Lebanon, Syria

The SSNP’s Fiefdom in Hamra

If you read nothing else today, be sure to read this Jadaliyya anonymous account of an attack on a group of protesters outside the Syrian Embassy in Beirut. As anyone who lives, works, or pub crawls in Hamra knows, this area is SSNP territory.

Every six months or so, when I visit my family in Beirut (who live in this neighborhood), there are more and more SSNP banners hanging from walls and lampposts. Lately, it seems, they’ve been getting out their frustration with the situation in Syria by intimidating peaceful protesters.

As`ad Abu-Khalil has heard from a source he trusts that the attackers were not SSNP but rather Ba`ath party thugs, who have been throwing their weight around in Lebanon ever since the Syrian uprisings began. You may have heard about the incident of the Ba`ath Party official who walked into a pharmacy in Saida a few weeks ago, announced his full name and position, and proceeded to terrorize the owner and her employees because they had declined to sell something to his nephew earlier in the day. Unfortunately for him, the whole episode was caught on tape and put on YouTube (the action starts around 2:53; see here for a transcribed English translation).

This is beside the point, but I think it’s worth highlighting something the author of the Jadaliyya post insisted upon: these protesters were brought together by their condemnation of the atrocities in Syria as well as their disgust with “the March 14-March 8 political schism that has polarized Lebanon for six years now.” They deliberately chose to demonstrate in this neighborhood so as to avoid being labeled as supporters of any particular political party.

I encourage any like-minded readers of this blog who are living in Lebanon to find a way to get involved, join these protests, speak out, and help to end the rule of amped-up Baathist goons on the streets of Hamra.
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79 thoughts on “The SSNP’s Fiefdom in Hamra

  1. In Lebanon the easiest thing to do is accuse people and label them and throw accusations here and there. One of the easiest accusations is that against the SSNP since they are not affiliated with any religion or any sect.

    I heard from some of who were there during the protest, and who know some of the SSNP members in the area, that when the protest (“sit-in”) started everything was cool and then some supporters of the Syrian regime started to gather. That’s when the confrontation started and it escalated fast.

    The “sit-in” was not authorized by the Ministry of Internal, so there were no presence of the police nor the army. The area being SSNP stronghold, the SSNP members who were there stepped in the middle to separate the protesters from both sides until the police or the army come in. There were members of the Communist party as well who also helped the SSNP members to disperse the protesters.

    Few members of the SSNP and Cummunist party were injured while stepping in the middle.

    Posted by Ryan | August 4, 2011, 11:52 am
  2. Par for the course really. The SSNP, the Baath, LF, PSP, HA….They’d all behave the same way in their own fiefs.
    I’d like to see an anti-Iranian protest in HA’s backyard.
    Or an anti-Christian protest in Maarab, etc.

    You get the idea.

    Lebanon is filled with these thugs. And when the rule of law is non-existent…Everyone feels it’s perfectly ok to assault others for whatever reason they see fit.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 4, 2011, 12:39 pm
  3. the Angry Arab has posted otherwise, he confirms that the SSNP were involved.


    Posted by the pope | August 4, 2011, 1:06 pm
  4. QN,
    As important as the observation that March14 March 8 have polarized the country for years I do believe that the most revealing and possibly the most disconcerting part of the description by a participant was (1) the fact that the security detail left as soon as the clash between demonstrators and counter demonstrators started and (2) the fact that the police station would not turn away the accusers.
    That is why we keep repeating ad nauseum that dissent and diversity cannot prosper without the rule of law.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | August 4, 2011, 1:51 pm
  5. yup yup. The rule of law issue is the topmost, firstmost (i don’t know how to emphasize this enough) most pressing matter in Lebanon.
    It comes – or should, at least – before Shebaa, Hariri assassination, maritime borders, Syrian uprisings, corruption reform, sectarian reform, etc….

    None of those things have a chance of going anywhere without a nation that values and understands and enforces the rule of law.
    It’s really that simple.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 4, 2011, 2:17 pm
  6. they are the past. they are the dark ages. they are evolution gone bad. a mutant strain of malicious bacteria that made “thug like” creatures in form of human beings. they are terrorism impersonated. the barbaric thugs who attacked you and the “so called” intellects, who take pride in their outlaws and preach about civilization and reform and call for secularism day and night who stood watching are simply midevil .

    Posted by Ramie Sarieddine | August 4, 2011, 2:49 pm
  7. One of the questions that I never got a suitable answer to when living in the neighborhood was whether the SSNP were actually a plurality/majority in Hamra, or whether they’ve simply managed to beat (literally at times) a much larger community into submission. My impression was always the latter, though of course that’s a function of my circle of acquaintances.

    Posted by David Kenner | August 4, 2011, 2:59 pm
  8. I’d guess the latter as well. I highly doubt the majority of civilian residents of Hamra have a particular affinity to the SSNP.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 4, 2011, 4:45 pm
  9. Sometimes, well often, I wonder whether the Lebanese politicians ever think about the implications of the policies that they advocate.
    The position that Lebanon took to dissociate itself from the Presidential statement of the UNSC on Syria is a good case in point.
    The Lebanese foreign minister ,Mansour, as well as an Amal spokesperson insisted that Lebanon can never vote to condemn the Syrian regime because of the special relationship between the two countries. Please reread the last statement, the Lebanese officials are not only endorsing the Syrian violations of human rights but are actually going further, much further. They are taking the position that is impossible to defend that Syria has a carte blanche to do whatever it chooses to whoever it chooses and Lebanon will never object to any Syrian measure under any set of circumstances. That is pathetic.

    “MP Michel Musa, a member in Speaker Nabih Berri’s parliamentary bloc, said: “Lebanon has no interest in antagonizing Syria and, therefore, there is no interest in taking a position in the Security Council to condemn Syria given the brotherly ties as well as political, security and economic agreements.” Foreign Minister Mansour said practically the same thing by saying that Lebanon can never support any statement that condemns Syrian actions.

