Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘mount lebanon

Dialogue In the novel: “Rainbow over the Levant (Near East)”

Note:  In the dialogue, Gergis, Mariam,and Mustafa are respectively the ministers of Foreign Affairs, Education, and Defense.  This novel is set in 14th century Mount Lebanon.

Preparations for the second revolution

The First Emir Antoun summoned Gergis, Mariam and Mustafa to a secret enclave to discuss the current State affairs and how to plan to counter decadence and class dysfunctions invading society from the top down.  Gergis rehashed on the principles, articles, and organization of the Aram Umma (Nation) Party that the three ministers developed without the prior consent of the Emir.  Discussions ensued:

Antoun said: “I have serious problems with many articles and terminologies in your program.  First, I feel that we must not mention borders delimiting the Aram Nation. Actually, we have to erase any hints relating to borders, period. If this article is circulated in writing then the Mamluk Sultan of Egypt will have material evidence that we are preparing for independence and I am not ready for this dangerous and potentially disastrous leap”

Gergis said: “We can drop this article but if we are asked about the boundaries of the Nation, and we will be asked, then I propose that we verbally ask for suggestions to that effect and analyze the reaction of the adherents”

Antoun replied: “Do your best to avoid responding to that question.  The best is to generate responses instead of offering your own opinions.  Now I have two more concerns; first, the word Umma is reserved to defining Moslem communities wherever they are. Since our society is multi-religious with dozens of sects then a more pertinent word should be created that avoid any religious connotation. “

Gergis: “It is unavoidable to locate a word in Arabic that has no religious undertone. Do you suggest that we search in the Syriac language or the archaic Aramaic language?”

Antoun said: “Your irony tends to be misplaced Gergis.  Anyway, manuscripts in Syriac will have strong Christian connotations.  You can always try.  You guys have to take the demographic structure of our society.  Mount Lebanon is mostly of Christian sects while the urban centers along the coastal line are mostly Moslem Sunni.  The main objective is economic stability and eradicating joblessness that is the major cause of social distress.  Whatever is the ideology of the Party it should be plainly a support system for stable economy.  Now, my next concern is the hierarchical structure of the Party.  Although this historically adopted structure is logical and well-intentioned, I feel that it will scare away good potential citizens from joining and participating as full members. I am under the impression that you are expecting already disciplined citizens to be attracted, especially the military officers.”

Mustafa said: “I guess that this structure is meant to encourage adherents to continue learning and improving on their potentials. I have some understanding of a few organizations that divulge the duties and responsibilities in stages when members have accomplished what was required of them to do previously.  Training is done gradually and we have to wait until the members are ready to assume higher responsibilities.  May be we could emulate their systems by keeping the requirements secrets until the time is ripe for the next stage in the hierarchy?”

Gergis replied:  “I am aware of these secret structures and they worried me as to their consequences in forming ignorant zealots who are ready to commit unimaginable atrocities in the name of performing their duties and obeying orders.  We cannot take this direction if our principles are clear and our purpose open and honest.”

Antoun said: “I understand the genuine attitude of Gergis and I would be ready to take my chance with transparent teachings upfront as evidence of our confidence in our people and his capabilities.  We are in the business of enlightening the masses and not forming passive leaders waiting to be spoon fed at every stage of their organizational development; true leaders are ready to take initiatives and plan their political development as leaders should. I am under the impression that you guys are adopting the thinking and attitudes of the civil servants. Children of well off families tend to think that they have privileges for higher ranks than common people; this normal behavior has to be challenged by further dialogue on the field based on merit.”

The room was silent and heavy with accusations.  The face of Mustafa turned from pale to hot purple and intoned defensively: “What are you trying to convey my Don?”

The First Emir smiled lightly and said: “At least we guys have worked hard for our living before we engaged into politics and we know the value of work that the people understand; but we have engendered a class of civil servants who is entertained by the hard work of our people and yet sincerely believes that they are doing them a favor.  Our civil servants are into politics big time and have raised the motto that “everything in life is politics” so that they hide their indolence and refusal to try work that can add value to society.  They want the government and the people to feed them throughout their retched life as a deserved right for their sacrifices to the well-being of the working people. If we found a political party we are also creating another brand of civil servants living at the expense of the party members and still believing they are the best and chosen ones among them.”

