paragraph. But my point is, I truly believe large parts of the world (The Arab world, Africa, South America) have not yet reached that “englightenement” and have a very long way to go. We’re talking hundreds of years, possibly. I fear it may take some kind of world war (or equivalent) on our soil to teach us some of these historical lessons.

    I realize there are many of us who do know these things and aspire to said enlightenment. But I am fairly convinced we still fall under the heading of “Ivory tower intellectuals”.

    I realize this does not really address your question or Lebanon in particular. But you get a better sense of my worldview, and you can probably see why I think how I think and where Lebanon fits into this scheme of things.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | September 2, 2010, 4:22 pm
  68. HP,

    Do you have kids and are you encouraging them to go back to Lebanon?

    How much time each year do you spend in Lebanon?

    Do you support charities in Lebanon?

    I guess I am asking what are you specifically doing to change things in Lebanon.

    Posted by AIG | September 2, 2010, 4:29 pm
  69. – yes, no (of course not – not until peace prevails, which won’t happen, I believe, until the Palestinian/Israeli conflict is resolved)
    – 3 brief visits in ~30 years
    – Not directly, but supporting individual higher education and a relative
    – I am apolitical but have opinions and this forum allows testing the opinions and expanding the horizon with others’ points of view

    Why? do any of the above answers forbid one from having hope for a better future for the next generations, or from having opinions about the situation there and what led to the last disastrous thirty years in Lebanon?

    I’m pretty satisfied that I trigger good thinking and good explanations, responses, engagement, in this forum and back in the days of SyriaComment during the sporadic periods when I have the time and interest to follow them.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 2, 2010, 6:05 pm
  70. Thanks for the thoughtful answer, BV.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 2, 2010, 6:06 pm
  71. AIG, but enough about me. Who is going to analyze Gen. Michel Aoun? I’m really puzzled by what motivated him and how he arrived at this positions: blind ambition? cunning and calculating maneuvers in the best interest of Lebanon? hypocrisy? brilliancy? sainthood?
    How did he do a 180-degree turn in becoming Syria’s ally and HA’s ally? Mystery of mysteries.

    I haven’t seen a detailed and objective analysis of the different theories nor, of course, any convincing theory, yet.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 2, 2010, 6:09 pm
  72. I ask, because is there any doubt that he (Gen. Aoun) was the single most important factor that determined how the situation since 2005 has been shaped?
    What would have happened if he had joined forces with March 14?
    I know this is all history now, but still, it doesn’t make it any easier to understand.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 2, 2010, 6:11 pm
  73. HP,

    Hope and optimism are necessary ingredients in any improvement but very far from sufficient. In the end, it is actions that count. Wouldn’t you actually be doing more good being in Lebanon instead of theorizing from afar about what should be done? What about actually being the “man in the ring”?

    And if you were really optimistic about Lebanon changing, why won’t you encourage your kids to go there and accelerate the change? Your attitude that first things must change and then your kids should go do not look to be an optimistic one.

    How would anything change if everybody took your attitude? Just imagine how quickly things would change if almost every Lebanese diaspora family sent a kid or two to live in Lebanon. Suddenly you would have millions of Lebanese who are not beholden to any zaim.

    To me BV’s position makes much more sense. His actions are consistent with his views. However, I sense a disconnect between what you preach and what you practice. In the end, actions speak much louder than words and your actions are not very different from those of BV.

    Posted by AIG | September 2, 2010, 6:22 pm
  74. Hmm, food for thought, AIG.

    However, I’m not sure where and what I have been preaching (?). Expressing an opinion about the potential of the country, some positive developments (amid myriad of negative ones) does not constitute preaching. I haven’t asked anyone to go back.

    Also, I guess you would have had to have been there to see how helpless and hopeless individual efforts have been in the past. If a collective, harmonious, and simultaneous action were to be possible by the diaspora, maybe it would make a difference.
    Depending on one’s strengths and skills, one tries to be as successful and helpful as possible. I tried staying in Lebanon in my early 20’s and almost got killed after a carjacking by a bunch of bandits posing as (or actually being, who knows) Syrian soldiers. I would not have been helpful to anyone staying there and getting killed.
    Once uprooted and laying root elsewhere, the situation was never safe enough to go back, nor to send my children back. I bet this is the story of thousands of folks.

    I had pretty much written off Lebanon completely, a la BV, until 2005. The Cedar Revolution, much maligned nowadays, was a true grass roots revolution of a million Lebanese, most of whom had never participated in any demonstration or political activity before. I can’t give you statistics but I know personally people who were in there. This kind of movement reflected, to me, a deep potential in this population, and hence hope that what I call the “silent majority” can some day overtake the bullying of the feudal system, of the foreign subversive influences, of the great tragedy and imbalance created by the 400,000 Palestinian refugees. That’s when my views turned from a BV-style cynicism and fatalism to see a light at the end of the tunnel and a glimmer of hope that something good dormant could be resuscitated. This doesn’t mean I was going to be the one to actively participate, lead, or materially support this transformation. Well, the rest is recent history that you are well familiar with, and you are also well familiar with the exchanges and comments on SyriaComment and here. Exchanges and comments are useful overall, and this kind of dialogue, even if it’s really between what BV refers to as “intellectual elite” (and let’s be honest, the folks on this blog by and large fit this description correctly), is still useful.

    Someone commented that on SyriaComment, the exchanges have led slowly to a level of mutual understanding between folks holding very different views. I agree (to some extent). Obviously there are those who espouse rather extremist views. But even in those cases, the fact that the views are expressed is still helpful because they elicit responses and counter-arguments that, on balance, generate a “virtual” rapprochement.

    Anyway, here’s a cheers to BV and to you, AIG, and I know that you both hope that peace does come sooner rather than later and that, with today’s technological advances in communications and other social technologies, what took hundred of years of evolution and revolution in Europe would happen much faster, orders of magnitude faster, in the Middle East. You may not attach a high probability to this, but I’m certain you would be happy if it happened.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 2, 2010, 6:59 pm
  75. AIG, whatever happened to “Shai” ?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 2, 2010, 7:08 pm
  76. FYI,

    I started a new job. I sit next to a friendly, christian, Arab-American (he speaks with an accent). His family is Jordanian (East Bank) on one side, and Lebanese on the other.

    I am amazed from his comments. He’s more anti-Muslim than most Israelis. Especially Israeli Leftists.

    He said that as a Christian, he’s already made peace with the fact that the Christians have lost their community and identity in the ME. He said he would love to visit Israel, except that it may jeopardize his ability to leave Lebanon (in one piece).

    I’m sure we’ll have some more interesting discussions in the future.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | September 2, 2010, 7:50 pm
  77. Yup, AP, I know the feeling. In fact, I can argue much more powerfully than you or AIG on behalf of Israel, against “the Arabs,” about the extremism intrinsic in Islam, etc.
    Arguments abound and there’s enough there to inflame many a feeling and a sentiment.
    HOWEVER, with age comes wisdom, and I believe a realization that in the end extremism is not intrinsic to any group of people or religion, etc., but is bred by violent minorities.
    At the risk of rehashing an old story, I’ll go back to Thomas’ Friedman reference to the need for an evolution towards “Islam 2.0” which unfreezes those interpretations that have not changed since the 12th century, puts everything into the context of today’s world and thus eliminates the allegedly legal polygamy, the horrors of shari3a law, etc.
    I understand fully the sentiment of your co-worker. Been there. I now believe that holding on to such sentiments in the end causes more disappointment than evolving to a more wise view of the world and a maintenance of a glimmer of hope for an eventual evolution.

    I know my statements are not popular with the folks who feel strongly like your co-worker. On the other hand, you and I know that there are folks who espouse violently anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish sentiments, including folks who chime in on this blog sometimes, and who blame everything and anything on Israel. I’m afraid one risks slipping into the same absurdity of a position if one holds to gratuitous anti-islam sentiments.

    It’s not easy playing referee. It’s a lot easier arguing one or the other of the points of view, and I know how to do that, but what’s the fun, and, more importantly, where’s the future for the next generations in that?

    And I don’t insist on being right. It may well be that the path towards a normal Middle East will have to go through some dictatorships of one kind or another, just like Franco in Spain and Tito in Yugoslavia. Those of us who believe in the afterlife will find out long after we’re gone into a better world which scenario unfolds. (And that excludes you, AIG. Take that! ;-))

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 2, 2010, 8:40 pm
  78. — let’s all brace for when “quelqu’une” comes back. — She’s going to blast all of us, I fear. But then, that will be a very fund discussion, with good humor and good things to argue about. I’m afraid our exchanges have been too bland and used too many hypotheticals.

    Quelqu’une, Quelqu’une, wheeere aaaare youuu ?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 2, 2010, 8:45 pm
  79. ~fun (typo above “fund”)

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 2, 2010, 8:46 pm
  80. HP,

    You know that I want a stable and prosperous Lebanon. But so far I have to accept the fact that Hizballah are more committed to creating a Lebanon in their vision than the majority of the Lebanese diaspora are to create a Lebanon in your vision. You guys need an inspiring leader like Rafic Hariri or Nasrallah but with a strong democratic bent to get you going. Not more intellectuals or debates. You know what the end result that you want is already (Switzerland), you don’t need more visionaries.

    Posted by AIG | September 2, 2010, 9:08 pm
  81. Why is everyone shy of telling us what happened to “Shai” of SyriaComment?

    … and AIG, I agree with your last post. In fact, we are in violent agreement on this one.
    Despite all the hate and allegations about financial back-dealings leveled at Rafiq Hariri, he was, in my opinion, an excellent hope for carrying Lebanon to the next level, through, importantly, the power of economic vitalization. This is why his assassination produced such a paradigm shift in Lebanon, to the surprise probably of the Syrians who — despite all those fake later analyses — did not expect the kind of reaction that the Cedar Revolution symbolized. The assassination was literally an earthquake that shifted the whole structure, politically and regionally.

    Alas, things have evolved to essentially clear Syria (after some internal house “cleaning”) and HA has maneuvered to essentially preempt and neutralize any accusing finger that comes its way. Junblatt insisted on proving to everyone how really crazy he was – after having dropped hints that, hey, maybe he’s not that stupid after all (during the time of his rants against the Syrian regime). Still, the glimmer of hope I saw through the Cedar Revolution was real. The people who participated, and who had never done anything of the sort before, were real. They are suppressed again now, thanks in part to the craziness of another mysterious character – Aoun – but that doesn’t mean they won’t re-emerge if the right leader and circumstances manifest themselves.

    Interesting that you mention Nasrallah and “strong democratic bent” in the same sentence. As you know, Prof. Landis has argued that a metamorphosis of HA to eventually lead such a democratic movement and become grafted permanently with the modernism of its progressive and Western-looking compatriots is very much a possibility. I am of course extremely skeptical of this but willing to celebrate it if I turn out to be wrong.

    Time will tell. It will be a loooong time. So if there is an afterlife, those of us who chose to believe in it will know the answer. Those who don’t will have to spend eternity in the emptiness of the darkness. — I’m kidding you, AIG, just like I kid my esteemed and very competent colleagues in my field of science and technology.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 2, 2010, 9:38 pm
  82. – that would be my atheist colleagues –

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 2, 2010, 9:41 pm
  83. Labor Day weekend is at hand…. Hope everyone who celebrates it gets a restful and regenerative weekend. After that work is going to resume with vengeance and probably Chief QN will be back to entertain and inform. I’ll probably have a very low profile for some time. I’m hoping I can emerge if/when Quelqu’une comes back with some challenging arguments. Till then, godspeed!

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 2, 2010, 9:43 pm
  84. This Labor Day weekend I will be attending the Renaissance festival, and traveling to a time when most religious fanatics were Christians, instead of Muslims & Jews like today.

