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“Storm on the great Middle-East” by French Ambassador Michel Rainbow

Preparation for Syria onslaught in 2011 started in 2001 with the  US/Israel Syria Democracy Program.

In 2009, Italy defense minister Mario Moro witnessed the construction of many building in Kurdistan  Iraq and they told him that they preparing, ahead of time,  for the massive Syrian refugees.

كتاب جريء لسفير فرنسي سابق
الاسد اصلاحي، وسورية ضحية مؤامرة

سامي كليب :
لو صدر كتاب السفير الفرنسي السابق ميشال ريمبو قبل عامين لكن تعرَّض، على الارجح، لهجمة شرسة من الراغبين باسقاط الرئيس السوري بشار الاسد، لكن صدوره الآن في مناخ القلق من ارتداد الارهاب الى اوروبا، وفي ظل بداية الانعطافة الاطلسية صوب التعاون مع الاسد، قد يسمح للقاريء الفرنسي بأن يعرف حقيقة ما حصل في سورية وفق نظرة دبلوماسي عريق يشرِّح الاهداف الاميركية والاسرائيلية والخليجية والتركية، ولكن أيضا الاسباب النفطية الكامنة وراء الرغبة في تدمير سورية .

عنوان الكتاب الذي صدر قبل يومين هو :  Tempete sur le grand Moyen-Orient  ( عاصفة على الشرق الاوسط الكبير) ، وفيه تشريح للصراع الدولي بين محورين وللأحلام الاستعمارية وغيرها ناهيك عن حاجة اسرائيل الى تدمير سورية. ويخصص قسما مهما من الكتاب للازمة السورية والصراع فيها وعليها،

مُقدِّما معلومات دقيقة وخطيرة عن بعض رموز المعارضة وارتباطها بالاستخبارات الاميركية وبكيفية تصنيعها من قبل الغرب، كما يشرح أسباب السعي الدولي والخليجي والتركي والاسرائيلي للقضاء على آخر دول المواجهة العربية.

اليكم مثلا هذه القصة ( ص 397 ) : في كانون الثاني/ يناير 2014 روى وزير الدفاع الايطالي السابق السناتور ماريو مورو انه كان يقوم بزيارة الى كردستان العراقية عام 2009، فزار ورشة بناء، وسأل عن الغاية من تشييد كل هذه المباني، فكان الجواب : ” انها للاجئي الحرب في سورية ” . اي ان ذلك حصل قبل اقل من عامين على بداية الحرب السورية. بمعنى آخر ان التخطيط للحرب بدأ قبل كل ما وصف بالربيع العربي.
ا

لقصة خطيرة ؟ عال ، اليكم أخطر منها : ” ان الثورة السورية قد خُطِّطت بمساعدة Syria Democracy Program ( برنامج سورية للديمقراطية ) الذي تموله احدة المنظمات غير الحكومية المرتبطة بالاستخبارات الاميركية سي آي اي … وان العدوان الامبريالي على سورية قد تمت برمجته منذ صيف عام 2001

ومن المهم التذكير ان دنيس روس احد المستشارين من المحافظين الجدد لباراك اوباما ثم المستشار الخاص لهيلاري كلينتون هو الذي كان خلف فكرة جعل المجلس الوطني السوري المعارض، محاورا اولا للغرب .

معروف ان روس هو شخصية يهودية صهيونية اميركية داعمة بشدة لاسرائيل ووصفته صحيفة هآرتس بانه الشخصية الاكثر قربا من نتنياهو، و بعد شهر من تنحيته عن منصبه كمستشار لاوباما للشرق الاوسط عاد الى تولي منصب رئيس مشارك في ‘معهد تخطيط سياسات الشعب اليهودي’ ومقره في إسرائيل. ( يعرف السوريون والفلسطينيون انهم حين كان يأتيهم مع الوفود الاميركية للتفاوض كان اكثر شراسة من الاسرائيليين انفسهم )
ا

لواقع ان السفير والكاتب الفرنسي ريمبو يعرض في كتابه هذا اسماء مسؤولين او ناطقين رسميين في المعارضة السورية مرتبطين بالمخابرات او الاجهزة او المؤسسات الغربية . ويشرح كيف قام الائتلاف المعارض بمبادرة قطرية ورعاية فرنسية وتركية، بينما تم تهميش المعارضة النخبوية والعلمانية والديمقراطية وبينها مثلا هيئة التنسيق والدكتور هيثم مناع .

ولا يستني الكاتب أحدا من الفصائل المسلحة فهي جميعا تدور في فلك التطرف الاسلامي، وبينها الجيش الحر الذي ” ومنذ المواجهات الاولى تشكَّل من ناشطين متطرفين تابعين للاخوان المسلمين وسرعان ما صار تحت الوصاية الاميركية والتركية وخضع لاملاءات الشيخ عدنان العرعور الداعية المتطرف والمهووس بفكرة قتل العلوي بشار الاسد ” .

كل هذا مهم ، ولكن من المهم كذلك في الكتاب صورة الرئيس بشار الاسد، فهذه بحد ذاتها جرأة كبيرة من سفير فرنسي سابق وسط مناخ سياسي واعلامي رافض اي كلمة ايجابية عن الرئيس السوري . فهو يرى ان الاسد :” اصلاحي صادق، ورجل علماني عرف كيف يطعِّم القومية القومية العربية بمكتسبات التربية الغربية، وهو منفتح على الحداثة “

ويقول انه فور وصول الاسد الى السلطة قدَّم اكثر من 150 مرسوما لتحرير الحياة السياسية ولبرلة الحياة الاجتماعية والاقتصادية ، كما انه ومنذ بداية الازمة قام بالعديد من خطوات العفو لصالح الذين لا دماء على اياديهم ، وحين كان للتوصيف مكان كان يمكن القول انه رئيس دولة تقدمي مختلف تماما عن الحكومات الظلامية التي سعت للاطاحة به ” .

ويضيف الكاتب : ” ان صور الجزَّار التي لا تتوافق مع هذه الشخصية، انما اختُرعت من قبل وكالات اتصال دفعت لها اموال من قبل دول البترو دولار ” ، ويحلو للسفير السابق ان يسمي بعض هذه الدول برافعة شعار ” البدوديمقراطية ” . ويعود الى استطلاع للرأي اجرته الاستخبارات الاميركية سي آي اي يؤكد ان الرئيس لا يزال يتمتع بشعبية تتراوح بين 60 و 80 بالمئة .

كما يفند كل الاكاذيب الغربية والعربية التي تقول انه نظام علوي ويشرح ان 80 بالمئة من اعضاء الحكومة والبرلمان هم من السنة اضافة الى ادارات الدولة ومؤسساتها والطبقة البرجوازية فيها .

وخلافا للمنطق القائل بان المعارضة كانت سلمية وان النظام هو الذي دفعها للسلاح ، فان الكاتب يعود الى 6 حزيران/ يونيو تاريخ مجزرة جسر الشغور التي قتل فيها اكثر من 120 جنديا وضابطا بدم بارد، ليشرح ان عناصر الامن والجيش كانوا عرضة لكمائن منذ الاشهر الاولى للانتفاضة .

واذ يسخِّف السفير الفرنسي السابق المعارضات التي اخترعها الغرب والخليج وتركيا، فانه يعتبر ان معظمها قد انتهى ومات، ويتحدث عن صلابة المحور الذي يجمع النظام السوري مع حزب الله وبغداد وطهران وموسكو وبكين . ويشن حملة شعواء على التحالف الدولي من اصدقاء سورية الذي يضم ” في سلة العقارب نفسها كل الدول المعادية للقضايا العربية والاسلامية ”

ويعيد نشر وثيقة سرية ومهمة حول مستقبل سورية ” لو نجح التحالف الاسلامي الامبريالي ” وفي مقدم ما تحمله : ” التخلي عن هضبة الجولان ولواء اسكندرون وتسليم كل اعضاء حزب العمال الكردستاني والغاء كل الاتفاقيات مع الصين وروسيا وتمرير المياه من سد اتاتورك الى اسرائيل وتجميد العلاقات مع طهران وبكين وموسكو وقطعها مع حزب الله واقامة نظام اسلامي لا سلفي ” .

