Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Civil marriage

Lacking a National identity? Is it a big deal?

If almost all national identities everywhere were invariably built and sustained on myths, fabricated historical falsehood, faked stories and adventurer wars decided by the elite “old money”, the oligarch and feudal warlords, the religious clerics and dogmatic hubris…. Do we need to unite under such an identity?

What we need is to be unified under the banners of civil rights, human rights, sustainable environment, equitable and fair election laws and durable regulations,…

What we need is to be unified under the banners of civil marriage, linked to fast communication technologies, access to social platformsfreedom of expression, laws not discriminating among genders, versatile opportunities to jobs and to applying our expertise, affordable education system, national health system…

What we need is to be unified under the banners of caring for our elderly, hospice facilities, decent retirement packages…

What we need is to unify against any State invading our borders, bombing our infrastructure, humiliating us, destabilizing our society and economy, and blocking our daily trade and communication with neighboring countries.

What we need is to unify against any political current that has proven to work against democratic representations, imposing racial demagoguery on the Silent Majority, and disseminating sectarian political ideology.

What identity are we claiming?  

What nation has gained an identity without a strong army, multiple defeats, and suffered millions of soldiers fallen in battlefields, and million of peasants witnessing their home and crops burned, for fictitious claims?

Youth and the poorer classes were sacrificed to institute a Nation and were never taken seriously because they are viewed as just meat for the canon and a burden to a stable political system…

Even a “unified” language in any claimed “nation” was Not feasible barely a century ago.

Restricted communities feel comfortable within their customs, tradition and slang, and only the adventurous soul step out of the boundaries to transfer to urban metropolis and try to mingle with diverse life-styles and working habit.


Israeli Gov’t Approves Plan To Punish People Who Disagree With Them

I Can See Palestine posted this Dec. 16, 2013:

The Israeli government has just passed a new law designed to punish people who disagree with them, a law which the attorney general and legal experts in the country say is both unconstitutional and a dangerous infringement on democratic freedom of expression within Israel.

The newly approved bill would impose a harsh new “tax” on any non-governmental organization whose managers expresses an opinion that conflicts with the currents policies of the Israeli government.

If even one manager of an NGO expresses support for the boycott of Israel, or for divestment and sanctions, or the trial of Israeli soldiers in international military courts for war crimes, or opposes Israel’s status as a “Jewish state,” any donation made to that NGO by a “foreign entity” would be taxed at a rate of 45%.

The approved version changed two clauses in the original proposal:

That a leftist nonprofit would be penalized even if only one member of its board violated one of the clauses for which sanctions are imposed, and that sanctions would be imposed on organizations working against “the Jewish-democratic identity of the state.” The latter clause would have included negating, even implicitly, Israel’s existence as a Jewish state, or calling for the separation of religion and state.

In an unusual move, it was agreed that the bill would be debated again by the ministerial panel after it passes its preliminary reading in the Knesset.

Under the revised bill, certain nonprofits that receive donations from a foreign entity would be required to pay a 45 percent tax on the contributions.

The law would apply to groups that work for or call on others to boycott Israel, stop investing in Israel, or impose sanctions on the state or its citizens. It would also apply to groups calling to prosecute IDF soldiers for war crimes, subsequently exposing such alleged acts, or calling to investigate them.

This means that the Israeli government has just passed a law declaring that they will effectively seize almost half of all funds donated to NGOs in Israel if their leaders do not toe the appropriate party line.

Freedom of expression in Israel is only for people who express the appropriate opinions, because… the safety and operational ability of the Israeli military depends on suppressing political dissent.

The bill was pushed by Jewish Home, which insists that it will protect Israeli soldiers from “immoral legal claims,” and insisted that not cracking down on the NGOs harms the military’s “operational ability.”

The Israeli attorney general has said the bill infringes on a number of the constitutional rights enshrined into Israel’s Basic Laws, such as freedom of expression and freedom of association.