    Posted by Nasser V | September 2, 2010, 9:50 pm
  85. I find this a very accurate and insightful view of the peace talks:

    Posted by AIG | September 3, 2010, 12:10 pm
  86. I don’t have much love for Geagea. But he’s really the only consistent voice that’s making much sense these days when it comes to the refrain of “Where’s the Lebanese state?”

    To mirror my sentiments from a few days ago, about the idiotic statements by the Higher Security Council..


    Posted by Bad Vilbel | September 3, 2010, 1:10 pm
  87. Thanks AIG. That was indeed an excellent piece.

    (I’m lurking on my own blog…)

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | September 3, 2010, 2:24 pm
  88. A short visit on QN’s blog : Bonjour et bonne rentrée à tou-te-s!

    Avec des salutations cordiales à HP, en particulier.

    Still overwhelmed by different things to do but I found a few comments I’d like to share – some “very accurate and insightful views of the peace talks” to speak, for once in my life probably, exactly like AIG 😉

    * Financial Times – 23/08/10 – “One final act in the Middle-East farce”

    Who would ever suspect the FT editorials to be those of either “Arab rejectionists” or angry leftists ?

    * Haaretz – 23/08/10 : “With a victory like this…
    The direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians have preconditions – dictated by Israel”

    “The direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, like the basketball game, have preconditions. Not the conditions demanded by the Palestinians, but conditions dictated by Israel. The refusal to freeze Israeli building in East Jerusalem is a precondition, just like the demand to freeze it. The refusal to resume negotiations from the point where talks between the previous prime minister, Ehud Olmert, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas left off after the Annapolis conference is no less a precondition than the demand to resume talks from square one.
    The head referee, the president of the United States, has twisted the arms of his colleagues in the Quartet and is dragging Abbas to Washington. Barack Obama decided that the negotiations will be held without any commitment regarding building in East Jerusalem, and will be opened without even a declaration of principles stating that the talks will be held on the basis of a general formula, like peace and security for Israel and a state along the 1967 borders for the Palestinians. It’s time to jump into the fountain in Rabin Square and cheer: The Palestinians have been shafted!”

    * Those two articles, among others, have also been spotted by Alain Gresh in a fantastic post on his blog – Nouvelles d’Orient – 01/09/10
    “Farce à Washington ou faisons comme si le train avançait”

    “Ceux qui pensent que la paix est pour demain, qu’un Etat palestinien est en construction, devraient lire un autre article de Benjamin Barthe, « A Ramallah, l’impossible réforme de la poste », dans Le Monde daté du 1er septembre : de l’impossibilité de bâtir un Etat sous occupation. Et aussi, jeter un regard sur cette carte, conçue par Julien Bousac et publiée par Le Monde diplomatique, « L’Archipel de la Palestine orientale ». Un archipel peut-il être un territoire continu ?

    Pour résumer l’esprit de la réunion de Washington, il faut rappeler une anecdote que l’on racontait en Union soviétique dans les dernières années de la période de Brejnev :

    En 1918, un train dans lequel Lénine est installé est bloqué par la neige. Lénine descend du train, fait un discours sur le prolétariat et la révolution mondiale, mobilise tous les voyageurs qui dégagent la voie, et le train repart.

    En 1936, un train dans lequel Staline est installé est bloqué par la neige. Staline descend du train, fait fusiller quinze personnes au hasard et tous les voyageurs terrifiés se mobilisent et dégagent la voie. Le train repart.

    En 1978, un train dans lequel Brejnev est installé est bloqué par la neige. Brejnev ne bouge pas. Ses conseillers le voient assis, bougeant simplement d’avant en arrière. L’un d’entre eux ose enfin lui demander pourquoi. Et Brejnev répond : « Faisons comme si le train avançait. »

    A Washington, les protagonistes feront pareil. Comme si la paix était en marche…”

    Posted by quelqu'une | September 3, 2010, 3:11 pm
  89. ~music~ The Hills are alive —- with the sound of quelqu’une

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 3, 2010, 5:24 pm
  90. Abbas will be damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t.

    QN, AIG,

    Excuse me, but I’m tired of the excuses. The same was said about Arafat. The long and short of it is, it is EASIER for a non-democratic tyrant to make a decision than a leader who can be voted out of office.

    I say Abbas has it easy (and the author didn’t mention how well he’ll be propped-up by the US and the West).

    Posted by Akbar Palace | September 3, 2010, 5:49 pm
  91. Abbas has it easy? hmm interesting perspective.
    Would you like to trade places with him?
    Or, would Netanyahu, you think, at a human level, wish he were Abbas?
    Let’s see, Abbas has to deal with a population which has been dealt with by Israel by (a) (b) (c)… and has been characterized by Israel as (1) (2) (3)…
    Maybe once you fill in the blanks you might, just perhaps, develop a little more empathy to Abbas.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 3, 2010, 6:47 pm
  92. Nasser V,
    I hope that you are not suggesting that we should not learn from the past and in paricular from the new developments in all areas.

    Posted by ghassan karam | September 3, 2010, 6:48 pm
  93. When Sadat displayed his historic courage, he had the full military under his command, his people seeing him as a faithful servant of the country and a follower of Nasser. Poor Abbas, is there even any comparison possible in order to taunt him as “we knew Sadat, Sadat was a historical figure, Abbas is no Sadat”? which is what AP implies – maybe.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 3, 2010, 6:49 pm
  94. quelqu’une,
    What took the FT and others so long to see the clear writting on the wall. The current Israeli government has no interest in a comprehensive peace that is going to cost them anything. They would take it if it is totally according to their conditions. The fact of the matter is that Israel is satisfied with the status quo. Actually the staus quo is in their favour since they are using the negotiations and other strategic developments to continuously establish facts on the ground that favour them. Remember that is 1967 none of the half a million settlers were in the West Bank and they could not claim the stragic importance of the borders with Jordan neither could they exploit all the water of the West Bank. On a purely practical cost benefit analysis the Israelis have nothing to gain from a comprehensive settlement. The only rationale for a two state is essentially moral and I do not think for a second that Likud has any interest in moral issues.
    That is why I would like to remind everyone of a strategy that has promise. The Palestinians should demand being absorbed into Israel and then they should embark on well organized civil disobedience whenevr their rights are abriged which I think they will often be.
    The only other possibility for a successful negotiations outcome is for the US to apply pressure on both sides which it is not willing to do.

    Posted by ghassan karam | September 3, 2010, 7:04 pm
  95. The most significant parts of the FT article are the last 2 paragraphs:

    “The US has no excuse for abdicating leadership. It should offer its blueprint for a solution and firm up the one-year deadline to make it clear it will not let talks drag on beyond that point. And it should demand from both parties a commitment to take any final agreement back to their respective peoples for a referendum. That is a riskier gamble. But it would help to sidestep obstructionists on all sides – and it is the only way to bring Hamas on board.

    All parties should prefer a negotiated outcome – not least Israel, whose wobbly international legitimacy is its greatest security risk. State-building under way under Salam Fayyad, Palestinian prime minister, could soon put Palestine in a position to aim for a declaration of statehood without Israeli agreement. The final curtain for the theatrics may not be far away.”

    Seems to me a blueprint for a successful outcome is defined therein, and the argument that Israel has no incentive to cooperate and compromise in seeking peace is negated. Is the glass half-full or half-empty?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 3, 2010, 10:42 pm
  96. HP,
    When a country is forced to take an action then that is ample proof that it does not have an incentive to do so on its own. Israels problem is its inability to look at the Palestinian problem through the only thing that counts, morality and ethics.
    What is the benefit of gaining the world but loosing ones soul? I guess that the Israelis do not look at the new testament:-)

    Posted by ghassan karam | September 4, 2010, 12:03 am
  97. GK,

    Yeah right, Israelis are less moral than other people. Do you really believe that?

    Israelis are not more moral or less moral on average than other peoples. For example, our crime statistics are much lower than that of the US across all categories.

    If the things that really motivate people were “morality and ethics” no person in his right mind would pay $50,000 ($40,000 for commuters) to attend Pace University.

    Do you know how many poor and desolate people that money can save per year? Do you know how many lives that money can save? Do you realize how many people could get medical treatment that otherwise wouldn’t if the money would be given to Doctors Without Frontiers? It seems extremely unethical to go to Pace especially since you can pay half the price and go to Rutgers or SUNY. So I find it strange that a person whose livelihood depends on people acting unethically would say that Israel’s problem is that it does not look at problems ethically and morally.

    I do not really think that going to Pace is unethical, by I do believe that you are judging Israelis based on impossible standards. Israelis look after their own interests like all other people around the world, no more no less.

    Posted by AIG | September 4, 2010, 12:28 am
  98. AIG,
    We all know that we do not live in a perfect world. Plato’s question of 2500 years ago “What is the good life” is not taken seriously by many, maybe by none.
    I like the examples that you had in mind about excessive consumption but I beg to differ on expenditures on education since one can easily make the argument that these expenditures pay very handsome dividends for humanity. Yet one can be moral and ethical without being altruistic. I do not like this but the evidence seems to be overwhelming that humans are not designed to be altruistic except for the preservation of their genes.
    But back to Israel, we can discuss the issue of deontology and virtue some other time. My charge is not that the Israelis are less virtuous than other people but it is simply the charge that the Likkud in particular is satisfied with the status quo since they do not see any material benefits from an accomodation with the Palestinians and they cast a blind eye on one of the most reprehensible human practices, occupy a people against its will and at the point of a gun. We do not need to live in a perfect world to agree thaqt occupation is shameful.

    Posted by ghassan karam | September 4, 2010, 1:06 am
  99. The facts on the ground are what they are. The Arabs and Palestinians chose not to negotiate peace in 48 nor in 67. They did not join the Camp David process that led to peace with Egypt. They thought that as time passes their position would grow stronger vis a vis Israel. It looks as if they have miscalculated. It is naive to assume or expect the negotiations not to reflect the relative strengths of the participants.

    There is absolutely nothing that the Palestinians can currently do to persuade Israelis that peace is better than the status quo because in fact peace will not be better than the status quo. So, at the very least the Palestinians need to accept a deal that will ensure that peace will not be WORSE than the status quo. That means that the Palestinian state must have limited sovereignty. For example, Israel would be crazy not to insist that it keep controlling Palestinian airspace. It is not an issue of morals or ethics. After 9/11 it is just common sense.

    Posted by AIG | September 4, 2010, 1:11 am
  100. Again you provide food for thought, AIG. But, after reflection, I beg to differ. The argument is sophistic. The choice of topic is in the vein of attacking the person making a valid argument instead of the argument. You’re basically saying “the end justifies the means.” The attitude is one of the old Testament’s “an eye for an eye” but I think with the added protection of “… and then some!”
    I really suggest you stick to objective arguments and not go personal when you don’t like an argument.
    Note that GK’s argument did not compare Israel to other countries. Nowhere is there the statement, nor the inference, that you attribute to his post that “Israelis are less moral than other people.”
    While no one in this bloody conflict holds the moral ground, it is a stretch to compare the cost of private college education in the U.S. (in which there is no particular case to be made AT ALL against Pace university as compared to any other of the high priced private colleges) to the valid point of the utter and complete dismissal of the human suffering of the Palestinians by official Israeli policy and its effective influencing of public opinion in the U.S. in a way that suppresses this reality from U.S. media. Surely this is helped (and maybe dominated) by the horror of terrorism in which extremist Palestinian and others who use (abuse) their just cause for their own twisted agenda, but does not excuse nor absolve Israeli guilt in this area.
    There is no case to be made here using the consequences of free market capitalism in the U.S. Public universities abound and don’t carry the costs you mention. It’s a question of choice. There is no moral sin in free market economics. Get off that high horse that makes you like a leopard ready to jump at any thing that moves in the direction of suggesting anything negative in relation to Israel.
    The utter insensitivity to the facts depicted in the videos below need not be expounded upon. GK is right. Your justification is wrong. Period.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 4, 2010, 1:12 am
  101. And just for the record, I’ll argue 10x more strongly against the horrors of terrorism committed by extremists on the Palestinian and Arab side. As I said so many times before, two wrongs don’t make a right.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 4, 2010, 1:18 am
  102. GK,

    Occupation is shameful if there is a good alternative. A completely sovereign Palestinian state is a recipe for disaster. If the Palestinians will only agree to be completely sovereign or to be occupied, then they will continue to be occupied. Likud is in power because Israelis want them to be in power.