    It would be so difficult to argue that Lebanon is not a vasal state.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | August 4, 2011, 6:51 pm
  10. Ghassan,

    Not that I’m defending. I agree completely with you.
    But the sad fact is that you parse and read these statements using proper language skills, so to speak. Where words actually mean what they say.

    In Lebanon, we all know that most words are empty of all meaning and just cliches (why does that still fly, i don’t know).
    This is a land where every moron who gets accidentally shoots himself in the foot is a “martyr”, where we use words like “brotherly” and where everyone who’s ever farted loud enough to be heard by more than 3 people is called “Sheikh”, “Dawlet”, “Beik”, “Ra’ees” or whatever.
    Come on! You should know better than to point out how vacuous words are in the mouths of Lebanese.

    I am sure mister Musa did not mean that Syria has carte blanche to do as it pleases. In fact, I don’t think mister Musa thought that far into what he was saying and was simply repeating a tired old phrase that he grew up listening to.

    Your truly,

    Fakhamat El-Raees, Sheikh Bad Vilbel Beik, defender of brotherly relations, cooexistence, and arabism against imperialist, zionist and satanist conspiracies…

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 4, 2011, 8:03 pm
  11. They knew they were provoking and they knew the protest would probably not have been authorized by the ministry of interior. If they were to start a peaceful pro-Asad demonstration in a certain Tripoli neighborhood, they’d get beheaded and chopped up by the Salafi thugs. At least bruises heal, but hopefully not their over-inflated egos.

    Posted by Murad | August 4, 2011, 10:47 pm
  12. I guess i will have to cancel my “Peace With Israel” sit in i was planning to hold in Khiam.

    Posted by Vulcan | August 5, 2011, 12:31 am
  13. Murad,
    They were outside the Syrian Embassy, for that purpose.How is that provocation.? no it is not the same as going into the strongholds of certain political parties and protesting, that might be the case. The problem is the attitude and culture of the pro Assad regime parties like the SSNP and Baath. ( pro- Assad as opposed to pro-Syria)
    They would go ape shit if anybody mentions anything negative about the regime like it is their whole identity being threatened.
    The old school members of the SSNP adhere to the principles of the party and the vision of its founder, but those have all but disappeared. Antoun Saade would be turning in his grave right now, and sadly this new breed of party fanatics cling on to superficial things like hating Israel and supporting the Assad regime.

    Posted by maverick | August 5, 2011, 12:55 am
  14. “I encourage any like-minded readers of this blog who are living in Lebanon to find a way to get involved, join these protests, speak out, and help to end the rule of amped-up Baathist goons on the streets of Hamra.”

    Is this a joke? In a country where you cannot ask anything anyone without that one asking you back “who are you”, such a fit is not possible. I am pessimistic, I am sorry. I live & work in Hamra, I do not want trouble with goons & pseudo-militia men. I respect the courage of those who did what they did. But let us face it, I am too risk averse to provoke pseudo-militia men who still believe we are in the 1980s. these flags & men are a provocation, an aggression to the sight, but for the time being me and others who live here prefer to pretend they are not there as we pursue our livelihoods in this cherished neighborhood.

    Posted by rm | August 5, 2011, 3:17 am
  15. “and help to end the rule of amped-up Baathist goons on the streets of Hamra.”

    QN, could ypu explain if you include SNNP “in amped-up Baathist goons”? Was this innocent? If not why the flag in the post? thanks.

    Posted by rm | August 5, 2011, 3:50 am
  16. RM

    If the SSNP was involved in the attacks, then yes they are included in the goon category. The author of the post indicated that they were.

    Let me ask you something: if you knew for a fact that there would be at least 5000 people at a peaceful anti-Baath protest in front of the Syrian Embassy, would you go? I’m talking about a number that couldn’t be beaten up by mukhabarat guys.

    I understand not wanting to provoke militia men, but I think these fears can be mitigated by a feeling of strength in numbers.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | August 5, 2011, 6:26 am
  17. from the jadaliyya post:
    “led by a tall thin man in his fifties with white hair, whom I later learned is a member of the Ba`th Party in Lebanon.”

    I’m fairly certain I know who is being referred to here, and while I have no idea about his affiliation with the Baath party, he is almost certainly the “head thug” of the SSNP goons that are stationed at the minivan. [I’m curious as to his/SSNP’s affiliation with Cru since he can usually be found sitting there sipping wine at nights]

    I’ve seen this same gang of thugs in various incidents over the past 3 years brutally attacking a number of other people in the area. The majority of the attacks I witnessed seem to have been sparked by traffic incidents and not political issues. A wrong word aimed at one of them when you park in a “reserved” spot, or when one of them is coming ” ‘aks il seir ” and you aren’t budging for him, and all of a sudden there’s a whole swarm dragging people out of cars and beating the shit out of them. More often than not a “daraki” or two will be watching on from the sidelines.

    I hope one of the protesters managed to get some video footage or photos of the thugs. Post them online and spread them, while most people aren’t willing to risk their necks complaining publicly [and rightfully so considering what we know the police reaction will be] videos can be spread anonymously online and the attention might force some reaction from the powers that be. Especially with the new Interior Ministers haughty claims of not being uselessly impotent when it comes to matters like this.

    A video of the cops at the station telling beaten up protesters to just leave would be useful as well.

    “Par for the course really. The SSNP, the Baath, LF, PSP, HA….They’d all behave the same way in their own fiefs.”

    Sure. And the choice of location for this protest wasn’t the smartest move, how could they not expect to provoke them… But that’s not an excuse for the reaction to go unpunished. The new government wants to claim that it is capable of change, then cleaning the streets from all these thugs would be a good first move.

