Adonis Diaries

Archive for May 17th, 2015


En Image: Le Château de Beaufort au Sud Liban

I have visited this castle  at least twice that was built in the 12th century during the Crusaders.

I also visited the Crack des Chevaliers in Syria.

Most of these castles withstood the onslaught of time, neglect, wars, canon shells, rockets, Israeli fighter jets bombs.

In general a castle fall due to:

1. internal treason

2. targeting the water sources

3. waiting for contagious diseases to decimate the defenders

Situé au Sud Liban, le château de Beaufort s’élève sur un éperon rocheux Nord Sud à une attitude de 710 mètres surplombant les gorges du Litani.

De forme triangulaire, le château mesure 90 m de base et 170 à sa hauteur.

Il se développe sur 2 niveaux, Le château haut à l’ouest qui épouse les courtours de l’éperon et le château bas à l’est. Par sa situation géostratégique, il sera toujours une position âprement disputée, notamment avec la présence palestinienne puis d’unités israéliennes lors de l’occupation du Sud Liban.

Le château haut est défendu par une enceinte datant probablement des débuts de l’installation franque du 12ème siècle et fut remanié au 13ème  siècle: 2 imposantes tours circulaires ont renforcé son flanc sud, tandis que 2 tours maitresses, l’une carrée et l’autre hexagonale défendent la courtine ouest et sa pointe nord.

A l’intérieur de l’enceinte du château, se trouvent une salle gothique et des installations résidentielles et artisanales d’époque médiévale puis ottomane.

Du coté est, un glacis protège le château haut et permet de contrôler le château bas.

Le château bas est de forme allongée et fut éditifée aux époques ayyoubide et mamelouke. Protégé par une enceinte et par 4 tours circulaires, le château bas comporte une entrée, des étables, des chambres de tir et de stockage, des casemates et un arsenal. A son extrémité Nord, se trouve une tour résidence.

Le château de Beaufort a été construit avec des pierres calcaires provenant des proches carrières.

Au Sud du Château, un plateau s’est ainsi constitué suite à l’extraction des pierres dans cette zone. D’autres carrières sont toujours présentes à proximité.

D’autres pierres ont également été extraites du château même et directement utilisées sur les murs formés par la taille même du rochers. Il s’agit là de la raison pour laquelle, l’édifice porte le nom de Chqif, nom syriaque vouant dire en arabe grotte taillée dans le rocher.

Les pierres du château portent jusqu’à nos jours les traces des outils et des différentes techniques de taille. Ainsi, on peut y déceler des traces de pics et de coins des carriers, celles des broches et des ciseaux etc… et surtout celles de la Shahouta, outil typiquement oriental.

Certaines parties comportent des tailles très raffinées avec des moutures et des motifs sophistiqués comme la tour maitresse ayyoubide et pour la salle gothique franque.

De nombreuses marques de tailleurs sont également visibles sur les murs du château, il s’agit de marques de carriers, de tailleurs de pierre et parfois d’inscriptions qui permettent de reconnaitre la position d’un bloc dans la construction.

Lire la Suite: En Image: Le Château de Beaufort au Sud Liban
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution Share Alike
Follow us: @libanews on Twitter | libanews on Facebook

Cynthia Choucair and Jamil Berry  shared this link

Ce samedi, on vous emmène découvrir le Château de Beaufort au Sud Liban. Par sa situation géostratégique, il sera toujours une position âprement disputée, notamment avec la présence palestinienne puis d’unités israéliennes lors de l’occupation du Sud Liban.

Une découverte à voir en cliquant sur le lien…/

Lire la Suite: En Image: Le Château de Beaufort au Sud Liban
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution Share Alike
Follow us: @libanews on Twitter | libanews on Facebook

Situé au Sud Liban, le château de Beaufort s’élève sur un éperon rocheux Nord Sud à une attitude de 710 mètres surplombant les gorges du Litani.

How my Grandmother Was Made Homeless: The dispossessed

Every year, on May 15, I ask my grandmother to tell me the story of how she was made homeless.

It happened 67 years ago. She was 14, the youngest of 11 siblings from a middle-class Christian family.

They had moved to Haifa from Nazareth when my grandmother was a little girl and lived on Garden Street in the German Colony, which used to be a colony for German Templars, later becoming a cosmopolitan center of Arab culture during the British Mandate.

When I ask her to recall what life in Haifa was like back then, her eyes fix on the middle distance.

“It was the most beautiful city I have ever seen. The greenery … the mountains overlooking the Mediterranean Sea,” she says, as her voice trails off.