    There are very few Israeli Jews, Likud voters or not, who would accept a completely sovereign Palestinian state. Until that state proves it can be trusted, its sovereignty has to be very limited.

    Posted by AIG | September 4, 2010, 1:20 am
  103. HP,

    You miss the point. If someone makes a free market choice in the US that costs the lives of people in Africa, how is that choice justified? Do you deny that if instead of paying $50,000 per year to Pace one would pay $25,000 per year to SUNY and donate the rest that countless lives can be saved and bettered by the money? Hiding behind the mantle of “free market economy” is the scoundrel’s defense. Just accept the fact that people that send their kids to private universities are not really concerned with the welfare of other people. They put the interests of their kids first. And that is fine.

    Your problem is that you seem to think that there is a simple solution to the occupation problem or that if the occupation ends things would surely be better for the Palestinians. Are things better in Gaza after Israel left? I and most Israelis will only support a peace agreement that gives us very good assurances that the West Bank will not be like Gaza, Lebanon or Syria. That is the only way to make sure that peace is not worse than the status quo.

    Posted by AIG | September 4, 2010, 1:35 am
  104. GK #95

    I do agree with you : there’s nothing new under the sun. I mentioned the FT only because no one would suspect them to be – dreadful thing – “Arab rejectionists”.

    Same with the comment in Haaretz – here’s the link :

    “The Palestinians should demand being absorbed into Israel and then they should embark on well organized civil disobedience whenever their rights are abriged which I think they will often be.”

    Can you explain how?
    It’s not realistic to expect the Palestinians demanding being absorbed into Israel. They can’t even demand using their own water resources.. And it’s not realistic to imagine that Israel would integrate the Palestinians – while their current practices are all about disintegration and deportations.
    By the way, since when a slave asks the master to be free?
    You mentioned Plato but the Hegelian master/slave trope would be more appropriate : to be recognized, the slave has to struggle to death, according to Hegel.

    To some extent, it’s surreal & inefficient to mention German idealists or Greek moralists here – but not it’s not as surreal & inefficient as the Washington farce though.

    “Are things better in Gaza after Israel left?” asks AIG.
    Colonial ingenuousness, in all its splendor!

    1,314 Palestinians were killed “after Israel left”, 412 of them children. Are things better ? Obviously not for them and their families.

    As Benjamin Constant wrote about those worrying about our happiness and well-being :

    “They will say to us: what, in the end, is the aim of your efforts, the motive of your labors, the object of all your hopes? Is it not happiness? Well, leave this happiness to us and we shall give it to you. No, sirs, we must not leave it to them. No matter how touching such a tender commitment may be, let us ask the authorities to keep within their limits. Let them confine themselves to being just. We shall assume the responsibility of being happy for ourselves.”

    source : The Liberty of the Ancients Compared with that of the Moderns (1819)

    Click to access constant.pdf

    Posted by quelqu'une | September 4, 2010, 8:09 am
  105. I’m younger (34), was born in Lebanon, emigrated and have been back and forth many times. 3 years ago I moved back permanently and have set up my own company. I work in the field of economic development and hoped I could do something for my country. Alas I now find myself exporting 98% of my services to the region and hitting a brick wall of bureaucracy or complacency when it comes to implementing meaningful programs for Lebanon. If it does not benefit the decision maker personally, it is not going to happen.

    I can tell you of a village where the people stopped the phone company, Ogero, from laying the necessary cables to provide DSL to the community simply bc the then minister was affiliated with an opposing political party. Mind you the villagers would all have loved to have DSL, but the zaim wasn’t going to benefit so he gave the orders to stop it.

    That said I do love living in Lebanon. It is much better than living in the States, Iraq, Indonesia, Afghanistan or any other Arab country that I have lived, worked or traveled extensively. For a libertarian it is the best place to live, because the government can’t get in your way and you are not accountable to anyone but yourself. Period.

    The one thought that keeps coming back to me though is a discovery I made when I had just returned from the States to complete high school in Beirut.

    To truly comprehend the possibilities in Lebanon one must simply spell it backwards. nonabel. The possibilities are simply non-existent for those that do not already possess them. That’s why everyone emigrates. And I have to agree wholeheartedly with the posters that laid the blame on the populace because we are complacent, arrogant bunch that are extremely satisfied with the status quo – because we are free to do as we please when we please.

    Posted by Johnny | September 4, 2010, 9:49 am
  106. To be more clear in case anyone missed it: Lebanon = nonabel ~ Non Able

    Posted by Johnny | September 4, 2010, 9:51 am
  107. quelqu’une,

    What is your point? After all for you Israelis living in Tel-Aviv are “colonialists” also so anything we say can be labeled as “Colonial ingenuousness”. Coming from you that is a tautology that does nothing to better anyone’s understanding or move the discussion forward. What is the way forward you propose?

    Posted by AIG | September 4, 2010, 11:15 am
  108. HP,

    Here is an issue that you can actually do something about:

    Why not collect signatures from the Lebanese diaspora to disarm Beirut? Imagine getting a million signatures for that cause. Why not at least try? Isn’t this something most of the diaspora can get behind?

    Posted by AIG | September 4, 2010, 12:03 pm
  109. AIG,

    True, most of the diaspora can get behind a strong central government with exclusive rights to weapons. But we should first at least get the right to vote in absentia, which, as you know, is non-existent, leading to the money play of paying emigrants to fly back to vote as in the last election. Say the signatures are collected, will it be more than a feel-good gesture? Disarmament cannot be implemented by force nor by fiat, at least not easily, as we saw. The one person who can play a decisive role in it is Aoun, who continues to be a big mystery to me.

    Imitation is the greatest form of flattery. Delighted to see the use of “tautology” repeated in this forum.

    The reality for Israel is that despite all the theorizing, second-guessing, and hollow declarations of divine victory by HA, the facts on the ground are now such that no threat exists in practice on Israel’s northern border and whatever threat might exist is countered by the threat of the “flattening” of Lebanon should any attempt at reviving hostilities from that border resume. So Israel is in a comfortable position now and couldn’t care less about HA weapons. Save, of course for the potential of nuclear weapons, which will be dealt with, in time, at the level of HA’s master, Iran. Remains to be seen if the evolution theorized by some that HA will indeed evolve into a purely political movement has any seeds of validity. Time will tell, but not any time soon, and not until the Palestinian/Israeli conflict gets a resolution.


    Kudos to you and to your efforts. My points in the past have been centered around one key argument against the generalization of the negative characteristics of the “people” in Lebanon. Here is that point again: aren’t you one of those people? Do you lump yourself with that characterization? I certainly don’t, not you, not myself, not BV.
    The other point is that, with improved education, modernism, communications, isn’t the feudal system bound to evolve and eventually disappear?


    As everyone, including you, evades the expression of a possible way to a solution, despite repeated requests, let me go ahead and propose one:
    Ghandi Style – Declare immediate and permanent cessation of all armed struggle. Channel all energies, locally and internationally at information campaigns, peaceful marches (both locally and internationally), hunger strikes, seeking humanitarian and civil rights groups support worldwide. What say you?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 4, 2010, 1:53 pm
  110. HP,

    HA weapons have nothing to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I don’t understand why you keep repeating this. It seems an excuse not to do anything.

    Posted by AIG | September 4, 2010, 3:34 pm
  111. AIG,

    Is there a difference between demanding the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, and to give up the right of return to Israel proper?

    I don’t want to speak for quelqu’une, but she expressed her pov rather clearly in this comment of hers.

    Posted by Badr | September 4, 2010, 3:50 pm
  112. The arguments about weapons in Beirut brings to mind the fact that nobody, not even those most enthusiastic about invading Iraq in order to democratize it, proposed trying to control/limit the weapons in civilian hands. Everyone conceded that it would be impossible.

    Not to mention that the American historical love affair with personal gun ownership precludes almost all attempts to level even commonsense restrictions in the US.

    What is the situation in as far as Lebanon is concerned? Is widespread ownership of weapons a given? From a distance, it seems the recent kerfluffle is purely political and ginned up as a means to a different end ie disarming HA.

    On purely practical terms, it would seem a highly unlikely prospect to disarm everyone but the authorities granted license to carry as a part of their professional duties.

    It’s one thing to declare “no weapons” for societies that have never had traditions of civilian gun ownership, but quite another to impose and enforce bans on a population for which the right to own weapons is endemic.

    Posted by lally | September 4, 2010, 4:07 pm
  113. @ HP :

    I’m fine with your solution. I am taking part myself as much as I can to the global anti-apartheid campaign through the BDS movement. http://bdsmovement.net/
    I’m not evading a possible way to a solution : as I already said – and it has been proven by history – there’s no solution in “negotiations without conditions”, building walls and ongoing colonization.

    I am not a Palestinian and I don’t live on the occupied land of Palestine, that’s the reason why I don’t really feel like I am entitled to tell precisely what the Palestinians should do.

    My hope is to see an international movement of solidarity with Palestine – either like the one that supported the struggle against racist oppression in South Africa or like the 1936/1939 solidarity movement with anti-fascist Spain.

    The problem is that instead of the unflinching attitude of a legitimate Nelson Mandela, you have a public figure of collaboration through the illegitimate Mahmoud Abbas – who deserves a shoe right across his face.

    Another problem about the solution you mentioned – civil groups, etc. – is that for some reason, probably linked to a racist bias and an identification with the colonial project of Israel, no one really cares about the Palestinians (at the institutional level of European organizations, for example, it is quite obvious).

    Hopefully, I believe in the fact that social & political is prompted by the opinion when the opinion gets higher levels of understanding and rationality. If someone calls themselves a humanist, they should care about their ideals being truly universal : which means human rights for all human beings – including the Palestinians living under military occupation.

    Another possible way to a solution is to judge the multiple violations of international right by Israel.

    Posted by quelqu'une | September 4, 2010, 4:28 pm
  114. Badr,

    I personally really don’t care if the Palestinians accept Israel as a Jewish state or not. I am very much against the right of return. So it looks like they are not the same, but perhaps they have the same consequences.

    Posted by AIG | September 4, 2010, 4:48 pm
  115. Quelqu’une, all good in what you write except that part of what I propose, and an indispensable ingredient of its chances for success, is the declaration and ending of violence. I know it’s easier said than done but don’t you think the bias you talk about has at its roots (and continues to be fed) by violence against civilians? [Not to excuse or ignore the violence the Palestinian people are subjected to but, at the risk of repeating ad nauseum, two wrongs don’t make a right.]

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 4, 2010, 5:52 pm
  116. HP,

    Even though I fully agree with the fact that “two wrongs don’t make a right” and that violence against any civilian should be avoided, I don’t think it is pertinent to put on the same level the violence of a colonial state with a regular/powerful/organized army & the violence of a people with no state and whose land is occupied.

    Honestly, if I was a Palestinian living in the occupied archipelago of Palestine, not even able to have decent living/education/security/health conditions for me and my dear ones in my own country because of ongoing colonization and foreign checkpoints everywhere, I really don’t know how I would act. I think it’s easy to advocate peaceful resistance when you live in a peaceful environment.