    Posted by hamraresident | August 5, 2011, 9:11 am
  18. Why is this article focused on the ssnp flag when the goons were baathists and syrian workers? Why is it an ssnp flag when members of the ssnp put themselves in the middle of the chaos to protect the protesters from the thugs.
    I can’t help but see a trend of anti-ssnp critique that stems from something other than these events.
    I’d suggest that people speak their opinions clearly about the ssnp but not link things that happen in hamra to the party.
    Indeed the party has been present in hamra ever since it has been established due to the fact that its founder was present there in AUB and the students took to his thoughts. The liberal environment of Hamra was set by the artists and intellectuals and activists from the 60s onward, and the party members and the party thoughts were a huge part responsible for this identity and plurality, not because they had weapons but because they were free thinkers (ex: Nidal al achkar and the theatre, Assi Rahbani, student protests to claim more rights etc.).
    The pre-existing negative sentiment against the ssnp has just found itself a new bone to munch on considering that the whole country is in a continuous state of crisis, that to some extent have gotten used to, and forget about. This doesn’t give an excuse to anyone to use violence against any other. But it also begs people to take note of the situation and make the required preparations.
    Just because the ssnp has an office in hamra doesn’t mean it owns hamra and this party imposes its rules on the people. Regarding not being able to park ones car in front of the ssnp offices i must beg how is it different than parking ones car in koreitem next to hariris house, or even next any party’s offices? Hariri blocked and still is blocking the whole road, the other parties do the same for security measures. So acting all surprised and revolted for the ssnp office is just plain stupid.
    What is also narrow minded is equating a whole party with very few people that don’t know better.
    You don’t like the ssnp? That’s your right. But don’t go propagating a picture about the whole party that is not the truth.

    Posted by oh | August 5, 2011, 10:23 am
  19. Oh,

    I don’t like the SSNP because they are one of the few parties in the world that are openly antisemitic. Why would you support a racist party that believes that Jews cannot be part of the middle east?

    Posted by AIG | August 5, 2011, 11:04 am
  20. Remember a few weeks ago when I was talking about the “climate of fear” and how you gotta keep certain themes hush-hush in Lebanon (vs. in a free country). And someone here – i think it was Danny – was saying how it’s not like that anymore and he’s not afraid to mention “Israel” or “HA” or whoever on the phone or in open conversation…

    I refer you to the comments by RM and HamraResident.

    THAT is the difference between the Lebanese psyche and that of people living in the civilized world.
    The fact that bullies and thugs with no official affiliation can claim a piece of sidewalk or cafe, park as they will, bully anyone who looks at them funny, and that local residents will, for the most part, turn a blind eye (from fear of rocking the boat, or getting in trouble) is VERY telling.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 5, 2011, 1:21 pm
  21. BV,

    Not moi dude. That country is a cesspool of HA goons and phone tapping is widespread.
    Would I say such a thing lol???

    Posted by danny | August 5, 2011, 1:28 pm
  22. Well I forget who it was. I’d have to go looking through previous comments 🙂

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 5, 2011, 1:59 pm
  23. AIG it’s funny you say anti semetic. The ssnp is very semetic and your use of this word shows how little you know about semitism and the ssnp.
    If anything the ssnp is the most non-racist party that exists in this country and region.
    So instead of just stating things you heard and quick lines you read, how about you read a bit more and try to grasp the thoughts behind this party. I am sure by then you will be able to form another albeit your very personal opinion.

    Posted by oh | August 5, 2011, 2:24 pm
  24. most non-racist party?
    LOL….Good one.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 5, 2011, 2:30 pm
  25. Btw. This is relevant to the current discussion:


    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 5, 2011, 2:33 pm
  26. No really, read a book or two, learn about the thoughts, then build your opinion.

    Posted by oh | August 5, 2011, 2:33 pm
  27. I think what QN describes in Hamra , applies to most neighborhoods in Beirut and in major cities ,where political parties/militias literally control their neighborhoods and areas. I don’t see why QN thought the control of the SSNP of Hamra district is so unique and important that He devoted a whole post for it.
    I wish you had devoted a post for the whole phenomena of political parties control of their areas, and the people who happened to live in those areas, instead of focusing on one case . What goes on in Hamra, is not so much different than what goes on in Kuraitem, Saifee , Triq Aljadeedee, Zgharta, Dahieh, or any other Beirut or Tripoli neighborhood.

    Posted by prophettt | August 5, 2011, 2:51 pm
  28. “Let me ask you something: if you knew for a fact that there would be at least 5000 people at a peaceful anti-Baath protest in front of the Syrian Embassy, would you go? I’m talking about a number that couldn’t be beaten up by mukhabarat guys.”

    …Yes, I would seriously think about it & might join if I feel safe then and thereafter, if no pcitures are taken, & no threats are made.

    Posted by rm | August 5, 2011, 3:43 pm
  29. BV, I believe it was with me.

    Even today in a hamra cafe next to my table people were talking about the incidents of tuesday loudly. On the streets too I heard two discussing openly.

    people are talking here, that is my observtation. Sometimes, I feel they are unaware of the consequences. I could be one of the goons, a nerdy one however.

    reality here on the ground is complex. Some people are talking. I prefer not though I feel to say what I want on the phone and internet.

    Posted by rm | August 5, 2011, 3:50 pm
  30. I understand what you’re saying rm.

    I suppose it’s good that people are talking. But I still feel like there are lines that aren’t crossed, taboos of sorts, resulting from this overall climate of thuggery and intimidation.

    I know many Lebanese (my parents included) who delude themselves somewhat by insisting that “things are normal” (define “normal”, eh?) and that the media exaggerates a lot of the hubbub (I’m sure it does).
    They even try to give me the impression that things work back in Lebanon, that the law is generally upheld, etc…
    I’ve seen this first hand. This kind of denial of reality.

    I think part of it is that a lot of these folks have no frame of reference to “normal” in civilized, law abiding countries. And i think part of it is essentially Stockholm Syndrome. But it is undeniable that it’s there.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 5, 2011, 4:53 pm
  31. Oh,

    I read what Saadeh says about Jews.

    Can you explain the last paragraph of the Fourth Principle:

    Posted by AIG | August 5, 2011, 5:03 pm
  32. Funny, Saadeh’s geographical definition of “Greater Syria” reminds me alot of “Greater Israel”…..Maybe he was a Zionist…. 🙂


    How does one determine that a certain “ideology” is crackpot? When it’s full of contradictions…

    First, Saadeh says very clearly:
    he Syrian nation is the product of the ethnic unity of the Syrian people which developed throughout history.