My grandmother remembers clearly the night her family left.

They were woken up in the middle of the night by loud banging on the front door. My grandmother’s cousins, who lived in an Arab neighborhood of Haifa, had arrived to tell them that Haifa was falling.

The British had announced they were withdrawing, and there were rumors that the country was being handed over to the Zionists.

At the time, the German Colony had been relatively insulated from the incidents of violence in the rest of the country, which included raids and massacres of Palestinian villages by Zionist paramilitary groups.

Yet the Haganah, a paramilitary organization that later formed the core of the Israel Defense Forces, saw the British withdrawal from Haifa as an opportunity and carried out a series of attacks on key Arab neighborhoods where my grandmother’s aunts and cousins were living.

“That night our Jewish neighbors told us not to leave,” my grandmother remembers.

“And my father wanted to stay, to wait it out. But my mother … well she had 11 children, and of course she wanted us to be safe. And her sisters were leaving because of the attacks in their neighborhoods.”

The Bathish family. The author’s grandmother, the youngest of 11 children, is second from left in the front row. Taken around 1936–37.
The Bathish family. The author’s grandmother, the youngest of 11 children, is second from left in the front row. Circa 1936–37.

Courtesy of Saleem Haddad

The family debated all night. In the morning, they reached a decision.

They each quickly packed a small suitcase and left the rest of their belongings. “We hid the most valuable things we couldn’t take in a locked room in our house, thinking it would be safe until we came back,” she tells me, chuckling.

As the women of the family packed, my grandmother’s older brother, who had once been employed by the British forces, struck a deal, allowing them to leave on one of the last British vehicles withdrawing from Haifa. With what little they could carry, my grandmother’s family travelled to the Lebanese border, hiding in a British army vehicle.

When they arrived to Na’oura, on the border between Palestine and Lebanon, they were shocked to see so many other people from across the country.

“It felt like the world had ended. The borders were overcrowded with cars and trucks full of people and belongings fleeing the violence. Others were leaving by sea.”

At the border they were ordered into a car, which drove through Lebanon for a few more hours. They were dropped later that night in Damour, a coastal town just south of Beirut.

It was dark, they didn’t know anyone, and with no place to rest, the family of 13 slept on the streets in front of a supermarket, the dirty ground littered with rotting fruits and vegetables.

As the sun rose the next day, they walked the streets of the unfamiliar town, recognizing friends and neighbors from Haifa who were also wandering the streets aimlessly. After hearing that Beirut was too crowded with refugees, they headed to Jezzine, in south Lebanon, where friends helped set them up in a tiny room in the home of some family friends. (The same process is happening to the Syrian and Iraqi refugees)

“All summer we waited for news that we could go back,” my grandmother says. “By September, we realized there was little hope, and made plans to move to Beirut.”

For the next few years my grandmother’s family survived through the goodwill of friends and strangers, as well as through food parcels, given to them by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which contained, among other things, powdered eggs, much to my grandmother’s fascination.

Her older brothers eventually took up jobs in Beirut to support the family. My grandmother’s family was lucky on balance: As wealthier and Christian refugees, they were given Lebanese citizenship. However, the vast majority of Palestinian refugees were never naturalized, instead placed in one of the dozen UNRWA-operated camps in Lebanon, where they continue to live to this day.

My grandmother’s story is not a unique one.

In 1948 Zionist militias depopulated and destroyed more than 530 Palestinian towns and villages.

An estimated 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes, and many who were unable to flee were massacred.

By the end of July 1948, hundreds of thousands of  Jewish immigrants from outside Palestine, many of whom were survivors of the Nazi Holocaust, had been housed in homes formerly belonging to Palestinian families like my grandmother’s.

In December, the new Israeli state implemented a series of laws commonly referred to as the Absentees’ Property Law.

These laws created a legal definition for non-Jews who, like my grandmother, had left or been forced to flee from Palestine. The laws allowed the newly created Israeli state to confiscate 2 million dunams (about 500,000 acres) of land from Palestinian families, including my own.

In April 2015 the law was extended to cover land in the West Bank, thereby legalizing the continued expulsion of Palestinians and the confiscation of their land and property in order to house new Israeli citizens coming from abroad.

The uniqueness of what has become known as the Palestinian Nakba, or catastrophe, is partly the timing: It occurred at the dawn of state formation throughout much of Asia and Africa, which meant that hundreds of thousands of non-Jewish Palestinians found themselves stateless, unrecognized in the new world of postcolonial nation-states.

Perhaps as a result, there is a joke that Palestinians collect passports obsessively, fearful that we might be stripped of one or the other.