    That’s why I always feel ill-at-ease when it comes to telling the Palestinians what they should do.

    The situation of Palestine always reminds me of Frantz Fanon’s words about Algeria under French occupation : “In this colonialist context there is no truthful behavior : and the good is quite simply that which is evil for ‘them.'”
    But at the same time, I have the conviction that such a distinction between “us” and “them”, at the end of the day, is just pointless because no one really saves themselves from oppression by using the oppressive means of the oppressor.

    The racist/orientalist bias I spoke about hasn’t its roots in the violence against civilians. It’s precisely this bias itself – which is central in the zionist ideology – that actually feeds the violence against civilians, like suicide attacks. These irrational acts have their roots in double standard and discrepancy between humanist values & their lack of practice in certain circumstances and for certain people. Why are the so-called humanists of the so-called civilized world passively observing the ongoing colonization of Palestine, the deportation of its population and the violation of international laws without condemning Israel?

    This lack of reaction is a violence too.
    If this global violence against many generations of Palestinians stops, the particular violence against other civilians would certainly stop as well.

    Posted by quelqu'une | September 4, 2010, 6:50 pm
  117. quelqu’une #105
    It is my fault that I did not spell out the plan that I was refering to but such a solution has been making the rounds of academe for a long time. What it says in essense is that the Palestinians would challenge the Israelis to annex the West bank by not demanding a two state solution. I do not need to spell out the possibilities of this scenario but I do believe that it would bear fruits. The Israelis will then need to decide whether they want to have two class of citizens with separate rights or whether they want to practice democracy and lose the jewish state so to speak. This BTW, is not any different than what HP is calling for and that is one reason I was surprised when he said that no one has come up withy this suggestion. HP, I and many others have been making such a call for at least a decade.

    Johnny #106,
    I am glad that you enjoy doing whatever you do and I am also glad that you feel that you would like to make a contribution in Lebanon. But your post was a classic contradiction: You bemoan that nothing gets done unless the authorities get a cut i.e pure corruption and then you claim that this is the ideal libertarian state. Aren’y these positions exact opposites? 🙂
    On a personal level I have many issues against US type of libertarianism but that has nothing to do with the point above.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | September 4, 2010, 6:58 pm
  118. Quelqu’une,

    Good discussion. You say:
    “Why are the so-called humanists of the so-called civilized world passively observing the ongoing colonization of Palestine, the deportation of its population and the violation of international laws without condemning Israel?”
    I don’t speak for anyone but myself but I think I have a good idea why. Because it is hard to distinguish one element of the conflict without having in mind the context of every other element including the history of how all this developed. We go back to statements about “throwing the Jews in the sea,” backed by actual attempts to do so in the many wars undertaken and, directly or indicrectly, initiated against Israel. As a result, the claim of self-defense and necessary reaction for survival is taken to heart and further strengthened by the inherent European guilt about the Holocaust.
    Without such understanding of these considerations, taking them into account in the struggle to reverse these impressions, etc., the bias shall remain there. Just complaining about the bias is not going to do anything. Countering it has to start with unqualified and unconditional declarations of condemnation of violence against innocent civilians, of terrorist acts against civilians in the world, condemnation about such acts regardless of who is the perpetrator. It is this reticence by many to make such unqualified declarations that creates outrage by neutral audiences.

    Anecdotal example (true, I heard it myself on the radio 10 days ago). Talk-show on the radio. Discussion of the Middle East conflict and the fate of the Palestinians. Caller condemns the tactics used by the IDF in Gaza. Moderator engages in discussion back and forth and the conversation turns to 9/11 (don’t remember why). Moderator asks if caller condemns these attacks. Caller refuses. Moderator insists. Caller refuses.

    Now, 9/11 is not about the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, but ordinary folks often lump all the issues of the region together. Refusing to condemn 9/11 attackers on a radio talk show in the U.S. by an immigrant who is now a U.S. citizen does not endear the people of this immigrant to anyone, perpetuates the bias.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 4, 2010, 7:03 pm
  119. AIG,

    “HA weapons have nothing to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
    Until the Palestinian/Israeli conflict is resolved EVERYTHING in the Middle East is colored by it, whether rightly or wrongly, whether relevant or not. I need not elaborate but I’ll ask how the HA weapons came to be in the first place? How did the armament of militias in Lebanon start in the first place. The trigger for all this was the armed Palestinian presence in Lebanon (what is that due to, I wonder?). Israel is considered “the enemy” by HA because of the Palestinian/Israeli problem, not because of the lame excuses of the Shebaa farms.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 4, 2010, 7:35 pm
  120. HP,

    Why Arabs should pay for what you justly call “the European guilt about Holocaust”?

    In the case of France, I think this guilt takes very paradoxical forms. Instead of supporting a colonial state in the Middle-East, the members French government – if they really were guilty for the racist policies and crimes committed against the French Jews and other minorities – would not promote racist policies against Roma communities and migrants, for example.

    I think there’s no genuine guilt/moral consciousness or whatsoever about Holocaust in Europe. But there is for sure a disgusting political use of these crimes by the supporters of zionism. I personally think it’s an insult to the memory of the European Jews who perished during WWII.

    About the radio conversation :

    One should wonder why the moderator asks the caller about 9/11 ? Why should someone who supports justice in Palestine always has to prove s-he is not some kind of extremist ? Why should “an immigrant who is now a US citizen” has to answer questions the moderator would not have asked to any other white US citizen ?
    In my opinion, refusing to answer such questions is not a bad response.

    Posted by quelqu'une | September 4, 2010, 7:48 pm
  121. Quelqu’une, what is to be gained by falling in the trap of refusing to answer a very simple question about the condemnation of the 9/11 ? I don’t get it. Expressing unqualified condemnation and then going on to condemn atrocities in Gaza would be much more persuasive to neutral audiences. Regardless of the motivation of the moderator, playing in the hands of folks who work smartly to keep the negative impression does not seem to me as an effective way to advance the cause.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 4, 2010, 8:04 pm
  122. GK #118 “HP, I and many others have been making such a call for at least a decade.”
    Apologies for not knowing. As I may have mentioned I’m really not erudite in the vast expanse of literature and opinions on this subject.
    The fact is that news is regrettably dominated by the sensational events that involve armed conflict, attacks on civilians, and pronouncements of political leaders in charge who, to my knowledge, have, on the Palestinian side always fallen short of advocacy for peaceful civil resistance along the lines of what you have advocated and which I have tried to articulate perhaps in different terms.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 4, 2010, 8:12 pm
  123. HP,

    I see your point but I think that in the last instance, a cause advances because it’s just – not only because it makes either good or bad impression on a particular audience.
    If one starts being preoccupied about making good impression on prejudiced moderators – who treat any US citizen of Arab origins like a potential member of a terrorist group – they’ll probably end up defending the destruction of Iraq and the invasion of Afghanistan.

    Posted by quelqu'une | September 4, 2010, 8:48 pm
  124. Quelqu’une,

    The important impression to make is not on prejudiced moderators (and I’m not sure the moderator was prejudiced – I just don’t remember how the conversation evolved). The important impression to make is on public opinion which, as you know, in the US contributes to who gets elected and hence what US policy is. So the target audience are the listeners and by not giving clear, unqualified messages, the caller to the radio show furthered the negative impression of Arabs. Me thinks.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 4, 2010, 8:56 pm
  125. GK #93- not sure how you got that from my post. I’m just reminding everyone of the ubiquity of religious extremism I guess.

    A great editorial. The one-state discourse is gaining steam. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/02/AR2010090204665.html

    Posted by Nasser V | September 4, 2010, 11:43 pm
  126. HP,

    The arming of the militias was caused by the 1969 Cairo agreement for which Israel has zero responsibility. All you have to blame are your Arab friends that forced that agreement down Lebanon’s throat.

    The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is just an excuse for the lack of success of Arab states. Even if the Palestinians and Israelis sign an agreement, Hizballah is not going to give up its weapons.

    Posted by AIG | September 5, 2010, 12:42 am
  127. Nasser V, yes but also another great editorial with much truth to it arguing better chances for the current peace talks than either pundits or common wisdom or the author of the other editorial [“after these latest Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in Washington fail — as they inevitably will –“]:

    Also, Gaza is not included in the combined single state as viewed by the few Israeli politicians quoted. What happens to it?


    Secondary causes still have at their root the original Palestinian/Israeli conflict. As far as HA, should they not give up their weapons after peace agreements are in place with the Palestinians, Aoun (if still alive, or his successor(s)) will make another about-face and this will become a purely internal Lebanese problem with the possible help/interference of Syria (which has proven its ability to crush opponents to its decision – remember Hama) leading to a voluntary or involuntary morphing of the movement into a purely political one. By then, political power would have become as effective, if not more, than power from their weapons for internal purposes.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 5, 2010, 1:23 am
  128. … and the phantom forces of the imagination shall be summoned to disarm the citizenry of Lebanon….

    Is sovereign Lebanon outsourcing forensic crimescene re-enactment of the Hariri assassination to France & friends from the “international investigation committee” and who is paying for it? Is this fine farce supposed to be considered credible and legitimate evidence to investigatory bodies?

    O, shades of North Korea. Perhaps she has no choice.

    From As-Safir via nowlebanon:

    “France to complete a model for the Saint George crime scene; the crime’s re-enactment starts on September 28 and will go on for several days.”


    “French newspaper Le Figaro revealed that the re-enactment of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri’s assassination will start on September 28, after French companies have finished building a model of the Saint George Hotel in a military base near the city of Bordeaux.

    A French source said to As-Safir that Commandant Jean-Pierre Laroche, working on the international investigation committee, supervised the project.”

    To read more: http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=199008#ixzz0ydDWebuR

    Posted by lally | September 5, 2010, 2:47 am
  129. Quelqu’une #124,

    When you say “a cause advances because it’s just” I think of the equivalent in business:
    “Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.”
    What’s missing is “marketing.” To many idealists (and scientists), marketing is a dirty word. Yet, anyone who has done business, anyone who has tried to expand the reaches and effectiveness of a charity, or any of myriad undertakings that require participation, knows that marketing is an essential ingredient and includes appropriate messaging throughout multiple channels. It’s missing here. Actually more is missing: you have “negative” marketing from poor pronouncements, failure to declare and enforce a set of principles grounded in non-violence, and too many extremists poisoning the water with absurd and inhumane acts.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 5, 2010, 7:29 am
  130. HP,

    Hélas you’re right : marketing is an essential ingredient – as far as it confines itself to be an ingredient.
    The concept of a “negative marketing” is very interesting, never thought about it before, and I agree with the fact that it is indeed poisoning.
    Though the obsession of the “good image” and looking “civilized” might also lead people (especially the educated ones) to abandon the defense of their own interests in the region.
    Moreover, at the end of the day, marketing is a matter of financial means rather than effective virtue : the richer you are, the more you can invest for the manufacturing of your “good” image.

    Posted by quelqu'une | September 5, 2010, 8:30 am
  131. Quelqu’une,

    Effectivement on the financial means. This is where solidarity in the Arab world can bring miracles. The riches of a Saudi Arabia, a Kuweit, a UAE, are obscene. They all claim to support the cause, and yet, where/how is the money spent? Glad we agree on something!

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 5, 2010, 8:54 am
  132. Did Gandhi need money to generate a good image? Did Mother Theresa?

    Would a billion dollars of marketing money make vegemite (an Aussie yeast paste) a success in the US?

    The lesson is simple. Marketing is one aspect of the mix. But you have to start with a product your target audience would like if they knew about. The Palestinian cause as it now stands, is not such a product in the US.

    If Abbas is a “traitor” and Hamas are the true representatives of the Palestinian people, do you really think that given the American affinity to Israel and mistrust of Islam that marketing is the problem?