وماذا عن النفط ؟
يجيب السفير الفرنسي السابق ريمبو : ” في خلال البحث في ملف النفط، اكتشف جيوستراتيجيونا فجأة الموقع –المفتاح لسورية، ذلك انه لتمرير النفط والغاز من الخليج وايران وقطر والشركات الاميركية والروسية الى اوروبا يجب المرور حكما بالاراضي السورية… وقد اكتشف معهد واشنطن لسياسات الشرق الاوسط المرتبط باللوبي اليهود الاكثر تأثيرا في اميركا ( ايباك ) ان الاراضي السورية تضم احتياطات نفطية هائلة وكذلك دول الجوار حيث بدأت اسرائيل منذ عام 2009 باستخراج الغاز ..

وبدأت رحى الحرب تدور لاجل ذلك ، كما ان قطر بحاجة لضمان تصدير غازها الى اوروبا لمواجهة المنافسة الروسية والايرانية وحاولت بالتالي الحصول بالقول على طريق لانبوب الغاز عبر سورية ”

صحيح ان اميركا لن تعود بحاجة الى نفط المنطقة بعد اكتشافاتها الاحفورية الصخرية الهائلة في هذا المجال، ” لكنها تريد منع منافسيها وخصوصا الصين من الوصول الى هذه الآبار ” . نذكر ان هذا كان سببا خلف احتلال العراق ايضا وفق ما يقول الخبير النفطي الفرنسي بيار تيريزيان .

لا شك ان الكتاب جريء وفيه تحليل مهم يتخطى المعلومات، وفيه خصوصا وضع اصبع على احد ابرز اسباب الحرب في سورية ، اي صراع المصالح الكبرى والقوى الدولية . فلولا سورية لما تفاقمت ازمة اوكرانيا، ولولا صمود سورية لما استطاع فلاديمير بوتين ان يكون لاعبا بهذه الاهمية . هذا ايضا ما نفهمه من الكتاب .

لا شك ان مجرد قول كل ذلك فهو انجاز كبير ومهم وجريء من قبل سفير سابق، ولا يسعني الا ان اشكر الزميل ماجد نعمة السوري الاصل والقلب وصاحب مجلة “ Afrique-Asie ” افريقيا آسيا الذي اهداني الكتاب ليلة نزوله الى المكتبات، والذي يعرض ابرز اجزائه في العدد الشهري لمجلته الذي يصدر اول نيسان/ ابريل وفيه غلاف هام حول اسباب خطأ الغرب في سورية .

لعلنا سنشهد الكثير من هذه الاسرار في المرحلة المقبلة، لان الجيش السوري عاد حاجة غربية اساسية لضرب الارهاب .

What happened in the prisons of Lebanon during President Fouad Chehab? Part 3

Kamal Nader posted on FB . 14 hrs

ذكريات الجمر والرماد .6.

خرجنا من السجون الى الحرية وبات علينا ان نواجه الواقع وتحديات الحياة .

كان العام الدراسي قد اصبح في منتصفه ولم يعد بامكاني أن ادخل الى اي جامعة لأن نظام التدريس كان يقوم على قاعدة السنة الكاملة وليس الفصول ، فذهبت واشتغلت في جريدة النهار بوظيفة ” مصحح ” لغوي وطباعي ،

وكانت هذه الوظيفة لأخي الاكبر جان وهو تنازل لي عنها ودبر عملا آخر بعدما خرج من السجن .

تقبل الاستاذ غسان التويني الأمر بعد اتصال من ابن خالتي الدكتور نفحة نصر الذي شرح له وضعي وانني قومي خارج من السجن واتمتع بمعرفة قوية باللغة العربية . هكذا وجدت نفسي ادخل الحياة العملية من باب الصحافة ،

وكانت ” النهار ” من كبريات الصحف في العالم العربي وفيها اساتذة كبار في السياسة والادب والشعر والصحافة والفن ، تعرفت عليهم مع مرور الوقت ، وكان بامكاني ان اتعامل مع صحافيين مميزين مثل ميشال ابو جوده وفرنسوا عقل وشوقي ابو شقرا وادمون صعب وجوزيف نصر ،

كما كنت التقي العميد ريمون اده واحياناً علياء الصلح التي تكتب مقالات متفرقة في الجريدة . وقد وفرت لي الصحافة معلومات هائلة عن كل ما يجري من احداث في الشرق والعالم واعطتني ثقافة سياسية وادبية كبيرة ، وما زلتُ اتذكر تفاصيل ما جرى من صراعات في لبنان والاردن ومصر وفلسطين في تلك الحقبة .

كان العمل في الجريدة يبدأ في الساعة العاشرة ليلاً وينتهي قرابة الساعة الثالثة فجراً ،

فاعود الى بيتنا في عين الرمانة ، وفي اليوم التالي اجد متسعاً من الوقت للنشاط الحزبي الاذاعي وامور اخرى ، وكان معاشي كبيرا بمقياس تلك الايام ، فاتقاضى 500 ليرة لبنانية وهو رقم مهم اذا علمنا بان النائب في البرلمان يتقاضى 1200 ليرة .

ولكي استفيد من الوقت التحقتُ بمعهد لتدريس اللغة الانكليزية يقع بجوار الجامعة الامريكية ، وتقدمت بسرعة لأنني كنت قد درستُ اولويات تلك اللغة مع صديقي سامي الصايغ بطريقة طريفة ومحببة .

كان سامي موظفاً في بنك ” الريف “ وهو اساساً من مشغرة وقد نزل هو واخوته ، نصري الصايغ الاديب والكاتب القومي العلماني المميز اليوم ، وعاطف الذي اصبح طبيباً ،وشقيقتهم روزي ، وسكنوا بجوارنا في عين الرمانة ،

وبما انهم من عائلة قومية اجتماعية فقد تعارفنا وبتنا اسرة واحدة تجمعها المحبة القومية وما زلنا الى اليوم رغم تباعد المكان .

كانت عند سامي آلة تسجيل كبيرة وقد اشترى اشرطة وكتباً لتعليم اللغة حسب طريقة اذاعة لندن ، فكنا نجلس معاً كل يوم تقريبا ونستمع الى طريقة التعليم ونقرا ما في الكتب ، وهذا ما جعلنا نمسك مفاتيح الاحرف والكلمات الاولية وطريقة اللفظ . والى اليوم ما زلت اتذكر واضحك في سرّي عندما اسمع اغنية زياد الرحباني بصوت جوزيف صقر “ اسمع يا رضا “ ، خاصةً عندما يقول “ تعلم لغّة اجنبية هيدا العربي ما بيفيد … دوّر لندن من عشيّة ماري بتهجّي وبتعيد “.

امضينا فترة جميلة ومفيدة ، ثم استفدت من فترة السجن فتعلمت من رفيقيّ انطون حتي وغانم خنيصر مزيداً من هذه اللغة .
في ربيع تلك السنة حصلت معي حادثة لا تخلو من عبرة ودلالة . فقد اعتدت ان ادخل الى الجامعة الامريكية وادرس في مكتبتها الغنية بالكتب والمراجع ، وكان لي اصدقاء ورفقاء كثيرون فيها .

وذات يوم شاهدتُ تجمعاً للطلاب امام مبنى الادارة وهو المعروف ب “ الكولدج هول ” ، فذهبت الى الكافتيريا وسالت رفيقي حليم عودة عما يجري فاخبرني ان الادارة رفعت الاقساط وان هناك حركة احتجاج من الطلاب وقد تعرض بعضهم للطرد ، وأن باسم المعلم يقود التظاهرة . كنت احب باسم وهو قومي اجتماعي من كفرحزير الكورة ويتميز بالدينامية والنشاط وبيني وبينه مودة ، فتركت كتبي عند حليم ونزلت ابحث عنه ، فتلقاني بقامته الطويلة ودعاني ان امشي معه في طليعة التظاهرة . تسلمت الميكروفون وسرنا ،

وراحت التظاهرة تجوب طرقات الجامعة باتجاه ” الويست هول ” ثم اتجهت الى منزل رئيسها الدكتور ” كيركوود ” ، والقى باسم كلمة نارية ضده ، ثم عدنا نحو مبنى الادارة ، وهنا جاء من اخبرنا بأن الشرطة باتت تحاصر الجامعة وتنتظر القرار بالدخول الى حرمها وتفريق المتظاهرين واعتقال البعض منهم . طلب مني باسم ان اغادر لأنني لست طالبا ولا يحق لي ان اشارك بمثل هذه النشاطات وإن وقعت في يد الشرطة سيتم توقيفي .