    (which I point out has included Jews since biblical times)

    Then he says:
    The alleged racial purity of any nation is a groundless myth.

    Yet he proceeds in the following paragraphs to deconstruct Syria’s so-called races, and arrives to the following conclusion:

    This principle cannot be said to imply that Jews are a part of the Syrian nation and equal in rights and duties to the Syrians. Such an interpretation is incompatible with this principle which excludes the integration of elements with alien and exclusive racial loyalties in the Syrian nation. Such elements cannot fit into any homogeneous nation.

    He further elaborates that:

    There are large settlements of immigrants in Syria, such as the Armenians, Kurds and Circassians, whose assimilation is possible given sufficient time. These elements may dissolve in the nation and lose their special loyalties. But there is one large settlement which can not in any respect be reconciled to the principle of Syrian nationalism, and that is the Jewish settlement. IT is a dangerous settlement which can never be assimilated because it consists of a people that, although it has mixed with many other peoples, has remained a heterogeneous mixture, not a nation, with strange stagnant beliefs and aims of its own, essentially incompatible with Syrian rights and sovereignty ideals. It is the duty of the Syrian Social Nationalists to repulse the immigration of this people with all their might.

    Now I don’t know about you, but if an ideology claims to be all-exclusive (let’s say “Aryans only”), i call it racist…But at least it’s consistant.
    This ideology here claims to be all-inclusive, but then goes out of its way to exclude one particular group (Jews). I think that qualifies as antisemite, by any measure.
    He claims that Armenians, Phoenicians and so on are ok, but not Jews.
    I’d venture to say that while Phoenicians and Caananites long “dissoved” into Syria, the Armenians are a much more recent arrival. In fact, Syria has had Jews a LOT longer than it’s had Armenians…
    So yeah. His logic does not stand. Pure crackpot ideology.

    (And this is just ONE of his many points. Don’t get me started on his attempt at including Cyprus in Greater Syria! I bet the Greek Cypriots have a lot less in common with the Syrian nation than Syrian Jews).

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 5, 2011, 5:45 pm
  33. The SSNP is not anti-Semitic because today’s Jews are Khazars from Europe and not the Israelites that abandoned Palestine. And in any event, “Judaism” is a religion, not a race, and Semites are a race.

    Posted by dontgetit | August 5, 2011, 7:51 pm
  34. BV you clearly then don’t understand these words that you just read. He is saying that Syria is the product of the people that live in it. He has seen that over the centuries and years all migrations and human elements have interacted and technically “melted” into each other forming one heterogeneous society, that with more interaction (cultural, economical, etc.) will blend even more together (it’s called a melting pot nowadays). These elements were open to one another and it was re-enforced by this interaction. However he has seen that the Jews have a non open approach to other groups and human elements, and that has been seen over centuries of their interactions with others.
    If anything he’s saying the jews are anti-semites and consider themselves aryans (the jews do consider themselves the chosen people of god don’t they?) and don’t wish to get mixed up with others (jews are very strict not to marry other jews to ensure to keep the jewish lineage now arn’t they?). Also who ever is not jew is considered gohem, or less than human.
    If you are not able to understand that a people that think they are better than others, and do not wish to mix with others just because their religion tells them that, are not racist, then you are not able to see much at all and you are completely missing the point of what Antun Saadeh is saying.
    A book that can help you understand Antun Saadeh’s work(if you really are an open minded person and what to understand something) is the Anthology of Antun Saadeh (“Antun Saadeh , The Man, His Thoughts An Anthology”) which is a study of his work as a sociologist, anthropologist and political leader. Goodluck.

    Posted by oh | August 5, 2011, 9:37 pm
  35. Was I the only one who read the media spokersperson of the SSNP who said they are in Hamra to defend it …. What Da F**k …. defend Hamra !?!?! Unbelievable. So now ever neighborhood in Beirut needs defense. This is an infinitely destructive logic.

    Posted by rm | August 6, 2011, 9:22 am
  36. Oh,

    Again, that logic makes no sense. The Jews of Syria and Lebanon, back in the day, were as integrated into society as the Armenians.
    Which is to say, only to a point, in our overly sectarian political systems and societal systems.
    The Kurds of Syria have always maintained a desire for their own homeland, even when integrated, to a point, into Syrian society.

    The bottom line is this: In most countries, there is a certain degree of integration. Even the USA, the melting pot par excellence, there is a degree of separation between Blacks, Mexicans, Whites, Asians, etc.
    For the most part, they are integrated into every day life, but they still maintain a sense of being their own subgroup, with their own mores.
    In the middle east, our various melting pots are not anywhere near as cohesive as in the USA. Lebanon has Shia, Sunnis, Maronites, etc. Who while living together and integrating to a point (i’m talking pre-civil war days) still maintained their own identities.
    The same can be said of Armenians, Jews, Kurds, Alawites in Syria.

    So the simple fact is, Saadeh’s logic makes no sense. He argues that ONLY the jews are not fit for integration, because they keep to themselves (a fact that was debatable in the days of Saadeh and prior…Let’s not look at today’s situation as it predates Saadeh, and involves more complex matters since the Arab-Israeli conflict).
    So, in short, his logic is that “everyone else, despite their differences, can integrate, but the Jews cannot.”
    All well and nice if you believe his logic.
    But when you look at the facts of a fragmented and divided and sectarian middle east, you find that the Jews’s ability to integrate is no different than that of the Kurds or Armenians or Alawite.
    There is NO DIFFERNCE whatsoever in history/fact.
    Maybe in Antoun Saadeh’s fantasy world there is. But not in fact.
    The kurds of Syria have not even been granted citizenship till last year.
    The alawites kept to themselves in their regions.
    Same with the druze.
    The examples are endless.

    Singling out the Jews for a behavior that most “tribes” in the ME have been guilty of makes his ideology baseless and anti-Jew (since you take exception to the word anti-semite).

    It’s really pretty simple and obvious.

    You can tell me that I misread his words till the cows come home. The point is, history and facts contradict his basic premise, thus making it false.

    I look at this as a pure exercise in logic.

