Adonis Diaries

Archive for December 18th, 2008

Bi-weekly report (#5) on Lebanon (December 18, 2008)


            President Michel Suleiman visited Jordan for two days and he made a detour to pray on the supposed location where Jean the Baptist stayed to baptize the Jews by the Jordan River.  Before President Suleiman, the other Michel, General and Deputy Aoun visited Syria and followed the trails of St. Paul and other Christian Saints.  You might think that there is a new religious Christian fervor in the Middle East; it is simply a highly political message to the USA and Europe: the Christians in the Middle East were the bedrock of Christianity, the first Christian communities were established in this region and all the initial Christian sects originated from here.  The Christians in the Middle East were the backbone of civilizations during the Roman, Byzantine and Arab Empires.

             These religious tours on the trails of the prophets and ancient churches are highly political and expressing the survival state of the Christians in this region because the western States have given the racist State of Israel the green light to relocate the Middle East Christians people.  Israel wants to be the unique State religion, different from the Christians, in this Moslem region to draw constant sympathy and support.   Israel also has taken advantage of the invasion of Iraq to assassinate most Iraqi scientists and professors (the names and profession of the assassinated Iraqi scientist are listed in the internet).


            The Lebanese Parliament has been in session for three days and over 44 deputies are listed to talk extensively.  The purpose is to lambaste the deficiencies of a government that is not even a government; this government objective is to prepare for a fair and just election in May.   That is beside the point: the deputies consider this platform as sort of free and official election campaigns.  We have a government of 30 ministers where 20 of them have no offices and do nothing but to vote during the council.  It does not matter what the council of ministers votes on, it is Seniora PM the dictator for the moment and he can bypass any resolution and let the opposition parties and organization talk and demonstrate, “3ala ejro”.  Seniora PM and the so-called March 14″ alliance are relying heavily on the oligarchic Saudi Arabia to finance their re-election campaigns with the political support of the dictator Mubarak of Egypt who does not care if the Palestinians in Gaza die of famine.


            The minister of defense, Elias Murr, visited Russia and signed an agreement to have 10 used fighter jets MIG 29 delivered to Lebanon. This deal is pretty symbolic, just a recognition of the neighboring States for the independence and self-autonomy of Lebanon because the USA is politically unable to deliver fighter jets to Lebanon.  This air fleet should be compatible to the Syrian air force for purposes of training and maintenance.  We are still in the dark of who will be paying for the heavy expenses of flying and maintaining symbolic materials.


            I read today that another political movement is being created and called “National and Social Renaissance Movement”; a splinter of the “Syria National Social Party”.  The name Syria has been dropped and the purpose of this movement is to focus on the doctrines of the original leader late Antun Saadeh and to instituting study groups for reforms.  The fact of insisting on the totality of doctrines that are 70 years old is not compatible to renaissance in my dictionary.


            In a previous article I gave samples of our brand of political self-criticisms. I will mention just a few of these lovely and magnificent mea culpas:


“I embezzled the government. I ransomed the people. I slaughtered citizens on confessional basis.  I jailed citizens in deep wells for years.  I am not apologizing.  I am just stating facts that all the other leaders also committed”


“I admit that I made errors and mistakes but it was all for the good cause”  This leader didn’t see it appropriate to give samples of his atrocities such as assassinating prime ministers, clerics, and shooting army officers after their surrender.  All these atrocities were for the “good cause”.


“I committed the worst atrocities to thousands of citizens but those who assassinated my father did the unforgivable.  My country Lebanon can go to hell but I insist on my revenge.”


“I admit to errors and mistakes and would do them again under the same conditions”

Introspection: Mother Julia, and aunts

Julia, my mother

When single, mother (Julia) lived with three other sisters, alone in her home for several years: Her mother Eugenia left in 1939 to join her husband Tanios in the town of Segou (In current Rep. of Mali in Africa).  The four sisters were to join an intern school, but the WWII started and they had to skip school for the duration. 

