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Reminiscing when Beirut was actually a super Movable fairs 

Personal experience when I were a university student: Movable fairs in Beirut: 1971-74

I decided to re-edit my old article “Wonderful early 1970’s:  Movable fairs in Beirut” in order to demonstrate to the current generation in Lebanon that it is highly feasible to generate a Mass Upheaval as was done in Tunisia and Egypt.

It is a scream against the total impunity that our politicians, in this semi-State of Lebanon, are enjoying, those militia/mafia “leaders” of our civil war, a war that no one was a victor.

Currently, the State of Lebanon is totally bankrupt at all levels and barely may survive remaining in the UN as a State

Our movable fair lasted 4 years, 3 years behind Paris and Woodstock mass upheaval fairs.

If it were Not for the de facto control of the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization) over our political system, which diffused the purpose of the true upheaval of the Lebanese movement, Lebanon would have reformed against all odds.

Woodstock musical fiesta was organized in 1968 and disbanded three days later.

The French students revolt in Paris of 1968, then joined by the working organizations,  ended 2 weeks later.

The French students revolt of 1968 was a big party with deep lucidity:  banners read “Run, comrade, run.  The old world is chasing after you.” Youth was taking a reprieve by running joyously, a week of total freedom, running as fast as he could, knowing that the old world will invariably catch up with him.

These students and youth movements crossed to Lebanon in 1970 and lingered for 5 years as movable fairs in Beirut, before the civil war set in, at the instigation of US/Israel.

I witnessed that wonderful and crazy period as a university student, witnessing far more than studying.

By 1970 I was attending university, mainly math, physics, and chemistry courses.   Once the morning courses were taken care of, I roamed Beirut freely and all alone. (Would have been more pleasurable and instructive if I had friends to join me then)

For less than 5 Lebanese pounds ($2 at the time) I could see movies, watch theater pieces, or go to the empty beaches in mid September and October, eat local sandwiches of falafel, shawarma, and freshly pressed fruits.

Most of the days I ended up attending conferences, political party meetings, joining regular demonstrations and marches by university students, sit-ins, hunger strikes on the street in front of the education ministry (I tried once for half a day).

Fleeing police tanks and water hoses, or just walking all around Beirut circulating where the “movable fairs” crossed my path, gathering of people chanting slogans against the sectarian and mercantile political system, the defeatist government, not responding to the frequent bombardment of Israel in south Lebanon...

The citizens (mostly Muslim Chia) in the south flocked to the suburbs of Beirut, mainly in Dahieh, and labelled the “Red belt of poverty” in order to flee the successive incursions of Israel, under all lame excuses.

The Palestinian Liberation Organization, led by Yasser Arafat, and its institutions were firmly established in Beirut and in a dozen Palestinian camps.  Cash in hard currency spent by the PLO and the various resistance movements maintained the Lebanese currency very strong.

In May 1972, Beirut Cinema Club in cooperation with the US Cultural Center projected a series of Orson Welles movies such as “Citizen Kane”, “The lady from Shanghai”, “Secret report”, “Satan’s touch”, and “Falstaff”.  Wells mostly recalls the negative critics: for example, a critic said that Orson shouts like a rhinoceros” when Orson played “Candid” of Bernard Show.

Wells and Charlie Chaplin might be the greatest American directors.  Wells prefers that producers invest massively on many movies, even if one of his films are not marketed.  He said: “Without men there is no art.  Without women, men never become artists”

In May 1973, the film “Red Weddings” by French director Claude Chabrol was projected in El Dorado movie theater. There was a curfew in the previous week:  The Lebanese army tried to enter the Palestinian camp of Dbayeh (mostly Christians).

A few feddayins escaped and fled through the valley of river Nahr Kalb (Dog River); and we provided them shelter for three days in Beit-Chabab and they were to resume the trip to Dhour Shweir.  An ambush by the Phalanges (Kataeb) Party killed several of them on the way.

Chabrol has a particular style and a deterministic view on how events should unfold:  His movies are about illicit love affairs, murder, then punishment by the “bourgeois” legal system:  that genuinely falling in-love is irrelevant and thus must be punished, one way or another.