    Hypothesis A: Everyone else integrated (False!)
    Hypothesis B: The jews refused to integrate (Somewhat false!)
    Conclusion: The jews are the only ones who are incapable of integrating.

    When you base the conclusion on 2 false hypotheses…your conclusion makes no sense.

    And i don’t care if your name is Saadeh, Jesus Christ or Moses…It’s simple deductive logic.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 6, 2011, 3:37 pm
  37. and you simply fail to understand what is being said again. You base your logic on what you know, and what you know and understand doesn’t encompass what Saadeh is talking about.

    For logic to work you need to understand the meaning behind the words used in Saadeh’s hypothesis, and in Saadeh’s work it is not easily understood as he goes down to re-defining things that people take for granted (meaning of nation, meaning of identity, meaning of race, the elements affecting the above…)

    You are taking Saadeh’s logic from the wrong end. If you look at it from a point of view that the most important aspect is the preservation of his greater syrian nation, you will understand what he means by preserving this inclusiveness of all the different groups that form the syrian society. And based on his deduction of the history of the jews and how jews view themselves, it is very logic for Saadeh to deduce that jews cannot integrate into this society as full members that consider themselves equal to the others, since they don’t consider themselves equals to any other people in the world (at least based on their religion).

    The examples you gives of this century are slightly irrelevant or you simply don’t know how to put them forth. However if you are trying to show that other ethnic entities were less integrated and till today are not part of this society, there is no denying that. Not even Saadeh denies that, as even at his time there were differences. However this is where you don’t grasp that Saadeh’s work comes as a solution to the problem of this region. While he analyses what is going on from a sociological point of view, he uses history to connect the dots, but he sets the direction to achieve this larger greater syria entity that would give its native population the means to be independent and self governing. Of course this is over simplistic and you will need to read his work to understand what he is saying.

    So for you to understand the 2 hypothesis you need to understand the words used and the meaning behind them, otherwise you will fall back to your conclusion. Pick up that book i recommended and you will see Saadeh’s point of view. It doesn’t mean you will agree to it. It just means you will understand it, and you will be able to form a relevant opinion.

    Posted by oh | August 6, 2011, 4:48 pm
  38. Yes. I am sure Sunnis don’t consider themselves equal to Shia or Alawites either. Based on their religion…

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 6, 2011, 5:29 pm
  39. Oh #37,
    I hate to intrude on a private /public exchange but can you possibly be more condescending? You know it all and everyone else is stupid since they do not see it your way? (Sorry BV for the intrusion).

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | August 6, 2011, 6:46 pm
  40. No apology necessary Gus.
    My bad for indulging in this exercise. It wasn’t even relevant to the original post except in a tangential manner.

    Bottom line is, any ideology that discusses race (be it Jews or otherwise) and pretends to generalize how an entire group of people defined by race, color or creed will integrate/behave is a racist ideology.
    That’s pretty much the dictionary definition of “racism”.

    Oh’s take on Saadeh’s ideology is no different than the current thinking that muslim immigrants are incapable of integrating in Europe. Or that Mexicans are incapable of integrating in the USA.
    It’s pure and simple racism. Nothing more.

    No one can or should pretend to generalize how an entire population feels or behaves.
    There are many immigrants that are quite well integrated in Canada or the USA or France.
    And there are also many of them who have trouble integrating, or refuse to, choosing instead of “ghettoize” themselves.
    If some clown came along and said “immigrants are incapable of integrating in the USA/France/Europe/Whathaveyou”, they’d be labeled a racist.
    I see no difference in Saadeh’s crackpot rantings about Jews vs. Armenians or Canaanites….

    On that note, i will move on…Oh is more than welcome to hold to his beliefs.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 6, 2011, 7:40 pm
  41. #37 Wow, ‘oh’…. you managed to write five paragraphs without addressing any one of Bad Vilbel’s points. Props for that man.

    Posted by Won | August 6, 2011, 7:44 pm
  42. I am sure everyone has noticed that this entire line of conversation was started by AIG, this forum’s self-admitted Zionist. Obviously, the intention was to distract everyone from the most important and vital issue facing the Arab world today, which is the Resistance to the Zionist usurpation of Arab and Muslim land and the planting of Israhell in the midst of the Middle East by the foreign and alien “Jews.”

    Posted by dontgetit | August 6, 2011, 9:32 pm
  43. dontgetit #42,
    Is Arab non Muslim land safe?

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | August 6, 2011, 11:34 pm
  44. GK: I am not a complete authority in Muslim law, but I believe that non-Muslims are permitted to live safely in Arab land, if that is what you mean (obviously, this is outside the three holy cities of Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem where no Jews or Christians are permitted).

    Posted by dontgetit | August 7, 2011, 12:00 am
  45. How about non-Arab, muslim land?
    Indonesia anyone?

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 7, 2011, 12:51 am
  46. @dontgetit: I’m not an authority in Muslim law or shari3a, however, there are 2 points I like to briefly state.
    1) Islam is a universal religion same like Christianity. There is no proper definition of a Muslim nation nor of a Christian Nation. Although some might try to put boarders to the muslim nation but it has no grounds whatsoever.
    2) Regarding Mecca, Madina and Jerusalem. I believe what you said applies to Mecca only (not sure about Madina), however, for Jerusalem it’s totally not true. The fact is when Muslims first got to Jerusalem they prayed in the holy church there (Kanisat Al-Qiyama) along side with Christians. The only barrier was a thin blanket, and when Salahuddin left Jerusalem, he gave the key to the city to a Christian priest.

    Posted by Ryan | August 7, 2011, 6:02 am
  47. @VB, there are historical proofs that the Phoenicians landed on the Eastern coasts of North America way before Columbus “discovered” it. How about a group of Lebanese come and claim the eastern coast as theirs. How would the US and its citizens accept that.
    The same with the jewish (khazars) migration. Simply because they believe their god promised them a piece of land that few other jews lived there entitles them to that (our) land, does justify it with me.
    I care less what religion a person does or does not follow. Spirituality and beliefs are personal, however, when these beliefs attack me, my country and threatens my own existence, damn sure I have a problem with that.
    When jews believe that “your land Israel is from the blue river of the Nile to the great river of the Euphrates.” Followed by all non-jews are goyim, which really means animals in the forms of humans, that (their) god created in order to serve the jews. Now, that I have a problem with.
    I have no problem with any jew who doesn’t believe in those 2 principles, but would he still be considered a jew?