My eldest aunt Josephine was 13 and mother was11 year-old at the time.  One of mother’s aunt (they were many) and her extended family lived across the street for the duration of the war. When Josephine eloped (got married “khatifeh”) at the age of 20 with late Asaad Ghoussoub, the other three sisters were interned in a school in Beit Chabab for two years.  The story goes that Asaad threatened to jump off the roof of the house if the wedding is not “facilitated”. Aunt Josephine had a harsh life: She had six kids who were raised mostly in Beit Chabab, in intern schools. I attended the male intern school of Beit Chabab for six years while my parents were doing commerce in Africa.

In the meanwhile, my grandmother Eugenia gave birth to many other children in Segou and at least three died in child birth or shortly after.  

Mother told me that she had scabies “jarab” at age 18, when she was in a girls’ school in Beirut.  This story came about when her niece Joanna called from London saying that her physician was uncertain about his diagnosis of her catching “jarab” as sign of the rash in her body after a trip to a British shore; the diagnosis turned out to be wrong. 

Mother said that “jarab” starts in the hand and is very itchy and very contagious; she secretly spent an entire week in an upper room at her sister Josephine’s who got married recently.  Mother said that nobody in the village knew about her ailment, a convenient assumption for this dreaded disease at the period, and she washed her clothes and bedding everyday.  

I really have no idea what mother learned in school, except cutting patrons and learning sewing and fashioning clothes. She always said that she got dizzy when reading. Nowadays, a girl of 18 is already in universities but the sisters did not attend school for 3 years during the WWII, because all schools closed, although our district in Lebanon was not directly affected.

Aunt Therese

I do not recall seeing my folks reading a book; dad read dailies and lately, when I specifically borrowed books for him.  Thus, we never had a library except what my Aunt Therese bought for me when I was a kid, because I was a voracious reader and still am; the books were French since Therese could not read Arabic. 

Aunt Therese was still single and lived with us in the apartment on General Chehab Street.  Therese could barely speak Arabic because her education was French.  Therese was patience incarnates (externally), teaching me my homeworks that were in French, like French history, French geography and plenty of “dictees” (French spelling). She used to take us to movies like “The sound of music” or “Doctor Zevago” or other French movies. 

Therese used to join mother on purchasing expeditions for the shop dad ran in Ain Rumani (three miles away from home).  She had many suitors who used to take the whole family out.  One suitor used to get drunk and sing and recite Arab poems:  These behaviors (of too much Arabic poetry) didn’t rime with Therese.  She finally eloped with Edward Fakhoury on the night that my cousin Aida Ghoussoub was consecrated nun. 

Edward was usually served whiskey by dad as he assiduously visited Therese.  Edward barely touched the glass; dad was under the impression that Edward does not indulge in alcoholic drinks, until we found out, after the wedding that Edward loved “arak”.  Therese spent the best years of marriage life preparing the “mezzeh or Taska” to Edward after a day work.  These sessions of slow nibling on a variety of dishes while drinking arak lasted for hours.

Thus, Therese married and has two daughters and two sons and grand children.  All her children got married except the youngest son.    

Most of my library was burned by my parents when I was away in the USA, even the benign French collections of “Livre rose” and “livre vert”….  My parents were apprehensive because the civil war targeted suspicious individuals who read specific ideological manuscripts.  There was this potential that the books may contain political and ideological lines not appropriate for the location and place of the strongest militias on the ground.  

Not an artistic family

We are not an artistic family by any stretch of the imagination; no singing, no dancing, no music, no laughing… Mother learned to cut “patrons” at school and was the designated sister in her large family who fashioned and sewed clothes to her remaining six other sisters, and their kids later on. Actually, in our larger families I cannot single out a member whom I could select as artistic, except maybe Bernard who sculpted on wood and later on stone and marble.

The new generation is leaning heavily toward the new major of graphic design, which didn’t exist in our time, because basically personal computer didn’t exist or was not powerful enough for the requirements of that discipline.

