On Brief Hiatus

Apologies for the current hiatus from posting. I’m in Beirut, attending a symposium about Arab cultural history hosted by the Orient-Institut and AUB, and have been occupied with matters medieval. Next week, I should have a chance to weigh in on the latest developments in Lebanonistan.

In the meantime, check out this essay contest launched by the Brookings Institution’s Doha Center. I suspect that it may be of some interest to the prolific comment-thread participants on this blog.




301 thoughts on “On Brief Hiatus

  1. Merry Christmas to all of you , Let us hope that next year is full of peace for all ,

    Posted by Norman | December 24, 2010, 10:38 pm
  2. I second that Norman.

    Merry Christmas and a happy new year to all.

    May peacefull and prosperous days are ahead for the Levant.

    God Bless.

    Posted by Ras Beirut | December 24, 2010, 11:56 pm
  3. Happy Holidays for all.

    Posted by prophett | December 25, 2010, 12:30 pm
  4. Merry Christmas and a happy new year to all.

    182 Prophet: Rabi Aviner is a Rabi for his students and community, he is not a leader and does not lead any body other than them and even that is conditional.
    192 Ras Beirut: The Mayor of Nazaret is a leftish Muslim and he decreed againt the Christmas tree to spite the Christians.

    Posted by Rani | December 25, 2010, 3:49 pm
  5. Rani,

    Thanks for the info in 203. Whoever this mayor is, I think he’s a scrooge.

    Maybe Santa won’t drop him any presents.

    Posted by Ras Beirut | December 25, 2010, 5:14 pm
  6. Rani,

    Your version of the story is not what was reported!

    It is the mayor Shimon Gapso of a Jewish suburb of Nazareth, Nazareth Illit or Upper Nazareth, which has an Arab and Christian minority, who refused to allow Christmas trees to be placed in his town squares, calling them provocative.


    Posted by Badr | December 26, 2010, 2:04 am
  7. Thanks Badr,

    If Jews are treated in the West the way Christians and Muslims Israelis are treated in Israel , Israel as we know it will be no more ,and Israel will become a real Democracy with equal rights to all ,

    Posted by Norman | December 26, 2010, 9:20 am
  8. Norman 206,

    Me thinks thou art dreaming.

    Posted by anonymous | December 26, 2010, 11:25 am
  9. Badr 205 There are no “town squares” in Upper Nazaret, street corners or few parks may be. As you said it has a small minority of Hebrew speaking Christians, and very few Arabic speaking Christians and I have seen there trees in houses. There are more, much more Christians in Tel-Aviv and Jaffa and there are no Xmas trees in the streets there. Xmas is not a holiday for the Jews, and some fanatical SOBs both Jews and Muslims object to such trees, even in Jaffa, sorry but that is life. If one want to make an issue out of that I will ask about Gaza, KSA, Karachi, etc. but why look for troubles on Xmas ? . If one will look farther into that event in Upper Nazaret NOT NAZARET the very shocking story will become less and less of a sensation and more and more of an enflated spin. As I see it the whole thing was an intended racial spin, because people tend to think that it was Jews against Christians in the holy city of Nazaret.
    As for Norman 206 the only country in the ME in which the numbers of Christians and the number of active Christian churches is growing is Israel. To talk like you, if Muslims in the Christian world will be treated like Christians in K of Saudia Arabia, What then? Also, please notice, if Jews will be even slightly persecuted in any place in the world they will migrate to Israel, we have seen it historically with the Arab countries and lately with England, France and Holland, not to mention Russia. I dont think the Palestinians will join you in that death wish for them.

    The interesting thing, for me, is that this discussion started with 11 hungings in Iran and like most ME political discussions it ended with Israel. As I have said before in this blog, so much money and troubles could have been saved by blaming, right away, Israel and the Jews for the murder of Hariry, because any how, eventually that is what will happen.

    Posted by Rani | December 26, 2010, 12:16 pm
  10. “The interesting thing, for me, is that this discussion started with 11 hungings in Iran and like most ME political discussions it ended with Israel. As I have said before in this blog,”

    This discussion was started by another ‘Jew’ ridiculously arguing about who killed Jesus. You now just proved that nothing changed over the last two thousand years. First blame the Romans and now blame the Muslims.
    You cannot win legitimacy for your argument before you show some courage just like Prophet did vis-a-vis Iran and declare Israel a rogue state. Prophet did recognize the validity of the argument that two wrongs do not make right or for that matter multiple wrongs do not make right. Do you have the capacity to recognize that?
    And just for your information, most of those countries you mention do not have any citizens who are Christians. I also never heard of Hebrew-speaking Christians. What is that supposed to mean?

    Posted by anonymous | December 26, 2010, 3:57 pm
  11. “The interesting thing, for me, is that this discussion started with 11 hungings in Iran and like most ME political discussions it ended with Israel.”

    The “discussion” started with the usual crap floated by one of YOUR tribe in the endless attempts by the less gifted among you to screech about rotten apples on the other “side” in order to practice this idiotic method of “defense” of Israel/Jews/Zionism; take your pick.

    If you have a problem with the utterly predictable tit-for-tat that results from employing this “tactic”, I suggest you directly address the source of the silliness who started it all.

    How many Russian Jews are emigrating to Israel versus the numbers of non-Jewish Russians that are being recruited solely to become fake “converted” mercenary *Jews* in order to backfill the ranks of the IDF?

    (Hopefully, American taxpayers aren’t paying for that, too.)

    How many Christian churches are being built by the nutjob Evangelical Xtian “Zionists” and that other offshoot known as “Jews for Jesus”? Even though their life’s Mission to Convert is against the law in Israel, it appears that there isn’t much official effort made to enforce said laws.

    You can have them, Rani. America has plenty of fundamentalist wacko “Christian” cultists to spare.

    Too bad that all of the above (& more) are contributing to the inexorable internal rot that’s spreading like kudzu through out Israeli society. I do hope that the courageous Israelis who are recognizing the dangers to the democratic State will prevail in their efforts to arrest the threatened implosion.

    Posted by lally | December 26, 2010, 4:52 pm
  12. Tribes can co-exist with one another.

    Religions can’t.

    Posted by PeterinDubai | December 26, 2010, 5:35 pm
  13. My own little Hiatus. Canuck weather was getting too cold. So what better place to escape than good old Imarati Sunshine?

    Lubnan. Just the word gets people going on about Xians and Muslims. Lubnan. Oooh. :D. It is a remarkable social experiment.

    So good ‘ol Gabs hops into local taxi. Bangladeshi driver.

    “Marhaba arbab, where?”

    Me: Carrefour (speaking English)

    “Where you from?”

    Me: Lubnan, you, where from?

    “Bangladesh Sir. Lubnan. Christians and Muslims in Lubnan”.

    Me: Yes.

    “More Christians or Muslims?”

    Me: More Muslim.

    “You.. You Christian or Muslim”.

    Me: Me Mulhid. You know Mulhid (dumbstruck look in driver’s face). Kaffir. You know Kaffir? (shocked look in driver’s face).

    “Kafir? Kafir and Christian similar, no?”

    Me: No No. Masee7i they believe in God. Kaffir no believe in God. Different. You what are you?

    “Me I am Muslim”.

    Arrive at destination. Meter: 21 Dhms ($7).

    I give him 50 Dhms. Dumbfounded look on his face.

    Me: “Merry Xmas!”

    Posted by Gabriel | December 26, 2010, 9:48 pm
  14. Rani:

    The argument is always a Local one. People will always be concerned with their own lot. Of course it could be “worse” elsewhere.

    And that should come as no surprise. See “debate” above. The argument doesn’t work with Jews either (Amsterdam, Ukraine).

    I think most reasonable people know that for closure to happen in Lebanon, the Hariri case must be solved. Some random finger pointing is not going to cut it. No need for “Israel” to throw itself as some sort of sacrificial lamb- you know- just to save everyone time and money.

    Posted by Gabriel | December 26, 2010, 10:01 pm
  15. Norman’s Democracy Crusade;)

    If Jews are treated in the West the way Christians and Muslims Israelis are treated in Israel , Israel as we know it will be no more ,and Israel will become a real Democracy with equal rights to all ,

    This is the typical “reasoning” of an Arab who is too obsessed with Israel and Jews to speak objectively about the mess Arabs live in on a daily basis.

    Which is why Israeli-Arab prefer to stay Israeli Citizens than become subjects of Hamas or the PA.