Gergis replied: “I understand your concerns my First Emir and many times I have been recollecting the happy and good period of our youth but our job right now is much harder emotionally and I can barely have a good night sleep. I feel that you have a recommendation to suggest and I cannot provide a satisfactory answer of how to bypass the formation of a professional class of political administrators and managers.”

The First Emir voice started low and then its pitch grew in crescendo saying: “I abhor the idea that any sane civil servant is set for life remunerated by another group of people.  I suggest that civil servants at the pay of the Party should not hold full-time positions for more than two years; they should have an earning job before taking a political assignment and return to the real life of earning their bread after the assignment is over; new blood has to circulate continuously in the Party if it has to serve its purpose.  I suggest that we include a separate article stating that members are not required to serve in administrative and political positions unless they feel the drive and have the talent to serve in a party position.  Members have to understand that joining the Party is not a hindrance to continuing living the way they like but a school of life improvement if they have the drive for it.  Back to my third concern…”

Mariam interrupted the Emir saying: “Excellency, sorry to cut you in but I feel it important to expand on your second concern.  As far as I can recollect, the status of civil servants was one of the hottest issues immediately after we won the insurrection and most of us felt uncomfortable holding government positions because we were unfamiliar with their demands, rules and procedures.  We meant well to shorten government assignments but circumstances and lack of funding prevented us to hold on our commitments. According to our wishes exiting civil servants were to be compensated so that they could open their private trades but we found it more economical and more expedient to extend their appointments at the expense of our principles and the trend stuck with practically no incentives or courage to change our administrative structure.  We need practical means not to revert to previous expedients in the Party hierarchy.”

The First Emir replied: “Yes, I do remember and several times I thought that we should hold fast to the commitments of our revolution and failed to communicate my worries in due time. I guess the Party has to consider business infrastructure to sustain its growth and not rely on the government fund or Party members’ dues. It is my position that any political party that cannot offer services to its members and their families over and above what the government is able or willing to offer then the party would become a serious liability to society.  Imagine adherents fed on principles and emotions bottled up with no positive outlets for practical changes then I can foresee rash and irresponsible responses funneled through incompetent leaders. Now back to my third concern; I wonder why there is no mention of religions in these principles”.

Gergis answered: “It is a dangerous subject to approach and the best we could come with is freedom of beliefs which is what we have been practicing but still is a momentous milestone to be able to state it bluntly”.

Antoun replied: “Our society is founded on dozens of religious sects and hiding this fact under the carpet would not strengthen the unity of the Nation. I remember my lack of patience with the confessional elements during the preparation for the insurgency and I do recognize that we failed to approach this fundamental problem through rational discussions. I suggest that we openly study this problem emanating with each district identifying itself according to its religious affiliation first; this trend is extremely stubborn and is spreading havoc to our concept of a united Nation”.

Mustafa said: “Do you suggest my Don that we should adopt a religion as the main one for the land so that we retain a distinctive identity?”

Antoun replied: “I think that you are attempting to be sarcastic. We never stated it formally but I believe our actions tended to distance State affairs from religious meddling.  May be it is time to officially announce to the citizens that there should be a separation between State governance and religious beliefs.”

Mustafa retorted: “To the best of my knowledge no citizen ever contemplated such a separation, not only because it has never been an issue but because they sincerely believe that governance is not possible without the blessing of religion. Besides, we have been doing fine without this announcement and any confrontation with the religious hierarchies at this junction might exacerbate the political climate.”

Gergis said: “I believe that it would be a great idea to include the principle of separation between State affairs and religious beliefs in the Party’s articles.  The application of this principle might turn out to be extremely delicate and requiring a lot of tact but it certainly might allay the fears of many minority sects which are the most virulent in time of scarcity and instability.”

Antoun replied: “Indeed, the future generations should be able to accept this necessary trend as most normal if it is adopted by the grass-roots first and made an obvious statement as time goes on.”