    Posted by Ryan | August 7, 2011, 6:29 am
  48. @ Ghassan, if i do sound condescending it was not meant to be as such.
    @ BV, Saadeh or his thoughts are anything but racist, he has opposed all schools of thought similar to nazism. He redefined the meaning of race based on his theories and that’s why you are not getting the point. Pick up the book I mentioned and you will understand. I don’t mean to be condescending i just know where you are coming from and the only way one can understand Saadeh’s thoughts and have a studied opinion about his thoughts is by understanding them first. The book is called ” Antun Saadeh, the man, his thoughts, An Anthology” .

    Posted by oh | August 7, 2011, 7:44 am
  49. Instead of insisting on somebody buying a book on Antun Saadeh, why can’t you summarize the points from the book that form your opinion? So far, you haven’t refuted much of what BV is saying, the only thing you’ve said is 1) you’ve got it wrong 2) read the book

    Posted by Won | August 7, 2011, 8:42 am
  50. Won because i can’t summarize Saadeh’s 10+ books in a quick answer on a blog.
    And when i do summarize and explain why it is wrong you don’t “hear” what i say. So instead of reading my summary go to this one book that summarizes at best at possible Saadeh’s work.
    > Read the book and form an opinion. Don’t take my opinion for it, or anyone else’s. That’s the only way you can understand what Saadeh is saying in his work.

    Posted by oh | August 7, 2011, 9:59 am
  51. In no particular order:

    -We are still splitting hairs about a party that is clearly in the camp of the murderers and the goons. From Riad-el-Sold to Bashir-el-Gemayel, with I am sure many in between and since. My God, goons in the party?? Yea, yea, I know. It was not your decent buddies, nor Angry Fool, nor Adonis beating up on people the other day.

    -Some here ask why QN posts on this NOW? That is why Lebanon will never ever ever ever get out of the gutter. Because nothing shocks people, not the goons of course but not even the “decent” people who post here and want to “explain” about SSNP. I don’t care about words or books, I’ve seen enough actions. Has any SSNP figure come out to condemn or deliver the goons to the police (or to condemn and say they were not there)? Case closed.

    -Every neighborhood has parties and goons? Forgive me for thinking that Hamra is a notch some gutter above Ain el Helwe and other off-limits places, where “decent” “intellectual” “liberals”, like some commenters here, live and philosophize, and where most people foreigners see the “face” of Lebanon etc. In brief, if you cannot get rid of this intimidating presence there, you can’t do it anywhere (and we know the state can’t, does not want to, and won’t).

    -Make no mistake about it, the stuff is there to intimidate with the flags, the posters and the guys sitting on the street 24/7.

    -BV and the rule of law: I heard Ziad Baroud on TV recently (Kalam el Nass). When asked about traffic cops not doing their job. His response: well, we have to wait for people to start having more respect for the law before the cop can do his job, and before the good Minister will discipline him. Because we all know the Lebanese attitude toward the law (wink, wink). This is Baroud, the best of them.

    Good Night Lebanon

    Posted by OldHand | August 7, 2011, 12:00 pm
  52. Oh,

    It is very easy to get roped into various theories and ideologies that pretend to dance around the subject of race. They can even construct perfectly logical sounding arguments at times. I have no doubt that Saadeh does just that. And many others have done it before him, citing various different reasons and arguments. Theodore Herzl comes to mind.
    His ideology had nothing to do with nations or Syria per se..and he constructed an entire logical argument for why a certain group should be entitled to a certain land, etc.

    The point is, history is full of such ideologies. And they often seem to make sense at face value, to their audience. I do not doubt that.

    But from my perspective, ANY ideology based on defining notions of race are based on a faulty premise.
    Race, in human terms (looking back millions of years, genetically speaking, and without the boundaries of history/religion/politics) is a purely an artificial concept. There is no such thing as “race”, in my opinion (this is my opinion, no one else’s, and it stems from my personal beliefs).
    We are all humans with the same genetic makeup.
    We started slapping labels on each other a long time ago, strictly based on our “village” (tribe, prehistorical grouping of a few humans) vs. “others”.
    But our genetic makeup has been mingling for millennia.
    Attempting to single out Phoenicians, Jews, Ancient Greeks, Native Americans or whathaveyou is an exercise in futility.
    And anyone who thinks that such a distinction can be made in the populations that exist today is deluding himself. Specially in the Middle East where our intermingling goes back well over 5000 years (and who knows how much earlier).

    So really, ANY ideology, no matter how well constructed, that attempts to use ANY kind of racial argument at its core, is bogus.
    Kurds, Jews, Babylonians, Phoenicians, etc. it’s all a bunch of bullcrap in that sense.
    Who’s to say you don’t have Jewish blood somewhere? Can you guarantee 100% that some Phoenician and some Jew didn’t procreate somewhere around 4000BC and didn’t somehow contribute to your or my generic makeup? Or Saadeh’s for that matter?

    I’m sorry. Spin it as you will, but i refuse to indulge in the kind of mental exercise that Saadeh or his ilk would have us follow when his basic premise is based on racial distinction. I don’t care if he explicitly talks about being inclusive of all (except Jews), the point remains that he sat there and theorized about Armenians and Kurds and Phoenicians and Canaanites, like he knows what makes or defines such labels. That’s just bullshit. No two ways about it.

    For all I know, Hassan Nassrallah and Antoun Saadeh and Samir Geagea have some common genetics in their past. I wouldn’t be surprised. I mean, you can only trace your ancestry so far back, and their genes must have come from somewhere…No?