    In a survey from July 2000 conducted by Kul Al-Arab among 1,000 residents of Um Al-Fahm, 83 percent of respondents opposed the idea of transferring their city to Palestinian jurisdiction, while 11 percent supported the proposal and 6 percent did not express their position.[9]

    Of those opposed to the idea, 54% said that they were against becoming part of a Palestinian state because they wanted to continue living under a democratic regime and enjoying a good standard of living. Of these opponents, 18% said that they were satisfied with their present situation, that they were born in Israel and that they were not interested in moving to any other state. Another 14% of this same group said that they were not prepared to make sacrifices for the sake of the creation of a Palestinian state. Another 11 percent cited no reason for their opposition.[9]


    Posted by Akbar Palace | December 26, 2010, 11:11 pm
  16. Gaby,


    Imarat this time of the year? And a Bangladeshi driver? And worse taking hiatus from QN? That’s double treason – first to the great north and also the site.

    Next time you take a cab, I am sure you’ll have to call a tow camel in the middle of your trip – punishment for you extravagance and treason.

    Anyway that wouldn’t be as bad as having to confront religious police for your bold indiscretion and admitting you’re Xian sorry kaffir.

    But to change the subject from killing and blame since after all it is Xmass, I have found this very memorable clip from the golden era of Arab art now that you’re back to you roots Gab. I am sure you would like it and play it more than once – a rare sopranic voice and most beautiful poem all in Arabic. And do not forget to drink Arabic Coffee (AHWA) as often as it gets offered to you.

    A warning to the Jewish commentators: the word AHWA in Arabic has no relation whatsoever to the Jewish conception of YAHWA. In fact they are the complete opposite. So please avoid any confusion and seek professional translators if you like to comment on the clip. An ordinary translator cannot do the job for you in this particular case.

    Posted by anonymous | December 26, 2010, 11:13 pm
  17. I noticed that some of the people here have a special interest in the Mayor of Upper Nazarath in Israel. He is the fellow who did not allow Xmas trees in public. So here are the very very latest news about him:

    “The Magistrates Court in Rishon Letzion ordered on Monday that Natzrat Ilit (Upper Nazareth) Mayor Shimon Gapso, the head of his office and an aide be held in custody until Thursday on suspicion of corruption. Gapso was arrested Monday on suspicion of taking a bribe following an undercover operation of the National Fraud Investigating Unit.
    Gapso is suspected of receiving hundreds of thousands of shekels in bribes from a businessman immediately before and after local elections, among other times. The mayor and the other two suspects face charges of taking a bribe, brokering a bribe, fraud and breach of trust, money laundering and conspiracy to commit a crime.”

    As they say G-d has his own ways of settling accounts. It is also possible that a local Christian policeman or another Christian citizen helped G-d in that little business, who knows? Any how,here is a Xmas tale for you, stright from the Holyland, to ponder about.

    Posted by Rani | December 27, 2010, 1:34 pm
  18. Truth of the matter Rani is, as someone remarked the American tax payer is getting sick and tired from financing the unholy land of this golden cow, and care least about who the mayor of this town or that district is.
    Truth again, the vast majority of the readers of or contributors to this blog are atheists and would care least about a G-D concept whose round about ways are so incomprehensible except to the gullible. Xmas to them is an occasion to party and have fun and not some ‘mysterious’ lessons to ponder upon. There are some readers who may be Christians but they still do not recognize a G-D concept showering Xmass gifts on them as a lesson to ponder upon. May be you should try something like Jesus. There are some Muslim readers. But as we have been told based on the story of the Bangladeshi driver you are a kafir (unbeliever) to them and the G-D trick will not work on them either.
    If you’re till seeking further embezzlement from the American public, you should try a different approach. Hopefully by Easter you would come up with a workable scheme.
    But honestly speaking, you need to declare loudly this so-called State of Israel is a full fledged rogue state if you care to be taken seriously.

    Posted by anonymous | December 27, 2010, 4:27 pm
  19. Here’s a lesson in “divine” logic: From Tehran Times:
    Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast says the UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon is not legitimate because its actions are politically motivated.

    A tribunal which is used as a political tool is not legitimate, Mehmanparast told the Mehr News Agency on Monday.

    The United States’ support for the tribunal, which is investigating the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, provides more proof that it has become politicized, he stated.

    Now how can you disagree with Mr. Mehman…;
    Anyone looking for justice is trying to create strife between Muslims.


    Posted by danny | December 27, 2010, 6:32 pm
  20. Anon:

    As it happens, I did venture into the desert and check out a few camels. Just in case. You never know when you need the Desert Taxi :). And who knows, the generous tip may have ended up saving my skin :D.

    Posted by Gabriel | December 28, 2010, 3:39 am
  21. anonymous you said to Rani: “…this so-called State of Israel is a full fledged rogue state…”

    Where did this come from?

    Rani is a very sincere and affectionate contributor here. He has often expressed nostalgia about the good old days of Lebanon. On the other hand, Israel is a reality with real people, the majority of whom have nothing to do with any sins of the past. Isn’t it just crazy to continue the campaign towards wanting to eliminate a country and a people when the last half-century has proven this to be a futile, self-defeating, endeavor?
    How are we to tolerate Iran and its fanaticism and go after Israel – never mind that it is madness to do so – a country which, if you get to know it, is full of sincere and competent folks who, like every decent human being, want a good life for themselves and their families.
    There is a lot to criticize in Israel – as there is (at a different scale, orders of magnitude greater) in every country of the reason. But to continue to stubbornly pursue the old “rejection front” (jabhat-al-Raf’d) with its blind obsession and bumbling incompetence is nothing short of madness.

    Yeah, I know, I’ll be tagged a zionist and all that, but hey, what else is new? We centrists get it from both sides. The other side will start lecturing us on how we fail to convince the extremists on our side and cower away, etc. None of this will change in the New Year.

    And Happy New Year by the way. 😉

    Posted by Honest Patriot | December 28, 2010, 3:58 am
  22. ~region instead of reason in line 2 of the 4th paragraph above

    Posted by Honest Patriot | December 28, 2010, 4:00 am
  23. Gaby,

    Enjoy your desert safari and happy new year.


    Where in my comments did you find I’m using the ‘jabhat arrafd’ logic? I’m surprised.

    You could still view Israel as a rogue state and still not belong to that ridiculous camp.

    I equate Israel to Iran in every respect and I made that clear in more than one comment.

    In fact, I was going to respond to danny’s comment above about the STL and Iranian FM with a proposition that the Lebanese must first reject the logic of the duality (or perhaps the trilogy) of this so-called resistance/army/people as a precondition for anything positive to come out of this tribunal. But I hate to tie that subject to Israel as you have forced me to do. The rafdist camp as we all know would insist on this logic and in fact is central to its strategy in opposing the STL.

    As for Rani, I have nothing personal against him. I just expressed an opinion about what he said and I stand by it.

    Happy new year to you as well and to all.

    Posted by anonymous | December 28, 2010, 9:24 am
  24. Where did my holiday greeting comment go?

    Posted by prophett | December 28, 2010, 2:07 pm
  25. anonymous,

    well, ok, but isn’t it implied, when one characterizes Israel as a “full fledged rogue state” that a civilized and obvious solution is that it cease to exist in its current form. If one accepts that implication then there is no peace to be made. What is obvious to me is that such characterization of Israel immediately plays into the hand of the Israeli hardliner who will then (perhaps correctly) claim that its neighbors have no interest in peace and the only way for them to survive is to perpetuate the segregationist and oppressive policies. After that, you’ll get tit-for-tat and it will be neverending. In that context I see the “rogue” language as non-diplomatic, to say the least, and rejectionist through its implications.

    I’m sure anyone in Israel will reject the comparison with/to Iran, as will Iranians reject that same comparison of their country to Israel. My view on this is that the equivalency is at the level of the extremists and rejectionists in each of the camps. At the same time, from a practical, empirical, pragmatic (notice the use of pseudo-synonyms as many Arabic orators like to practice :-)) approach, anyone who has strived to have a stable and successful life would much prefer to do so under an Israeli government than under any Arab government and certainly not under an Iranian government. This is simply a fact. That does not change history, or the moral rights of Palestinians, or any of the principled paradigms. It does carry implications as fas as the actual state of the societies involved and the prospects for success (or victory) for each.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | December 28, 2010, 6:57 pm
  26. HP,

    You have some valid points in 225. And I am not referring just to your use of the pseudo-synonyms style of oration.

    Your conclusion that the state needs to cease to exist in ITS CURRENT FORM is very accurate. It may well be the only positive workable outcome short of an eventual failed entity or entities. And that too may well turn into a ‘workable’ solution as it (they) joins the swelling club of failed states in the region. What I mean here is that when it transforms into the failed category out of its currently rogue state it will appear less threatening to its neighbours and it may receive defacto recognition based on the common quality of failure, i.e. being equal in misery so welcome to the club. The US may help here if it accelerates its dissociation and ceases its support. It is not a very attractive outcome, but if all else fails….. so what? Besides, I fail to see the strategic value of such a state to the US especially with the world changing as we see. The US has to make up its mind. It cannot deliver on peace. Should it continue to bear the cost?