    That is why supporters of the Palestinian cause do not try to promote their side in the US, they try to smear Israel. A negative campaign if you will. But at best, the reaction from this is “pox on both your houses” and that does not help the Palestinians much either as the much weaker side.

    Posted by AIG | September 5, 2010, 11:45 am
  133. Voila!

    AIG can be the marketing consultant for Quelqu’une.

    Problem solved.

    HP will be the wiseman pronouncing the pearls of wisdom.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 5, 2010, 11:51 am
  134. HP #132,
    The last thing that I want to do is to nit pick. But I truly believe that there is a popular global myth about the extraordinary wealth of Saudi Arabia and some of its neighbours.
    Let me just share with you the figures:
    GDP per Capita:
    Saudi Arabia: $ 14,500
    Israel……..$ 26,800
    Kuwait……..$ 31,500
    United Arab Em.$ 46,900
    Qatar……….$ 68,900

    As you can see only tiny Qatar qualifies as a country of “obscene” wealthy.( Not that the others are poor:-))

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | September 5, 2010, 12:47 pm
  135. GK, many thanks! Nothing like objective data to get an accurate picture.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 5, 2010, 2:38 pm
  136. HP,

    Why are you so determined in looking at all the wrong places for the reason the Palestinians are where they are? Or as a matter of fact the Lebanese?

    The problem is not with Israel, its morality or behavior. Israel is behaving like any other state in its position would. The problem is not with the US. Till after 1967 the US did not strongly support Israel and things were not very much different. The problem is not the Palestinian refugees. Plenty of countries absorbed refugees and though it was difficult it eventually was beneficial. One example is the US, the other is Israel absorbing 850,000 Arab close after its founding (doubling its population) and over a million Soviet Union immigrants (few left the Soviet Union with any money).

    In 1948 Lebanon was richer and more developed than Israel. The only reason Lebanon is not richer now than Israel is because of the Lebanese. Not the Israelis, not the Palestinian, not the Americans not anyone else.

    Yes I know, colonialism, blah blah, Israeli lobby, blah blah and a million other excuses. Really, enough with that. The real problem is Arab society and the internal organization of Arab states. Until you fix that, you will fix nothing. Even if Israel would have never existed, these problems would be holding the Arabs back.

    The thing is, instead of tackling this problem, you seem to prefer discussing Israeli society and its attitude to peace. That is fine, but I do find it very strange. Isn’t that just plain old escapism?

    Posted by AIG | September 5, 2010, 3:03 pm
  137. For your entertainment:

    Unifil and the Lebanese Army are a joke.

    Posted by AIG | September 5, 2010, 4:39 pm
  138. AIG,
    Currently, Lebanon, is not a state. I question whether it ever was independent, sovereign and acted in its self interest. The fact of the matter is that Lebanon does not suffer of the relatively serious problem of having a state within a state, it is much worse than this. The illegitimate forces are in control of all decision making and the populace has chosen to go around in its own merry way pretending that this just ain’t so. Guess what? Denial hurts only those that hide their faces in the sand.
    I believe that one reason that we have not heard anything about the Adaiseh incident from the Lebanese side after the great big hullabaloo was the self indictment by Sayed Nasrallah when he gave his speech on that very same day and indicated that the Hezbollah units were close by watching and waiting for a request from the army to come to their aid. That was an indirect admittance of a most serious violation of the whole spirit of 1701.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | September 5, 2010, 5:59 pm
  139. @ HP#134 :

    pfffff… 🙂

    @ AIG#137 :

    You expect from the Arabs an attitude of self-criticism that you never put in practice for yourself and the colonial state you live in.

    You – and your allies – seem obsessed with HA weapons but you never mention Israel’s nuclear weapons which represent a more effective and dangerous threat for the region : this is the real “plain old escapism”.

    Posted by quelqu'une | September 5, 2010, 6:21 pm
  140. GK,

    One does wonder especially about the 1969 Cairo agreement. If anyone can recommend a paper or a book that sheds light on the Lebanese dynamic that led to the Lebanese accepting this agreement, I would be grateful. Why would a country give away basically all its sovereignty south of the Litani for nothing (and “import” a civil war as part of the bargain)?

    Posted by AIG | September 5, 2010, 6:29 pm
  141. quelqu’une,

    Really? Israel is not self critical? Where do you find most of the criticisms that you post of Israel? It is reported by Israeli papers or Israel NGOs. Israel conducted inquiries after both Lebanese wars. That is the reason Sharon lost his job after the first war. Israel is a highly self-critical society with zero tolerance for politicians that don’t deliver.

    I don’t expect anything from the Arabs. If you think Arabs should only be self critical after Israel is, that is your problem. Why would you hold such a weird position anyway? Why would you hold hostage development in the Arab world to changes in Israeli society?

    Why should I mention Israel’s alleged nuclear weapons (I believe Israel has such weapons but I do not know for sure)? I think they are not a problem for Israel. If you think they are a problem, than go ahead and mention them.

    As for HA weapons, I have said that I am willing to sign a peace agreement with Lebanon in which HA DO NOT relinquish their weapons. In my opinion, those weapons are a much bigger problem for Lebanon than for Israel. And if these weapons make the people of south Lebanon feel safe, I don’t mind HA keeping them as part of a peace deal.

    Posted by AIG | September 5, 2010, 6:40 pm
  142. * “Israel’s alleged nuclear weapons (I believe Israel has such weapons but I do not know for sure)”

    You “don’t know for sure”?!
    I can’t believe you actually wrote this.

    * “those weapons are a much bigger problem for Lebanon than for Israel”

    Seriously, since when do you care for Lebanon?
    How could Lebanon – or any other neighboring state in the region – could feel safe with Israel’s nuclear weapons?

    You are trying to divert the readers attention – and increase the fears – by mentioning HA weapons as if the basic weapons of a militia could be more damaging than the nuclear weapons of a national army supported by the first economic and military power worldwide.

    There was no organization called HA – and subsequently no HA weapons – when Israel started its nuclear program in 1952 (year of creation of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission).

    “Israel has not confirmed that it has nuclear weapons and officially maintains that it will not be the first country to introduce nuclear weapons into the Middle East. Yet the existence of Israeli nuclear weapons is a “public secret” by now due to the declassification of large numbers of formerly highly classified US government documents which show that the United States by 1975 was convinced that Israel had nuclear weapons.

    Israel began actively investigating the nuclear option from its earliest days. In 1949, HEMED GIMMEL a special unit of the IDF’s Science Corps, began a two-year geological survey of the Negev desert with an eye toward the discovery of uranium reserves. Although no significant sources of uranium were found, recoverable amounts were located in phosphate deposits.
    The program took another step forward with the creation of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC) in 1952. Its chairman, Ernst David Bergmann, had long advocated an Israeli bomb as the best way to ensure “that we shall never again be led as lambs to the slaughter.” Bergmann was also head of the Ministry of Defense’s Research and Infrastructure Division (known by its Hebrew acronym, EMET), which had taken over the HEMED research centers (HEMED GIMMEL among them, now renamed Machon 4) as part of a reorganization. Under Bergmann, the line between the IAEC and EMET blurred to the point that Machon 4 functioned essentially as the chief laboratory for the IAEC. By 1953, Machon 4 had not only perfected a process for extracting the uranium found in the Negev, but had also developed a new method of producing heavy water, providing Israel with an indigenous capability to produce some of the most important nuclear materials.
    For reactor design and construction, Israel sought the assistance of France. Nuclear cooperation between the two nations dates back as far as early 1950’s, when construction began on France’s 40MWt heavy water reactor and a chemical reprocessing plant at Marcoule. France was a natural partner for Israel and both governments saw an independent nuclear option as a means by which they could maintain a degree of autonomy in the bipolar environment of the cold war.
    In the fall of 1956, France agreed to provide Israel with an 18 MWt research reactor. However, the onset of the Suez Crisis a few weeks later changed the situation dramatically. Following Egypt’s closure of the Suez Canal in July, France and Britain had agreed with Israel that the latter should provoke a war with Egypt to provide the European nations with the pretext to send in their troops as peacekeepers to occupy and reopen the canal zone. In the wake of the Suez Crisis, the Soviet Union made a thinly veiled threat against the three nations. This episode not only enhanced the Israeli view that an independent nuclear capability was needed to prevent reliance on potentially unreliable allies, but also led to a sense of debt among French leaders that they had failed to fulfill commitments made to a partner. French premier Guy Mollet is even quoted as saying privately that France “owed” the bomb to Israel.
    On 3 October 1957, France and Israel signed a revised agreement calling for France to build a 24 MWt reactor (although the cooling systems and waste facilities were designed to handle three times that power) and, in protocols that were not committed to paper, a chemical reprocessing plant. This complex was constructed in secret, and outside the IAEA inspection regime, by French and Israeli technicians at Dimona, in the Negev desert under the leadership of Col. Manes Pratt of the IDF Ordinance Corps.
    Both the scale of the project and the secrecy involved made the construction of Dimona a massive undertaking. A new intelligence agency, the Office of Science Liasons,(LEKEM) was created to provide security and intelligence for the project. At the height construction, some 1,500 Israelis some French workers were employed building Dimona. To maintain secrecy, French customs officials were told that the largest of the reactor components, such as the reactor tank, were part of a desalinization plant bound for Latin America. In addition, after buying heavy water from Norway on the condition that it not be transferred to a third country, the French Air Force secretly flew as much as four tons of the substance to Israel.
    Trouble arose in May 1960, when France began to pressure Israel to make the project public and to submit to international inspections of the site, threatening to withhold the reactor fuel unless they did. President de Gaulle was concerned that the inevitable scandal following any revelations about French assistance with the project, especially the chemical reprocessing plant, would have negative repercussions for France’s international position, already on shaky ground because of its war in Algeria.
    At a subsequent meeting with Ben-Gurion, de Gaulle offered to sell Israel fighter aircraft in exchange for stopping work on the reprocessing plant, and came away from the meeting convinced that the matter was closed. It was not. Over the next few months, Israel worked out a compromise. France would supply the uranium and components already placed on order and would not insist on international inspections. In return, Israel would assure France that they had no intention of making atomic weapons, would not reprocess any plutonium, and would reveal the existence of the reactor, which would be completed without French assistance. In reality, not much changed – French contractors finished work on the reactor and reprocessing plant, uranium fuel was delivered and the reactor went critical in 1964.”

    continuation of the article here :

    source : Federation of American Scientists

    Posted by quelqu'une | September 5, 2010, 7:45 pm
  143. AIG #141,
    The short answer to your question is that i do not have a reference to any good analysis of what brought about THE 1969 Cairo Agreeemnt. But since i have often spoken about it and written about it then let me take this opportunity to make a few brief remarks:

    (1) Many people do not recognize that the Accords were annuled by the Lebanese Parliament in 1987 under the Premiership of Hoss. The Lebanese authorities have had 23 years to reassert the Lebanese sovereigntty over the camps but have chosen not to do so.

    (2)The Cairo Accords are a direct product of the 1967 Arab defeat.

    (3) Israel retaliated against the PLO “War of Attrituion” in 1968 through a group of commandos that struck Beirut Airport.

    (4) The combined feelings of defeat in 1967 and humiliation by the raid in 1968 led to a strong shift in Sunni sympathies towards the PLO.

    (5) PM Yaffi insisted on giving Palestinians right to wage war from Lebanon. President Charles Helou, who lacked a constituency had no choice but to agree to Sunni demands.