AG Yehuda Weinstein says that the “tax hike” on NGOs is really a de facto fine designed to cut donations to the non-profits in question in ways which would harm freedom of expression in Israel.

“Limiting donations and harming non-profit organizations’ free speech, and in general harming human rights is something done by a group of countries that it is doubtful that Israel wants to join,” said Weinstein. He added that even if the purpose of the bill was proper, which he said he doubted, it exceeded any sense of proportion because of the serious ramifications it was likely to cause.

The issue of proportionality is important because under Israeli law the state may undertake an act that harms a right in one of Israel’s Basic Laws if it is consistent with the values of the State of Israel, intended for a proper purpose and the harm done is proportionate.

This issue of “proportionality” in keeping the values of the State of Israel is incredibly important because one of the State’s most fundamental tenets is its Jewish identity.

If the state feels there is anything which “threatens” that identity, such as calls for the separation of church and state or marriages between members of different faiths, then it may make whatever laws necessary to stop the practice, regardless of how it violates the democratic and human rights which Israel claims to uphold.

Former Israeli Supreme Court President Aharon Barak had this to say about the Israeli government’s violation of constitutional rights in relation to marriage equality in his forthcoming book “Human Dignity: The Constitutional Right and its Derivatives”:

“Anyone who is unable to marry according to religious law, and anyone who does not want to marry according to religious law for their own reasons, cannot marry in Israel.

Civil marriage is not recognized in Israel. This state of affairs violates the constitutional right to marry…The present law does not only violate the constitutional derived right to marriage, but it also often violates the derived right to freedom of conscience and freedom from religion.

A law that prevents two members of the same gender from entering a relationship of couplehood is a violation of the human dignity of each partner.”

These people who are refused the right to marry include the hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens who have entered the country under the Law of Return, but who are not considered Jewish by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. This religious body is notorious for its attempts to be the sole arbiter of “who is a Jew,” not only in Israel but in the diaspora as well.

Then, of course, there is the gross violation of both the Basic Laws and international law with the practice of administrative detention, where individuals from asylum seekers to Palestinian residents (including children) are held without trial for extended periods of time.

Administrative Detention

The Israeli Supreme Court recently overturned a law which allowed the detainment of asylum seekers for up to three years without trial on the basis that it was “unconstitutional,” as it violated a basic law enshrining human dignity and freedom.

“In the opinion of all nine justices on the panel, the period of three years’ detention as stated in the law is unconstitutional,” judge Edna Arbel wrote.

Despite the unconstitutionality of their actions, the Israeli government seems to prefer to legislate first, then force people to go through the court system to change unconstitutional laws. This process is lengthy, expensive in time and money, and allows the Israeli government to continue violating human rights while the cases drag on.

Monetary punishment of people that disagree with the government is yet another mark against the government of Israel.

Married couples got to pay the clergy institutions

Not happy about having to travel to Cyprus to get a civil marriage?

Last year, Lebanese couples applied an ancient law, from the French mandated period, which remained on the Books, in order to carry out civil marriage.

All they had to do is to demand that their religion be scraped from their civil records.

Lebanon’s justice minister may have an answer for modern couples to marry civilly and keep their religion on the civil records.

On Jan. 29, 2014, Shakib Qortbawi introduced a draft law that would allow couples in Lebanon to marry under a civil law, without leaving the country, or having to cross out their religion on their civil records.

With the obligation to pay about $350 for the clergy institutions in order to recoup the lost profit.

Paying the clergy is not the way to go. And it is too late, Mr. minister

Nadim Houry published in The daily Sta this feb. 7, 2014:


The draft law would not introduce a Lebanese civil code.

Rather, it would allow couples to choose any foreign civil law by which to marry, as long as the law does not contradict “public order and general morals.”

But there’s a catch: Each couple would have to pay the state the equivalent of $333 to be disbursed to the religious courts of the husband’s religion.

Is this draft law a step forward for supporters of civil marriage in Lebanon?

Should advocates of civil marriage go along with the payment of such a fee to religious courts to get the religious official bodies to agree to the proposal?