Mariam cut in: “I still cannot delineate the fine line where State affairs starts and where religion stops. Suppose that I believe 100% in one religious dogma then my faith in these doctrines should take precedence over anything else that is of this World. If we have to boldly approach this topic we might as well identify the basic issues that are harmful to the professional running of a government and how religion can be of support.”

Antoun said: “Religions should preach what is all about the after death and State affairs is about enjoying our life, running society in an ordered fashion, and what is needed to survive as a society in an independent Nation.  I am not attempting to pin Reason against Faith but these concepts are the main delineations with the implicit understanding that Faith is in no way synonymous to Spirit”

Mariam said: “With due respect Your Excellency, this is a pretty simple concept that is basically trying to sweep the problem under the carpet as you mentioned previously. The population is basically very religious and relying on reasoning will not cut it. For example, what if a citizen secretly belonging to a minority sect has cheated in his true religious affiliation and is elected to the highest position in the Nation, then would his election be valid on the basis of separation of religion and State affairs?”

Antoun replied: “You certainly are devious Mariam and I appoint you as the devil advocate to Gergis. I am inclined to reason that in this instance it is politics rather than cheating since it is none of our concerns his personal religious beliefs if we are sincerely secular as long as the candidate never offered to divulge his religious affiliations. I have been hearing rumors, which I am inclined to believe, that many Christian sects allow parallel pagan traditions among agrarian people. These peasants still worship Mother Earth for its bounty and do indeed offer human sacrifices to ward off calamities and dry years and they could not shake it off as far as I know.  Now, no sect is going to confess or proclaim that these ancient rooted beliefs and traditions are part and parcel of its religious principles although it is a pagan religion anyway you consider it.  Would you think Mariam that these pieces of information might complicate your example? All I can tell you is that I am not good with abstract notions. I do believe that anyone who reaches a stage in his growth to claim that his faith is total in the after death then he is a liar and not worth a dime anymore.  I also believe that whoever claims that we are just dirt and nothing else is also a liar and not worth a dime. Even if I still have a tiny pride it would be impossible for me to accept that we are just reduced to dust and dirt after death.  I am a good judge of character and the scoundrel is anyone who wholeheartedly believes that clinging to life is the best attitude to preserve and yet keeps preaching about the after life.”

Mustafa said: “I think that I agree with your premises my Don though I am afraid that you will have the whole population against you if you proclaim that whoever claims has total faith is a liar.”

Antoun replied: “I guess you are in an ironic mood today and your attitude may be taking the edge off our heated discussion but hope that you will put a break to your behavior.  What I mean is that as long as we have a whiff of energy left in us to struggle for survival then our faith is necessarily within the range of the two extreme positions. Once we reach an extreme point in our beliefs then we are reduced to either stones or carrying on irrational behavior.”

Mariam came back to her previous position and said: “I still need to grasp the dividing line where we can bring to court a religious movement with a political position that we deem it out of its jurisdiction. I can offer several examples that are very pertinent; first, there are a couple of sects that prohibit carrying arms or using them against their fellow-men and second many sects insist on reading verses from the Bible or the Koran before starting classes or even providing an answer or delivering a speech. Another issue is shouldn’t the full-time religious clergy have the right to vote, and why the clergy has to appoint representatives as it is applied now instead of the people electing these representatives?  It is time for the people to have a direct say on matters that impact their daily life and send a strong message to the clergy that more transparency is needed in their internal dealings and the community has to have a share in their financial discussions.”

Gergis said: “Now we are talking business.  Abstract notions have to be explained in procedural forms if justice is to be applicable in any governmental action.  I can see the usefulness of not prohibiting the clergy from participating fully in elections though I can guess that the outcome of any election would be biased toward the clergy interest because they clearly have the power to easily impress and dissuade well-intentioned voters.”

Antoun replied: “In response to the first example of Mariam I guess we were successful in enlisting many families in the army after they initially refused on moral grounds by increasing the pay and benefits of the soldiers.  I believe that adequate incentives and direct and patient communications with the members of these peaceful sects can open acceptable alternatives. As to the second example I sincerely do not see it fitting within the framework of our concerns. I think the most serious difficulty is that the clergy will meddle one way or another in the implementation of State decisions and programs.  For that reason we need to set higher standards for candidates otherwise the clergy representatives will dominate the floor and weaken any fair law.  Also, our work is going to be much harder now because the clergy is on the offensive big time. We will have to analyze every proposal from different perspectives and test the people’s responses to the proposals first before submission.”