In June 1974, “The hour of liberation has chimed.. Out colonialists” by the young woman director Heine Srour won a special acclaim in Cannes.  This movie is about the popular revolutionary struggle of the people in Zofar (Oman, Hadramout, and south Yemen) from the British colonial power and archaic monarchic structures.

Heine invested two years in preparation and shot the one-hour movie with the rudiment of equipment and finances.  Heine and three technicians walked hundreds of kilometers with the fighters under scorching sun and the bombing of British jets.

Heine conducted interviews in the local Arabic slang the “Himyari” and projected the essential roles that women shared in that revolution along the fighters.

This movie was one of the first to broach situation in other Arabic States outside of Syria, Egypt, Iraq, or Palestine.  Movies on the Algerian revolution were to be produced shortly after.

In February 1975, director Borhan Awalweyeh showed his movie “Kfar Kassem“.  Hundreds of spectators remained in the theater way after midnight discussing the movie.

The film is a retrospective documentary of the genocidal massacre that Israel committed against the Palestinians in the village of Kfar Kassem in 1956 before it invaded Sinai.  Peasants returning from the fields were killed because they could not know about the curfew that the Israeli troops declared in their absence.

This movie was based on the novel of the same name by Assem Jundi.  Issam Mahfouz wrote the dialogue in the Palestinian Arabic slang.

Lebanon of 1974, and particularly the Capital Beirut, experienced extraordinarily cultural, social, and political activities, quantitatively and qualitatively.

First, the number of women writers increased dramatically.  As Georges Rassi wrote: “In the Arab World, every woman writer is worth 100 free minded men“.

Second, many famous authors and poets opted to write columns in dailies; a move that brought them in close touch with the people and the daily difficulties.

Third, artists and thinkers from all over the Arab World settled in Beirut.  Most of these intellectuals were fleeing oppression and persecution for free expressions.  The Egyptian intellectuals flocked in great number as President Sadat had decided to connect with Israel and leave the Arab problems and the Palestinian cause way behind.

Fourth, the Lebanese TV witnessed a big jump in quality of local productions thanks to the director Paul Tannous.

Fifth, many cultural clubs were instituted and Arab States organized exhibitions and cultural events.

Most importantly, women became very vocal and active for women rights and drastic reforms in the laws and social awareness.

Late author Mai Ghoussoub was very young then, but she was one of the leaders of “Committees for Free women.”

Initially, men were permitted to join in the discussions until they proved to be elements of heckling and disturbances.  The committees of free women decided to meet among women because their cause must be priority in urgent reforms and not a usual side-show tackled by reformist political parties.

Arab movies of quality were being shown such as “Events of red years” by Akhdar Hamina;  “Beirut…O Beirut” by Maroun Baghdadi; “May… The Palestinians” by Rafic Hajjar; “The bird” by Youssef Chaheen; “Al Haram” by Henry Barakat; “Hold on… O Sea” by Khaled Seddik.

Karl Marx said:  ”When history repeats its cycles, the next time around is a farce.”  Spring of 68 was a sympathetic and spontaneous farce; it was an innovating and creative revolt with no arms.

Spring in Paris was a movable fair, an all free-invited party.  It was a movable feast for sharing ideas and desires for justice, peace, liberty, and pleasure. There were plenty of generosity and compassion:  Youth was feeling bored of the old world system of unjust order, capitalism, petrified ideologies and dogmas.

It was a humongous fair where affluent lifestyle in the western States of plenty hide the miseries of the lowest classes living in shantytowns.

It was in a period for the third world struggling to emerge from the slavery stage of colonialism.

Spring fairs in the western world spread to most nations where the partying lasted and lasted.

The virus of the movable feast reached countries with old systems destroyed by the colonial powers:  The newer power systems were unstable and mostly haphazard to come chasing after mass movable fairs.

Spring of 68 crossed to Lebanon and lasted 5 years and emerged on a civil war that lasted 13 years and produced 300 thousand casualties (10% of the population!)

Note 1:  Details of this introspection were supplied by Georges Al Rassi in “Stations along the trail of Lebanese and Arab movies

Note 2: This student movement in Lebanon was mostly let by the students of our public university. The public university, in Choweifat, was mostly controlled by leftist-leaning organizations, including the teaching staff. Most probably, the colonial powers got weary of the growing influence of this university that was spreading to the private universities. The right-wing parties , the president and the army were ready to confront this movement by strong arm tactics.