    Secondly, I do not think any of us here is a trained diplomat to be able to sift through language and select the proper term that will not cause displeasure across the board. Some, however, may be skilled more than others. I find it hard to swallow when someone puts forward two comments in a row that suffer from inconsistencies, or suspiciously he or she may be attempting to spin something invalid into an argument. So you could read my responses to those comments based on those motivations. After all when somebody leaves himself exposed through his own words, he should be ready for an onslaught. I get my own share sometimes.

    I wouldn’t weigh a tit-for-tat outcome against the use of the term rogue in describing Israel as a deciding factor. We have to call things as they are. If those majority Israelis as you mentioned disagree with the description that is their opinion. Also, if somebody wants to base his or her judgement on imagined implications, then that too would be his or her prerogative. I can only explain my self as clearly as possible and the rest is not up to me.

    What are the alternatives to the above dilemma? The most pessimistic one is peace is not achievable. That may well be. Then as you said the segregationists would harden their stance. But they have to do that at their own risk and perhaps detriment. We do not have crystal balls. But we have histories that we can look at and in light of which we can make some predictions. One of these predictions is as I said above: a conversion into a failed state. Another prediction is that a social transformation may happen within and avoid the fall into that scenario by resorting to reason and common sense. So in a sense being ‘undiplomatic’ may have some positive merits on the outcome. Keep in mind that neither diplomats nor military experts made any headway over the last 65 years.

    With these segrationists among the Israelis, I would not even undertake a debate except if they begin with the admission that their State in its current form is a full fledged rogue state. It has been proven so time and again since its inception. Therefore any debate not based on the above is futile and a waste of time. They have made their minds and, in my opinion, are no different than any other extremist group. In this case time is the only solution.

    Posted by anonymous | December 28, 2010, 8:44 pm
  27. (Continued)

    Part of my response to HP was truncated…
    Here it is.

    As for Arabs, particularly the Lebanese, I can say for almost certain that 99% of them, despite the obvious failure of their States, never look at Israel as a model to be yearned for. That was part, but not all of the reasons I wrote those comments.

    Posted by anonymous | December 28, 2010, 8:49 pm
  28. But it seems that such a “solution,” as I suggested before, entails significant concessions on one side and only one insignificant concession on the other. Raad confirmed that HA are prepared to compromise on the “false witnesses” in order to reach a settlement. Their chips – or should I say chip – look suspiciously home-made. They drummed-up this issue and are now using it to bargain with. Meanwhile, Hariri needs to make real concessions, not least of which may be bargaining away his father’s death.

    Posted by Jonathan | December 29, 2010, 6:37 am
  29. Most normal people I know will response to ultimatums the way I do. It is strange that a person who is hiding behind a fictious persona “anon.” will declare that he would not even undertake a debate with me unless I will do this or that. So what? should I cry? beg? After all, here the old american say goes: “who is he to demand such thing from me”?

    As for G-d. I personally do not care how you spell deities names. Some people do. But in my youth you were told to care about other pepole. Some people care about the cross. Some people care about cartoons depicting prophets. Some people care about G-d. I dont see any reason in the world why I, who dont care, should not respect their sensativities. Dropping just one letter is a very small price to pay for not causing pain to others.

    Posted by Rani | December 29, 2010, 10:18 am
  30. Norman,

    Don’t hold your breath. It is the same old crap recycled… Have a happy New Year!

    Posted by danny | December 29, 2010, 12:23 pm
  31. No country in the whole world will standby as envoys from other countries are determining its policy without its input. Unfortunately Lebanon is such a country/pretend state and the role odf standing by as others decide what is good for it is not new. The Arab league decided whether Palestinians are to carry arms, Saudi Arabia formu;lated the terms to stop the civil war, Qatar paid both sides 100’s of millions of dollars to form a “national unity” cabinet and Syria/Saudi Arabia are negotiating the terms for a settlement to the STL indictment.
    The Lebanese PM is more interested in getting the blessings of the only absolute monarch in the world than he is in the welfare of his citizens, Hezbollah does not hide the source of its funding, illegal weapons suppliers and allegiance to Qom while Beri, Frangieh and Jumblatt are at the beck and call of Damascus. The other minor second tier politicians are clueless.
    Lebanon is not a state and does not act as one. This does not mean that we should put an end to the Lebanese experiment, on the contrary it only means that if the Lebanese have any shred of integrity they have no choice but to kick all of the current political class out of office, every single one of them starting with the so called unconstitutionally elected president.
    I see no difference between president Sulaiman who accepts to be elected by shreding the constitution and President Nen Ali of Tunis who has ammended the constitution three or four times already, President Mubarak who has been in office for over 30 years by orchestrating sham elections or Assad of Syria whose absolute rule will be complete once he changes the name of the county to Assadstan.
    When will we ever show outrage with the whole rotten crop of pols. Maybe, just maybe, there is some trutyh to the saying that people get the government that they deserve.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | December 29, 2010, 6:25 pm
  32. GK,

    You paint a very bleak picture. I have no answer to your question about “showing outrage”; that seems to be reserved for Israel. But if Lebanon ever wants recognition as a sovereign state, I am sure Israel will agree;)

    Posted by Akbar Palace | December 29, 2010, 7:50 pm
  33. What differentiates North Korea, Iran and Syria from South Korea, Saudi Arabia or Lebanon.

    Posted by PeterinDubai | December 29, 2010, 7:56 pm
  34. Ya habibi Ya Ghassan,
    Lebanon is a corrupt state; with a corrupt leadership .This same leadership is corrupting, and scaring the entire society, so that it stays loyal. I can make a bet that the entire leadership would be elected again if election is to be held next week.
    Unfortunately, loyalty to the leader of the clan is more important than the loyalty to the nation. The clan leader is offering the protection and the bribes. They use sectarian and political scare tactic to keep the followers in line.
    Don’t expect any outrage. Those clan leaders have it under control.
    However, there is a thin minority which is very outraged, yet they are frustrated to the point of giving up and leaving the country.

    Though unrelated to your comment, yet it shows how rotten and corrupt this state has become. Police officers who are not corrupt yet, and who try to enforce the law, are being threatened, and their institution can not protect them.
    News Story from Alakhbar.

    أثناء قيام دورية من فصيلة بئر حسن بقمع مخالفة بناء لشخص من آل د.، تعرّض عناصرها لاعتداء من الأشخاص المخالفين فأُصيب بعضهم بجروح ونُقل آمر فصيلة بئر حسن الملازم أول علي الضيقة إلى المستشفى إثر إصابته بحجر في رأسه، ما أدى إلى فقدانه الوعي. لم تنته المسألة عند هذا الحدّ، بل استعان صاحب المخالفة بعائلتين معروفتين لتصفية حسابه مع الضابط المذكور.
    بدأت عملية ترهيب منظّمة فصار مجهولون يتّصلون على رقم هاتفه ورقم المركز ويتوعّدونه بالقتل إن بقي في مركز فصيلة بئر حسن. ولم يقف المهدّدون عند حدّ الاتصالات، بل ألقى بعضهم زجاجة مولوتوف حارقة أمام مبنى الفصيلة منذ أيّام، ما أدى إلى اشتعالها أمام المبنى من دون أن تؤدي إلى وقوع إصابات أو تُحدث أي أضرار مادية. ورغم التهديدات التي لم تتوقف حتى لحظة كتابة هذه السطور وفق المعلومات الأمنية، لا يزال الملازم أول علي الضيقة في مركزه آمراً لفصيلة بئر حسن، لكن «الأخبار» علمت أن الضابط المذكور يلازم منزله منذ تاريخ الحادثة ولا يبارحه. اتّصلت «الأخبار» بالضابط الضيقة لكنه رفض التعليق على القضية طالباً الرجوع إلى شعبة العلاقات العامة في قوى الأمن الداخلي للحصول على أية معلومات متعلّقة بالموضوع
    بديهيٌّ أن يكون الضابط قلقاً على حياته، فالخطر ضريبة المهنة التي يدفعها معظم الضباط، لكن السؤال البديهي أيضاً، والذي قد يتبادر إلى الذهن، يتمحور حول دور مديرية قوى الأمن الداخلي. فمديرية غير قادرة على أن تحمي ضبّاطها كيف تُطبّق القانون؟ وفي هذا السياق، يتحدّث مسؤول أمني رفيع في قوى الأمن الداخلي لـ«الأخبار» فيشير إلى حصول حالات مشابهة مع عدد من الضبّاط، لكنه يلفت إلى أنّ ذلك جزء من عمل الضبّاط الذين يسقط منهم الجرحى والشهداء. وإذ يرى المسؤول المذكور أنّ المديرية تقوم بدورها لجهة توفير الحماية لهؤلاء، يلفت إلى أن لا ضمانة مئة في المئة.
    With that, I wish you and everyone else a happy and healthy New Year.