Mariam said: “I can see that the struggle is going to be tough for decades and only dedicated and highly learned servicemen would be able to turn the tide.  Stable nations had the vast majority of its citizens believing in our religion and a so-called secular government could be camouflaged under the implicit recognition that it is functioning within the nation’s religious beliefs. In our case with no overwhelming majority for a single religion we might be playing with fire attempting a distinct separation.  I don’t think Mustafa was joking when he alluded to the need of adopting a religion for the Nation. This was the case with the exception of the Roman Empire though most societies then were pagans, similar in their practices and traditions and their Gods were not invisible and all that encompassing in a single unifying God. It is my position that change would be won by secular schooling and eliminating any notion that requires the support of religious dogma in the reading materials. Let the mind guide the kids in school and let their parents decide on their religious education outside of school”

Gergis said: “I am inclined to include in the principles of the Party that religious beliefs are intrinsically personal matters but once a person is given State responsibilities or given a civil service appointment then he should adopt reason as his guiding God and the articles of the Constitutions as his guiding principles.”

Antoun tried to close the meeting and said: “I think we are agreed, you and I, though I see Mariam fretting in her place and doubt that she is about to accept your opinion.”

Mariam replied: “I understand your position Sir and the need of proclaiming Reason as our guiding power in managing our State affairs but I suspect that if this principle is formally included in the articles of the Constitution then one day the State will persecute religious beliefs under one reason or other. What sound like reason to you is within the abstract frame of mind to me; I have been around to know that many excellent civil servants, not of your political inclinations, will be sacked on the basis of preaching his faith at some point in his service, a right that is guaranteed in the Constitution also.  I demand that any censure based on stating religious principles should be examined by a regular civil court and all expenses paid by the State. ”

Antoun said: “I think Mariam that your apprehension might be founded.  Gergis, would you include in the Party principles something to the effect that faith is necessary for the spiritual stability of the Nation but that human Reason is capable and well endowed of forecasting changes in society and providing the appropriate remedies for the survival and development of the Nation?”

Mariam replied: “I suggest that we add in the Nation’s Constitution a clear article that no authority in the land should have the power to persecute any citizen based on his religious beliefs or to proclaim any religion unlawful unless we are ready to ban religions all together as anathema to unity and progress of our Nation”

Antoun said: “Mariam, you are driving a good bargain that should satisfy the Party and the Nation.  I guess we have to bite this bitter pill since we have a wide variety of sects and refrain by law from forced persecution no mater how small a sect might be or to our distaste. I have to agree that the Aram Nation is going to be a precarious nation unless it enjoys a long peaceful reprieve with strong infusions of unifying and tolerant leaders. Are we all agreed on Mariam’s article?”

Mustafa said: “I can go along this line of thinking if we could overcome the material power of the clergy.  I think that we have to target the essence of their power, mainly their riches. We already have taxed donations in money and their best parcel of lands which allowed us to study the trend in people behavior toward the hegemony of the clergy; now we need to study the problem of pro bono work on the clergy lands simply because the peasants are scared on the status of their after death.  I suggest that the clergy properties and profits should be taxed as any business. Donations should be taxed more heavily and pro bono work need to be revisited.   If the peasants are not paid by the clergy then part of the fruit of their labor that increases profits should return to the State to invest it for the benefit of all the society.”

Gergis added: “These suggestions are pleasant to my ears because their rationales are sound and just. I move to adopt this taxing scheme.”

Mariam said: “Don’t you share my view Mustafa that this new tax is proposed in the worst time?”

Antoun said: “I tend to disagree with you Mariam. I think this tax is an excellent idea and very timely.  We know that the citizens are aware of the clergy injustices and unfair privileges. We could use the citizens’ restlessness and anger to our advantage by concentrating our effort and public pronunciations on that important platform. It is kind of killing more than one bird with one shot. If we all agree then I order Gergis to write-up the required laws and establish a list of priorities targeting the financial worth of the richest monasteries.”