But is that really surprising given our history, that moment where the door was shut, leaving us on the outside, unrecognized—not just homeless, but stateless as well?

Photograph of the author's grandmother's passports over the years.
Photograph of the author’€™s grandmother’€™s passports over the years.

Courtesy of Saleem Haddad

In 1948, upon Israel’s creation, David Ben-Gurion, the founder and first prime minister of Israel, remarked that “the old will die, and the young will forget.” Given the centrality the Jewish tradition places on memory and the commemoration of struggle and suffering, Ben-Gurion should have known better.

For the past 67 years, Palestinians have resisted the Israeli government’s continued efforts to erase the memories of trauma and resistance that began with the Nakba.

To this day, Palestinians of my grandmother’s generation often wear the keys to their old houses around their necks, a sign that despite the dispossession of their land, their memories refuse to dim.

Every time my grandmother recounts her experience, a new memory emerges, and I add it to the story, embellishing it with new details and anecdotes.

But as her memories made their way onto the page, I had a moment of self-doubt: In my grandmother’s recollection, she was clear that her family had made a decision to leave.

Might this play into one of the myths used to justify the establishment of modern-day Israel on Palestinian land—the myth that, despite overwhelming historical evidence to the contrary, Palestinians left on their own free will?

“Are you sure you left voluntarily?” I ask my grandmother. “There was a war,” she replies.

“But no one kicked you out, yes? No one was directly attacking you?” I continue.

The author's grandmother and grandfather as newlyweds, Beirut, 1952.
The author’€™s grandmother and grandfather as newlyweds, Beirut, 1952.

Courtesy of Saleem Haddad

“Not us personally, but my mother was worried by the reports. We thought we would be gone for a few weeks at most.”

Could my grandmother’s memory of the Nakba bolster the false narrative that Palestinians voluntarily left, given that her family had not been physically removed form their home?

As I considered this, my thoughts began to coalesce around two points.

The first point—which seems particularly poignant in 2015, as boats of Arab and African migrants sink off European shores—is a question: What constitutes voluntary displacement?

On May 15, 1948, in the face of growing hostilities and the threat of a regional war, my great-grandmother did the only thing she knew to protect her children: She left. Does running away from an imminent war, with a small suitcase and plans to return, constitute a voluntary departure?

And if so, is the departed then unentitled to the land and belongings they left behind, and forbidden from ever returning?

My second thought centered on the politics of memory in war.

In his novel, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, Milan Kundera writes: “The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.”

Israeli politicians hope that, given enough time and pressure, Palestinians will forget and accommodate themselves to their loss.

This remains true to this day, as the Israeli state consolidates its occupation, constricting the remaining Palestinians into ever-shrinking ghettos.

Meanwhile, the collective Israeli memory of the Nakba continues to ignore the bloody events that led to the expulsion and displacement of the Palestinian Arab population.

In textbooks, the events of May 15, 1948, make no mention of how Palestinians experienced the Nakba and instead represent Israel as a heroic David defeating the many enemies arrayed against it.

Since 2011, the refusal to acknowledge the Palestinian Nakba is enshrined in Israeli law, with organizations facing fines if they commemorate the day.

In the face of a powerful Israel that seeks to wipe away remnants of Palestinian life and culture, there is an instinct to close ranks and develop a single story.

Nuance and contradiction are luxuries that a people under threat cannot afford.

Yet to remember the events of 1948 and to recount them, with their nuances and diversities, is a form of resistance: resistance against forgetting. The collective memory of the Nakba is made up of 750,000 stories, one for each of those who left their homes and were never able to return.

Taken together, the stories offer a nuanced, real, and humane look at a community’s reaction to what is now widely accepted as an act of ethnic cleansing. My grandmother’s story, unique to her, is but one part of a collective memory of this trauma that must be told in all its shades of gray.

To recount the unique personal stories of those who lived through the Nakba is to commemorate the struggle and suffering of Palestinians who lost their land and lives at a time when Muslims, Christians, and Jews lived side by side on the land of historic Palestine.

It is to inscribe individual fates onto the canvas of history, which the victors painted in large, ugly blocks. It is personal stories like my grandmother’s, and their ability to be passed down to future generations, that serve as a reminder that peace and coexistence are possible, so long as the memories of all are acknowledged.


Kind of Paradise I’m ready to sign on…

I recall reading in secondary school the convoluted bet of the French mathematician and philosopher Pascal. A probabilistic logical thinking that we have interest in believing that God exists.