    Posted by prophett | December 29, 2010, 8:50 pm
  35. Prophet,
    I think that we are on the same page but what drives me to pull what is left of my hair are the stories about the PM traveling all over the world as if there is nothing for him to do at the Saraya . If he does not think that the current deadlock is serious enough to try and govern then what would it take to get him to pretend to care, to feel our pain.
    I know that a revolution i.e. a radical change is not very likely but hell it must happen sometime and sweep all throughout the Arab world.
    BTW, I am glad that you high lighted the story about the policemen who are trying against all odds to do their jobs. In some countries corruption sneaks into some parts of the system and so it can , with determined effort be weeded out. Unfortunately in Lebanon corruption is the system. The only solution is a radical surgery to excise the cancerous growth.

    Peace, Justice and No Nukes:-)

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | December 29, 2010, 10:05 pm
  36. Israeli newspaper story quoted in Naharnet reports that Saudi-Syrian pressure on Hariri to reject STL is increasing.

    The funny part is the story portrays the pressure in the form of a threat by HA against Hariri. According to the story the deal includes a promise from HA not to harm Hariri, and also a promise to allow him to build his own security apparatus, as well as cooperation to eradicate weapons carried by Palestinians outside refugee camps. Looks like again HA does not offer anything in return (if we were to believe an Israeli story)

    It is not clear where Hariri stands even though many reports indicates he is still for STL. Some stories say Hariri believes and quoted him as saying the ball is in the opposite camp as of recently.

    The question still remains. What will STL achieve even if it carries out its mission from indictment all the way to prosecution? If HA eventually gives in to a wash out scenario as was suggested by Hariri to HNA few month ago, that deal involves restricting responsibility to ‘undisciplined’ HA members which was rejected by HNA. would that serve justice, even assuming the undisciplined members get punished?

    Perhaps one should argue that the punishment should be in the form of depriving the party behind the crime from making any political gains as a result of the crime and not simply looking at the persons directly involved in carrying out the operation. After all if a party is arguing against a court that it considers politicised, should it not expect to be asked about the proceeds of the crime if that party turns out to be guilty. The point here which has become clear post 2005 is that HA has sought to fill out the void created by the removal of Hariri Sr. and other assassinated figures by consolidating its grip on what remains of Lebanonistan.

    Finally, Lebanon is a founder of the UN and a participant in the drafting of its charter (See Charles Malek for more info). The UN was established before the creation of the rogue state of Israel. Therefore, Israel would be the least qualified to offer a ‘not-required’ or ‘sought after’ recognition of Lebanese sovereignty. In other words, try a differnt insult.

    Posted by anonymous | December 29, 2010, 10:24 pm
  37. someone please tell me this is a joke.

    2:35pm Minister Butros Harb proposed a draft law that prevents the sale of property between Christians and Muslims for 15 years.

    Posted by tamer k. | December 30, 2010, 9:12 am
  38. tamer k
    And this from the guy who wants to be a President? Whenever we think that these politicians must have hit bottom they manage to find a way to dig deeper. And we manage to cheer them on. Go figure.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | December 30, 2010, 9:24 am
  39. Jumblatt trumps them all … He wants the government to file a complaint with the UN security council he disses 🙂


    Posted by PeterinDubai | December 30, 2010, 10:05 am
  40. Butros Harb suposedly the liberal secular western leaning democracy loving elite intellectual fool is proposing such laws what is next? have they no shame? what a piece of @#$% country Lebanon has become

    Posted by V | December 30, 2010, 11:03 am
  41. Please tell me today is 1st of April…

    Posted by IHTDA | December 30, 2010, 11:23 am
  42. Harb’s proposal is surprising. However, he claims that his motivation is specifically to prevent segregation and the creation of islands of monochromatically uniform religion. If indeed there is a systematic, foreign-driven and foreign-financed effort to acquire real-estate to create uniformly religious areas, then this has to be fought. Not sure Harb’s proposal is the way to do it, but it’s certainly a very bad omen (not that Lebanon needs any more of those).

    Posted by Honest Patriot | December 30, 2010, 11:32 am
  43. These clowns , parading as politicians, just don’t get it do they? Just in case you haven’t seen the latest from Lebanon:

    جلسة مجلس الوزراء

    الحق على الطليان و الفرنسيين انو الجلسة ما فيها تصير هلق و الحل عند القطريين تا يخلوها تنعقد… كيف؟

    بدو يكون اول بند شهود الزور

    بدنا ننطر المبادرة السعودية – السورية تا تستوي مزبوط

    بدنا نقرر اذا منمشي بالحل اللي اقترحو الرئيس بري

    نطرنا حكومة العراق و الحمد لله صارت, فهيدا الشرط خلصنا منو

    بدنا نشوف هالجلسة وين بدا تصير, ببعبدا او القصر الحكومي؟ اكيد لأ…

    جنازة حامية و الميت كلب… ما لحتا تصير هالجلسة بدك وزراء و بدك نصاب… وين ممكن يتأمن النصاب اذا كل الشروط اللي حكيناهن تأمنو؟

    فتشنا منيح, طلع اعلى احتمالات تأمين النصاب مش ب”بيروت” ولا ب”بعبدا” طلع ب”لندن”

    فهيدي مناشدة لإخواننا القطريين لنعمل هالجلسة ب”هارودز في لندن” بشي طابق, لأنو الفرنسيين و الطليان مفرقين النصاب على شارع سلون شي ب”برادا”, شي ب”غوتشي”, شي ب”لويس فيتون”, و شي ب”هيرمس”

    شو بدكن بالحكي, ما بيحلوها الا القطريين, و ما بتنحل إلا ب”هارودز

    This would have been hilarious had it not been true. These pols have lost every shred of respect . They have become the butt of every joke. What have we done in our previous life to deserve this.

    Have we hit bottom yet, don’t bet on it.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | December 30, 2010, 12:23 pm
  44. HP in 245 figured it out accurately with regards to Harb’s motivations. This whole thing goes back to the same logic of realpolitik which was spoken about recently. Yes, there is a foreign funded plan to create monochromatic regions within Lebanonistan.

    Look guys if you want to start your arguments starting from a high ideal that is resident only in your minds, then you will achieve nothing but disappointments and eventual resignations and defeats. You must begin from reality as your frame of reference. If you can justify Murr’s plan of safeguarding Lebanonistan’s interests based on this logic (which I believe I did), then you can also justify Harb’s real estate plan similarly.

    The key word here is Lebanonistan.

    Another issue perhaps needs some attention. Obama bypassed Congress and appointed a US ambassador to Syria with an Executive order.
    The US has long held the Saudis were giving in too much to Syria without getting anything in return, and that held the ambassador’s appointment in limbo for quite sometime. So why is Obama bypassing the Congress now?

    Posted by anonymous | December 30, 2010, 12:27 pm
  45. The proposed plan by Harb will go down as one of the most misguided efforts to deal with a perceived threat. The logic behind this proposal is eerily similar to that used by dictators who claim that they now best what is good for the citizens and that is why they take away their rights.
    I am not going to dispute the possibility that there are foreign funded efforts to generate monochromatic areas in Lebanon but my response is so what is new? Every single activity in Lebanon is foreign funded including the printed press. A state ultimately belongs to its people. I have faith in the logic of individuals to be able to enter into a contract that benefits them and to refuse an offer that is against their interests. These same residency rules that are supposed to guard against te creation of religious ghettos can very easily promote sehregation. This law accepts the status quo as being worth preserving when the fact of the matter is that it is not. According to this law it would be next to impossible to have a Moslem household buy land in most parts of Mount Lebanon and it would be impossible for Christian households to decide to live say in Tyre or Sidon by purchasing a lot of land.
    What needs to be done is to promote citizenship and deemphasize religious affiliation. The way out for many of our current problems is not laws that strengthen sectarianism but laws that promote secularism. A good start would be civil marriage combined with a scraping of political sectarianism.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | December 30, 2010, 1:21 pm
  46. Why don’t we just divide Lebanon into the cantons we are and have been and get it over with.

    Christians never trusted Muslims. Shia’s don’t trust Sunnis and vice versa. The Druze must be tired of prostituting themselves to this side or that. Why the foreign speaking Armenians are still in Lebanon when they have a nation to live under is a bit baffling.

    As for the Palestinians, they naturally should be moved to the South to join Hizballah in pursuing their common “raison d’etre”.

    Posted by PeterinDubai | December 30, 2010, 1:37 pm
  47. Beirut should be void of churches ringing their bells or mosques blaring whatever.

    Posted by PeterinDubai | December 30, 2010, 1:48 pm
  48. @GK: “Maybe, just maybe, there is some trutyh to the saying that people get the government that they deserve.”

    Pretty much my feeling from day 1. The Lebanese have shown time and again that they deserve exactly this idiotic politician class.