It is important to first understand how civil marriage currently works in Lebanon.

The law currently recognizes such marriages even though the country does not have a civil code.

Until recently, this has meant that anyone who wished to have a civil marriage would have to travel abroad to marry and get their foreign-enacted civil marriage recognized in Lebanon.

Lebanese have resorted to such foreign civil marriages in large numbers, with data from the Cypriot Embassy in Lebanon indicating that more than 800 Lebanese couples married in Cyprus in 2011.

When I got married in Cyprus in 2009, the couples that were married before and after us in the office of the Cypriot public official were Lebanese.

Despite the increasing popularity of civil marriages enacted abroad, this approach has limitations.

Traveling abroad is inconvenient and some couples cannot afford the trip. And many people are unaware that if both spouses are Muslim, Lebanese Islamic courts may not recognize the civil marriage and may apply their own rules in divorce or child custody cases based on a 1939 official decree.

In a breakthrough for civil marriage in Lebanon in February 2013, the Lebanese authorities approved the registration of a civil marriage contracted in Lebanon between Kholoud Succariyeh and Nidal Darwish after the couple removed their religious affiliation from their civil records.

This couple, acting on the advice of a longtime activist for civil marriage, argued that by removing their religious affiliations from their civil records, they had the right under Lebanese law to a civil marriage and that Lebanon’s failure to enact such a law did not revoke that right.

The couple notarized their marriage before a Lebanese public notary and chose to have it governed by French civil law. The Lebanese authorities recognized the validity of their legal reasoning and registered the marriage.

More couples have now removed their religious affiliations from their civil records and filed to have their locally enacted marriage contract recognized in Lebanon.

Qortbawi’s draft law seeks to allow couples to marry in Lebanon using a foreign civil code of their choice without removing their religious affiliations from their civil records, as Succariyeh and Darwish had to. The draft law would also repeal the 1939 decree that limits the ability of two Muslims to have a civil marriage in Lebanon.

The draft’s main shortcoming is that it fails to introduce an optional civil personal status code for Lebanon that would cover marriage, divorce, custody and other family law provisions.

Activists and civil society organizations have long demanded this, in part because of the systematic discrimination against women in all of Lebanon’s religious personal-status laws.

In fact, a draft code proposed by local civil society groups has been sitting in parliament since March 2011.

In statements to the media, Qortbawi recognized the inherent limitations of his proposal, but argued that in the “current atmosphere in the country, it was not possible to put forward a complete package for civil marriage.”

The minister’s remark raises a question relevant to reform attempts from electoral law to women’s rights.

Given the dysfunctional nature of politics in the country today, should reformists restrict their ambitions to partial and imperfect advances that appear feasible?

There is no evident answer to that question and reasonable people can disagree in their assessments.

My own view is that when it comes to civil marriage in Lebanon – a recurring idea since at least 1951, when the Beirut Bar Association went on strike to demand an optional civil marriage law – the time has come for a concerted push to adopt an optional Lebanese civil personal status code.

If anything, there is an urgent need to counter the country’s sectarianism by enacting laws such as the civil code that would treat all Lebanese equally.

Regardless of one’s position about the best strategy to advance civil marriage in Lebanon, what to make of the proposal in the draft law that the state collect a $333 marriage fee and give it to the religious courts of the husband’s confession – unless the husband is not Lebanese, in which case the fee goes to the religious court of the wife’s confession?

The draft law does not explain the rationale for such a payment.

In a recent media interview, Qortbawi said, “It’s not our job to cut everything from them [the religious courts], because also, they need money. This is to tell them, ‘This is not against you.’

But we should reject payments to sweeten the deal for religious courts.

Religious courts in Lebanon already get a great deal of support from the state, with little or no oversight from the state’s judicial bodies.

For instance, Lebanese citizens already pay the budget of Islamic courts – a tradition going back to the Ottoman times – with no effective government supervision.