سلمت الميكروفون الى رفيقي محمد حماده وذهبت فاخذتُ كتبي من عند حليم عودة ، واتجهت للخروج من البوابة الرئيسية المفضية الى شارع ” بلِسس ” ، وهناك شاهدتُ في اعلى الدرج الرفيق مفيد الهاشم وكان مسؤولاً في جهاز امن الجامعة ، فاشار الي برفعة من حاجبيه وحركة من يده ، بشكل فهمت منه بأن اغيّر طريقي لأن الشرطة كانت تدقق في الداخلين والمغادرين وتطلب بطاقاتهم .

تابعت سيري بهدوء وانعطفت من جانب المكتبة العامة ثم انحدرت على الدرج الطويل الذي يمر بقرب كلية الهندسة ، وانا اؤمل نفسي بأنني استطيع الخروج من البوابة البحرية ( سي غيتC Gate ) ، لكن الشرطة كانت هناك ايضاً، فدخلتُ الى الملعب الاخضر الكبير وجلست على مدرجه ، كأنني المشاهد الوحيد لمباراة لم تحضر فرقُها .

فتحت كتاب فلسفة كان معي ورحت اقرأ ، ولكنني لا افهم شيئاً مما اراه ، فقد كان ذهني شارداً في كل ما يجري بينما عيناي تجريان منفصلتين على سطور الكتاب .
مرت نصف ساعة وهدأت اجواء المكان وغاب صوت المتظاهرين ، ثم بدأت سيارت الفرقة 16 تبتعد ، وهكذا استطعت ان اغادر الجامعة وصعدتُ في باص الدولة عائدا الى البيت . ولكن العبرة في الأمر هي انني قد اصبحت في مكان آخر غير مكان الطالب والعلم والشهادات … لقد صار عقلي يشتغل على السياسة والنضال وهذا ما سيترك اثراً مهما على مستقبلي .

في الحلقة القادمة نحكي عن العمل الاذاعي وعن ما اكتسبته من عملي ب ” النهار ” ومواكبة الاحداث السياسية الكبيرة في تلك الحقبة . فالى اللقاء .

The daybreak of feminism.

A Summary of meu314 from wordpress.com

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(Versión en Español aquí)

Christine de Pizan was studying at home, like many other nights, when she run into Matheolus’ Lamentations.

At first, she was completely sure that all the misogynistic statements of the book were nothing but nonsense, but then, she remembered some other great writers and philosophers who said the same things, and she wondered whether she was wrong in her perception of women, being herself one of them.

This thought made her fall in despair.

At that point, the Three Virtues (Lady Reason, Lady Rectitude and Lady Justice) decided to appear to Christine to make her see that she was Not the wrong one and to help her build a city where any woman in the same situation of Christine could go and seek for refuge.

This way, a long conversation between the Three Virtues and Christine started, where they refuted and explained all the misogynistic ideas of that time.

Introduction to the book and influences

Firstly, I ought to mention that this book was written between the end of 1404 and the beginning of 1405.

Even though it has more than five hundred years, some of the subjects treated are still ongoing and the perspective with which they are treated is very progressist, even for today’s society.

Nevertheless, we cannot forget when the book was written, as there are some other ideas that could look old-fashioned to us, but they were a complete breakdown at the time. (where the book was published? In Spain?)

The title of the book (in French is “The City of Ladies”. How odd, the title is English) is a clear reference to the book The City of Godwritten by Saint Augustine, and even the idea of Christine´s book receives a clear influence from Saint Augustine’s, where he makes an defense of the Christianity by confronting a Christian city against a pagan one, and uses this to explain theological ideas.

Christine also receives a strong influence from the exemplum, books that started to become popular a couple of centuries before and which aim was to lecture the reader in a religious way.

We see that the Book of the City of the Ladies draws from centuries of theological thinking to refute the misogynistic ideas spread mainly by the Church.

As a matter of fact, Christine uses the major theological authority, one of the four Doctors of the Church, to precisely dismantle the reasoning of bishops and priests, and even those of the same Doctor. It is simply brilliant.

The first thing that caught my attention when I started the book was the fact that almost all women that appear there were Ancient History figures, Christian or pagan.

I was expecting for a collection of women contemporary to Christine, I was hoping to discover a lot of unknown Renaissance women.

There is indeed a moment when Christine explicitly says that not only foreign are to enter the city, and she mentions some contemporary women that are at the same level as all the other she has mentioned before, but this is not a big part of the book.

Why, if there were contemporary women who could serve as an example to refute these sexist ideas, does Christine decide to use women so distant in time? Even though at first this was shocking, now I can understand that the impact of the book would have been smaller had Christine not used these figures.

First of all, being able to show this knowledge of history, Greek and Roman mythology, biblical stories … It gives Christine authority. She is not a woman saying that her neighbors are good people, she is a scholar giving us hundreds of examples that show how the established ideas are a nonsense.

In addition, bishops and theologians often used mythological or biblical examples to build sexist arguments, like Judith´s story or the myth of the Gorgon which we will discuss later.

It makes sense that she uses the same source as the people she wants to refute. Same as she did with the simile with Saint Augustine’s book, Christine is showing her ability to pick up the weapons used against women and to use them in their favor.

We also have to take into account that she wrote the book in the Renaissance (Not quite the Renaissance yet), when Roman culture and their myths were in the spotlight. Also, the value of these figures was unquestionable, so she could avoid any kind of clash of interests with the examples she is making to refute an idea.

In addition, she is showing that women have been subdued to the same pressure since the beginning of time, and it is not related with their attitude or their religion.

Finally, Christine is also able to turn out some myths which were used to support the idea that women were evil, she reinterprets them to also show that a misogynistic interpretation is not the only way to see the world.

Christine’s value as a historian by interpreting, analyzing and reinterpreting myths and stories is incalculable, and again, she is able to use all of it to defend her ideas, creating a book that after more than five hundred years is still on point.

Some of the themes treated

Due to the huge number of subjects treated in the book, I am not going to go in depth in all of them, I will focus only in those I find more interesting. Nevertheless, I shall also mention some other themes treated, just to let us have an idea of what we will find in the book.

The book is divided in three partsthe three conversations with Lady Reason, Lady Rectitude and Lady Justice.

The Reason personified as a woman is an initial allegory to break down the idea that women were purely emotional beings and that they were unable to think logically, unable to use reason.

It already shows us that Lady Reason will be in the charge of building the foundation of the City, i.e. she will be in the charge of breaking the main ideas society had about women.

In this conversation with Lady Reason, they speak about why men want to badmouth women as a group, and they mention some books which were specifically written to speak about how mean women are or even about the bad functioning of women’s bodies.

Lady Reason points out that the fact that men did not allow women to read these books is an argument per se about how unconvincing these statements are, as any person who reads these books and knows a little bit about women would realize about the absurdity written.

Also, in this first part, Christine puts in the center of stage the abilities that women are supposed Not to have, such as intelligence, braveness, strength, leadership, creativeness, …

And she fills the book with women who have every single one of these skills. Here again, I was surprised that most of the examples of good rulers are from Middle East or Merovingian Franks queens.

Maybe, it has something to do with the fact that pre-islamic civilizations were matriarchies.

Merovingian Frank society, on the other hand, was not a matriarchy, but their legislative body was not very developed, so the power of personal influence was sometimes higher than the power of a title.

That left some accessible power for those women intelligent and ambitious enough who also had the luck of being born in a wealthy family.