    (6) Indirectly it was the Arab states that favoured a PLO war of attrition with the hope that such a war would redeem the 1967 loss. One can conclude that Lebanon started loosing control on its sovereignty as of the end of 1967 war

    (7) Cairo Accord was reached by a Lebanese delegation headed by the Lebanese head of the armed forces , General Bustani. He must have known what he was agreeing to but yet he had no other choice. His forces were weaker than the PLO. (Does that have a current parallel? :-))

    (8) And finally I have seen an account that states that the Egyptians could not believe what the Lebanese have agreed to and sent a special emmisary to Beirut to make sure that the Lebanese authorities were sure of what they were doing. (I cannot vouch for the validity of this).

    (9) What was expected to define clearly the palestinian presence in lebanon wound up in giving Lebanon to the PLO which led to 1982 1nd Hezbollah etc…

    (10) As you can see 1967 is a war that keeps on giving.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | September 5, 2010, 8:10 pm
  144. AIG, and you ask why I say an important ingredient in Lebanon misery is the consequence of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict?

    We don’t need anyone to teach us about the many negative aspects and issues with the Lebanese population, the lack of civic sense, and myriad other problems. We lived it, suffered from it, self-exiled because of it. I can rant much more accurately and vociferously than you or BV or any one else in this direction. But what’s the point? Regardless of such issues, one looks for answers and ways to betterment. The poor chaps who have no choice but to stay there need support and encouragement, and, in time, maybe after decades or even centuries, things will get better.

    And as far as questioning my own personal initiatives and actions in that field, please understand I have no intention to become political in any way after having been apolitical all my life. Still, as I said before, this doesn’t mean one cannot express opinions, particularly in a forum such as this one. I’m sorry but very humbly I’m not the one to fix things. There are ways I suppose I can contribute and try to do so but this is not the forum to discuss these nor to brag about them nor to explain or justify them. I can assure they don’t involve supporting terrorism, as you probably would at least guess from my writings.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 5, 2010, 8:31 pm
  145. GK,

    Thanks, that is helpful.
    I think the connection to 1967 is not very strong and would seek a better explanation. Lebanon did not fight in 67 and was not defeated. The Lebanese knew in 69 what kind of “guests” Yasser Arafat and his cohorts were. They had seen what just happened in Jordan. Yaffi could not have been that stupid. It makes a lot of sense that the Egyptians were surprised.

    Posted by AIG | September 5, 2010, 8:32 pm
  146. AIG, good luck understanding Lebanon!

    When the French enlarged Mount Lebanon in 1920 to create the “State of Great Lebanon” which is what the borders define today, they included enough cities and plains and mountains to create what they thought would be a nice, self-sufficient country which would still have a predominantly Christian character. Of course, with the passage of time and the birth rates and emigration rate differential between Christian and muslim/druze populations the balance kept turning against the Christians (and mind you, here, Christian and Muslim is like you define Jew, because the religious personal beliefs have little to do with these affiliations which are mostly social, familial, and to some extent racial).

    In 1943, a bunch of stupid good-for-nothing Christians sided with the Muslims to “kick the French out” and hence we have the national holiday of 22 November 1943 to celebrate as Lebanon Independence day.

    Things go downhill from there, but still probably salvageable in some compromise and with economic development helping everyone, would have maintained progress towards peace and prosperity.

    In comes 1948, then 1967, then the “black September” where King Hussein of Jordan crushed the Palestinian military factions that were trying to overthrow him (or so he thought).

    In Lebanon, Muslim sentiment was aroused by the “Arab Cause” and the Christians, having lost a bunch of cards when they kicked the French out, had no choice but to surrender in the signing of the Cairo agreement or risk civil war. Still, it was cowardice to conceded and the risk of civil war should have been taken then.


    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 5, 2010, 8:40 pm
  147. There’s a lot more but I’ll stop. I’m sure I’ll be accused of being a fanatical Christian, anti-Arab, anti-Muslim, and what have you. I have no interest in such engagements. I know what the reality was, and this is all history now anyway and contributed to the creation of the ultimate Chaos that is now Lebanon. Be thankful you were not born Lebanese, and widen a bit your perspective to include some compassion and some thinking while being in the other person’s shoes.

    As I’ve said a long time ago on SyriaComment, regrettably the politics and poor decisions are often determined by a minority while the majority of folks in a country are decent people after honest living and betterment of life for them and their families. It’s no different in Lebanon.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 5, 2010, 8:43 pm
  148. Once again, AIG, good luck understanding Lebanon.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 5, 2010, 8:44 pm
  149. HP,

    Yes, I ask why the Palestinian-Israeli issue is an important aspect in Lebanon’s misery. Will solving the problem give Lebanon enough electricity? Will it make its society more secular? Will it make HA disarm? What problem will a peace agreement solve?

    Lebanon made excellent decisions in the sixties. They did not join Nasser’s military alliances and stayed out of the 67 war. Lebanon very smartly walked a fine line between Nasser and Saudi Arabia while alienating no one. What happened in 1969 to reverse this trend? The Israeli-Palestinian conflict cannot be the explanation because it existed both when Lebanon made good decisions and when it made bad decisions.

    Posted by AIG | September 5, 2010, 8:47 pm
  150. HP,

    I know there is not any difference between the average Lebanese and average Israeli. That is why Lebanon is such an intriguing case. I am trying to understand. Can’t say I am there yet.

    Interesting point about the French and Lebanon. You see, sometimes occupation is the better alternative…

    Posted by AIG | September 5, 2010, 8:58 pm
  151. Aha! but it was NOT occupation. The French had a “mandate” on Lebanon. Unlike the British whose modus operandi is to take the children of the leaders to England, educate them at elite schools (thereby creating intrinsic loyalty to the Kingdom) then sending them back to rule the masses (Jordan sounds familiar? see how articulate King Abdallah is? how articulate his fater was?), the French do the following:
    – Create new roads
    – Create new infrastructure
    – Open schools
    – Send missionaries and volunteers to teach the locals, educate them, educate the masses if you will vs. the British method of educating the elite
    In so doing, they create a following, an allegiance, a grateful people (at least those smart enough to recognize it). That’s why for many Lebanese (not sure about the current generation), France has been and will always be the “mother Country.”

    The ingredients to explaining why the Israeli/Palestinian conflict created a severe imbalance in Lebanon and compounded the problems probably to a breaking point are all there. No need to argue about them. One can have an opinion that they should not have mattered or, like I do, that they were a major factor. We can agree to disagree on that one. No point going back and forth.

    I would, however, take issue with your flippant remark that “sometimes occupation is the better alternative…” As I explained above, the French mandate was not occupation (like it was in Algeria, for example). There’s absolutely nothing to compare between that French mandate and Israel’s comportment in Palestine.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 5, 2010, 9:15 pm
  152. AIG, there’s an old Lebanese joke dating from the days were computers were an innovation and had a wow factor that such machines can solve any problem. Experts from around the world posed questions challenging the computer which easily provided the correct answer. In comes the Lebanese who whispers something in the computer’s “ears.”

    The computer blows up.

    Careful as you seek to understand Lebanon.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 5, 2010, 9:50 pm
  153. HP,

    Come on. The British also had a “mandate” on Palestine. Of course it was occupation. Who gave the British and French the “mandates”? Why, it was the British and French themselves in the notorious Sykes-Picot agreement.

    The French were kicked out of Lebanon because most Lebanese thought they were occupying forces, as indeed they were. It was a democratically elected Lebanese government that unilaterally annulled the mandate (and all ministers were promptly put in prison by the French who of course were not “occupiers” just acting against the will of most Lebanese).

    By the way, all the things you list the “French do”, the British do exactly the same. Just look at India where they were enough time. And by the way, the French also educate the leaders of their colonies in France. Many of Lebanon’s elites were educated in France. Having a “mandate” is just colonialism with shining veneer of “international legitimacy”. It is especially ridiculous since the Western powers basically granted those “mandates” to themselves!

    Posted by AIG | September 5, 2010, 9:51 pm
  154. In case you missed it, here is Islam -1.0 (negative one-point-oh) which needs to be categorically bucked and overcome by true Islam if it is to achieve the respect it seeks:

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 5, 2010, 10:36 pm
  155. HP,

    In fact until the first intifada, Israel’s occupation was way better than that of the French or British. Growth rates in the West Bank and Gaza were higher that the rest of the Arab world. Universities, schools and much infrastructure were built. In fact, Israel and the West Bank and Gaza were one economic unit. There was quiet because the generation of Palestinians that was under Egyptian and Jordanian rule knew that the Israeli occupation was a much better deal. When a new generation came into its own 20 years after the start of the occupation, they had no recollection of what things were before and naturally resented being occupied. I think this is the process that happened also in Lebanon. By 1943, people forgot how much better the French were relative to the Ottoman Turks and wanted self determination.

    I am sure that the French were just as surprised as us Israelis when the first intifada started. Our occupation was so “enlightened”. For example, the Jordanians did not allow any universities in the West Bank. We built several. The Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza were so much richer than the average Jordanian and Egyptian, why are they complaining? But of course, there is no “enlightened” occupation. People want to govern themselves. It is only natural.

    Unfortunately, the Arab world is still in the process of figuring how to apply self determination successfully. Replacing occupation by tyranny or anarchy is not the way to go.

    It is interesting that you are nostalgic for occupation. There are many more Palestinians than you realize that prefer Israeli occupation to Fatah or Hamas (they don’t think occupation is good, just better than the alternatives, a kleptocracy or a theocracy).

    Posted by AIG | September 6, 2010, 1:14 am
  156. HP – You talk all too often about these different versions of Islam. “Islam 2.0” is and has been the prevalent view (If it hasn’t in your opinion, then you are characterizing a religion by its extremists). Muslims, in general, are not violent and condemn TRUE terrorism. Saying it needs to arise is erroneous. What you should be saying, is that the media needs to realize not all terrorists are Muslims and vice versa.

    Why do the Muslims need to buck and overcome some stereotype created in the media? I suppose it is in the interests of Muslims living in the West, but still – fuck the media.

    Posted by Nasser V | September 6, 2010, 1:20 am
  157. Nasser V, if you watch the video you see how Fareed Zakaria was making exactly your point. It’s not fair to blame the media. Rather, as I said to Quelqu’une, a “marketing” effort is required to change public opinion.
    Of course there is media and there is media. If something like this were to be explored on FOX NEWS, then I can guess what they would make of it.
    Still, the fact that you even didn’t realize what message CNN was portraying really says about how pre-dispositions to have certain points of view color once opinions. It’s the same for those who still view Islam and muslims through the lens of its extremists.
    Islam 2.0 may be the prevalent view, as you say, but that’s not generally understood.
    Finally, if you permit me, we keep a code of standards here at QN blog and, regardless of how deeply felt an outrage is, stay shy from certain words.
    There was a time when Christians, as crusaders, invaded and committed crimes in the name of their religion, when they burned alleged witches live. This was at the time institutional extremism. It is not the same here for Islam but the sensationalism of what the extremists do creates an unspoken impression of the same. No one will say it to you to your face, particularly in intellectual circles, but it’s a fact. Official recognition of what you say abounds. U.S. presidents from Clinton, to G.W. Bush, to Obama have stated as much in their speeches.

    Here’s what’s missing:

    Vocal denouncement of muslim extremism by prominent muslims in unqualified, categorical ways.