Note 3:  You may read more details on my next post


What make you feel in prison?

Do walls build prisons? Do iron bars make a cage?

Richard Lovelace wrote this poem in 1642, in the Westminster Prison:

“Stone walls do not a prison make,

Nor iron bars a cage;

Minds innocent and quiet take

That for an hermitage;


If I have freedom in my love,

And in my soul am free,

Angels alone that soar above,

Enjoy such liberty.”

Note 1: Joelle Giappesi or Julie, is a Franco-Lebanese who was put in prison, condemned for 5 years firm, for repeated heroine addiction at the age of 43. “Walls do not make the prison” is not simply a fiction novel.

Note 2: When everything around you is bankrupt, State, Banks, Central Bank…

When colonial powers sanctioned your economy and finances

When colonial powers add barriers to trade and daily communication with neighboring countries

When You know with certainty that tomorrow is never going to be better, and Absolutely Not to your kids and new generations

When you know that famine and unemployment will spread like wildfire, and you have no defenses to prevent small robbers and violent acts habits…

Those barriers are Not walls or cages: They are the worst forms of mass ghetto encirclement and incarceration.

In what sense my bank deposit is Affected? Bankrupt Lebanon at all levels

Vos dépôts (bank accounts) ne seront pas touchés

Covid-19 :

Les uns affirment que « plus rien ne sera comme avant », les autres rétorquent que « rien ne va changer ».

On peut toujours débattre, mais pour eux rien ne change, ou si peu, et le Coronavirus est un cadeau du ciel. « Eux », ce sont certains banquiers et politiciens que le confinement a offert une occasion inespérée pour se refaire une santé.

Ces “Eux” vous promettent que « vos dépôts ne seront pas touchés ». Mais détrompez-vous, les promesses n’ engagent que ceux qui y croient.

En réalité, les dépôts qui existent « comptablement » encore ont déjà perdu officiellement la moitié de leur valeur (différence de change entre le taux officiel de 1515 livres pour un dollar et le taux officieux qui côtoie aujourd’hui les 3000 livres pour un dollar).

Et ne vous fiez pas aux apparences, ce qui se joue entre les banques commerciales, le pouvoir politique et la banque du Liban n’est qu’une scène de ménage arrangée, une pièce de théâtre, un « déjà-vu » pour détourner votre attention.

En réalité, les trois sont de connivence, avec un objectif commun, celui de vous détrousser pour se gaver encore plus quand les choses retrouvent leur cours normal.

Et jusqu’à aujourd’hui, tout marche pour eux comme sur des roulettes.

Avant la pandémie, la crise de liquidité bancaire, dont près des deux tiers des actifs sont consommés par un État boulimique et gaspilleur, s’est mue en crise de solvabilité quand il est devenu évident que cet Etat, tel qu’il est gouverné, est irréformable.

Irréformable veut dire pour eux que le miracle qui consiste à attirer de nouveaux flux d’argent (fresh money) pour payer les anciens ne fonctionne plus.

Alors ils ont mis main basse sur votre argent, liquidé leur portefeuille de prêts au secteur privé en donnant le coup de grâce à l’économie, et instauré un simulacre de contrôle de capitaux qui n’a servi en réalité qu’à arranger la fuite des capitaux de quelques privilégiés.

La pandémie du COVID-19 n’a fait que révéler l’extrême injustice du système : Alors que les déposants voient leur épargne et leur retraite s’évaporer au moment où ils ont en le plus besoin, les banques font ce que toute entreprise rêverait de faire pendant ce désastre : collecter le montant de ses prêts sans avoir à payer le montant de ses emprunts qui sont entrain de fondre à cause de l’hyperinflation.

En même temps, tirer des profits exceptionnels par la variation du taux des changes tout en coupant dans ses dépenses.

Et puis refiler aux déposants qui restent la patate chaude et se partager avec leurs potes politiques les ressources futures de l’État dans la perspective d’un redémarrage de l’économie mondiale post-Coronavirus.