Mustafa said: “May we add another criterion for the priority list?  I have been wondering whether to annex a few properties that are strategically important to the military?  The clergy has been giving us hard time and was successful in baffling our plans.”

Antoun replied: “You may coordinate with Gergis on that list.”

Mariam said:  “I think that we may have an opportunity to expand our schooling institutions by appropriating annexes to the monasteries or suitable lands by providing tax breaks in these instances.”

Antoun replied: “Am I familiar with your machinations Mariam!  Your alternative could be acceptable only on a case by case basis and only if the negotiations are done openly and the townspeople participate vigorously in the negotiations.”

Mariam flushed and said: “May I ask why the military is exempt from open and transparent negotiations?”

Antoun replied: “I could see that coming.  Actually it has nothing to do with paternalism or chauvinism. Historically, there is no love affair connecting the citizens with any military institution although no Nation was able to safeguard his integrity, independence and interest without a strong military institution.  In your case, every parent wants to educate his children and the odds are high that you will win your negotiations.  The way I look at it is that the service ministries are the cornerstones in the victory over the clergy. The more negotiations you win the more the people will grasp that this tax is for their interest and in no way intended to harass or persecute the clergy.  The victory of our platform resides in your zeal, stubbornness and continuous success.

Mustafa wanted clarifications and said: “I am interested in the strategy contemplated to win victory over the clergy’s power.”

Antoun replied: “The clergy is powerful because it is the people who lent them acceptance and support to manage their spiritual needs and they will revert to them at the first spiritual malaise once their stomach is empty and opportunities scarce.  Anyhow, back to your strategy Mustafa. First, this tax law should be a tight secret.  Second, the tax law has to pass the legislature quickly.  To achieve passing the law fast we need to select a judicious timing for convening the House; the meeting of the House could be held close to major religious celebrations so that the clergy representatives would fail to attend the meeting. Once the tax law is passed, legality would assure us a hefty leverage in our struggle.  Timing, readiness and quick actions are the means to our victory.”

 It was decided in that enclave that political parties would be legalized with conditions that their leaders, ideologies and funding be made public with the implicit primary objective of the government to acquire the necessary intelligence without undue pressures or disruption of the political situation.  It was also decided that the Aram National Party be funded through a special appropriation to the education ministry for only two years but kept a State secret and that Gergis would take a year sabbatical from his government functions to concentrate on the organization of the Party.  The First Emir planned to appoint each year a new leader for the Party and run his corresponding government functions in order to have a deeper and detailed comprehension of the intricacies of the government. Once the idea of forming a political party took hold in the First Emir’s mind his life regained some of its earlier enthusiasm.

The First Emir discovered a few days later that the ideas and principles of the Party had been disseminated slowly but surely in the last two years and he implicitly resented being kept in the dark for so long and this message came to him as a shock that he has been out of touch in the day-to-day running of the State and neglecting to frequently meet with his close associates and the citizens.

Part 4. “On the wild trails of Mount Lebanon”: Toward town of Tannourine ; (Mar. 7, 2010)

Pierre Bared, a middle-aged man, tall, svelte, with graying beard and three children decided to walked alone for 22 days on the wild trails of Mount Lebanon, crossing from the upper northern town of Kobayat to the southern town of Marje3youn  in June 2008.

Pierre ascended a steep and arid mountain; he took a break at 10 am at one of the goat shepherds’ tent.  You think from afar that the shepherds are having a good splendid life of liberty, then you realize the hardship when you enter the tent, see, and hear; especially, the conditions of the children.

From the vantage point on the mountain Pierre could see the cedar trees of the next target town of Tannourine (natural reserve that I had visited two years ago).  Within an hour, Pierre was in the forest of cedars.

A conductor of a 4*4 broke Pierre’s napping under an old tree saying “This is the most beautiful napping that we can dream to have.”  Pierre resumed his walk toward the town of Tannourine Al Fawka (upper). The trip lasted 3 hours since Pierre lingered watching wild flowers on his path.

After visiting a bakery, Pierre napped for an hour in the forest.  He decided to go forward to the village of Balaa; the gas station attendant told Pierre to take the regular road.  He ate and gathered cherries off trees.