    Not vague referrals or shy pronouncements of such, but clear, unequivocal denouncements.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 6, 2010, 4:18 am
  158. AIG, all this is a matter of record and history and I respectfully disagree with your comparisons. Like the other subject I don’t think it worth going back and forth in arguments on it but I just don’t see the equivalence in the two situations. Of course I didn’t live through the French mandate but relate to you what my older relatives used to relate.
    Maybe the French pressed their hands too much at one point, particularly when the French Government refused to ratify the friendship and alliance treaty that had been successfully agreed to by then President Emile Edde and the local French authorities, and endorsed unanimously in the Lebanese parliament. The reaction that grew from that point on was unfortunately precipitous and counterproductive for the Christian community.
    At any rate, the situation in Lebanon has always been very complex due in part to the various religious and other affiliations of its people and to the interference by neighboring and not-so-neighboring countries.
    The one fundamental difference I will point out with the situation of the Palestinians in Israel is the fact that there were no French settlers claiming the land as God-given to them and settling it in a deliberate and continuous manner to create a swiss cheese structure as in the occupied Palestinian territories. I don’t see any opening for disagreeing with this point.
    For the other points, as I said, things are a matter of history and we can leave them at that with the recognition that we interpret this history differently.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 6, 2010, 4:38 am
  159. AIG says :

    “the Arab world is still in the process of figuring how to apply self determination successfully. ”

    that’s probably why Iraq has been turned into a huge black hole : to help those stupid Iraqis to apply self determination successfully.

    “Interesting point about the French and Lebanon. You see, sometimes occupation is the better alternative…”

    interesting point about occupation. You see, sometimes a national resistance with whom you might not fully agree is the better alternative…

    “Lebanon made excellent decisions in the sixties. They did not join Nasser’s military alliances and stayed out of the 67 war. ”

    et voilà comment les sionistes, avec un ton grand seigneur, distribuent des “bons points” aux gentils petits peuples qui les entourent : encore une preuve éclatante de leur mépris et de leur obsession pour la défense de leurs seuls intérêts.

    Posted by quelqu'une | September 6, 2010, 5:05 am
  160. Touché

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 6, 2010, 5:35 am
  161. QN, come back so we can get your commentary on Saad Hariri saying he’s sorry for blaming Syria for his father’s assassination!

    Posted by Trey | September 6, 2010, 7:29 am
  162. Nasser V, if it makes you feel any better there are, alas, many examples of lingering (and dangerously gaining steam) Christianity -1.0 (negative one-point-oh), which, of course, should be condemned even more strongly than Ric Sanchez does on CNN:

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 6, 2010, 9:00 am
  163. Trey, is it any different than Walid Junblatt’s being sorry for blaming Syria for HIS father’s assassination? (only to turn against Syria later and then for Syria again). Does anyone really think they can understand Lebanese politics?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 6, 2010, 10:05 am
  164. QQ,

    “that’s probably why Iraq has been turned into a huge black hole : to help those stupid Iraqis to apply self determination successfully.”

    Naturally, you prefer Saddam Hussein. What a surprise. And as usual, you are not willing to point the finger at the real culprits for Iraq’a failure as a state. The Iraqis themselves that are not willing to make any political compromises.

    “interesting point about occupation. You see, sometimes a national resistance with whom you might not fully agree is the better alternative…”

    Tell that to the Iranian leftists that supported overturning the Shah and quickly found themselves in the gallows. Or how about Araft’s chef that was given flying lessons by Hamas? (he was thrown from the top of the building). If you want to sell your soul to the devil, go ahead.

    “et voilà comment les sionistes, avec un ton grand seigneur, distribuent des “bons points” aux gentils petits peuples qui les entourent : encore une preuve éclatante de leur mépris et de leur obsession pour la défense de leurs seuls intérêts.”

    Ok, it was a bad idea for Lebanon to stay out of the 67 war. If you take any statement of historical fact as an insult you will not get anywhere. History is what it is. Of course, you can live in denial as you do.

    Posted by AIG | September 6, 2010, 11:40 am
  165. HP,

    So let me get this straight, if there were no settlements in the West Bank, then the occupation would be ok? The Palestinians would not be demanding Israel leave?

    Posted by AIG | September 6, 2010, 11:45 am
  166. AIG, Oh the fascination of multi-dimensional analysis. I only wish you or I could really make a difference. Your hypothetical is not possible to answer without many more details, including the meaning of the word “occupation,” etc, and, in any case, the answer needs to come from Palestinians, not from inconsequential me. On a conscience level, I would say that conditions that allow people to live in peace with rights and dignity and opportunity would not be conducive to conflict.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 6, 2010, 1:39 pm
  167. ya AIG, is there anyone you agree with on this forum?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 6, 2010, 1:42 pm
  168. HP,

    I think AIG would agree with someone who is willing to admit that the Arabs could solve their problems to a large extent, and put their house in order, without the need for solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    Posted by Badr | September 6, 2010, 3:22 pm
  169. HP,

    I don’t agree with people, I agree or disagree with statements.

    As for making a difference, I believe people make a difference in their own families and communities, otherwise they are just spewing slogans. Being a “humanist” is a great excuse for doing nothing to alleviate the problems nearby because you “worry” about greater problems elsewhere. The Talmud summarized this succinctly: “The poor of your own city come first.”

    I can make a difference in my community. You can make a difference in yours. But if you try making a difference in mine, instead of taking small steps to improve yours, you will surely fail. You can make a difference, it is just that you are not trying to make it in the right place.

    Posted by AIG | September 6, 2010, 3:34 pm
  170. Badr,

    Thank you. I agree with what you write in #169.
    What is your position on this issue?

    Posted by AIG | September 6, 2010, 3:36 pm
  171. AIG,

    For the time being, I prefer to take the Fifth. 😉

    Posted by Badr | September 6, 2010, 4:08 pm
  172. I have not read Tony Blair’s new book but based on the excerpts that appeared in the NYT ‘s article about Syria today I am know convinced that the so called Cedar Revolution was a mirage. It was a creation of the media.
    I believe that on this forum and a few others BV, myself and possibly others have maintained that Syria did not leave Lebanon because of the demonstrations. Bashar was scared stiff of Bush/Cheney. Blair makes it clear that the fears of Bashar Assad were not misplaced. Maybe now we do have a solid reason for the utter failure of the March 14 to rule:-) March 14 was satisfied in taking Lebanon to what it was in the 60’s and that was not a system to emmulate.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | September 6, 2010, 6:07 pm
  173. Badr #169 writes :

    “… Arabs could solve their problems to a large extent, and put their house in order, without the need for solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

    The Israeli-Palestinian conflict – whether Arabs themselves acknowledge it or not – is already inside their house : cf. Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan, etc.

    Arab countries will never be able to put anything in order without solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It has nothing to do with pan-arabist dreams or even moral values : this is pragmatism and mere geography.

    Just have a look on a map and see how these small countries all co-exist on a postage-stamp sized space ; so whether they like it or not, countries of this region share a common destiny.

    Expecting one of them not to care about the ongoing colonization of Palestine is pointless. The way the colonial state is continuously expanding and dealing with Palestine should basically be considered as “un hors-d’oeuvre” – and a warning sign for all the region.

    Posted by quelqu'une | September 6, 2010, 7:26 pm
  174. @ AIG # 165 :

    “Naturally, you prefer Saddam Hussein.”

    Not only Saddam Hussein : Bin Laden, Kim Jung-il, Ahmadinejad, Hitler, Staline, le grand méchant loup, my prejudiced concierge and Darth Vador.

    Could you please stop making caricatural assumptions about whom I am supposed to prefer, according to your zionist bias ?

    Posted by quelqu'une | September 6, 2010, 7:45 pm
  175. and for anyone who didn’t get it, Dart Vador is French for Darth Vader 😉 (really!)
    Take THAT, AIG. Any sense of humor in there, or is that not allowed in the Mossad?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 6, 2010, 8:39 pm
  176. Posted by Honest Patriot | September 6, 2010, 8:42 pm
  177. ~ that would be Dark Vador (emphaaasis on the “o” in Vador)

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 6, 2010, 8:53 pm
  178. http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Editorials/Article.aspx?id=171411

    A definitive retreat or a defensive maneuver to mitigate the backlash from the STL upcoming indictments? Pity the poor souls who die believing their leaders (uh, their feudal lords).

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 7, 2010, 9:52 pm
  179. HP
    I thought that it was I who was supposed to speak about the “dysfunctional state”, the RIP Republic, The pretend state etc…:-)
    It is clear that Syrian influence has come back to Lebanon and possibly stronger than what it was but wiser because it is not applied through an outright occupation anylonger. All of this might come to pass but the JP article about capitulation is premature. I would rather wait and see the developments over the next 4-6 months.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | September 8, 2010, 12:52 am
  180. GK,

    Now a mirage? Where have you been the last five years? Just teasing, of course, but seriously.

    I myself prefer “technicolor exercise in mass delusion,” but now we are at the level of semantics. I think it can be said that M14 has never been interested seriously in addressing the true nature of Syrian influence, because to do so in any sort of rational, intelligent way would undermine their foundations of their own political power.

    In truth, I blame the Syrian regime, although also the Lebanese (of every political stripe), as well as the international players, especially the US, as I am an American.

    In reality, Syria has/had no policy in Lebanon, just as March 14 has/had policy in Lebanon. They are twins, born of the same adulterous father and jealous mother (or reverse that if you find the formulation sexist). And by some rule of cosmic justice, the incompentent and inchoate not only need each other, but also find each other in “real time.”

    It is, however, my firm belief that the Syrian period in Lebanon (or at least one manifestation of it) is coming to a close, and with it the eclipse of Lebanese Christian politics. Like the Aounis and the LF, the Syrians are only really able to survive politically until Hariri and Hizbullah reach some sort of modus vivendi. How soon, I don’t know. Neither really “needs” Syria, nor do they really need their respective Christian allies.

    Of course, I am speaking of “high politics,” not the politics of the village, which are likely to remain as they have always been, absent some massive economic trauma/transormation in Lebanon.

    All the rest just flows from the Israeli withdrawal in 2000, which necessarily led to a re-ordering in Lebanon. That some tried to accelerate that re-ordering or push its pace to their advantage, well, that is just kind of how it goes, but the plates shift more slowly, and those who swirl feverishly atop most often find themselves isolated by mother nature herself.

    Like I said before, the haggling will continue but a power-sharing ‘agreement’ will be reached, and it will be blessed in the form of the international tribunal, as the consular Mass is now a Dutch court.

    Beyond that, breaking the sectarian knot will only occur if the Christians commit suicide, which is perhaps their only path to political salvation, albeit one stripped (or liberated, the administrators of the lethal dosage will say) of its current coils.

    To the future, or the graveyard: which ever comes first …

    Posted by david | September 8, 2010, 5:45 am
  181. David,
    I am of the opinion that Lebanon cannot become an independent sovereign state unless it gets read of its sectarian system. Although all Lebanese will gain from such a system, the group that could gain the most i=are the Christians. Unfortunately the political and religious leadership of this community have been living in denial since greater Lebanon was created.
    Why do they persist in not recognizing the clear signs that the “state” that they helped create is unsustainable in its present form?
    If Lebanon can transcend its sectarian identity and look only for what is good for the commonwealth then all its citizens will view themselves simply as Lebanese. It is only then that religious identity becomes peripheral. Is that a realistic goal for Lebanon? Probably not in either the short or intermediate runs but maybe, just maybe, in the very long run.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | September 8, 2010, 1:32 pm
  182. To all, Eid Mubarak and Happy Rosh Hashanah!

    Posted by V | September 8, 2010, 1:46 pm
  183. I echo V’s wished and raise him one 😉

    عيد فطر مبارك


    שנה טובה

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 8, 2010, 7:10 pm
  184. ~wishes (ya QN, get some nerdy programmer to put an edit feature; yalla, waynak? it’s been more than 2 weeks habibi)

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 8, 2010, 7:11 pm
  185. I’m so sorry that I’ve been a negligent blogger over the past two weeks, friends. I’m trying to finish my doctorate this year, and sending out applications for academic jobs and postdocs. So it’s been a busy re-entry.

    I’ll try to cobble something together this weekend.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | September 8, 2010, 9:01 pm
  186. Elias,

    No need to be sorry. First things come first. Your doctorate & future potential jobs come first. It’s not like the ME and its soap opera stories are any different than last month.