We can see examples of this in the figure of the Queen Mother, who was a very respected figure who, in times of uncertainty or when there were weak kings, had complete power.

I think one of the arguments with Lady Reason is a good example of the mood of the book: Christine asks Lady Reason if there is some sense in the saying “women are only good for talking, crying and knitting.”

Against all odds, the answer of Lady Reason is that the saying is completely true, but she also explains why those are not characteristics to be ashamed of, but on the contrary skills to be proud of. 

Lady Reason shows several examples (all of them biblical) where a woman got the favor of Jesus over any man because of her tears or her talk (such as the Samaritan woman, Mary Magdalene, Lazaro’s sisters…). In this way, Christine chose to praise female “characteristics” instead of rejecting them.

The second part of the book is the conversation with Lady Rectitudea rhetoric figure created by Christine.

In French, Christine chooses to call her “Droiture” and not Rectitude like in the English translation, as rectitude can be associated with religious rigidity, and she wanted to avoid it.

Droit means straight, erect and so Droiture is a reference to the straight lines of the buildings that form the City, which in this analogy is a reference to the persistence and the good sense. 

In the conversation with Lady Rectitude, they discuss about the skills of the women who will be allowed to enter the city: filial, maternal and conjugal love, persistence, chastity and fidelity among many others.

Christine also makes a statement in defense of marriage, and she tells us that she had a happy marriage full of respect, although she is aware that she was incredibly lucky for that.

Again, by defending marriage and those skills, Christine is praising characteristics associated to women. Even though she is constantly speaking about examples of women who do not follow the stereotypes, she chooses to recognise women as a collective with common qualities that are different from those of men, and she decides to make a case for these skills.

We have to think that, if still today is difficult to deconstruct gender roles, in 1405 it was impossible to even think about them as a social construct.

In this part, Christine also speaks about abuse and rape.

When she is speaking about marriage, Christine says that there are women who have to suffer abuse from their husbands on a daily basis, and she lauds those women that continue with their role as a wife and mother in the family unity, as they are able to leave their sorrow and they chose the maternal and conjugal love instead.

This is obviously something crazy to say today. (Please, if somebody is in this situation you have to get out of there, ask for help and leave as soon as possible).

But in 1405 it was a complete break down with all the ideas they had.

Firstly, Christine is showing the reality that some women have to live in, and also, she is making the statement that, even though the situation is brutal for them, those women chose to honor the sacrament of marriage.

The ideas Christine presents about rape could form part of a book written today.

First of all, she refutes the idea that women do enjoy being raped by showing examples of women who committed suicide after being raped.

The most interesting example is that of Lucrecia’s rape which led into the fall of Roman Monarchy.

With this example, Christine also makes the point that clothes or attitude have nothing to do with being raped, as Tarquinius met Lucrecia when she was knitting with her slaves, wearing demure clothes and she did not even notice Tarquinius presence. This last point is also addressed to women who believe that whenever they maintain the “proper” attitude they will not suffer vexations from men.

Christine also makes the point that we should not judge a woman because she wants to feel beautiful. 

As an example of how appearance should not be judged she speaks about the Apostol Bartolomeo. He enjoyed dressing in silk, and this fact has nothing to do with all the good acts performed by him when he was following Jesus.

I think she makes an interesting point here, and it is very related with nowadays society, where the title “feminist” is given or taken according to whether you decide to wear make-up or wax yourself, same as the title of “respectable women”, which is more related with the length of the skirt.

Before going to the third part, I would like to speak about the reinterpretations of biblical or mythological stories made by Christine. There are more in the book, but I am going to mention only two of them: The story of Judith and the story of the Gorgon, both used to make the point of how evil and dangerous women are.

So, the legend of Judith tells us that, trying to stop the siege of Betulia, her city, Judith seduced Holofernes, the leader of the enemy army. After getting him drunk, she cut his head. It is clear how this story was used to warn men against beautiful women. Nevertheless, Christine focuses on how brave was Judith, as she risked her life by going to the enemy camp and seducing Holofernes.

She also focuses on the wittiness of Judith and in the fact that God was with her, as she succeeded with her plan, and so, she saved God´s chosen people. Then, Christine presents Judith as a hero, and not as an evil seductress.

About the Gorgone, a figure that was used to warn men against women seductive weapons, Christine explains that the origin of this myth was a woman with such deep eyes that made all who look at them to stop breathing for a moment, and due to jealousy people made up the legend.

In the third part of the book, Justice shows Christine who is going to rule the city and who shall be living in the most beautiful towers. Those are the Virgin Mary and all the (female) Saints. 

It is normal that is Justice who should speak about this, as at that time justice was linked with religion. Again, Christine is sending a message to the Church: now the city is full and ruled by worshiped women.

Finally, I think is very interesting to mention that the book is full of Christine´s monologues where she demands to those ungrateful men to shut up and to stop badmouth women.

In these monologues you can see the weariness and the unease Christine is feeling:

[…]Let them be silent! Let them be silent from now on, those writers who malign women and who talk about them in their books and poems. Let them be silent, in their books and poems. Let them be silent, all their accomplices and supporters! They should lower their eyes in shame for having dared to express criticism in the face of the truth, which contradicts their words […]

It is worth saying that she always mentions priests and bishops in these parts, so we can see that for her they lead the oppression against women.

To finish

To finish this entrance of the blog, I would like to leave some parts of the last chapter of the book:

Most honorable ladies, praise be to God: The construction of our city is finally at an end. All of you who love virtue, glory and a fine reputation can now be lodged in great splendor inside its walls, not just women of the past but also those of the present and the future, for this city has been founded and built to accommodate all deserving women.

My dearest ladies, the human heart is naturally filled with joy when it sees that it has triumphed in a particular endeavor and has defeated its enemies.

From this moment on, my ladies, you have every reason to rejoice -in a suitable devout and respectable manner- at seeing the completion of this new city.

It will not only shelter you all, or rather those of you who have proved yourselves to be worthy, but will also defend and protect you against your attackers and assailants, provided you look after it well.

For you can see this is made of virtuous material which shines so brightly that you can gaze at your reflections in it, especially the lofty turrets that were built in this final part of the book […]

I would like to finish the post by thanking Christine de Pizan for everything she started, even though today is still not near the end, and thanks to Victor for all our conversations that little by little are helping me to build my little city.

Note: In that period, many “Arab” authors in Andalusia had treated that subject in their poems. Toledo, though under the dominion of Spanish monarch,  was the center of radiation of translation, culture, education and the living together of all religious sects, to all of Europe

Lebanon uprising (Intifada): Are we just slaves to our caste system?

Since October 17, the Lebanese took to the streets in every city demanding a change in our political/financial system. This sectarian system has degraded since Lebanon “fictitious” independence in 1943: we ended up with 19 officially recognized religious sects. each sect having the monopoly to its co-coreligionist civil registry from birth to death.

Since 1994, the civil war militia leaders of (1975-91) took power and control of Lebanon political system. Nabih Berry, chairman of the Parliament for 22 successive years, became the Godfather of these militia/mafia leaders. Every deputy in the parliament was attributed a monopoly in consumer goods, energy, financial transactions, services… and the head of the parliamentary block receive a substantial part of the profit and they appoint the civil servants in the State institutions. (This is the definition of Anomy political/economic system)

In 1994, Rafic Hariri was dispatched by Saudi Kingdom to become Lebanon PM and he set up the financial Ponzi scheme. Rafic would borrow loans and accumulated Lebanon sovereign debt from just $3bn to over $100 bn. The assumption was that the USA would wipe out all our debt as soon as Lebanon sign a peace treaty with Israel.

Actually, in order to force his being appointed PM, through his financial partners and the chief of the Central Bank Riad Salami, he devalued the Lebanese pound (LP) to 3,000 for the dollar and then re-instated the change to 1,500 to the $ and pigged it to the the dollar ever since.

Note: A re-edit of “Democracy or servitude in Lebanon’s caste system? (October 17, 2007)”

I recently read a 125-pages study by Safia Antoun Saadeh that was researched through a Fulbright grant.