    PS: I realize my above statement is somewhat disjointed and rant-like. I haven’t had my coffee yet. 🙂

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 7, 2011, 1:18 pm
  53. BV,
    Actually, it is not only your opinion but it is a FACT in our current paradigm of knowledge that racial categories are socially constructed and NOT biological or genetic constructs. While we know today that there is no racial purity, but levels and degrees of intermixing of genetic dispositions within historical becoming, that knowledge was not available to 19th and early 20th century ideologues and nationalists, from Saadeh to Bergson and of course Hitler. These so called thinkers based their theories on existing science (from social darwinism to eugenics) which has been debunked since.

    When will we start debunking the pseudo theoretical constructs of national and ethnic or religious identities? When will we realize that culture functions very much like genetics, in levels and degrees of change and becoming? We still pride ourselves on our hummus and still believe in unique cultural traits that the Lebanese possess: we are all lawless, corrupt, etc. These cultural generalizations, while based on social realities, are as constructed as the racism you critique.

    Can we imagine identities beyond universal categories of sameness? Maybe nationalism is not the axiomatic approach needed to further communal belonging… We need to reimagine politics away from the 19th. E

    Posted by parrhesia | August 7, 2011, 4:23 pm
  54. Corrections

    Not Bergson but Hertzl (spell check!!!!)

    Conclusion: 19th century paradigms of knowledge and NOT 19th.E

    Posted by parrhesia | August 7, 2011, 4:28 pm
  55. Chaos is coming to the Mideast, the failure of the arrangement between Syria and Saudi Arabia over Lebanon, was the indication of what we are seeing now in Syria and will be coming to all other states in the region, it is the time for the city states ,and the destruction once and for all of Arab nationalism .

    Posted by Norman | August 7, 2011, 6:29 pm
  56. For someone who was against the Nazi party, there’s an awful amount of resemblance; the brown shirts, the emblem, the cult of the leader, the super race, the “Jooos”,authoritarian rule..etc.
    But whatever tickled his fancy, my point was that the SSNP has come a long way since the early days and as evidence shows, seems like any other mafioso organization with emphasis on the macho leader.

    Posted by maverick | August 7, 2011, 6:33 pm
  57. Parrhesia, this is exactly what Saadeh was saying.
    In his attempt to define nation Saadeh writes “we must clear out the concept of physical (the human body) unity in the nation. Most sociologists agree that racial unity is an illusion and scientifically unacceptable. The nation then is not a physical or blood unit, but a rational and historical one. A deep chasm separates lineage from nation: a lineage is a general physical entity, while a nation is a general mental and rational faith. Race a is a natural pre-historic fact. The nation, on the other hand, is something that evolves across time. It is a product of human thought, human emotion and human will.”
    Saadeh had opposed the doctrines that claimed that purity of a lineage is a prerequisite for development and civilization. He also chastises their corrupt ideas and political motives, and denouncing what he called “racial illusions” and “the deceitful linguistic evidence”, used by proponents of Aryan racialism. Maverick this answers your comment.
    BV have you read his work? I don’t think you have. Drink you coffee, read his work then have a well thought of opinion. Otherwise, as you mentioned, you’re just ranting.

    Posted by oh | August 7, 2011, 7:49 pm
  58. Norman,

    It is Bashar who is a murderer and a despot. His cruelty has nothing to do with SS initiative. Syrian people have demonstrated that they are brave and will not back down.

    About the criminal outfit called SSNP…Could someone enlighten me how can a party that strives for the disappearance of the Lebanese state have MPs in the parliament?

    Posted by danny | August 7, 2011, 8:03 pm
  59. Obviously, the intention was to distract everyone from the most important and vital issue facing the Arab world today, which is the Resistance to the Zionist usurpation of Arab and Muslim land and the planting of Israhell in the midst of the Middle East by the foreign and alien “Jews.”


    If Israel = “Israhell”, what is Assad-led Syria?

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 7, 2011, 8:07 pm
  60. Parhesia,

    Well said.

    I agree with you that religious and ethnic constructs are just as artificial and fabricated as the one of race.
    I was focusing on race since that was the topic at hand.

    Y’all said it well: The SSNP (and several other parties) are ideological dinosaurs, based on theories long debunked.
    Not to mention that their current incarnations have nothing to do with ideology either, as they are now purely thuggish mafioso outfits anyway.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 7, 2011, 8:39 pm
  61. AP (@59):”If Israel = “Israhell”, what is Assad-led Syria?
    You are confusing the deaths in Syria, which is purely an internal Arab matter, with the outrage and injustice that is the brutality of Israhell. Whether Arabs die by the tens or hundreds or even thousands in an internal, intra-family dispute is irrelevant when compared to the theft of muslim lands by the colonial “jews”.
    Everyone knows that the men of Hama and Daraa are infinitely more free and healthier then the Arabs of occupied Palestine, no matter how many “civil rights” and medical benefits the latter may have.

    Posted by dontgetit | August 7, 2011, 11:09 pm
  62. BV # 60 said: “I agree with you that religious and ethnic constructs are just as artificial and fabricated as the one of race.”

    xix c nationalism, eugenics etc are easy prey intellectually speaking. No need or way to defend them. But to dismiss “religious and ethnic constructs” as “fabricated”, is an intellectual shortcut that will lead you nowhere. We are only starting to experience the backlash of the extreme rationalism of the recent past in the West , from French Revolution to Communism. Religion and conflict fueled by identity matters are back in full force, not out. Intellectual denial is not going to make it disappear.

    And then, if you take an atheistic or agnostic point of view, you are the first to be obliged to recognize that about everything (including the direction of scientific research, i.e.) coming from human minds is entirely “fabricated” by human kind, isn’t it?

    Posted by mj | August 8, 2011, 3:05 am
  63. oh,
    How many of the youngsters have read his book? From my experience, most SSNP members I know follow it as a cult because it is what their fanatic parents instill in them since birth. Not unlike generations of ultra football fans. ” Appeasing the father ”
    and most fathers….generalization here …but so common…look the same, with their moustache and broad shoulders, their binge drinking and cigar smoking, their investments….sorta like a gentlemans club. Only with emphasis on authority and supremacy.
    Either Antoun Saadeh was misinterpreted and his party was hijacked or this is the result of his intellect….either way not much of a legacy.
    To be fair most political parties in Lebanon have digressed since their inception. I just find it a bit funny how some people cloak obvious contradictions and backwardness with intellectual garb.