I do not recall that I ever communicated with my parents, not around the eating tables or anywhere else for that matter.  Dad never shared his plans or any anecdotes with us, though he was voluble when in a gathering of adults.  Mother also is voluble in gatherings, but mostly at our expense, on account of our limitations and asocial behavior. 

Our crude verbal outbursts are symptoms of our lack of verbal skills and weak initiation to talking and expressing our feelings: We, the kids, were not permitted to join the adults when they were paying us visits. No wonder that the atmosphere at home is not that cheerful and we ended up, my younger brother, sister and I, dumb socially and never succeeded in being social and interacting like normal people.

I joined many bus trips with acquaintances in the village, of the same age range, during summer vacations, but I didn’t join in the singing or dancing or conversing or attempting making close friends, simply because I didn’t know how, and was not prompted intelligently and skillfully to befriend others.

Political self-criticism: kinds and applications, (December 17, 2008)

Let me offer you samples of political self-criticisms and you determine if the criticism is compatible to how you define it.  Examples of Lebanese leaders’ self-criticisms:

“I embezzled the government. I ransomed the people. I slaughtered citizens on confessional basis.  I jailed citizens in deep wells for years.  I am not apologizing.  I am just stating facts that all the others also committed” (Druze leader Walid Jumblat)

“I admit that I made errors, mistakes, atrocities…, but it was all for the good cause” (Samir Geaja, leader of the Lebanese Forces)

“I committed the worst atrocities to thousands of citizens, but those who assassinated my father did the unforgivable.  My country Lebanon can go to hell, but I insist on my revenge.”

“I admit to errors and mistakes and would do them again under the same conditions”

“I admit that I made errors and mistakes like all the other parties and militias did” (Nabih Berry, head of parliament)

“I served jail term for the mass murders and the assassination of government officials, clerics, and army officers; the other leaders were rewarded for doing the same atrocities.  I demand the same power and all the benefits that I was denied” (Samir Geaja)

“I admit that I made errors, mistakes, and committed genocide because I was young, active and dedicated” (Bashir Gemayel)

“I admit that I made errors, mistakes, and assassinated on confessional basis, but I refuse to submit any records”

“I am willing to admit errors if the other parties and militia leaders do the same”

“I admit to errors, mistakes, and spying against my people, but I was pressured by external forces”

“I admit to mistakes against human rights, but mine were much lower in numbers”

“I admit to frequent errors, but mine were not fundamental and critical”

“The political conditions were very confused, intricate and beyond comprehension for my naive mind”

“The social conditions were not amenable to diplomatic means of resolution: Time was of essence…”

 “I am ready for reconciliation, but I reserve revenge for personal harms”

“It is very unfortunate, but I was following orders”

“I did my best to reduce violence, but the main culprits were the Italians, French, Americans, Iranians, Syrians…

“I did not make any errors in decisions regarding the safeguarding of the independence and self-autonomy of Lebanon. Unlike the other isolationist leaders, I had the courage to change political directions”

“My history of a staunch patriot is unblemished and my openness to all parties and States that act for the preservation of Lebanon’s self-autonomy is for the benefit of our future generation”

I am asking whether it is appropriate to indulge in superficial self-criticisms if we are not ready to take on the responsibilities for our deeds.  Would any political leader in Lebanon admit to errors and mistakes if there were strong central government and serious division of functions among the legislative, executive, legal, and control independent institutions?

Would not the admission of a single error or mistake that is developed and detailed and analyzed far superior in quality and effectiveness than general mocking self-criticisms?

Lebanon suffered 17 years of civil war and hundred of thousands dead and many fold permanently injured, mutilated, handicapped (physically and mentally), and the outcome was for a resolution to integrate the militia leaders in the parliament and the successive governments.  Could any other State envision a creative solution than letting the wolves care for the sheep?

Our kind of democracy is an image of our “leaders”” self-criticisms.  Maybe it is time to redefine political concepts if the United Nation is not willing to horde all our leaders to tribunal of crimes against humanity.




December 2008

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