Safia visited Harvard University as a scholar for the academic year 1992-93.  This study is so far the most condensed and comprehensive study of Lebanon social and political structure.

The study was most instructive and it clearly defined our social and political system that explains our problems and recurring civil wars and may forecast our difficulties in the coming months.

In a nut shell, our society has been gradually and consistently developing a political structure, based on a caste system (a closed religious sect) through the Ottoman legacy and has been strengthened since our independence in 1943.

The definition of a Caste is that it is a closed system restricted in five elements;

First, communities are ranked from high to low

Second, it is formed of endogamous groups where marriages is restricted within the caste and intermarriage among caste is socially sanctioned,

Third, membership is determined by birth and is inherited and ascribed,

Fourth, the group at the top may be the largest numerically, and

Fifth, mobility is restricted and an individual can move up within the caste and the caste, as a whole, attempts to move up; thus, the frequent rivalry among castes competing to take precedence in the hierarchical ranking.

All these elements actually coincide mostly with the Lebanese social and political structure and, however we understand the concepts of tribalism, feudalism, sectarianism, clan or classes, we end up realizing that they are incomplete models for our structure and are not satisfactory to explaining and forecasting our predicaments.

The contents of “The social structure of Lebanon” by Safia Sadeh starts with the definitions of tribal, sectarian, feudal, and communities, then on the Ottoman legacy in matters of occupation stratification and religious affiliation, then the period of transition in the 19th century, then the social stratification in Greater Lebanon, then society and social structure, then the fate of the State up to the Taef accord in 1991 and finally the conclusion.

(Greater Lebanon of just over 10,000 sq.km is an assemblage or attachment to Mount Lebanon by the French colonial power of the southern region, the Bekaa Valley and the Northern regions of Tripoli and Akkar)

As the sociology scholar Tonnies stated: “When many use the same language, they must be agreed about the use of names.  This is necessary in science, for science consists in exactly true statements. Every science must therefore start with definitions

I will define the terms of tribe, sectarian, clan, feudal, community, or class as an appendix; and although they are fundamental in elucidating our social structure, this article will overrun the requirements for publishing and I need to go to the point directly. I did though go into the details in my review for this study

The majority of the Lebanese are unable to trace their lineage as tribes and the exogamy rule has not been applied and clans have been integrated within the caste system.

The term sect, taken literally, no longer applies to the current Lebanese situation since we don’t have a theocratic state.  Translating sectarianism by “al ta2ifiyyah” is misleading.  There used to be sects in our ancient history when the Nestorians opposed the Byzantine institutional church or when the Shiis, Ismailis, and Druze opposed the Sunni institutional theocratic state.

The “Arab East” (Arabic Peninsula, the Gulf States and southern Iraq) did not develop a feudal system in any of its historical periods; the lords could not acquire big stretches of land that were passed to the first-born following the law of primogeniture by which the whole real estate of intestate passes solely to the eldest son.

First, the Koranic law stipulates the division of inheritance and second, during the Ottoman hegemony lands (Iqta3) were retrieved from the favorite officers at death.

Syria and Lebanon witnessed the beginnings of private ownership on a large scale after the middle of the 19th century, due to the Ottoman reforms.  The only group which was allowed to inherit land under Islamic rule was the religious order and later named (waqf) when citizens gave their lands to the Religious Order to avoid taxes or trouble.

When the Ottoman theocratic Empire undertook a few reforms that permitted the ownership of private properties and allowed that stratification might move along class lines then a class of feudal lords emerged and new secular schools were established and a Constitution was proclaimed in the Ottoman Empire that enabled landlords and notables to be deputies.

Usually, the Maronite Christian Order supported the peasant rebellions against the feudal lords to maintain its caste supremacy in Lebanon.

For a time, the lords of different religions would unite to oppose peasant revolts but eventually the caste system vanquished that trend and the lords rallied to their respective castes. Feudal lords would become the upper class within each caste.  Each caste had now its own religious courts, its own members in the representative Council and within the government offices.

In present Lebanon, I believe that a few families acquired huge pieces of land and sold whole villages to head the list of candidates to the Parliament within a caste system; for example, the Solh, Salam, Jumblat, Skaf, Eddeh and so forth.  A few of these landlords sold whole villages to the Zionist Organization.

It is unavoidable to defining a class because of the socialist and Marxist theories.

Class is an open system where individuals are ranked instead of communities and intermarriage is not restricted, and membership is based mostly on economic status and the hierarchy takes the shape of a pyramid, with only an elite or small group at the top but mobility is feasible to moving up through finance and professionalism.  Thus, a class is not just the opposite of caste as a closed system; for example, middle classes in countries are formed of individuals from all castes and have received education and intermingled, and intermarried and feel reasonably acquainted with their status and prospects.

Whenever a middle class is weakened then theocracy and undemocratic political systems take over the ruling of society.  The lower class of the poor and disinherited has never been a leader in any political change.

How did Lebanon end up with a caste system?

Stratification in the Ottoman Empire from the middle of the 16th century and up till the beginning of the 20th was set along occupation in its minutest details and then assigned ranks to the different religious community.

The hierarchical ranking of occupations started with men of the sword (Emirs), men of the pen (Ulama or Mollas), merchants and food producers, then artisans, then peasants, and others. The Ottoman theocracy prohibited mobility and ascribed occupations; for example, the son of a peasant was forced to become a peasant and artisans could not move from one guild to another even within the same occupation.

The cities were divided into quarters (haara) representing specific guild corporations (taa2efah) and each quarter was self-contained having its mosque, bath, market and gate to be closed at sunset.

These independent “tawa2ef” had no communication with each other and were directly linked to the central government through an appointed spokesman or “shaykh”; the hara had the right to arm itself and consequently, this historical custom to find arms in each house.

Each guild was imposed a limited number of shops and competition was not existent and even changes in design or fashion or shape were prohibited.  Each guild was linked to a Sufi order spreading fatalism or nasib or kismet (fate).

The Ulama restricted religious appointments solely to their children and thus became the wealthiest and most powerful caste because they were allowed to own lands and they didn’t pay taxes. The Ulama interpreted and set up the laws for the Empire.

The Moslem or (jama3a) relegated the Christians and Jews to a lower status (zhemmah) and were to pay the poll-tax (jizyah) and the land-tax (kharaj) and other restrictions.  The other non-Moslem sects were severely and relentlessly persecuted such as the Shiites, Ismaelite, and Druses.

The weakening of the central authority and the aggressive tensions within the guilds between Muslem and Christians and the increased Indian influence (in religion and caste system structure) led to the merging of the two stratification of occupation and religious orders (millet) and thus the present caste system in Lebanon along religious orders.

The Muslims from India were very influential and overwhelming because the Ottoman Empire cut off trade relations with Europe for a long period and because the Ottoman rulers were originated from Central Asia and the various Sufi movements were Indians by source and indoctrination.

The Christian millet demanded that each Christian sect acquires a separate and independent status and the Porte in Istanbul granted that request which led to the recognition of 17 millets; currently we recognize 18 millets in our political structure to include the alawit caste.

Thus, the identity of the individual is based on his religious community in Lebanon; furthermore, citizens vote in districts (kada2) of their base community and not where they actual reside or work and expatriates have not acquired the right to vote overseas.

Consequently, when the European colonialists were given mandate in the Near East the antagonism was not directed at their economic and financial hegemony but primarily directed on the religious dimension; thus, the Christians of the East paid the heaviest toll as the result of such a perception.

The National Pact of 1943, after the independence of Lebanon, divided the spoil among the two main castes, the Christian Maronite and the Muslim Sunni, which were dominant in the cities and controlled the economy of the country; thus, practically ignoring the rights of the other 15 or so castes until civil wars erupted every 20 years to remind the central government that the State is built on caste structure.

The fact is, just after our independence, and in order to keep the demography of the castes in balance the Christians granted citizenship to Armenians and Christian Palestinians but denied it to the Muslim Kurds and Palestinians. Even a plea by Hoss PM to President Sarkis for a single seat in the Parliament representing a secular candidate was rejected.