    Wish you the best my friend & can’t wait to call you Dr. QN.

    Posted by Ras Beirut | September 8, 2010, 11:35 pm
  187. Agreed, GK.

    The story of surrending one’s privileges to secure one’s rights is one of the oldest known to man.

    In my own view, the current parties are way too sectarian constitutively to want/need a break from the current system (what a newsflash, I know!). In addition to being guilty of stating the obvious, I am probably also to be faulted for calling it a “system,” an overly generous expression.

    Still unsustainable is unsunstainable; something will inevitably give.

    Posted by david | September 9, 2010, 12:24 am
  188. Ghassan,

    Now that I think about it, my claim in 106 does appear to be a contradiction. I guess one is free to do as he wishes so long as he owns a tank or pays off the right person.

    That said, I maintain that so long as you are not stepping on anybody’s toes WITHIN Lebanon, you are left to your own devices even if you don’t own a tank or make any bribes.

    HP: I’m usually not prone to generalize, so I should have qualified my statement by saying that 94.6% of Lebanese… I guess there is that extremely silent minority (that reads this blog) that wants change to actually better the country. Unfortunately all of you live abroad. Everybody else may want change but change that benefits only themselves.

    Speaking of living abroad: You keep mentioning successful Lebanese in your posts. One thing in common with all these Lebanese is that they made it outside Lebanon. I have a theory for this. Lebanese are sharks. Take us out of the country and we will do well, because whatever pond we are placed in is usually stocked with small fish. Now bring us back to Lebanon and all of a sudden the pond is stocked with other sharks, most more vicious and aggressive.

    Finally, I recall once an interview with Ziad Rahbani (circa 1992) and he was asked what could be done to fix Lebanon. His answer was very simple. Take all the Lebanese living outside Lebanon and bring them back and take all the Lebanese living in Lebanon and send them out. I wonder if this would work?

    I used to agree with this statement, but now that I live here am not so sure any more.

    For instance take the Lebanese woman that lives in the US. She would not dare light up a cigarette in a public space. Wouldn’t dream of questioning a customs or immigration agent in the US. Wouldn’t come close to driving drunk, (or on the lines instead of between them). Would never ever ever harass a police officer. Yet bring this woman to Lebanon and she will do all the above and more. She loves that she can do what she wishes and get away with it. I’d hate to be the poor public servant that may dare to point our her transgressions. It’s fascinating watching a portion (being careful not to generalize and say all :)of Lebanese expats return to Lebanon for summer holiday. It’s as if they think it’s still 1992… And then they moan and groan that the place is backwards. I know because I used to be guilty of this. In my defense when I did this it really was still 1992. 🙂

    Posted by Johnny | September 9, 2010, 3:14 am
  189. Johnny, I take my hat off to you. Can’t really argue with anything you say. Cheers!

    QN – I join the crew in saying “no worries.” I was just teasing. I’d be honored if you send me your CV when ready.
    Back on SyriaComment, Alex and you filled in sometimes when Josh was away. Is there a corresponding Alex and nu-QN that can do the same here? Just a thought.

    Johnny, to your point about ladies’ treatment of traffic cops, section 0:38 to 0:52 in the “Caramel” movie trailer is an example.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 9, 2010, 11:45 am
  190. Johnny @189

    You hit the nail on the head.

    This is exactly why I called the Lebanese hypocrites in an earlier post.
    I also pointed out to HP that all his “success stories” are of Lebanese who made it abroad.

    And your comment about the Lebanese woman’s behavior in the US vs. in Beirut on her summer vacation is right on the money.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | September 9, 2010, 1:15 pm
  191. All true but let’s also not lose sight of the fact that what is referred to as the “Lebanese diaspora” is 15 million strong.

    While I appreciate the frustration of seeing a civic society and order be realized in Lebanon especially in the short term, it is not impossible to conceive of an evolution – helped by technology and catalyzed, importantly, by an extended period of peace – leading to an eventual stabilization and order akin to that in Switzerland. Sure, it sounds like utopia now, but I would venture to think that if you ask any Lebanese émigré if they have ever dreamed of such a day or, if it were to happen, if they would be encouraged to return, temporarily or permanently, and playing a role in reinforcing and perpetuating it, you would get a resounding positive reaction.

    Hey, I may be a dreamer, but new reality sometimes start with a dream, regardless of how long term it might be, for us or for our children or grandchildren.


    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 9, 2010, 1:59 pm
  192. HP
    You are more of a dreamer than I thought:-) I don’t want any of the Lebanese overseas to go back to Lebanon if for nothing else but population density. Lebanon is already way over populated.
    As for the issue that we could evolve I feel compelled of reminding you that “in the long run we are all dea” lol.

    I understand and appreciate the frustration with hypocritical behaviour. In a sense every single person in the world is a hypocrite. Do you know many people , or anyone for that matter, that practices what they preach in all areas? I doubt it. But back to Lebanon, individual behaviour is vey much influenced by ones environment. Could it be that the Lebanese national who is visiting from abroad interacts with Lebanese officialdom under completely different circumstances than the ones he/she encounter in their adopted country?
    I do not condone hypocracy but in some cases blame is a two way street.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | September 9, 2010, 3:09 pm
  193. GK, me, a dreamer? … hmm, OK, guilty 😉

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 9, 2010, 3:59 pm
  194. HP
    In many respects I am one of the biggest dreamers in the world. How else can I be an “almost anarchist”? 🙂
    Plans and dreams are only wishes and often these wishes are unrealistic eg Pigs cannot fly no hard how hard we wish it.
    BTW, am I allowed to construct a world vision based on spuerconductivity at say 50 degrees Fahrenheit?

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | September 9, 2010, 5:07 pm
  195. Hypocrisy is clearly a 2 way street. So to speak.

    The point, I think, that was being made is that a large majority of Lebanese (expats and otherwise), claim to want the things we want, while actively working towards the opposite.
    The example of the expat Lebanese behaving one way in the US, and another in Lebanon is simply an example out of many examples.
    I don’t blame JUST the expat. I also blame the Lebanese environment for letting her get away with it. One feeds the other. It’s a catch 22. But the Lebanese “environment” is made up of other Lebanese. So it all goes back to the Lebanese.
    The reason you can’t get away with this kind of crap abroad is because they have systems that work, accountability and consequences.
    Maybe a Lebanese expat, way back when they didn’t know any better, tried to bribe a US official, or get out of a speeding ticket. And probably quickly found his ass in jail, or in front of a judge. And word spread.
    And nowadays, many years later, Lebanese know not to mess around abroad. There is a sense of “fear”, in a sense.

    I hate to say it, but sometimes, the perception that we (Lebanese, and Arabs, by extension) need to be ruled by a strongman, because it’s the only way we learn to respect authority has some kind of nugget of truth in it.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | September 9, 2010, 7:14 pm
  196. I presume you guys know that dead Lebanese, as well as a few Lebanese living in Lebanon, have been voting in Bell (CA) municipal elections, in the news of late because its part-time city employees were raking $500k salaries. What happens in Lebanon, does not always stay in Lebanon, I suppose. To be fair, one of the “reformers” is also Lebanese.

    Actually when I try to explain Lebanese politics to Americans, I try to get them to think about classic machine politics, of past and present. The big, big difference, of course, is that the petty, graft-induced machinations in Lebanon are front page news and the subject of UNSC meetings, whereas the New Yorker does not cover the circus clowns of anytown USA.

    Have to agree with BV. I can almost precisely guess when a Lebanese left Lebanon by the way they “talk” about the country, sometimes even the circumstances. And this without any direct mention of politics.

    A Mountain of the Mind …? Maybe the Bishop of Rome was right, but for the wrong reasons: Lebanon is more than a country, it’s a message.

    And therein, perhaps, lies the problem.

    PS: As to the sanitizing effects of the American legal system, enjoy this: http://www.environment-hawaii.org/eh-xtralineup_more.php?id=1733_0_11_0_M

    The industrious will be rewarded, as there is much mirth to be found in the two complaints (linked in the article).

    Posted by david | September 10, 2010, 12:14 am
  197. So I don’t seem to be providing anything but critique I propose a solution for civic interaction in Lebanon: “The Decency Campaign” or the “Don’t Be That Guy Campaign”.

    In Indonesia I worked on a bird flu prevention project. On the project I learned about this fascinating field of communications called behavior change communication. In a nutshell it is a series of mass or local media messages intended to change a populations behavior. In Indonesia we did this to get children to stop sleeping next to their chickens. (rural Indonesian’s view chicken’s as house pets that also provide income – through sale of eggs, etc.) So what an American child may do with his cat or dog, and Indonesian does with his chicken.

    I propose a media campaign in Lebanon to address the very serious issue of driving. Nobody in the country knows how to drive (HP this is a very fair generalization – it fits everyone on the road – including myself). Some think they are Michael Schumaker, others think the highway is a parking lot, others just don’t give a f&%k.

    The “Don’t Be That Guy” campaign would show how Lebanese typically drive – but point out how/why it is so bad and tell you “Don’t Be That Guy”. For instance creating a new lane on the highway does not make the trip go faster for anyone – except the first few jerks that create the new lane. I think if people see that a new lane only creates a bigger bottleneck, maybe just maybe they will stop doing it.

    This needs to be coupled with a two-fold initiative from the Ministry of Interior. The first initiative is to re-issue all driver’s licenses. Everybody has to go back to driving school and get a new license. AND I MEAN EVERYBODY – including me.
    The second initiative is to empower the thousands of traffic cops in Beirut and elsewhere to issue tickets on the spot. Any traffic violation is ticketed. EVERY ONE – ESPECIALLY THE TANTE WITH CONNECTION. This would be a great revenue stream for the Government – though hopefully only short term.

    We are drivers in Lebanon. We spend a good deal of time on the road interacting with our fellow citizens. If we can get people to be decent to one another on the road then maybe we can make this place slightly more pleasant. And who knows maybe this then extends from the road to the public and private spaces. The lack of cordiality, respect and good service is not monopolized by the public sector – it extends well into the private sector.

    Any savvy media people interested in launching the decency campaign?

    Posted by Johnny | September 10, 2010, 3:10 am
  198. GK @195 “BTW, am I allowed to construct a world vision based on spuerconductivity at say 50 degrees Fahrenheit?”
    For sure, for sure, dear GK. Go for it. However, I must candidly caution you that, given that 50 degrees Fahrenheit correspond to approximately 10 degrees Celsius, which is about 283 kelvin, and that for digital applications you want to operate at half the critical temperature (hence about 142 kelvin, or -204°F) and for analog applications you want to operate at no higher than 80% of the critical temperature (hence about -52°F) and so still requiring significant refrigeration which will continue to come at a higher price as Global Warming persists, you’d be better off shooting for something that makes life easier by enabling operation at room temperature (and actually slightly higher to accommodate various climates and conditions) and start with the premise of a superconductor with a transition temperature of say 782°F so that even at 1/2 the absolute corresponding temperature in kelvin you would have perfect operation up to even MILSPEC standards. Temperature conversions can be found here:
    A scifi novel based on this might be of interest. If nothing else it would be really “cool” by removing the requirement of cool of today’s superconductors.
    Now, however far-fetched the actual occurrence of something like this, you might want to then comment on how its likelihood compares to the reform of Lebanese civic sense in Lebanon.
    (I had to put something that makes this relevant to this blog!)

    Posted by Honest Patriot | September 10, 2010, 11:03 am
  199. Dear QN,

    You’ve been on hiatus for some time. I understand the need for a break but it’s been more than a week and I am worried that something is wrong. Reassure us please!

    (is it possible that you are hiding because many die-hard bloggers keep adding posts depite the fact that you are away? have you left us a broken man because you’ve seen that your blog will continue without you).


    Posted by SydneySider | September 13, 2010, 4:09 am

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