The reason many Lebanese say they support civil marriage is to reduce the influence of religious institutions on their lives, to promote equality among Lebanese citizens and to eliminate discrimination against women under the current religious personal status codes.

For many Lebanese couples, the choice to seek a civil marriage is a way to reject the imposition of religious laws and institutions by Lebanon’s confessional system.

So why would a law meant to facilitate civil marriage actually fund religious courts, instead of the civil courts that will oversee such civil marriages?

These civil courts are grossly underfunded, and their workload will presumably increase as a result of additional civil marriages.

The minister may be right that Lebanon needs to take gradual steps to enact a civil law. But these gradual steps should be guided by a clear strategy of building up civil institutions and promoting equality among Lebanese citizens.

To ask the Lebanese to pay religious courts for the right to a civil marriage will not bring us closer to those goals.

Nadim Houry is head of the Beirut office of Human Rights Watch and is its deputy Middle East and North Africa director. He wrote this commentary for THE DAILY STAR.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 07, 2014, on page 7.

Read more:
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News ::

Man’s Lebanon? Gino can’t cool off

Yesterday, and for the third consecutive week, a third young mother was beaten to death by her husband.

I posted one of Gino’s angry articles last week as the “Sports” minister promised to “investigate” the 3-year old semi-nude photo-shoot of Olympics Champion Jackie Chamoun on a Lebanese ski resort

“While sitting in the smartly decorated, adorable apartment of Dounia in the Upper West Side of Mahattan, I sigh with relief that I’m not in Lebanon.

Yet I cannot but let my thoughts drift away to that hellish tiny piece of 10452 km2 divided land, even as I gaze up at the skyscrapers I called home last year and hope to call home permanently some day soon” wrote Gino.

It’s a Man’s Lebanon

 posted this Feb. 17, 2014


I grew up in a family where my sister and I were never treated differently.

My mom is a top-notch executive at a multinational, and my sister does psychology work in places That even I would think twice before visiting.

My relationships were never the stereotypical man and woman, even though some old-fashioned gentlemanly gestures like opening the door for my date still survive.  (Good custom Gino)

Many of my mentors are strong, brilliant women, like Joumana Haddad.

What I’m trying to say is that the machismo so characteristic of Lebanese men (in relation to other men? Lambs when confronted with women)), was never an issue for me, and the problems associated with it seem incomprehensible most of the time.

During the past few years, I’ve campaigned with NGOs like KAFA for women’s rights (Enough is enough) constantly. From protests, to lobby groups, to naming and shaming the MPs responsible and the legal headache that comes along with that, I saw how what all the amazing people on board had worked so hard for get sabotaged and gutted by dirty MPs and disgusting religious men.

With only minor victories, like eradicating the barbaric “honor crimes” section of the penal code, it’s frustrating and depressing that women in Lebanon are so lacking in terms of human and civil rights in 2014.

Unchecked Domestic Violence

In the past two weeks, 2 women have been beaten to death by barbaric husbands, and a third committed suicide because of the hardships her spouse put her through.

Add those 3 to 24 other innocent women killed by domestic violence and rape in Lebanon since 2010. What do you get?

An acquittal of one murdered woman’s husband, who never even stood before a judge before being let off the hook and allowed to be the guardian of her 3 beautiful children.

What happened? Nothing.

The pro-women’s rights movement in Lebanon is always dismissed by the macho as “a reason for a woman to get her husband into trouble by lying about being abused.”

You’d think that absurd excuse would be rare, but I’ve heard it myself from several people, including women, on more occasions than I’d care to admit.

No Citizenship

A Lebanese mother cannot pass down her nationality to her kids.

This archaic law was put in place to allay the fears some Lebanese had that Palestinians would seek to “normalize” their presence in Lebanon by marrying Lebanese women. As if a Palestinian woman marrying a Lebanese man is any different. Disgusting, sexist and misogynistic law derived from a morbidly xenophobic mentality.

Blatant Racism

As if the citizenship “provision” wasn’t bad enough, migrant workers in Lebanon get their fare share of abuse and oppression.

Whilst 27 Lebanese women have been killed in the past 4 years, one domestic worker is killed or commits suicide in Lebanon ever single week. That’s over 200 innocent domestic workers in the same amount of time.

If it’s not physical assault and rape, it’s modern-day slavery-style labor, with passports withheld and doors locked on them when the employers leave home.

And if not that, visitors from countries perceived as “domestic workers” by Lebanese, such as Sri Lanka, India, the Philippines and Ethiopia, are treated like second-class citizens and human beings. Like denied entry to venues, racial slurs and governmental harassment by police and at the customs control area in the airport, gives a horribly racist and backwards image of Lebanon.

Zero Empowerment

Government cabinets usually have no women. Our parliament is only 3% female.

The only reason women were incorporated into the police force is to help them search women wearing hijab (Head and face cover).

Paperwork in many companies and most governmental institutions need the husband’s oversight or signature. The list goes on and on.

The idea is, women aren’t as empowered as men when it comes to elected office and high-profile careers or even startups.

Hyper-sexualized but Sex is Taboo

Fake boobs, fake lips, fake ass cheeks, fake heels, fake brands, fake eyelashes and nails.

Women are expected to dress provocatively, with cleavage on the verge of bursting and heels more fitting for a corner hooker, you’d think these girls are getting some action.

If they do though, they become “damaged material” to other guys and girls, “ruining the honor” of her family.

Heck, even posing topless like Jackie Chamoun can get you in a ton of trouble. So, in a hyper-sexually suggestive society, being promiscuous if you’re female is still very much frowned upon. Or not even promiscuous, just sexually active, is something many women would rather keep secret.

Women should be able to do whatever they want with their bodies. They aren’t the property of their dads or brothers, they’re their own people, and in Lebanon, many men, and a sizable amount of women still refuse to accept that.

I Wouldn’t Wan’t My Daughter or Wife in Lebanon

I’ve dated a Korean girl, and an Indian girl in my life.

I would tell them stories about Beirut and Lebanon. How epic it was.

How fun life there can be. But deep down, I knew, but never told them, that I couldn’t invite them over to Lebanon.

Imagine going to a posh club and being denied entry because a half-wit baboon bouncer thought they were my “maid”.

Imagine a bunch of drunk kids making fun of us while walking down a street. The humiliation would be unbearable. Not the humiliation of dating someone from another race. That’s something to be proud of, proof you love someone for who they are, not what backwards society thinks they should be.

But the humiliation of being Lebanese, of fellow countrymen treating the women I date with such racist, supremacist, all-out stupid attitudes. I want them to keep the good idea of Lebanon and the Lebanese I hopefully portrayed to them, not the one it really is.

I’d never want my daughter born in Lebanon.

Imagine she dates a douche-bag and becomes a social outcast after he tells everyone they slept together (which should be normal for any consenting young adult).

Imagine she marries a sick bastard who beats and rapes her, but the priest or sheikh won’t allow her to divorce him, and the state sits and watches idly as she gets murdered by a testosterone-crazed macho man.

Imagine my grand-kids being denied a Lebanese citizenship if my daughter marries a foreigner. Imagine the humiliation of being a Lebanese father.

I’d never want my daughter born in Lebanon.

Not as long as we have presidents, prime ministers, speakers of parliament, ministers and religious men like the ones we have now.

Not as long as some cabdrivers pay a migrant worker 5,000 LBP (less than $3) after raping her. Not when people still differentiate between a man’s rights and a woman’s rights.

Not when many women accept that as their fate and do nothing to help the movement for their civil and human rights.

What Can Be Done?

  • Mandatory Civil Marriage (because the people who do it willingly don’t need it as much as those forced into religious marriages)
  • Abolishing religious personal status laws (so we level the playing field)
  • Severe punishment of men who rape or abuse women (serious jail time)
  • Draft laws that sanctify a woman as equal, not complimentary to men (this isn’t Kandahar/Saudi/Iran)
  • The right to pass down citizenship (Cut out racism and genders differences in our laws)
  • Focus on these issues instead of the ideological wars everyone is so preoccupied with.


Force our MPs to vote for it. Name and shame every abuser of women’s rights.

Eject religious authorities from the bedroom and club.


Lebanon is a man’s world, and it is one of the many reasons why I utterly hate it at the moment, and feel the need for change more than ever.

Note: Read more on that topic of racism behavior

Two negative notions do not translate into a positive one...

Composite body parts and emotions do Not create a citizen

Claiming that a Lebanese should have a Phoenician skull, a face from Arabia, a heart from Damascus, a spleen from Byzantium, high cheek bones from Mongolia, a tail from Armenia, a round Cherkess firm sweet ass… All these physical parts and features do not make us a citizen from Lebanon

Claiming that a Lebanese should have the adventurous spirit of the Phoenician for opening up new horizons for trade,  the Chaldean intrepid determination for expansion and occupation, the Canaanean cleverness to settle down and build city-states, the hospitality custom of people lacking the luxury life-style, the rational mind of the Greek… All these romantic attributes do not make us a citizen of Lebanon

Claiming that a Lebanese is the cauldron of 6,000 yeas of the melting of civilizations, the warehouse of cultures, the crossroad of languages… All these poetic and social links of emotional intelligence do not make us a citizen of Lebanon…

Claiming that a Lebanese has this ratio of Phoenician blood, this part of Arabic semen, that portion of western brain size, this doze of Chinese density in synapses… All those racial characteristic do not make us a citizen of Lebanon.

Citizens construct a credible State. A State that regard all its people as full citizens in rights and obligations, regardless of genders, religious sect, main written language, main verbal slang…

Citizens struggle to establishing a credible sustainable State that cater for the well-being of all its citizens and  preserve the acquired entitled rights to all, regardless of genders, religious affiliation, wealth conditions, tribal mythical origins…

Citizens who decline the orders of warlords and traditional politicians to go to the streets in order to demonstrate the “on the ground power” of those monsters to preserve their financial and political bases…

Citizens who demand that women gain the full citizenship rights to offer citizenship to their foreign husbands and children…

Citizens who demand that individual status records (birth, marriage,,,) be the prerogative of the State and not the rights of 19 recognized religious sects…

Citizens who demand that civil marriage be a founding block for the unity of the citizens

Citizens who demand that the government dare have regular census (Lebanon didn’t have a census since 1935, during the French mandate)

Citizens that pressure the government to conduct referendum on critical issues that Lebanese are divided on…

Citizens who demand that public schools be funded properly so that every child get an education

So, what’s going on in August? (2010)

In this hot August of Lebanon it is sort of “branle-bas de combat” or getting ready to waging war, literally and figuratively, internally and externally.

Thousands of Lebanese immigrants selected August to pay a visit to their motherland. Many have come to get married.

The process of getting married can be extremely lengthy and complicated among Christians of various sects, and as easy as dispatching a spouse among Muslims where the father sign the contract on behalf of his son and then buy an airplane ticket to the new bride to join a husband she had never met face to face.

For example, Christian immigrants have to reconcile with different mentalities:  In Europe, the States require civil marriage prior to religious one, on the ground that religious contracts are not valid by law.

This rational is reversed in Lebanon: You need to get married religiously first, otherwise, registering your civil  marriage that you had contracted outside Lebanon might turn out a headache.

Thus, if you get married religiously in Lebanon then, you better keep mute about this landslide event when you get re-married civil in Europe.

As far as I recall, religious marriage in the USA are as valid as civil marriage:  The priest signature on the contract is highly respected.  (I might be wrong, so do not hesitate to correct me).

One of the fiance asked me: “Do you think a priest might allow me to read my vow written in English?”  I replied:”If you locate a priest willing to allow you to state your own version of why you want to marry then, I will help you edit your vow and teach the priest to read it”.

It is always feasible to finding accommodating priests with a lavish bribe.

As far as I know, the only acceptable version in Catholic churches is that “What has been linked in the sky no man can cancel it”

My niece Joanna is one of the prospective candidate to be wed by the end of August.  She was invited to the church for the wedding of one of her closest friend.

I sensed that she might need support and I accompanied her.  She was all eyes and all ears to the procedure and was awed to what the priest preached and what the couple read together in Arabic; she could have a second thought if she took seriously what religion demands of its hapless souls.

By the way, the elder brother of the potential bride take seriously being a “unchurch” attendant. You might think he is a Jehovah Witness but he thinks he is smarter than these archaic believers of the written archaic Books.

I still cannot fathom the unidirectional attitude of young people as they learn to read and taking strong positions.

I think taking strong positions is a matter of immature ignorance.

Anyway, emigrants coming from the northern cold front of “developed” States in Europe land in Lebanon with haggard pale faces and much weight loss:  I think too much biking to juggle several jobs under cold rains is one of the factors for their nervous wreckage.

Within a week, the pale-faced creatures acquire colors and recover their normal weight in addition to a few extra pounds.

I was invited to an open air restaurant called Gilgamesh to meet the brothers of my niece’s fiance and each of the large platters could easily feed four people of the cold front guests.

I saw a reportage on our local TV of a German family visiting Lebanon; they were apprehensive before they arrive to Lebanon.

Now the kids don’t want to return to Germany:  They are having too much fun and seeing the sea everyday and discovering the high mountains everyday and eating abundant assorted food.

Obviously, they are seeing the hidden ugly realities of Lebanon and what kinds of monstrous crap the Lebanese have to swallow and endure in order to survive the decisions and activities of pseudo governments.

I am not going to be the bad mouthed citizen jeopardizing this touristic season.  Anyway, the fasting season of 40 days for the Muslims is on and prices of all kinds of sugar, rice, fruits, and vegetables will easily double.

Most non-Lebanese touring Lebanon in August are from the Arabic Peninsula States. Temperature there range from 50 to 60 degrees Celsius; people are prohibited leaving their homes from 11 am to 3 pm.  Temperatures in Lebanon are 15 degrees less, but high enough for Northern Europeans to die like flies.

In the external front, this arrogant and racist State of Israel has tried to start problems with Lebanon last week.

The Israeli army invaded our borders in the village of Adeissy in order to remove a tree that obstructed vision  of its surveillance cameras.  The UN waving of flags was of no use.

The Lebanese army sent warning shots but the Israeli bombed the army positions and killed two soldiers and one daily reporter and injured several civilians.

One of the injured Lebanese soldier shot down an Israeli officer and another enemy soldier.  The next day, Israel learned to coordinate with the UN forces to remove a lousy tree that made several victims but confirmed the steadfastness of the Lebanese army to denying arrogant Israel any further humiliation of the Lebanese.

Hezbollah was ready to support the army if confrontation escalated and that is why Israel relented in its stupid activities.

The next day of that engagement, Canada ordered its citizens to scrap visiting Lebanon from their plans.  Three Canadian young relatives visiting us laughed out their government scare tactics saying that Canada usually wants to save money repatriating its citizens.

Young Joseph is a funny guy; he recounted that he was among his Lebanese relatives and they were speaking in Arabic; so Joseph dozed off until he heard his name followed by a hilarious loud laughing.  Joseph asked them: “Am I the one concerned?”  They laughed some more and reassured him “Well, it is nothing”

Joseph says that he managed to capture a third of a conversation. How? Joseph clarified “Lebanese use words from Arabic, French, and English in the same sentence.”  So, Joseph assume that he is understanding something.  

Joseph’s father Nassif (a Lebanese) did not make the effort to teach him and his two sisters Arabic or encouraged them to  speak Arabic in his presence.  If Joseph’s father were Jew, Joseph would have learned archaic Hebrew; the most archaic language still in existence.