Essentially, our civil wars were the result of castes, as a whole, trying to move upward to become at a par with the dominant castes in numbers; for example, the Sunny caste in 1958 demanding equal power along the Maronite and seeking the help of the Egyptian Abdul-Nasser; then in 1975 the Sunny caste siding with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in the hope of dominating the Maronite.  In the second half of the civil war, between 1984 and 1989, the Shiites attempted to move upward as a caste.

The internal mobility within caste led to serious changes; for example the political parties of Hezbolla and Amal unseated the traditional Shiite feudal families such as the As3ad, the Hamadeh, the Khalil, and the Osseiran; the Lebanese Forces unseated the like traditional families of Eddeh, Chamoun, and tried to eliminate the Frangieh in the north.

It appears that the Gemayyel family is on the way out after President Amine lost recently the election against a practically unknown candidate; the Armenian caste, which traditionally allied with the Phalanges party, parted company.  The Hariri party (or clan) of Al Mustakbal unseated most of the Sunny traditional leaders in Beirut, and with debatable successes in Tripoli, and Sidon.

The current dilemma is that the Sunny caste is trying to hold to its supremacy against the strongly rising Shii3a caste which is more organized, with self-independent institutions and a military wing that checked the Israeli invasion in June 2006 for 31 days.

The Shi3a caste is homogeneous and managed to unseat feudalism and regroup in just two parties that coordinate their activities and projects.

The Sunny caste would like very much to initiate a third civil war but was turned down by the Maronite caste because it would be the major loser at the end.

Michel Aoun averted the inevitable civil war, sought after by the Sunny caste and headed by the Hariri clan, by ratifying an agreement with Hezbollah; thus, the Maronite caste being divided then no civil war is feasible.

The second card that the Sunny caste is ready to play is to settle the Sunny Palestinian refugees and eventually to surreptitiously granting them the Lebanese citizenship.

Consequently, the Sunny caste is hoping to recapture the numerical imbalance with the Shi3a caste if they succeed in this plan with the support of the USA and the European nations.

The most striking development taking place is that the Maronite caste is in the process of getting freer from a caste structure because the Patriarch and his council of Bishops are no longer implicitly the main political power within the caste; this whole hoopla of referring to Bkerki as the source of their union is just within the explicit caste structure game, but the Maronite Order is losing its hold on the caste at this junction.

Ironically, the Christian Greek Orthodox caste is taking advantage of this situation and doing its best to move upward. The Greek orthodox caste has been basically urban and city dwellers for centuries but never formed a militia, nor did they have powerful feudal lords; their professional elites mostly joined secular political parties.

However, they established a University and the Majlis al-Millah decided to discuss and take concerted action on the current political issues and ordered their three ministers in the government not to abdicate.

I think that the Armenian caste is on the move up after defeating the government’s candidate, President Amine Gemayel, in the Metn election. I believe that the Armenian caste wanted revenge because the Hariri clan sidelines it during the last two elections in Beirut.

The assassinated Rafic Hariri PM game was to divide and weaken the adjoining castes in Beirut in order to have absolute hegemony of the Sunny caste in the Capital which he considered himself the sole leader; and thus he didn’t include the Armenian caste candidates on his electoral lists and preferred to select individual Armenians with no support from their caste.

This system of caste translates integrally into State bureaucracy.  In 1955, competitive examinations for civil service positions was replaced by a pass or fail qualification so that the best applicants would not know that the position was taken by a lesser qualified candidate just to fill the castes quotas.

The most damaging consequences is that the hired civil servant considers that he owns his position to the head of the caste and is not subjected to his superiors in the bureaucratic hierarchy. Thus, every firing of incompetent civil servant is viewed as directed at the caste as a whole!

Once a position is filed then the functionary has to fulfill all the requirements and demands of his caste before catering to the other tasks.  In 1992, after the Taef constitution, a bizarre Maronite Minister of Education hired 300 Maronite employees from his home town and in one sweep; the caste system resolved the problem by allowing each ministry to appoint a similar number of his own caste!

It is known that the Defense Minister Michel Al Murr was not bashful when he refused to enlist Shiites who reached the age of 18 in the compulsory training simply because they would tilt the balance of 50/50 between Christians and Moslems!

The most damaging institution that has prevented any modernization and led to the strengthening of the caste system is the judiciary of the personal status laws.

Each millet or in our case caste follows its own laws concerning birth, death, marriage, divorce, adoption, and inheritance.  Each religious caste has developed its own courts whose verdict the state is obliged to execute.  The castes have become independent legal entities.

The Lebanese state cannot implement reforms in these laws to place them in tune with a modernized society, nor do the religious institutions change the law as the later is considered sacred.  Two failed attempts were made, one in 1936 and the other in 1951, to force the different religious organizations to submit their status laws so that the government can examine them.  In 1952, the Lawyers’ syndicate announced an open strike for civil marriage to be initiated and a civil secular code to replace the various personal status laws.  The strike had to be ended after three months.

The various religious agencies holding both economic and legal power became formidable political institutions that oversee the interest of its members.  Remnants of the Ottoman system the Sunni “mufti” gets his salary from the Lebanese government and all judicial decisions by the Sunnis are published in the “Official Newsletter” issued by the government.

Moreover, this caste system reach an agreement whereby no Christian can inherit from a Muslim, and vice-versa, and thus a non-converted mother cannot bequeath her inheritance to her own children!  Our caste system allows our women to marry foreigners of the same religion but forbid marrying a Lebanese of a different religion.  Historically, a Muslim woman was prohibited from marrying into another religious group but the Christian caste could permit it until the unbalance in the demography restricted it and made it very difficult.

Both internal and external social controls are used in deterring the individual from breaking a specific prescribed behavior. One major factor in the establishment of a caste is the rule of non-exchange of women.

Consequently, the religious orders in Lebanon have acquired the status of caste because the jurisprudence in matter of personal status laws has been relinquished to them by the central government.  Conversion is made extremely difficult among orders by mutual agreement, except for political reasons and within the Christians castes to fill the quota in government offices.

Intermarriages among castes are not common and civil marriages had to be done in Cyprus or elsewhere for the government to accept the marriage according to an existing civil status law enacted during the mandate period.  Generally, males have a much easier allowance to inter marry outside the religious caste.

We, the Lebanese, are denied equality under the law of the land because it does not exists; we are like turtles carrying our baggage over our back and have to be subjected to the traditions of our respective religious castes, a system that is far reaching and follows us wherever we reside.

We are denied freedom to change religion, to change electoral district, to change our names, to work anywhere we chose to and to associate with whatever groups that matches our modern values. We are denied a democratic process based on peaceful transitions from allegiance to caste to allegiance to a rational State that abhors theocracy in any form or shape and release the citizen from his bondage to work toward a modern way of life over all the Lebanese territory.

The way I forecast the next political steps stems from my understanding that:

First, the Sunny caste is the most conservative among the caste and will be the last one to forego its privileges and this system;

Second, the Shiaa caste is the most homogeneous, most numerical, and self sufficient but wary of the combined efforts of the western nations and Israel to destabilize its supremacy and needs reassurances from the Christian castes not subject it to further harassment and displacement; and

Third there might be a tendency for the Christian castes to unite within a process of modernizing the system as the only viable alternative for survival in the future; and

Fourth the realization that, except for the Sunny caste, it would be beneficial for all the concerned parties to unseat Walid Jumblat as the sole feudal lord within the Druze caste.

The Christian Maronite sect in Lebanon has reverted to a closed religion and adopted the caste system since the independence of Lebanon in 1943.  The Maronite sect has agreed on a tacit pact with the non-Christian castes not to allow non-Christian members from the other castes in Lebanon to become Maronite.

I can testify that even Lebanese living overseas were not permitted to change religion: the Maronite Order made it clear that the process of changing religion is not feasible.  This Christian sect has sold its soul to preserve its supremacy as a caste in local politics and ended up losing its supremacy in 1989 at the Taef Conference in Saudi Arabia. (It has been allied to the Zionist movement as it landed in Palestine)

Although the office of President of the Republic, conferred to the Maronite, is no longer that powerful after the Taef Constitution; the current maneuvering is intended to come to an agreement as to the next stages of transforming this caste system and giving the Lebanese citizens a new doze of anesthesia until the plans and logistics for a new round of civil war are completed.