Pierre was not lucky in Balaa: a woman refused him taking a shower (she was an urban lady visiting her hometown for the weekend).  He finally located an abandoned house and slept under a chestnut tree.  Pierre’s days are long; he starts pretty early and ends very late: an average of no more than 6 hours sleep.  The next day some people redirect his trajectory: destination Akoura.  The trail is a descent and he accelerates the rhythm; he reaches the town in one hour.

Hassan invites Pierre to sleep in his motel for free.  Pierre enjoys a hot shower and spends the evening on the terrace with Hassan’s friends who turned out to be guides of the region. Pierre declined a walk after supper (Hassan’s friends seem to forget that he has been walking a lot lately).  Hassan’s father had died a couple of years ago as a landmine detonated under his feet, killing him and his two hunting buddies.  Pierre sleeps on a real bad this night.

Akoura counts about 40 churches; the ancient ones were sepulture and were converted to churches. The photographer Alfred arrives at 8 am for a third photo session of planting a cedar tree in the municipal garden.  Alfred then gives Pierre ride to Tannourine for a planting session photo shoot.  At noon, Pierre eats another “mankoush alla saj” and then talk with Hassan’s mother, daughter, and two smaller children.  The 6 years old first refuses to take his tray to the kitchen and then obeyed tears in his eyes as a consequence for his previous stubbornness.  The mother would not like Pierre taking his tray to the kitchen but Pierre knows better by now.

The next target town is Afka.  If Pierre has to escalate the high mountain and then turn around it then he would not reach destination by night fall.  Thus, Pierre is obligated to taking the regular asphalt road.  On the road, he is invited to a glass of raspberry syrup and then another one of cherry as he passes by a cherry orchard.  He arrives at 4 pm in Afka and spends a couple of hours amid women preparing tomorrow meals and men returning from work.  Afka is predominantly of Shiaas and Pierre felt frustrated with the conversation.  The hosts felt more affiliation with Iran than with non-Shiaa Lebanese: the danger in Lebanon is to belonging to a religious sect.

Afka is famous for its grotto and the abandoned Roman Temple dedicated to Venus.  Pierre decided to resume his trip to the village of Lassa. Ninety minutes later he stumbles on goat shepherds; they correct his direction.  The shepherds are not at peace with Pierre presence in the region: they want to know from where he is “Mnein int?

Lassa is still further down in the valley and Pierre spends the night in an abandoned house, the only one on his long path.  By sundown, the Islam Muezzin of Lassa answers another Muezzin: a chain reaction starting from south to north.

Part 3. “On the wild trails of Mount Lebanon”: To town of Bcherreh ; (Mar. 5, 2010)

            Pierre Bared, a middle-aged man, tall, svelte, with graying beard and three children decided to walked alone for 22 days on the wild trails of Mount Lebanon crossing it from the upper northern town of Kobayat to the southern town of Marje3youn  in June 2008.

            On the sixth day, the photographer Alfred called Pierre for a second photo session planting a Cedar tree in the town of Bcherreh (the birth town of Jubran Khalil Jubran, author of the “Prophet”).  They met mid way on a snaking path leading to the Saint Valley of Kannoubine.  Alfred takes photos from all angle of Pierre preparing his regular morning drink of powder milk and cocoa. Alfred then gives Pierre ride to Bcherreh for another photo session; the town hall extended the needed tools for planting the tree; Alfred brings him back to the wild trail; the owner of a café shop by the river agreed to water the plant.

            In Kannoubine, Pierre decided to take three days off of walking so that his monstrous blisters heal. Two of his old friends from scout Walid and Raymond joined him; Walid had fetched back the tent from Nizar.  The three guys spend two nights around bonfires reminiscing of old days.  Mosquitoes prevented Raymond from sleeping outside the tent.  The iced river was no handicap for Pierre to bath and wash his garments. Pierre has been walking bare foot most of the time.