I am now reflecting that the conjecture ignored the premises it is supposed to be founded on:

1. Should we consider that God has an inflated ego and care an iota that we do believe in his existence or not?

2. Should we be hugely interested that the boring Catholic idea of a Paradise is worth believing in God’s promises?

Do you really recall what paradise is supposed to offer to those who are rewarded?

An eternal boredom of total inactivates and where you don’t even have to ask anything or desire anything?

Where any opposition, freedom of expression … are the works of Satan and deemed to be banished to eternal Hell?

And what about these Islamic takfiri delinquent youths? What do they comprehend of the Prophet description of paradise in order to commit suicide bombing?

What those kids who were prohibited to dance, sing, and drink can fathom what paradise can offer?

What kind of sex or love making do these kids experienced to seek 77 or 1,000 Houris?

Are all the earthly sins permitted in heaven? And why?

An older mother asked Prophet Muhammad: What is the status of older people in heaven?

The prophet replied: They have no place in heaven.

And resuming: Older people in heaven revert to youthful ages

Kind of only youth, healthy looks, and no ailments are the prerogative of those allowed to enter paradise, (after being cured, evidently).

I recall a woman who turned down a suicide mission at the nick of time because she reflected:

Why should I care of 77 virgin males in paradise? I’d rather be allocated an excellent cook and a wonderful masseur

Apparently, cooks and masseurs are not guaranteed in paradise: They eat fresh raw fruits.

Maybe a masseuse is contemplated: anything related to sex pleasure could be judged a feasible demand.

I guess all professionals in designing sex implements are welcomed.

Any all other professions are redundant. Except maybe producers, directors and actors in movies.

Movie is the best medium to recount our daydreaming passions, projects and all kinds of loves.

In paradise, we discover that a  man is not such a demanding species:

1. He wants all the privileges he enjoyed on earth as his fundamental human rights

2. He wants all the comfort and amenities

3. He needs to do what he decided on, as he feels is right.

4. He wants all the prohibited sins and addictions on earth to be legitimate in heaven: hippodromes, casinos, card games, video games, free booze, free buffets…and all the luscious girls.

In paradise, we discover that a woman is Not as demanding as these fallacious stories told about this gender:

1. A woman wants to be explicitly the boss, in the family and in the work place.

2. She wants to barge in a pocker game, set her eyes on a man, point her finger at him and declare: ” You. Times out. Stand up and follow me”

3. She wants to enjoy all the climaxes she is powerfully endowed with and much stronger. By all means, as often and any time she desires.

4. She wants to preserves her rights to be a mother, with much less pains and responsibilities in raising kids. Anyway, human kids in paradise grow faster than puppies.

Men and women in paradise want the capability to morph into the other gender in order to experience the advantages of the opposite sex, and do this interchange at any time for any length period, and even during the intercourse.

Men and women abhor all these restrictions on how, when and what kinds of sex they should engage in. If dogs are not well viewed on earth, then dogs must be a prized member to lick pussies…

Sexual status, gay, lesbian, transvestite… are legitimate and practically irrelevant: we can morph at wish

The color of the skin is irrelevant: our eyesight will be endowed with the entire wavelength spectrum: the only discrimination will be our preference to color composition.

If all the religious clerics desist from investing so much time proving the existence of a God or yapping constantly about the virtues of a God and his terrible wrath… and focus instead on designing a model of paradise that excites the imagination and basic needs of the human species…

So far, paradise in all the current religions is such a boring and idiotic place to live in that I cannot fathom why I SHOULD SEEK a location for an eternity.

If clerics invest more time on describing appetizing models for paradise that satisfies our lust, daydreaming passions and desires on earth… I don’t see why we will refrain from signing on, and all be believers and stop proving anything of the existence of a God.

All we want is to be guaranteed a nice paradise to live in, by a God, anyone else, or any other process.

In paradise, there is No such concept of Closure: All that we do is fine tune the details of our daydream projects, select a team to execute the plans and programs, and watch how the daydream is unfolding.

We are no longer interested how the project unfolds or when it will be finished: We had already started on our next daydream project adventure. All our daydream projects are necessarily and inevitably passionate, as is the case on earth.

To be reasonable, in paradise change takes time, and nothing is instantaneous.

Consequently, it is our patience that is  the most heavily taxed, given our eternal youth.

Probably we can apply to be trans-boarded to another planet: We generally assume that additional restrictions and miseries will alleviate the burden of patience.

This is an alternative kind of paradise I’m willing to sign on.





May 2015

Blog Stats

  • 1,516,281 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by

Join 822 other subscribers
%d bloggers like this: