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Good or bad? A tribute is a tribute: on late Ghassan Tueni

Ghassan Tueni, a famous Lebanese journalist, the owner of the daily Al Nahar (The Day), a politician, a deputy, a minister, a representative to the UN, a board founder of educational institutions…passed away on Friday June 8, 2012. He was 87 years old. And he was a heavy smoker.
For 10 days now, the daily Al Nahar is publishing tributes by hundreds of people. All the tributes published in Al Nahar and other dailies describe a “freedom loving leader” and very dedicated to freedom of expression and…

Tueni joined the Syria Social National Party (SSNP), the Lebanese branch, early on in his youth while the leader Antoun Saadeh was exiled in Argentina.  When Saadeh returned to Lebanon in 1947, he dismissed Tueni and scores of other leading members for transforming the party into a Lebanese party and not representative of the Syrian people (Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, and Iraq).

Tueni published a scathing diatribe of the 24-hour mock trial that ended in the execution of Saadeh by a government of a pseudo-State that tacitly supported the creation of Israel.

Tueini later rejoined the party after Saadeh was executed and was elected deputy as a member of the SSNP in the 50s.

 Ghassan Tueni was sent to jail several times for his outspoken criticism of the performance of various governments in Lebanon.
Ghassan Tueni knew how to recruit talented journalists with different viewpoints. The journalists views were published complete in the daily, but the editorial line of the paper represented Tueni’s current political positions…
Al-Nahar was a leading Lebanese paper in the 1950s, 60s and 1970s, and contributed in the publishing of many valuable cultural periodicals such as “Fekr” (Research opinion) that canalized the free expressions of many intellectuals…

An-Nahar is no longer such a leading free opinion daily: people still think that it remains “leading” to this day…For example, Israeli scholars of the Arab world still cited Al-Hawadith magazine because they still think that it is as popular was it was back in the 1970s.

Tueni mimicked the successful journalistic formula of the US: the use of weekly supplements, the division into sections, the sensational use of pictures on the front page, and the introduction of technology when newspapers were very old-fashioned in the Arab world.

Tueni was mostly able to sustain the preeminence of his daily in Lebanon thanks to the financial support from Gulf countries and from other Western powers during the Cold War.

An-Nahar and its publishing houses were intensely involved in anti-communist propaganda during the Cold War. A book on the cultural Cold War in the Middle East would have a special section about An-Nahar.

Ghassan Tueni was made famous in the world community when he delivered a speech at the UN demanding “let my people live…” during the 17 year-long civil war.

Ghassan Tueni believed that the civil war was instigated and planned by foreign powers, (superpowers and regional powers), though the Lebanese people know that they were and still are dried branches, ready to burn for failure to reform and change their social/political structure since 1943…

A few people are angry for heaping all the good qualities and attributes on Ghassan Tueni.

As’ad AbuKhalil  posted on his blog Angry Corner on June 14 under “Ghassan Tueni: About the Tributes” (with slight editing):

“It is one thing to see the March 14 (Hariri and Saudi-funded) press in Lebanon paying tributes to Ghassan Tueni. But to see Western media talking about him is to be reminded about the extent of propaganda and its disconnection to reality.

When David Ignatius, for example, writes about Ghassan Tueni and his contribution to Arab media, you have to question if he knows what he’s talking about?

How can someone who does not know the language and culture of a region comment on press in that culture?

What is the value of my comments on Chinese media if I don’t know Chinese? That only shows that those are recycling conventional wisdom and established propaganda clichés.

The New York Times carried a glowing obituary of Tueni and singled him out as the most important Arab journalist. Funny, the New York Times even linked him to the “Arab spring” as if anyone in the new Arab generation followed his writings.

Who in Tunisia or Saudi Arabia knows who Ghassan Tueni is?

Mohamed Hassanein Heikal, for example – whether you like it or not – is known and read throughout the Arab world. Tueni never had that stature outside the Near East region.

Abdul-Bari Atwan is another Arab journalist who is known and read throughout the region, particularly due to his Al Jazeera appearances, but Tueni never enjoyed that kind of acclaim.

Sami Moubayed wrote another glowing tribute and claimed that Tueni was courageous about support for “freedom” – even Saddam spoke about the virtues of generic freedom.

Moubayed spoke about the courage of Tueni when the man was never known for his political courage and made peace with whoever dominated Lebanese politics (his son, Jubran was in fact outspoken against the Syrian regime).

For decades Al Nahar exhibited racist anti-Syrian rhetoric. But Western media don’t know better.

Elias Khoury in Al-Quds Al-Arabi even referred to Tueni as “revolutionary”. Various tributes talked about his love of “freedom”.

Yet, George Hawi (late assassinated communist leader) in his book published by Dar An-Nahar put it best: “Tueni supported freedom only when he was out of power, and only occasionally”.

Tueni is the champion of the counter-revolution in the Arab world. He has been aligned with the conservative Arab regional and international order throughout the decades. His paper was part of the propaganda devices of the US during the Cold War.

The paper was successful and effective in the 1960s up to the eruption of the Lebanese civil war in 1975.

Tueni, far from being a courageous critic of regimes, was aligned with successive regimes in Lebanon.

For example, Al-Nahar, under Tueni, praised President Bishara al-Khoury before belatedly joining the opposition, and it remained faithful to the terrible rule of President Camille Chamoun. It was critical of President Fouad Chehab but only on behalf of the right-wing coalition of the Hilf (“the alliance”) in the 1960s.

An-Nahar was aligned with the regime of Elias Sarkis and Tueni had the most influential political role in the administration of Amin Gemayyel – probably one of the worst and most corrupt administrations in contemporary Lebanese history.

People forgot (or pretended to forget) that Tueni served as the overall coordinator of the Lebanese-Israeli negotiations that produced the still-born May 17 Agreement. The paper never raised its voice against the repression of Amin Gemayyel.

When Ghassan’s son, late Jubran (assassinated), took over the paper, it no longer pretended to adhere to the cloak of journalistic objectivity. It became vulgar and sectarian, and played a partisan role in the Lebanese conflict.

Khouri talked about hiring leftists, but it would be more accurate to say that the Tuenis, father and son, only tolerated leftists after they become ex-leftists.

The ideology of the paper was unmasked even during the times of Ghassan. He said so in the book Sirr Al-Mihnah (“Trade Secret”): The three intellectual and political influences in his life were Charles Malek, Camille Chamoun, and Antoun Saadeh.

Malek and Chamoun inspired him all his life and he adhered to their conservative and right-wing agenda in the paper. His long time editor-in-chief, Louis al-Hajj, spoke of the services that the paper rendered to Pierre Gemayyel (founder of the right-wing Phalanges Party) and even revealed the sectarian mindset of the paper.

Tueni played an important political role in Lebanese politics and society. He promoted conservative and right-wing notions and themes under the guise of a liberal bourgeois framework. But he was always cautious politically and his editorials were only daring in favor of this traditional politician against that traditional politician.

In the Arab Cold War, Tueni’s paper earned tremendous financial benefits due to its stance in favor of the anti-communist coalition (Al-Hayat and An-Nahar were the voices of anti-communism and of the Arab regimes of oil and gas).

While the stature and political significance of the paper declined, it continued to do well financially. However, this was only due to a corrupt monopolistic scheme that its Lebanese Forces’ ally, Antoine Choueiri, arranged whereby most revenues from the ad market would end up at the paper at the expense of all other papers in Lebanon.

Tueni left an already insignificant newspaper. An-Nahar belongs to a bygone era. The arena is now taken over by new outlets and publications. But there is no denying that Tueni was influential a very long time ago”. End of As’ad AbuKhalil  post

Ghassan Tueiny shouldered his responsibilities when his dad died and his elder brother died and had to run a daily in young age.

He had a full-life.

He lost his brother. He lost all his three children, the latest was Jubran, assassinated.

He lost his first wife Nadia. He remarried at the age 70… How many of us can claim that we have a life?

Good or bad, a tribute is a tribute for an engaged and active life. Compassion and passionate occasions were plenty to disseminate and flow around…

Ghassan Tueini knew how to lead people and go the extra mile in sustaining a daily and its employees, train journalists and reporters and maintaining Lebanon a base for freedom of expression when dictatorial regimes all around forced their intellectuals to flee to greener pasture for free opinions…


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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