            On the third morning of his resting period, a Sunday, Pierre abandoned Walid to guard the tent and resumed his wandering in the Saint Valley (classified by UNESCO a world sanctuary where goods are transported on mules).  He returned to get acquainted with the nuns in the convent and resumed his marching to the convent of Haouka.  In this convent there is this last hermit living in a grotto transformed into a tiny church.  In the afternoon, a bunch of friends surprised him by bringing his son with them and they had a barbecue going.

            Around 6 pm, Pierre walked toward the town of Hasroun. The ascent is hazardous and tiring.  Before the town square, Pierre decided to take advantage of an hour before nightfall and ventured into an asphalt road.  The full moon illuminated his path, an ascent toward a lone cedar tree by a traditional house. 

By 10 pm, Pierre walked into an orchard and spent the night; he slept under a cherry tree.  At 2 am, a loud Arabic music, set on high volume, awoke Pierre.  A man advanced rapidly toward Pierre without noticing him and then suddenly changed direction a few meters from him.  Pierre conjectured that the orchard guard had parked his car and is listening to the music inside his car.  Pierre had to suffer another 3 hours of this awful music to his ears before he gladly packed at 5 am; he was still sleepy but happy to be getting away from this horrible music. (To be continued)

Part one: “On the wild trails of Mount Lebanon”; (Mar. 2, 2010)

            Pierre Bared walked alone for 22 days on the wild paths of Mount Lebanon crossing it from the upper northern town of Kobayat to the southern town of Marje3youn; he was following the guide book “Le sentier de la montagne Libanaise” that was no help most of the time; actually, the only time that this guide was of help was when he recognized a scenery or a ruin that was shown in the guide and knew that he recovered his direction.  Mostly, when no one was around to ask for direction he had to backtrack and retrace his ways several times after climbing and descending precipices for useless hours. 

            The hardest part of the trip were the monstrous blisters that plagued his feet: Bared must have forgotten to carry with him the appropriate medicines for blisters; worst, he didn’t realize that he should get some training with his boots before undertaking this arduous walk.  Bared liked to taking short smoking breaks after hours of feeling lost to recover his will to resuming the trip. 

            You think Lebanon is a very tiny country until you try to discover its wild mountain region where people are a century behind in their life style: no electricity, no running water, eating from what the land produce, and what the goats deliver in milk. People tell you all kinds of myths; for example, a young man reproduced a story of a small village that was evacuated by its inhabitants because the sky rained stones on the ground that a church and a mosque were built side by side. Many villages were emptied during the civil war when the confession was different from the neighboring villages for fear of reprisals.

            Pierre Bared didn’t offer much of his identity; the photo shows a middle aged man, tall, svelte, with graying beard.  He has three children whose memory extends comforting relaxation during difficult moments when he decides to slide on his behind for rough inclines with no one on sight. Bared feeds on powder milk and cocoa on the trail; he eats solid food when reaching villages or when invited by mostly hospitable families.  His backpack weight 15 kilos; he had to let go of his heavy tent five days later because he realized that he was not using it: in tiny Lebanon you always find a village even in the wildest of regions in a day walk.

            Pierre started the trip at 8:30 am, Friday of June 6, 2008.  Friends drove him to Kebayat. The next town was Akkar Atika (Old Akkar) covering a large area around the plateau of Kamou3a. Then you reach the village of Zabboud surrounded by heavy fogs; a lady of 50 of age invites Pierre for a cup of tea.  He bunked in an unfinished house but the howling winds disrupted his sleep. The next morning, he eats cherries directly from trees; a shepherd fills his empty water bottle.  Pierre washes his face and clothes in a spring.  He discovered a coffee place amid the nowhere and recharged his cellular.  A couple of Lebanese living in Sweden comes in to eat.  Pierre eats many dishes and is surprised that the tab is only $4.

            The destination for his second night is Michmich according to the guide.  People he met had no idea that Michmich exists.  He stumbled on the village of Fnaydek and Pierre declined the nice gesture to be given a lift on a “mobylette” (a bicycle with a tiny motor).  Two men approach him and play the game of security person of the village and asks him questions and then demand his ID; in response, Pierre ask them for their ID (most probably men in these remote villages have no peaces of identifications) and the men laugh it out and leave him in peace.  He sleeps in the municipality house of three rooms and enjoys his first hot shower.