Détrompez-moi et montrez-moi des signes de mesures sérieuses qui se préparent : un audit sur les dettes, les dépôts et les réserves, une levée du secret bancaire, un rapatriement de l’argent des banquiers et des initiés politiques transféré juste avant ou après octobre 2019, une identification des responsables plutôt qu’une recherche vaine de coupables, un soupçon d’indépendance…

Un plan pour l’édification d’un Etat, n’importe quel plan, un plan d’ensemble qui ne se réduit pas à un ensemble de mesures éparses qu’on tire et qu’on retire, et surtout des signes que l’on se soucie des gens, qu’on les voit, qu’on sent leur détresse et leur besoin de justice.

Le besoin de justice, (and fairness) qui est à la base de la confiance, est le sentiment qui structure une société.

Quand il est bafoué, ce n’est pas seulement le système financier qui s’effondre, mais la totalité de l’édifice.

Of “Masters and Slaves”? Of raising expectations, desires and detachment…?

In June of 2007, I attended a Rajah Yoga retreat in Lebanon

We met for the last session of the day around 7 p.m. and the lecture was of how the relationship between slaves and masters are formed.

The Indian Dr. Prashant, a nose and ear surgeon, was the lecturing “guru”  for all the sessions.

Dr. Prashant said:

“In every relationship such as marriages, mothers and sons,… the one who take the initiative to increase the expectations and desires of the other partner becomes the slave, because the other partner was offered the potentials to act and behave as master.

Thus, if you cannot learn to detach yourself from emotions and passions and desires, then you are doomed to become a slave, fulfilling the expectations and desires of others. The more you are detached the more free and liberated you are.

I asked Dr. Prashant:

“Here in Lebanon we have learned to detach ourselves from the desires to have continuous electricity, clean water, safe environment and true democracy through a huge mismanagement in our society…

Does that mean that we have earned our freedom? That the Lebanese people have become the masters and our politicians the slaves?”

Dr. Prashant nodded but did not comment, as if my concerns should Not affect him.

There were many dissatisfied persons to my question and their noises of hooo demonstrated that the audience has identified the party “pooper”, the angriest person among the lot, Not fit to adapt to the guru teaching.

13 years later, the Lebanese still lack all the facilities and basic infrastructure and the necessary laws for a fair equitable democratic elections.

13 years later, Lebanon is totally bankrupt at all levels

A “mass movement” erupted in October from all provinces, a chaotic and disoriented 7iraak.

Turned out to be a major humongous bubble.

This Covid-19 virus epidemics arrived to salvage the situation and confined people at home.

And nothing basically changed in Lebanon sectarian/feudal/militia/mafia political structure

The roots are far more rotten and infected

The people spoiled rotten their local “leaders” into believing they are above the laws and can rob the budgets as they please.

The funny part is that, as far as I recall, most of these sectarian politicians rarely raised our expectations or desires...

We just supposed that “Eventually, they will shoulder their responsibility and do their due diligence…” toward the citizens

I claim that the Lebanese who remained, and those that returned to settle , in the last 30 years, they constitute the vast Silent Shitty Majority.

And I feel that I am Not exaggerating.

Note: In one of the last sessions Dr. Prashant lectured on the six spiritual levels such as Brahmin (knowledge, simplicity, and service to community), Deity (happiness), Warrior (courage), Merchant (comfort), Shudra (laziness and indulgence), and Demonic (sorrow).

All the time I was meditating with my eyes closed because I was not interested in the talk.

Then I realized that the six levels represent the terrible caste system in India and the discrimination that millions of Indians have suffered through the centuries based on these theological divisions.

I felt furious and commented energetically and heatedly that the lecturer was trying to give spiritual content to these discriminating classes and told him that he is using terms that are politically incorrect and covering them with spiritual meanings.

I offered that it would be more decent to change the terms and not support the religious caste system in India which is providing power control to the Buddhist hierarchy.

The audience was implicitly in favor of my comment but stunned and was wondering why I am always attacking the lecturer who usually never responds and resumes his lecture, as if what I said is none of the business of King Yoga doctrine.