Actually, married Lebanese are settled or settling abroad.  No young Lebanese can afford to rent or buy a wretched small apartment in Beirut and the district of Metn.  Real Estates prices jumped 600% in the last two years.

Note:  At the peak of the tourism season, the government is reminded to do extensive road works and spreading asphalt.  Traffic congestion is thus at its peak.

The Red Bishop: Abbot Gregory; (Mar. 6, 2010)

The 86 years old Greek Catholic Bishop Gregory Haddad gave this interview, from his rest home in Hadath, to Nicole Tohmeh of the Lebanese daily Al Nahar.

Born in 1924 at Souk El Gharb in Mount Lebanon, Nakhleh Amin Haddad became Bishop of Beirut and sworn the vow of poverty in his appearance and his life style, an attitude that angered main stream bishops of all Christian denominations, on the ground that this Red Bishop is not holding up to his position of “Excellency”.

Iindeed, Bishop Haddad demanded that he be called not even father but abbot or brother Gregory. Why?

Jesus admonished his disciples to refrain accepting masters on earth; thus, since bishops are considered masters and leaders in Lebanon, then the Red Bishop would have none of the tittles to “Your Excellency”

In room 115 at the “Lady (Virgin Mary) House” in the town of Haddath, a suburb of Beirut, Abbot Gregory is in full capacity of mind and hear:; osteoporosis is the culprit for being bed ridden.

Abbot Hadad resumes his activities as usual, meeting activists and intellectuals, reading, and following up on news.  Abbot Gregory instituted the “Social movement” in 1961, which requested of its members to avoid joining political parties, to shun confessionals and isolationist tendencies and to stick to non-violence principles.

The movement grew to 20 branches all over Lebanon from all confessions and professionals; it coordinates activities with other social movements such as Caritas, Imam Mossa Sadr institution, the Middle East Council of Churches, dispensaries, and clubs that are spreading literac. Its budget is about $3 millions and has good contacts with the European Union.

The main figures of the movement meet with Abbot Gregory once a month and discuss programs; this year program is establishing technical schools for children over 12 of age.

For 50 years now, the “Social movement” gathered data on social problems, such as manpower, dispensaries, health, safety, and job opening. It cooperated with Father Lebre who was assigned by late President Fouad Chehab the task of studying and planning Lebanon’s needs for development; President Chehab asked the social movement to aid in health matters.

The Red Bishop says:

Civil marriage is still holy if the two partners have the faith, even if not conducted by the clergy. Secularism is not anathema to religious belief or lack of respect for the clergy as it was practiced during the French Revolution.  Modern secularism proclaims independence between faith and society activities; an individual should be free in his belief system.  You may work within society and be atheist. You can hold your ground without usurping or suppressing your neighbor’s belief system.  There is multiplicity of cults and they are mushrooming fast around the world but this should not be a problem; there is this saying “What make most noise in a caldron are the bones”.

There is no absolute truth. Secularism means total neutrality with respect to individual systems of beliefs.  Lebanon made a step forward last year by erasing “religious status” on the ID. Religious hierarchy and political leaders in Lebanon are against a secular State because it is not to their advantages politically and their power base. It is not your religion that recognizes your humanity and dignity in society.

Thus, when the overwhelming individuals start to have confidence in their intrinsic human rights, secularism will set roots.  Islam didn’t start as a religion combining earthly and spiritual powers: it is the succeeding leaders that found it convenient to combine the two powers.  The Koran says: “You have your religion and I have mine”; thus, religion is different from faith.  Man is God on earth.

The communist party worked a lot with the “Social Movement” and they coordinated activities during the civil war.  Abbot Gregory was labeled “The Red Bishop” and lambasted as leftist and Palestinian lover in order to discredit the movement and its secular demands and activities for a modern and equitable Lebanon.

Abbot Gregory said “Those who fought me didn’t do it out of malice; crossing to secular mentality from confessional political base is hard and requires a change in life thinking and behavior to comprehend its benefits”




January 2023

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