Unfortunately, the secular forces are not coordinating their activities commensurate to the dangerous climate that is being fomented.  The dynamic middle class in Lebanon has fled, for no return, and the existing one is too dispersed, weak and almost totally swallowed by the caste system.

The changes might seem insurmountable, but nothing is impossible with the will for survival.  A grass root movement of all the religious groups and led by the current middle class and syndicates, supported by the dual citizens of Lebanese origin, has to educate the disinherited citizens and to rally the secular forces and parties and to promote a program for a change in our archaic system into modernism.

This movement needs to destroy the barriers against interrelationship to implement the following program:

First, removing the power from the religious hierarchical orders by the following successive steps:

starting by forcing the different religious organizations to submit their status laws so that the government can examine them; then initiating a program to institute civil marriage law and a civil secular code to replace the various personal status laws; and then taxing heavily the religious “waqf” as lucrative financial and economic entities.

Second, a voting system that institutes for two parliaments: the Popular Parliament where a single deputy is selected by the majority of votes for each restricted district (no lists of candidates, please) and the National Parliament by the proportional method and the candidates are selected by the political parties and where women are to acquire a quota of half the numbers in the National Parliament after the second election.  The total of the two parliaments should not exceed 122 deputies.

Third, a decentralization of the government where the re-drawn Mouhafazaat, with access to the sea, might enjoy much wider responsibilities with the appropriate budget to cater for the social and economic well being of their citizens.  Encouraging competition among the Mouhafazats is a must and their corresponding budgets to be commensurate to their profitable investments and efficiency in saving money.

I decided to include the definitions of clan, tribe, sect, feudalism, and community so that the reader might judge on the correct description of Lebanon’s social and political structure.

A Clan or settled Tribe must first be based explicitly on a non linear rule of descent, it then must have a residential unity, and third, it must exhibit actual social integration.  The clan is independent and has a homogeneous system; it is a self-sufficient unit and is not ranked into higher and lower.

The majority of the Lebanese are unable to trace their lineage and the exogamy rule has not been applied and clans have been integrated within the caste system. Thus the tribal theory is inadequate in explaining the complex political, social, and economic picture of Lebanon.

Sects, by definition, welcome a voluntary membership by conversion, as individuals are free to adhere to a specific religious sect once they believe in its tenets. A sect has come to denote a religious conflict society which arises in opposition to an institutional church. The term sect, taken literally, no longer applies to the current Lebanese situation since we don’t have a theocratic state.  Translating sectarianism by “al taa2ifiyah” is misleading.  There used to be sects in our ancient history when the Nestorian opposed the Byzantine institutional church or when the Shiis, Ismailis, and Druze opposed the Sunni institutional state.

Feudalism means that lords have acquired big stretches of land that were passed to the first-born following the law of primogeniture by which the whole real estate of intestate passes solely to the eldest son.  The lords were opposed to the peasants who owned no land.

The Arab East did not develop such a system in any of its historical periods. First, the Koranic law stipulates the division of inheritance and second, during the Ottoman hegemony lands (Iqta3) were retrieved from the favorite officers at death.  Syria and Lebanon witnessed the beginnings of private ownership on a large scale after the middle of the 19th century, due to the Ottoman reforms.

The only group which was allowed to inherit land under Islamic rule was the religious order and later named (waqf) when citizens gave their lands to the order to avoid taxes or trouble.

Thus, historically at least, the feudal theory cannot hold in Lebanon structure. Though, in present Lebanon, I believe that a few families acquired huge pieces of land and sold whole villages to head the list of candidates to the Parliament within a caste system; for example, the Solh, Salam, Jumblat, Skaf, Eddeh and so forth.

Community revolve around three elements that are intimately interconnected: the element of descent which focuses on blood and kinship ties and where “family” life is the general basis or life; then the element of soil exemplified by the village community, and finally the element of occupation centered into guilds, corporations and offices.

Strangers may be accepted and protected as serving members but not easily as agents and representatives of the community. Usually, village communities have not been ranked historically on a scale of higher to lower.  Lebanon did not enter fully the era of communities and furthermore in our villages, communities are ranked leading to a quasi-caste situation.

Class is an open system where individuals are ranked instead of communities and intermarriage is not restricted, and membership is based mostly on economic status and the hierarchy takes the shape of a pyramid, with only an elite or small group at the top but mobility is feasible to moving up through finance and professionalism.

Beirut and Haifa: They used to be twin cities, before Israel was created to block daily communication

Note: This is a re-edit of  “Tales of Twin Cities: Beirut and Haifa (April 1, 2009)”

By the year 1933, the city of Haifa was the main magnet for the Levant people (Lebanese and Syrians) and Iraqis.

A railroad linked Haifa to Egypt, Damascus and to the Hijjaz (Mecca) in the Arabic Peninsula (Now called Saudi Kingdom).

A pipeline was exporting half of Iraq’s production toward Europe.  A modern port was the main export location of Syria’s wheat and grain to Europe. A new oil refinery was installed. Haifa was the most prosperous and promising destination for the Lebanese.

Many streets were named after Lebanese towns and cities.  Anywhere you walked the stores had common Lebanese family names.  The Maronite Selim Khoury from Bkaseen (a town by Jezzine) was considered the richest in Palestine; he instituted a modern silk factory and many laborers from Lebanon flocked there.

The families of Bustros, Sursok, and Tuweiny owned half the fertile plains in Galilee ( of about 180 square kilometers). Suleiman Nassif had exclusivity on thermal pools. (These families sold their lands to the Zionists in order to establish their political foothold in Lebanon)

The CAT Company, a building contractor, erected series of houses outside Acre’ s walls.

Lebanese educators and intellectuals taught there.

The famous lawyer, Wadi3 Bustani was the special counselor to the British Governor Colonel Stanton.  Dailies were created.  Haifa was like Qatar and Dubai today for the Lebanese emigrants; they were welcomed and needed to absorb the fast pace economic explosion.

Then, in 1948, the infamous Zionist State was created by a majority of a single vote in the UN (when most countries didn’t yet enjoy “independence” from the colonial powers).

The administrations of the USA, France, and Britain wanted to get rid of the Jews in their midst.  The monster Stalin stupidly believed that Israel would be the first communist State in the Middle East.

The tide turned and the Palestinians flocked to Lebanon.

The prosperous and educated Palestinian refugees headed to Beirut.  What the English and USA governments could not do in Lebanon was done by the Palestinians:  the English language spread and prospered. The American University in Beirut got a new lease on life; most of the Arabs in the Gulf, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq studied in Beirut.

In fact, the most powerful bank in the Middle-East and based in Lebanon Intra was owned by a Palestinian Bidass. USA and Israel wanted to bankrupt this bank and ordered the Central Bank to cut off liquidity for the bank, though it had far more assets that the depositors needed.

The port of Beirut was modernized and expanded and replaced Haifa; oil pipelines and refineries were installed in Lebanon, most of the land transit passed through the port of Beirut.

South Lebanon was transformed into a vast garden of orange and apple orchards thanks to the expertise of the cultivators of Jaffa (Yafa).

The financial institutions in Beirut flourished.  The insurance businesses got foothold. Even today, most of the insurance executives are of Palestinian origins. Folk dancing, songs, theaters were initiated by Palestinian artists.

The rich Palestinian Christians were offered the Lebanese citizenship. The poor Palestinian Christian refugees were installed in camps in Christian districts such as the camps of Jisr Basha, Dbaiyeh, and Mar Elias.  The Palestinian Moslems were distributed in camps all over Lebanon.

These inexpensive Palestinian workmen were the main backbone for the emerging small and medium industries and in agriculture (currently replaced by Syrians refugees); until the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) disturbed the entire structure when it installed its headquarters in Beirut in 1969.