    As to Harb’s idiotic proposal. Well, that illustrate exactly what I just said. Didn’t it?
    Why do we keep following/re-electing/listening to/supporting these bozos, all the while clamoring about how shitty our lot in life is?
    We’re getting EXACTLY what we deserve.

    I like how someone in a comment above says “These pols have lost every shred of respect . They have become the butt of every joke. What have we done in our previous life to deserve this?”

    Well, first of all, the statement seems to imply these guys were deserving of respect at some point in the past, to have lost it now. WRONG!

    Secondly, the question “What have we done in a previous life to deserve this?”
    In a previous life? How about THIS LIFE? What we have done is empower and support these bozos out of our own insecurities (sectarian and otherwise) and given them the carte blanche they continue to exercise on a daily basis through our ignorance and stupidity. So yes. We DO deserve this. We get exactly what we have coming to us.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | December 30, 2010, 2:28 pm
  49. Thank God I don’t have children.

    I could never explain this to them.

    Posted by PeterinDubai | December 30, 2010, 2:37 pm
  50. There are many ‘status quo’ in the world that are not worth preserving. However, being the status quo has the greatest and most determining factor on the way realpolitiks is conducted.

    You must bear in mind that two of the most important requirements to practice this ‘cold art’ by politicians are 1) lack of any human emotions, and 2) lack of any ethical standards.

    Needless to say that you are surrounded by ‘entities’ that behave in no other way but as described above. Someone here already complained about the endless foreign intereference in Lebanon, Eventually any other set of politicians even and if after the current status quo transforms into something else will acquire the same qualities as you have right now. I find it illogical for someone to demand a change of a status quo that he or she knows quite well is outside the capacity of the parties intended. The term parties here includes both people and pols. It may well be that it is the ‘Italians’ fault as the ordinary ‘Joes’ in Lebanon have long discovered. In other words, the joke here is just intended as an admission of the obvious reality and is not a joke after all. Expressing raelities in the form of a joke is much easier to accept.

    In the end this will lead to segregation and the acceptance of the Harb’s plan or some modified form of it.

    Posted by anonymous | December 30, 2010, 4:52 pm
  51. BV,
    I know that over the years we have agreed on many issues including this one. BTW, you can read a longer version of the above hypothesis in a post at Yalibnan.com or at rationalrepublic.blogspot.com

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | December 30, 2010, 5:10 pm
  52. http://dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=1&categ_id=2&article_id=123118#axzz19daISZ39

    From the jist of this article one should not be surprised if Harb’s proposal does become M14 policy.

    Posted by tamer k. | December 30, 2010, 6:59 pm
  53. Tamer k,
    The Christian leadership in Lebanon is so backward and reactionary. It is very clear that minister harb’s proposal is so much out of touch with the realities on the ground that it will turn out to be a huge fiasco. Harb is simply reacting to the fact that the Christian community ( read Maronites) cannot fathom that they are no longer call the shots in Lebanon. They will do whatever it takes to postpone their inevitable decline as long as Lebanon is based on the 18th century sectarian formula. No matter what Harb and Bkirki come up with the power and number of the Maronites in Lebanon is on the decline and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. The best thing that the Maronite church can do for Lebanon is to replace the old man of Bkirki , declare that the Maronite Church will no longer get involved in politics and offer their full support for a secular state i.e deconfessional electoral system, civil marriage and an official law that separates the religious institutions from the state.
    M14 is not doing the Maronites any favour by encouraging them to commit suicide.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | December 30, 2010, 7:30 pm
  54. Certainly many in Lebanon will find nothing wrong with the Butros Harb proposal, heck there are Harb apologists even here on this blog among those who lived many years in Canada or the US. It looks like the good old Phoenician Nazi bug has no cure.

    Posted by V | December 30, 2010, 9:49 pm
  55. If the secular enlightened intellectual lawmaker, who prides himself of being a constitutional expert, thinks along this line of thinking, what should one expect from the sectarian minded people of Lebanon?

    Posted by PROPHET | December 30, 2010, 11:09 pm
  56. Is there a rush to judgment here? Could Harb be using a shock tactic to bring to the front the issue of the foreign-financed, systematic purchase of property by one particular sect (or more) creating religiously “pure” areas?

    I don’t pretend to know the answer but I wonder if one shouldn’t give some of the politicians in Lebanon a little bit more credit than the outright dismissal they seem to all get in one fell swoop. Uqab Saqr anyone?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | December 31, 2010, 3:50 am
  57. My fellow chess players on this blog, how about adding a couple of moves or more in your analysis?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | December 31, 2010, 3:51 am
  58. Would just like to wish everyone a happy New Year’s Eve. I’m back in the US, and plan to write something up tonight inshallah for the blog. Apologies for the long hiatus.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | December 31, 2010, 6:52 am
  59. HP,
    The proposal by Harb is DOA . It does not desreve any other treatment. The real Harb, a servant of the backwardness of Bkirki, has finally emerged from the shadows. He is actively seeking the blessings of Bkirki in an effort to gain some support for his presidential ambitions. Harb has shown clearly , through this move, that nothing will deter him and the church from holding on the status quo even at the expense of creating Ghettos and shooting themselves in the foot. This political philosophy of superiority and essentialism must come to an end. The Maronites are not satisfied with 50% of the seats when the Christians are hardly 35% of the population.
    And since when is “foreign, ownership of Lebanon an issue? What are these foreign financed schemes to buy land? Foreign land ownership of Lebanon is more tightly limited than it needs to be and it does not represent more than a very small fraction of land in Lebanon. The real danger , in the eyes of the Lebanese Maronites, is the fact that Moslems from the Gulf are buying Villas in Lebanon. Had it been Iraqi Christians then I doubt it very much whether we would have heard much about this issue.
    What is also ironic about this opposition to land sales to non Lebanese is the fact that the relatively attractive performance of the Lebanese economy over the past few years is primarily due to the real estate sector which is essentially dependent on in flows of foreign capital. That , btw, is already coming to an end and the Harb proposal will hasten its demise. Property values in Lebanon have peaked and I would not be surprised if the Lebanese economy faces the same hurdles of steep declines in real estate prices, just like Spain a, the UK and the US.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | December 31, 2010, 7:33 am
  60. HP
    BTW, what makes a person a member of a particular religious sect? Is it the silly bureaucratic records that the government keeps or does the individual have a say in this matter? What if the government records say that I am a Maronite but then I decide to adopt Islam? Would that give me the right to sell my property to another Moslem or would I be forced to sell to a Christian although the Moslem is willing to pay me a premium? Are we sugesting that foreign purchasers will have to meet a religious affiliation test before they can complete a real estate transaction? This is simply madness. It is an act of desperation by orchestrated by the church elders. This is another example about the dire need to end sectarianism in Lebanon. It is the root cause of all that ails this wretched and sorry land of ours.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | December 31, 2010, 7:47 am
  61. Mr. Harb tried to attend to an assumed problem which is the mass land buying by HA financed by Iran. Even If we are to agree that the problem exists, I can describe his proposal as Rubbish.

    Instead, as a lawyer, he should have addressed the problem that there are no laws in Lebanon that governs the financing of the political parties and their channels of spending these funds. This applies not only to HA but also to all others. Lebanon has a corrupt system that every political party is benifiting from.

    In my opinion, addressing this issue will go a long way in removing many of the hurdles to build a proper state.

    Posted by IHTDA | December 31, 2010, 8:40 am
  62. It is a terrible law. It is doubtful that it will pass in parliment anyway, so why even suggested.

    The confessional system is the root cause of the dysfunctional state. The only salvation is to replace it with a secular constitution full stop.

    How to get there is the $64k question. A couple of years ago, this very topic was debated heavily on QN, especially the portion of how to go about the change. It was a lively debate to say the least. All in all, not an easy task given the division of society. Wish it was otherwise.

    Posted by Ras Beirut | December 31, 2010, 11:26 am
  63. Wishing everyone a Happy and healthy New year .

    Posted by prophett | December 31, 2010, 12:52 pm
  64. The Lebanese constitution states in its preamble:

    “There is no constitutional legitimacy for any authority which contradicts the ‘pact of communal coexistence’ [mithaq al-aysh al-mushtaraq]. This Constitutional Law shall be published in the Official Gazette.”

    It also states in the same preamble a desired objective to achieve the goal of the gradual elimination of the confessional system.

    This is a contract that binds all the sectors of the Lebanese society.

    Until such time all parties concerned agree to eliminate the confessional system, the requirements of “communal coexistence” are the overriding principles guaranteeing social peace. In theory any State in the world has the right to limit foreign ownership regardless of communal overtones. But, there is nothing wrong whatsoever in proposing laws that are expressed in terms of communal interests as this is what constitutes Lebanon by admission of all. If the law passes, then so be it which means that parties involved in the national contract are not yet ready to move to the next step. If it doesn’t pass, as someone pointed out is most likely, then there will be political implications for quite sometime to come.

    Communal differences existed long before Lebanon was created. And it was created recognizing these differences.

    More important than these differences is the existence of a paramilitary group funded by a State determined to export its form of religious beliefs. This paramilitary group continues to challenge and erode the central authority. There is no indication whatsoever that this foreign funded military organization has any inclinations whatsoever to a commitment towards a secular state. On the contrary each and every action it undertakes reveals a subservient role to the political and religious agenda of the foreign power.

    Here’s one which is more relevant than arguing about laws. Some analysts are proposing that the behind the scene negotiations between the two S’s in fact may have involved other parties. It may be that France was and may still is a party. The plan proposed by the French, in fact, included the dissociation of The GOL and Hariri himself of the STL in return for a ‘demilitarized’ Lebanon among other things. A distinction was made between disarming Palestinian groups outside camps and disarming of other militias including HA. The latter would be incorporated into the Lebanese army. The plan was rejected by Syria and it (Syria through Buthaina) later issued statements linking the elimination of STL to so-called 17-May (1983) milestone. Syria in other words would like to re-enact the drama of 18 years ago. The Saudis were told this is the only way Lebanon can remain strong.

    So before arguing laws and secularism, Lebanon is still in the eyes of its neighbours not yet past the so-called Taef accord. It looks like it still is so in the eyes of many Lebanese.

    Posted by anonymous | December 31, 2010, 12:59 pm
  65. GK, as always we are in full agreement.

    Anonymous’s last post. What a bunch of empty headed attempts at rationalizing a proposed law that violates every tenet of free market, democracy, constitutionality (yes, even that) not to mention human rights.
    Pure and simple: A law that dictates that you can or cannot sell to someone of a different sect is absolutely no different than pre-civil rights era USA, apartheid-era South Africa and so on.
    Trying to use the two wrongs make a right logic (as long as HA is buying property funded by Iran, we have to protect our Christian lands) is idiotic at best.

    Those who said that the simple solution for all is an end to sectarianism are correct. Not a gradual move to a secular state, or some of the proposals floated now and again by Berri and the like. Complete and 100% secularisation all in one fell swoop. Nothing short of that will cure Lebanon. NOTHING.

    I’m talking about a new constitution, devoid of ANY sectarian language whatsoever. I’m talking about a complete deconfessionalisation of the system, both political, civil, etc.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | December 31, 2010, 2:11 pm
  66. Bad Vilbel,

    With all due respect to your opinion, you cannot enforce a new constitution on Lebanon just by decreeing it.

    Your analogy here of two wrongs do not equal right does not apply either.



    You can continue your academic discusion for a long as you wish. Until such time the parties concerned agree to move to the next step what we have is what we have.

    Every country on earth limits foreign ownership. Lebanon has more claims to such prerogative than any other.

    Posted by anonymous | December 31, 2010, 2:32 pm
  67. I agree that the presence of foreign funded military is wrong. We’re in agreement there.

    That aside, yes, there is something wrong with a law that says that I can’t sell my land to whoever I damn well please as long as they are Lebanese.
    It’s the same as saying that blacks couldn’t own land in the US back in the 1800s, and so on.
    It is a segregationist law that is wrong at every damn possible level, starting with the basic tenets of human rights and equality, and ending with free market rules. It is wrong at the most fundemental of levels.

    And that’s not even getting into the economics of it. Free market rules go to the toilet when you restrict who you can sell your land to. If you happen to be a muslim owning land in Kesrwan after this law passes, good luck getting market value for it.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | December 31, 2010, 3:07 pm
  68. I forgot to add: I don’t get why you’re talking about foreign ownership. Lebanon DOES limit foreign ownership. That is NOT what this law is about. This law is about fellow Lebanese citizens buying and selling land to each other.
    Joe Matar can no longer buy land in the Chouf, or the South. Mohammad Bizri can no longer buy land in the Metn. I don’t know which sect you’re from, but I hope your family doesn’t own any land or property in a part of Lebanon that’s predominantly another sect, cause your property value just plummeted by 50%…

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | December 31, 2010, 3:10 pm
  69. The “motives” behind this proposed law (although it as stupid as it can be)is supposedly trying to stop Hizballah buying large swathes of land (they did in Druse & Christian areas in the South and Bekaa) to basically establish “beachheads” in those areas.
    The main problem is that of a terrorist militia buying up Lebanon. Harb’s moves/efforts are basically misguided and wrong. Firstly because there is no chance in hell for it to pass and secondly it is indescribably dumb!

    I am with Gus and BV regarding total secularization. However, you have to look at the current situation whereas Iran is basically buying up the country through supposed islamic NGO’s …What to do?

    Definitely not what Harb has suggested!
    I’d say have a one man one vote immediately and give up the country totally to HA. I would like to see them sabotage themselves!

    Posted by danny | December 31, 2010, 4:40 pm
  70. BV 270,

    Glad to know we are on agreement on one side of it.

    I liked the way you graduated your opinion about the other side from something wrong in it to completely wrong in every damn way. Here we do not agreement.

    All what you said can be easily overridden based on the argument that maintaining social peace is the highest priority based on the present constitution – sort of same logic but somewhat more civilized than the continuous blackmail HA has been engaged in for many years by its threat due to the presence of the agreed upon wrong of a the presence of foreign funded militia in Lebanon – these threats as we all know were carried out with utmost savagery against FELLOW Lebanese at least once. Reports also indicate that such incidents are recurring on individual and sporadic cases by the same militia. As a side note to your previous comment, you failed to list the takers of Berri’s plan or whether he is still for it.

    Your 271 has been answered by danny quite well. I am not going to argue that the wording is stupid. Perhaps the only non-stupid thing in the way it was worded is its limited duration. But we know what the real issue is. And yes danny this is what Harb suggested. The proposed law is actually drafted with reference to the same clause from the constitution that I quoted above.

    I am not here to orchestrate my contribution based on who agrees or disagrees with me. I would like to maintain my individuality and express myself accordingly. I find little value when contributors have to abide by such motives.

    Danny, I fail to see that actually a one man one vote would lead to the scenario you suggested. But I am not against your idea.
    I would propose, however, that Harb’s plan may provide a very tiny incentive to move to the next step sometime down the line based on the present constitution. And it is also quite possible that it may also lead to segregation.

    As for those who argue in terms of drafting laws against foreign funding of political groups, I say, there is no workable mechanism to enforce such law in the presence of paramilitary organizations.

    Posted by anonymous | December 31, 2010, 6:12 pm
  71. “All what you said can be easily overridden based on the argument that maintaining social peace is the highest priority based on the present constitution”

    anon based on your argument then I am sure you are for abandoning the STL for the sake of lebanon’s “social peace”

    Posted by tamer k. | December 31, 2010, 6:33 pm
  72. “All what you said can be easily overridden based on the argument that maintaining social peace is the highest priority based on the present constitution”

    anon based on your argument then I am sure you are for abandoning the STL for the sake of lebanon’s “social peace”

    Any one of you guys heard about a word…BLACKMAIL?
    There will never be any peace built on threats!! Live by the sword then die by it!

    Posted by danny | December 31, 2010, 7:51 pm
  73. tamer 274,

    Based on your last comment you are admitting HA has committed the crime.

    Also you are admitting it is legitimate to use paramilitary organizations to settle judicial disputes.

    None of the above is acceptable to majority of Lebanese including over 40% of Shia community according to a recent poll conducted by an American organization. I do not have details right off hand but I’ll search it and provide a link.

    It doesn’t follow from my argument that I am abandoning STL:
    1) STL may continue even if it is abandoned by Lebanon. It doesn’t make any sense to the party most concerned.
    2) The scenario may lead to Lebanon becoming a pariah state in opposition to International legitimacy. Very unacceptable to any Lebanese including HA sympathizers.
    3) The damage to HA and to social peace will be even worse if that were to happen.
    4) There may be groups who are in the shadows of the Hariri camp waiting to radicalize a whole community based on that same scenario you mentioned.

    HA is at a crossroads. It has to decide either to demilitarize, severe ties with Iran and become a political organization in the full sense or experience irreversible erosion of its popularity in Lebanon as well as throughout the region.

    Posted by anonymous | December 31, 2010, 8:00 pm
  74. How true!!
    “No matter if Lebanon can weather the gathering storm, this will not be the first crisis, or the last. The country’s dilemma is structural; as long as Lebanon’s political class substitutes identity-politics for formal institutions, it will continue to be politically unstable. As long as Lebanon’s leaders rely on foreign intervention to tip the internal balance of power in their favour, they will remain passive bystanders in determining their country’s future.”

    (From the article posted by Norman#278)

    Posted by danny | January 1, 2011, 11:30 am
  75. Danny,
    Thank you ,

    I noticed the same paragraph ,and felt that it was interesting so i put the whole article up,

    Posted by Norman | January 1, 2011, 1:03 pm
  76. Danny,
    An analysis devoted to the superficial will help in shedding some light on an issue but it never leads to a deep understanding of the laws of motion of the phenomenon that is being investigated.
    May I suggest that , in this case, that is exactly the problem that we are facing in Lebanon. The guardian article is helpful in highlighting the structural problems but it falls short of identifying the root causes of why we act the way that we do; why is it that we are structured the way that we are?
    Unless we identify the root cause of what makes us behave the way that we do and then proceed to modify that then most of our efforts will be for naught.
    Allow me to give you an example of what I mean by the above. In environmentalism, the real issue is not that we pollute and that pollution is harmful. We have known that for a long time. The real issue is why do we pollute when we know that it is harmful. One potential answer to this question is the strong belief in duality which , based on Genisis, explains that everything was created for our enjoyment and that we are to exploit and multiply i.e we are outside of nature and not part of it. As you can see from the above, in this case environmentalism does not have a technical solution. Ecological degradation will be reduced to managable proportions only if we change our core beliefs. We need to adopt the view that we are part of the eco community. If we do then we will no longer exploit plants, rocks, rivers, animals , mountains…
    I suggest that a parallel analysis is required in Lebanon. The real issue is not that we have a certain structure but instead it should be why is it that we adopted that particular structure? As you can see, I am a firm believer that our problem in Lebanon is essentially about values, beliefs, paradigm. It is essentially moral. We seem to be passive politically, we do not believe in rocking the boat, in questioning hierarchies. Lebanon is for all practical purposes controlled by men of the cloth. They are almost deities. It does not appear that we have any use for the concept of individual rights and personal freedoms. We accept the concept of inherited leadership and have no use for governmental institutions. Simply stated we lack an understanding of what is the meaning of citizenship, what are its duties and obligations. Unless we can bring about a radical change in our view of who we are and what is our role as citizens then all other efforts will be for naught.

    There are a few small groups in Lebanon that are devoting all their efforts towards educating the public about “Al Mouatiniah”. I wish them luck because they are the only ones that are addressing the root cause of our problems.
    The prerequisite is to free ourselves from all the baggage that has accumulated over the years. To build a free society one needs free individuals and equal rights. ( women, children, minorities…)

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 1, 2011, 1:22 pm
  77. Ghassan,
    No Society and definitely not Lebanese society is structured to behave in a specific way.
    Human behavior, generally, is constrained by the rules that govern particular environments. People are obligated to behave in a particular way, or to avoid certain behaviors. These rules may be formal laws, or they may be informal rules of conventional norms within a society, which are not necessarily written down.
    The enforcement of these rules -be it moral, political, or social rules- or the lack of their enforcement, eventually define the habits and behavior of a society.
    Whether you want to change the attitude of a society or its behavior, you need to set the rules, and enforce them fairly.
    You want a society to be democratic; you need to set democratic rules. You want people to be tolerant, you need to set rules to protect civil and human rights, and to protect against bigotry and racism. Most importantly, you need to enforce these rules.

    Bill Clinton’s most famous answer to the question of why He behaved the way He did at the white house with Monica, is the most telling; He said “Because I thought I could” thinking He could get away with it.

    Happy and healthy New Year.

    Posted by prophett | January 1, 2011, 3:39 pm
  78. Let’s not make things more complicated than they should. Otherwise we lose compass. Definitely, there are many schools of ethics. They can be reduced to the two most common schools:

    1) Kantian moral absolutism
    2) Utilitarianism

    Lest you come up with the well known school of the Golden Rule, I say, it is included in both.

    If someone’s behaviour does not fit in any of the above, then he or she is not behaving ethically. Full stop.

    Posted by anonymous | January 1, 2011, 8:35 pm
  79. anon #238,
    That does not contradict my point, actually it supports it. Kamt used his categorical imperative to predict the rise and dominance of democratic and republican forms of government. My point, is that this has not happened yet either in any of the Arab countries including Lebanon. The reason is rather simple but not easy to correct. Individuals in Lebanon do not believe in their power ato change things and in their duty to act in such a way as to hold others accountable. Once we can change the ethos of a large proportion of the Lebanese then the whole current archaic system will come tumbling down.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 1, 2011, 9:03 pm
  80. Glad to know GK that What I said does not contradict your point. But in the end result, we’re back to square one. The status quo will not be overturned overnight or so easily.

    Assuming your initial plan in 248 is immediately enacted into laws, and assuming people received it with open hearts and further assuming acted on it enthusiastically, how long will it take to accomplish your goal of changing the ethos of a large proportion of the population? one generation? Two generations? or may be three?

    Notice that most of the assumptions have almost nil chance of being close to realistic, what should we do in the meantime knowing all what we know at the moment?

    (I never lose sight of reality but I can also see dreams)

    Posted by anonymous | January 1, 2011, 10:21 pm
  81. anon,
    You might be surprised to know that we are in agreement on some aspects and in disagreement on other ones,
    No one has an idea whether a paradigm shift is going to occur and what is it that will trigger it. It might take months , decades or it might never happen. The point being that if a patient takes pain killers then they might have a temporary beneficial effect but these pain killers only hide the problem. This does not mean that pain killers should not be used but they should not be confused with a prescription that attacks the root cause of the disease.
    On this we are in agreement.
    But I suspect that we disagree rather strongly on the type of pain killer. In this case I submit that the prescription by Harb/Bkirki/ will not be of any behefit to the patient because it does not understand clearly the social dynamics involved. The proposed plan , might be very well intentioned, but will result in increasing the problem that it is attempting to solve.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 1, 2011, 10:48 pm
  82. Agreeing or disagreeing is besides the point to me. I look at it as an exercise in exchanging views.

    My argument about the Harb plan had more to do with the validity of the proposed law than an expected benefit i.e. is it valid to propose it? I still say it is valid to do so based on comments I made already and he could probably do a better job rewording it. I can go ahead and list benefits and also disadvantages. But that is besides the point as I said.

    Nevertheless, here is another opinion where Hazem seems to touch on the same more important subject of the paradigm shift you mentioned without actually using the term. I do not know if you would call his conclusion pessimistic or optimistic. But it seems he is trying to legitimize external factors in bringing it about – unless I misunderstood him,


    Posted by anonymous | January 1, 2011, 11:49 pm
  83. anon,
    The last thing that I want to do is go off on a tangent but allow me only one brief remark. I cannot speak for Mr. Saghieh but he and possibly you and others advocate change through evolution . I do not believe that is helpful in this case since evolution maintains the same rotten base of beliefs. Paradigm shift is about a revolution, about starting all over again from a blank sheet of paper.

    Back to the STL however. Some thoughts that I have been mulling around for a while. i might even put them together in a 900 word column later on tonight. Let me use this venue as a sounding board.

    If the STL indictments turn out to be essentially an accusation that Mughanieh and Ghazi Kanaan were responsible , two dead men, then what would be the implications. If that turns out to be the case then Mehlis would have the last laugh. The report of the IIIC claimed Syrian fingerprints over the whole operation , how convenient that Ghazi Kanaan committed suicide. It was always known that the top of the pyramid would not be implicated , if for nothing else but plausible deniability but what about the Mughanieh role? Yes he probably recruited the foot soldiers who pulled the trigger but who was he working for. Is there an Iranian role, was he working for Syria, what about Israel, could he have been working for the Mossad? Who killed him in his very secure quarters ? Hezbollah has not retaliated for his death and the Mossad has not taken responsibility either directly or indirectly. Was he also eliminated and if so is the STL indictmant of two dead men a cover up of sorts?
    No matter what I still maintain that the least result of the indictment will be a serious weakening of Hezbollah. It might be forced to find a way out of its monopoly over its military wing and to transform itself to a purely political movement. I still stand by my earlier assertions that the most logical result of the indictment is to set in motion a process that will weaken Hezbollahs hold over the decision making in Lebanon . We are witnessing the beginning of the end of the Hezbollah era.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 2, 2011, 12:48 pm
  84. I believe, GK, that Mr. Saghieh is referring to a paradigm shift in at least one case which is Egypt and the era of Mohammad Ali,in which the French influence was instrumental in producing meaningful reforms. He is also saying that no change in the region took place without an external element. But as it is well known Ali’s reforms were later extinguished by the great powers of the time, and his reign was later confined to Egypt after almost capturing most of the ‘mashreq’.

    Other cases such as Iraq, even though the change may be described as a sudden change and Saghieh is obviously corect, cannot be compared to the change in Egypt under Ali. If the objective was to set in motion a process to create a general change in ethos, the Iraqi case was a regression.

    As for the STL, you stated rather eloquently what I proposed in 238. The false argument used by HA that the tribunal is politicized is nothing but a preemptive attempt to avoid paying any real price for crime(s) it may turn out it was responsible for. The price must be in kind to the proceeds of the crime. Any other outcome would be a washout.

    Posted by anonymous | January 2, 2011, 7:12 pm
  85. “Mossad has not taken responsibility either directly or indirectly.”

    For context:

    It’s against the institutionalized Israeli doctrine of long standing to openly claim coup. Although, the recent report (if true) that the new head of the Mossad will go to the UK and formally apologize for the use of Brit passports in the blatantly obvious Dubai hit would indicate a shift. However, Israel>Brit intel cooperation has suffered and Tamir Pardo’s mea culpa & promise of “never again” would be a charm offensive mounted in an attempt mend the frayed relationship.

    But have no doubt that Israelies, in their own manner, accept that Mughanieh was their doing.


    The Israelis have also stated that any HA act of revenge anywhere in the world will trigger the next war.

    BTW, the new Mossad head guy, Tamir Pardo, rose to prominence due to his facility with “phone tapping”, among other related skills.

    Do tell.

    Posted by lally | January 2, 2011, 9:54 pm
  86. OK, I’ll Tell


    You forgot to mention that other act of “Tikkun Olam” Jewish liberals seem to forget:

    Destroying the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak. As we’ve come to learn, many nations were (quietly) relieved…

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 2, 2011, 11:15 pm
  87. Ghassan,
    I’ve accepted the apparent fact that the STL might be the only issue (that I could think of), which you and have a TOTAL disagreement on, and we’ll continue to do so.
    This is an imaginative speculation about the possible role of Muhgnieh and Kanaan.
    It’s a well known secret why Kanaan “committed suicide”. It’s also a well known secret , that tens of high ranking Syrian officers were, either executed or mysteriously disappeared around that same period. The internal struggle among the regime’s elite and the possible coup which may have been planned by the Kanaan and Khaddam group, with the support of the Saudis, is not just speculation, but very real.
    Mugnieh’s possible recruitment by the Mossad is just laughable.
    Since when did Israel ever openly admit to carrying any assassination of its enemies? What would you say if HA retaliated to his assassination and Israel deemed such retaliation a good excuse to launch another war against Lebanon? Wouldn’t you and everyone else hold HA responsible for triggering such war? Are you urging HA to retaliate? I hope not, lol.
    Following your hypothetical Scenario, any indictment which would hold Mugnieh and kannan responsible for Hariri’s murder, could only imply that The STL (and the forces behind the STL) decided to accuse two dead men who can not defend themselves.
    As for Mehlis’s report, He never named Mughnieh or any HA member as a suspect. He specifically suspected Syria along with the four Lebanese officers of plotting the Hariri assassination. Mehlis would have nothing to laugh about. His era at the UNIIIC was full of controversies.
    As for the STL indictment triggering the end of HA, this is exactly what the Americans, some western countries, some Arab states, and Israel intended on doing by diverting the STL toward accusing HA. Is it going to work for them? It remains to be seen.
    Again, Lebanon is the same sectarian country we’ve been talking about, where a sect and political party might be one body. They stand up together or go down together.
    Feltman’s statement at a congressional hearing, in which He stated that the US spend $500 million to destroy HA’s reputation is really part of that same ploy. The UN is not as independent as one should hope. Politics and interests can influence the UN and the STL.

    Posted by PROPHET | January 2, 2011, 11:29 pm
  88. I did not comment, GK, on your references to Mughniyeh and Kanaan on purpose. It was obvious you were speculating.

    When it comes to issues relating to internal Syrian security, speculations can run wild. Kanaan’s death for example generated at least seven or eight theories ranging from psychological problems, to elimination in order to burry information particularly information sought by UNIIC to plotting against Bashar’s regime and other theories. However, eliminating the more obscure figure of Ali Kanaan (Ghazi’s brother) one year later may weigh the odds in favour of certain speculations over others,


    As for Mughniyeh, there is a good reason why HA did not retaliate for his death. HA seems to be convinced that Syrian regime itself was behind his killing,


    It is hypocrisy at its best to claim to want to effect positive changes in Lebanon and then pose in defence of a foreign funded paramilitary organization, and fail to call for its disarming and the severance of its ties to that foreign power (Iran of course).

    Posted by anonymous | January 3, 2011, 12:50 am
  89. PeterinDubai # 249: ‘Why the foreign speaking Armenians are still in Lebanon when they have a nation to live under is a bit baffling.’

    That’s not as baffling as to why you feel the urge to enunciate your ignorance (perhaps racism?) every time u post some drivel.

    So Armenians are now ‘foreign spoken’ and the francophone phoenicians are ‘native spoken’? Can u enlighten us what’s the native language in Lebanon? What’s the native religion? May be the native (superior) race?

    Posted by praetorian | January 3, 2011, 9:18 am
  90. Prophet,
    If you would go back and reread what I said then you would find out that it was only ideas that I raised without answering many of them. I do not know who killed Muggheinyeh but the circumstances surrounding his elimination were very suspicious. As for accusing two dead men, I also raised that issue as being potentially problematic.

    Time will tell what are going to be the implications of the STL indictments. It would not make sense to suggest that Hezbollah does not care about the indictments and that it will not be affected by them when the party itself seems to have marshaled all its resources to prevent the indictment. I still believe that logic dictates that Hezbollah will pay the price for its involvement, if that turns out to be the case. BTW, paying the price will not be evident immediately but would take some time before the reaction is felt all throughout the system.

    I suggest that no country ,all throughout history, has ever let an illegal foreign funded and trained militia that uses its firepower to act as a state within a state participate in political process. I do not see any difference between the decision to allow Hezbollah to continue to be funded by Iran and to allow it to receive smuggled arms and the disastrous to the state than the Cairo Accords of Al Bustani.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 3, 2011, 9:48 am
  91. “…smuggled arms and the disastrous to the state than the Cairo Accords of Al Bustani.”

    GK, You’re referring to the 1968 Cairo accord, I assume. If so, I do not sure which Bustani you have in mind, or what role he/she played. You probably meant Frangieh.
    You’re right. And again you’re restating what I said in 41. HA’s regime is no different than and is an extension of the fatah land regime. It would be interesting to speculate in retrospect what the outcome would have been if Lebanon stood up against 21 states in that summit and rejected the accords. In retrospect many would agree it should have.

    In 223, I stated Lebanese (politicians and people) must reject the logic of the duality of Army/Resistance/People and declare it illegitimate in the same way the Cairo Accords were abrogated. In fact, legitimate resistance ended long ago, and HA had little role to play in it. HA came in later supported by Syria and claimed the legacy. That is the utmost mark of hypocricy manifested by this group.

    Posted by anonymous | January 3, 2011, 12:31 pm
  92. General Bustani, the head of the army, was also the head of the Lebanese delegation to Cairo. It is reported that he is the one who agreed to all of the conditions in the Cairo Accords.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 3, 2011, 12:50 pm
  93. Ghassan,#296
    I didn’t suggest that HA does not or should not care about the STL indictment.
    From their reaction, they seem to care even when they dismiss the STL publicly. Their dismissal is part of their defense strategy, it seems. They do care about their reputation, and they are trying to save that image, but if it comes down to survival, reputation becomes a secondary issue to them, I think.
    My reference to the sectarian factor is meant to indicate that ,both HA, and Amal are convinced ( from their public behavior at least) that the indictment will eventfully ,at least in the court of public opinion, convict the whole Shiia sect. That leads me to believe that both have believed that they will either stand together or go down together.
    As wrong or bad as this sound, I think it is an accurate reading of the shii/HA/Aaml triangle of survival. Will they make the survival of the sect connected to their survival? Most likely, yes.
    As for Mugnieh, I suspect that ,at lease one element of the Syrian intelligence apparatus had to either, close its eyes, or had be involved .

    Posted by PROPHETT | January 3, 2011, 4:28 pm
  94. Correction,
    The following sentence should have said: That leads me to believe that both believe that they will either stand together or go down together.

    Posted by PROPHETT | January 3, 2011, 4:40 pm
  95. Sigh…..

    According to Ronen Bergman “the senior political and military analyst for the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth and the author of several books….” Mughniyeh was the responsibility of Meir Dagan’s “knife between it’s teeth” Mossad:

    “The number of complex targeted assassinations carried out by the Mossad also increased under Dagan. The most high-profile of these was the elimination in Damascus of Imad Mughniyeh, Hezbollah’s military chief. Among other terrorist acts, Mughniyeh was responsible for the bombing of the U.S. embassy and the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, and the bombings in Buenos Aires of the Israeli embassy in 1992 and a Jewish cultural center in 1994. In February 2008 his head was blown off by an explosive device that had been planted in the driver’s-side headrest of his rental car.”


    Posted by lally | January 5, 2011, 7:54 pm

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