The USA is practically bankrupt, and yet Israel keeps receiving its multi-billion aids

U.S. Should Stop Subsidizing Bad Israeli Economic and start decrying Occupation Policies

America is practically bankrupt yet Israel remains a multi-billion dollar dependent. The U.S. can’t afford to continue subsidizing well-off nations, no matter how friendly.

And Israel, which spends heavily both to expand state regulation and occupy Palestinian lands, doesn’t need American support.

Doug Bandow published this Feb. 16, 2016 in Forbes

The Middle East is in flames, but Israel appears relatively secure. Argued Paul Scham of the University of Maryland’s Gildenhorn Institute for Israel Studies: “It may seem counterintuitive, or even downright strange, but Israel’s geopolitical position is probably stronger now than at any time in the country’s history.”

Andrew Bossone shared this link

US tax dollars at work

Nevertheless, there may be no more politically sacrosanct expenditure in Washington than the annual payment of $3.1 billion to Israel. That’s more than $350 to every Israeli man, woman, and child.

As of last year total U.S. aid came to $124.3 billion. There have been billions of dollars in loan guarantees as well. But few on Capitol Hill worry about the aid’s purpose or efficacy. Even many avowed fiscal conservatives want to appear to embrace Israel while seeking the Christian Zionist vote.

But America’s annual payment soon may run as high as $5 billion a year, with the extra dollars offered to pacify Benjamin Netanyahu, who attempted to block the nuclear accord with Iran.

President Barack Obama appears determined to make peace with the Israeli government, for which most of the Republican presidential contenders promised to do even more, irrespective of America’s interests.

Most of the aid goes to Israel’s military. However, money is fungible.

Since security is Israel’s first priority, that government would find the necessary resources even without U.S. support.

The latter allows Israel to shift scarce resources elsewhere. A few years ago Yarden Gazit of the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies warned that “the Government of Israel’s reliance on the American taxpayer sets a negative example which acts to encourage a culture of dependence.”

One consequence is artificially inflating the size of the Israeli state. Gazit explained: “Without this aid, it stands to reason that the government would be forced to reduce the public sector in size, through defense budget cuts, restricting and increased efficiency in other frameworks. This would direct many more resources toward the private sector, which would be motivated to seek creative and growth-oriented solutions, involving personnel, financing, as well as land and other resources currently held by the government.”

Israel’s economic record is mixed.

Israel displays world-class entrepreneurial vigor in some areas but retains old-world collectivism in others. In 2013, the last year for which figures were available, Israel ranked 39th in the world for economic freedom. It did well in sound money, free trade, and credit market regulations.

It was middling with legal system and property rights. But it rated poorly in size of government, business regulation, and labor market regulation

To Israel’s credit, it has improved significantly over the years.

In 1980, for instance, Israel ranked just 99th in the world. Progress has been slower but still real in recent years. Nevertheless, JIMS has pointed out how government policies involving unnecessary regulatory barriers and high taxes continue to harm Israeli citizens, who in recent years have vigorously protested the high cost of living.

Unfortunately, like less prosperous Third World states, Israel faces less pressure to adopt economic reforms when foreign transfers mask policy failures. Indeed, foreign funds directly subsidize oversize government.

Even worse, U.S. cash effectively underwrites Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and attempt to colonize that area through settlements.

Had Israel seized empty land in the 1967 war keeping the territories would have been understandable. But Israel also conquered people. Subjecting them to almost a half century of rule without economic or political rights could not help but result in injustice and resentment.

The settlements greatly exacerbate this problem, creating a privileged class in the West Bank with preferred access to land, water, roads, and subsidies.

These special benefits extend “to virtually every aspect of life in the West Bank,” noted Human Rights Watch. Palestinians possess few rights vis-à-vis settlers, who strike their Arab neighbors with virtual impunity.

Settlers, a mix of religious who believe the land to be given by God and secular drawn by government subsidies, defend their presence as aiding Israel’s security. However, complained Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni: “The settlements are not providers of security, they are consumers of it. Roads are paved with billions of our tax money under the premise of security—but in reality they serve a handful of homes.

Moreover, the settlers’ presence increases official repression of Palestinians—special roads and checkpoints are maintained for Israelis living in the West Bank, the security barrier encloses Palestinian lands to protect settlements, land and water are appropriated for Israeli colonists.




March 2023

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