    Posted by maverick | August 8, 2011, 5:36 am
  64. I find it funny that you have an opinion about something you admittedly don’t know and say that there are contradictions in thoughts you didn’t even take the time to read and discuss. You seem just like those “youngsters” that don’t read and just follow.

    Posted by oh | August 8, 2011, 5:47 am
  65. dontgetit,

    I think you are trying toooo hard to elicit a racist remark as your latest “gem” stinks of racism and self hatred. Don’t commit suicide dude! 😛

    Posted by danny | August 8, 2011, 7:21 am
  66. Internal Affair NewZ

    You are confusing the deaths in Syria, which is purely an internal Arab matter, with the outrage and injustice that is the brutality of Israhell.


    Why can’t “Israhell” use your same stupid “logic” and claim Israel’s “brutality” is an “internal matter”?

    If I had a lira for every Arab I debate who expects more from Israel than their own leaders I’d be richer than Bashar Assad!

    Everyone knows that the men of Hama and Daraa are infinitely more free and healthier then the Arabs of occupied Palestine…

    The live ones, the dead ones, the ones carted off to jail, or the ones stuck in their homes?

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 8, 2011, 9:59 am
  67. Is Walid Jumblatt preparing the groundwork for another major switch? I think that he will probably be more critical of the Syrian regime as soon as he gets back from Saudi Arabia.
    Mr. Jumblatt is no fool. He is praising the Egyptian revolution and being very critical of Mubarak and all dictators .He even went further by saying that history will not spare any dictator who refuses to take his peoples aspirations and demands into consideration. This praise for the Egyptian revolution sort of dictates that Walid Bey is sending a message to the Syrian regime that he is about to jump ship. Any thoughts about this? If he does jump ship what would that do to the Mikati government?

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | August 8, 2011, 11:09 am
  68. mj,

    Of course religion is a fabricated artificial construct! It’s even more obviously artificial than race.
    At least, one could argue about race based on appearances. Asians don’t look like Blacks, or Caucasians, etc…
    Faulty argument, but at least there is a VISUAL that one could relate to.

    How do you figure religion is not artificial?

    Christianity spread via history to all kinds of different ethnic and “racial” groups.
    Ditto for Islam, which spread through the man-made concept of “CONQUEST”.

    How on EARTH do you figure religion is NOT an artificial construct?

    You can take 2 exactly identical people, from the same exact background, and one may grow up to believe in Islam, the other in Buddhism.

    Where once humans worshiped pagan Gods, the same people, of the same blood, became followers of Christ or Muhammad or Moses.
    How do you figure that’s not artificial?

    Sometimes, I really don’t get people…

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 8, 2011, 12:57 pm
  69. Jumblatt has been hinting at jumping ship for several months now. He started being critical of the Syrian regime right around the time the crackdown started in Syria. He always was careful to mitigate his words, as is his habit.
    He was also on and off critical of March 8 in Lebanon, and insisted he was still on good terms with M14.
    So yeah…Always playing the middle. Nothing new there.
    He’s already got one foot off the proverbial ship…

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 8, 2011, 1:38 pm
  70. Also, it is nice to see that the Arab country are finally starting to speak up about the Syrian regime.
    Better late than never.

    (Not that anyone gives a rat’s ass what the regimes of KSA, Bahrain and Kuwait say, given that they’re nearly just as oppressive as the Assad regime).

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 8, 2011, 1:40 pm
  71. Ghassan,

    Jumbo is trying to swivel only 180 degrees. He is getting more critical of Syrian regime but still staying with M8 to stay cozied up with HA. In my opinion he will not confront HA ever (unless HA is decimated in a future war with Israel…or a civil war) again.

    He values his life. He knows whose hands are bloody with the demise of hundreds of innocent victims…most likely including that of Hariri

    Posted by danny | August 8, 2011, 1:48 pm
  72. BV #68, this is far too complicated to treat in this thread, all the more when it is off subject and another post is on. I will just tell you that you didn’t need to shower me with “atheistic” rants, since I am myself agnostic. I just think that we humans in general are not able to grasp anything, human or not, in any other way than a human way. If something “divine” could come from us, then I suppose the very definition of humanity would fall. So we “fabricate” products and ideas that can only be human. And yes, that includes religion. But why do you consider the “construction” of religiosity or the ethnic attachment to a group, more “artificial” than, let’s say, Democracy as a form of government, or the state of the current scientific research? How can you argue that Democracy and Science are not “artificial constructs” too? That was more like my point. I wasn’t trying to prove the existence of God…

    Posted by mj | August 8, 2011, 2:47 pm
  73. Oh democracy is perfectly artificial and man-made. I never argued that.
    It does not attempt to masquerade as something it is not.

    Divine ideologies, or ones based on pseudo-science of race (ala Herzl, Hitler, Saadeh, whathaveyou) on the other hand DO attempt to masquerade as not being man-made by playing at the pseuo-science game. Eugenics, genetics, racial differences as to why this or that group is incapable of integrating or behaving this or that way. That’s simply false science.

    That was my only point.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 8, 2011, 3:00 pm
  74. Re: mj and BV debate

    The social construction approach does not deny the materiality and importance of social imaginary significations and cultural forms of beliefs and practices. It basically denies the justifications of human meanings and values based on transcendent powers of fate/nature/omnipotent deities/etc. In the name of individual and collective autonomy. In other words, if we acknowledge that human beings create institutional, discourses, and practices and put meanings and values onto things/actions, then human beings can change them and transform them. The return to religion, ethnicity, and tradition is a reaction to a globalization and to Capitalist values (of individuated n setting h justification

    Posted by parrhesia | August 8, 2011, 4:50 pm
  75. Well said, Parrhesia.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 8, 2011, 4:51 pm
  76. Parrhesia, Bad Vilbel,

    This old article tackles the subject in a multifaceted way. I think you will find it interesting.


    Posted by mj | August 9, 2011, 10:45 am


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