During the civil war that started in 1975, all the Christian Palestinian camps were overturned by the Lebanese Christian militias and the surviving refugees expelled from the Christian regions or cantons.

The PLO was forced to vacate Lebanon in 1982 and the Palestinian workforce was replaced by Syrians and the Palestinian refugees were confined to their camps; they experienced renewed constraints on work permits and selective jobs and restraining labor licenses.

Since time immemorial, the southern Lebanese seaport of Tyr was the administrative center for the entire region extending to beyond Haifa, Mount Carmel, and including upper Galilee.

Under normal circumstances, the coastal zone from Tyr to Haifa could have been the largest Megalopolis on the Mediterranean Sea.

The newly created apartheid Zionist State disrupted all kinds of major development in the region and blocked the daily trade and communication among the same people..

Note 1: I am reading the interesting Arabic/Lebanese book “This Life, my Sweetheart” (Ya Dunia, ya Gharamy) by Ussama El Aref.  One of its chapters inspired the theme of this article.

Note 2: After the Second World War, Germany welcomed the Kurdish workforce, arriving by train with fanfare and official bands, because it needed badly to reconstruct the country.  Germany thinks that it finished reconstruction and has no idea how to repatriate the Kurds of Turkey.

Germany is offering to finance private enterprises in the Kurdish region for any Kurdish family willing to return.  The catch is: would anyone Not feeling secure and safe in his homeland return?  Would Germany re-welcome any Kurds if political conditions deteriorate?

Memoir of Kamal Nader. Part 11

ذكريات الجمر والرماد .11.

في منفذية الطلبة كثر عددنا بشكل كبير فتم فرزها الى منفذيتين ، واحدة للثانويين والثانية للجامعيين ولكل منهما هيئة كاملة وهما تحت اشراف مكتب الطلبة ،

ففي ذلك الوقت لم تكن هناك عمدة للتربية ولا عمدة لعبر الحدود بل مكتب لهذا الاختصاص ومكتب لذاك وكلاهما تحت اشراف عمدة الداخلية منعاً لتضارب الصلاحيات .

وكان يومها الامين الرائع كامل حسان عميدا للداخلية وهو من اروع من تولى هذه العمدة في تلك الفترة الدقيقة حيث يجب اعادة تنظيم الفروع بعد الخروج من مرحلة العمل السري التي سبق ان وصفتها لكم .

كما كان الامين كامل رئيساً لمجلس العمد ويقوم مقام الرئيس في حال سفره أو شغور المركز . وبكل تواضع كان يعمل اكثر من 15 ساعة في اليوم ، ومكتبه غرفة صغيرة في مركز الحزب في شارع ” فردان ” وليس عنده طاقم عديد في العمدة حتى انه كان يطبع القرارات والتعاميم بنفسه على آلة ” دكتيلو ” يدوية لكنه كان اسرع من الكومبيوتر اليوم .

وكان حازماً وجاداً في الادارة والنظام مع محبة قومية اجتماعية راقية كنا نلمسها في طريقة التعامل معنا حتى عندما يضطر الى قرار فصل او عقوبة فانه يصدرها بقوة مشفوعة بمحبة وحرص على تربية المخطئ واعادته الى خط النظام الصحيح .

اما منفذية الطلبة الجامعيين فكانت مؤلفة من خمسة كوادر ممتازين اذكر منهم المنفذ العام يوسف سالم وناظر التدريب جبران عوّاد وناظر الاذاعة فهيم داغر . كانت هيئة نشيطة جدا تدير عدة مديريات كبيرة العدد تتوزع في كليات الجامعة اللبنانية والاميركية واليسوعية والعربية ، وتلك هي الجامعات في ذلك الزمان وليس مثل اليوم حيث توجد في لبنان حوالى 40 جامعة .

كانت التحركات الطلابية ناشطة جدا ، مظاهرات ، ندوات ، محاضرات ، اشتباكات بالايدي مع احزاب اخرى ، وكانت المدريريات تساند بعضها في الساعات ” العصيبة ” فترى النفير يدق في ” الحقوق ” وبقية الكليات لمساندة شباب ” ألاداب ” ، فيتوافد القوميون الى مكان الاشكال وغالباً ما يحسمونه قبل ان تتدخل القوى الأمنية .

اما التظاهرات فكان معظمها للمطالبة بتطوير الجامعة اللبنانية وزيادة كلياتها خاصة في العلوم التطبيقية كالهندسة والطب ، وتحسين مبانيها وتأمين الكادر التعليمي المتفرغ لها .

وفي الشؤون السياسية كنا نتظاهر لمناهضة الطائفية ولتطوير النظام السياسي ، ودعماً لفلسطين ولمنظمة التحرير ومنع ضربها خاصة مع ظهور خلافات حادة بينها وبين المملكة الاردنية والتي تطورت الى اشتباكات والى مجازر ايلول السوداء سنة 1970 .

وفي الشؤون المعيشية والاجتماعية كنا نساند مطالب العمال والمزارعين ونناهض الحرمان والظلم الاجتماعي والاستغلال ونطالب بالعدل الحقوقي والمعيشي وبتوسعة خدمات الضمان الاجتماعي وحمايته من الاستغلال .

كان نظامنا الداخلي في منفذية الطلبة صارماً جدا وهناك لائحة من الممنوعات التي يمكن ان تؤدي مخالفتها الى الفصل. فالاركيلة والمسبحة ممنوعة لأنهما عادات عثمانية تركية ، واللباس الخلاعي المستورد ممنوع لأنه يعني الميوعة وهو مع امور اخرى في عالم الموسيقى والفن وصرعات ” الهيبيين ” و ” البيتلز ” مستوردة من امريكا والغرب لتسميم نفسيات الشباب ونشر الفساد فيهم ،

بينما يجب ان يكون القوميون الاجتماعيون معروفين من مشيتهم ومن مظهرهم واخلاقهم بين الناس ولا يلجأون الى التقليد السطحي والاعمى للموضة المستوردة . ولم يكن الجلوس في المقاهي لوقت طويل مستحباً لأنه اضاغة للوقت اما القمار فجريمة يعاقب مرتكبها بشدة .

لم يكن للحزب موارد مالية كبيرة فكانت الاشتراكات تجبى لتأمين بعض اللوازم وليس هناك متفرغون يقبضون معاشات بل كلها امور تتم بالتطوع بدون مقابل مالي . حتى اذا ذهبنا الى مخيم تدريب ندفع اشتراكات لتأمين الحاجات اللوجستية والطعام .

في تلك السنوات 69 و70 قمنا بعدة رحلات الى بيت الدين والبقاع الغربي وراشيا ، والى نهر العاصي ، وكانت الاعداد كبيرة جدا ، يرافقنا فيها غسان مطر باشعاره الثورية المتجددة ‘ خاصة قصيدة ” رحمات الله عليه ابي ” وقصيدة ” شرايين الثورة ” و” الجرح النازف ” والتي جمعها فيما بعد ضمن ديوان عنوانه “ احبك يا حزيران ” ولا انسى ايضا قصيدة ” الراهبة ” وغيرها من روائع الشعر .

كما كان صوت حياة الحاج الفيروزي الجميل يزين الرحلات والحفلات وتطل علينا ادال نصر بصوتها الصافي والجبلي القوي في اناشيد ” موطني ” و “على الوادي ” و ” يا فاتح درب القمة بخيمة صنين ” وغيرها من الاناشيد والاهازيج واغلبها من نظم الامين عجاج المهتار .

كما كان يرافقنا فوزي عبد الخالق بشعره الزجلي … على ان قصائد خالد زهر في مهرجانًي اول اذار وعيد العمل قد الهبت العقول والمشاعر والايدي وصارت بعض مقاطعها تدور على كل لسان .

وفي تلك السنة تعرفت لأول مرة على الامين محمود عبد الخالق بقامته الطويلة والكبيرة وظلت رفقتنا طيلة هذه السنين الى حين وفاته سنة 2018 .

يبدو ان المقالة قد صارت طويلة فنترك البقية الى الحلقة التالية .

الى اللقاء واسلموا للحق والحياة وللنهضة وللوطن .


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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