            The next day, Pirre descends a valley for 45 minutes and join a family having breakfast of labneh, eggs, and baking bread on the “tannour”.  Two brothers work in Beirut and return to their village on week ends; they wake at 4 am on Monday to go to work; the third brother is in the army: There are no families in the Akkar district that have no members in the army.  Women refuse to have their photos taken.  The mother prepares a bag of food (zouadeh) for Pierre to eat on his journey.

            Pierre avoids asphalt roads but there are villages that cannot be reached unless you take formal roads. (To be continued)

Background to the Near East Dilemma; (Part 1, May 16, 2009)

Note:  This essay is of two parts.  The first part lay down the background story and issues; the second part will explain in details the positions of the various Syrian political parties and intelligentsia of the period during and after the First World War.

The year 1919 was critical for the Near East (Levant) and the entire Arab World.

At the time, Syrian was the name of the populations comprising the current States of Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and current Jordan.

Before that date, the Syrians were called Turks because they held a Turkish (Ottoman) passport.

After almost a century, the people in this region are reaping the consequences of the resolutions of the League of Nations that met in Paris for many months to divide the spoils of the First World War.

Jean Dayeh is an author and a veteran journalist investigative reporter; he published recently “Jubran Tueny Sr. and the Century of Renaissance” in the Near East.  The manuscript contains two great chapters on the case of the Syrian dilemma and the Palestinian/Zionism problems.

From old published articles and replies by different daily journalists, thinkers, and politicians Dayeh explained the premises for the confusion and disunity in the Syrian societies of Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, and the current Syrian State; the ideological and political divergences prevented an alternative resolution for populations that were just getting out of the hegemony of the Ottoman Empire that lasted over 5 centuries.

During the war, the British encouraged the Shereef of Mecca Hussein al Hashemy to join the allies for fighting against the Ottoman Empire.  The British promised Hussein of Mecca mandate over Syria and Iraq.  In the same time, Britain and France had a more real politics plan for the Near East.  The diplomats of the two nations Sykes and Pico agreed in 1916 to divide the region so that France would have mandate over Syria and Lebanon and Britain mandate over Iraq, Palestine and Jordan.  Britain Foreign Affairs Balfour had promised the Zionist movement a State in Palestine.

The sons of Hussein were appointed Kings; Faisal on Syria and Abdullah King on the newly created State of Jordan by Britain.  “King” Faisal entered Damascus as the Turkish army withdrew.  A nucleus of a new Syrian army was formed; the soldiers had to swear allegiance to the King of Mecca and agree to fight in the Arabic Peninsula if duty called.

The flag of Mecca was raised in Damascus and postal stamps and coins left no doubt as to the plans of the King of Mecca to joining Syria in an Arab Nation.  The worst part is that Faisal had promised the Zionist movement during the meetings of the League of Nations in Paris that if the Jews become majority in Palestine then they could form a confederate State with the Arab Nation.

It is to be noted that the concept of waging war, then and now, that only those parties or nations that effectively participated in the war were eligible to divide the spoil.  The Syrian population did not have an army to fight and they were suffering famine and calamities due to locust invasion and the perpetual requisitions of the Turkish army in foodstuff and coerced soldiers.

President Woodrow Wilson of the USA was suffering of critical health problems during the Paris Convention and died shortly after; thus France and England decided on the Middle East spoil.  Nevertheless, the USA sent a fact-finding commission King-Crane to comprehend the wishes and desires of the Syrian populations.

England and France declined to join the commission because they had already decided on the spoil and their armies were on the ground in the Near East and pressured the populations to be biased.  With all the political pressures of France and England, a few Christians in Mount Lebanon preferred a French mandate, a few Palestinians opted for a British mandate, many were in favor of a USA mandate but the vast majority of Moslems and Christians wanted an independent State with Faisal as King in Damascus.

The Christian Maronite Patriarch Howayek hurried to Paris for the convention and harassed Clemenceau to decide on a Greater Lebanon by adjoining many parts to Mount Lebanon in return for a French mandate. Clemenceau dispatched an army in 1920 and defeated the small Syrian army in Mayssaloun.  King Faisal was sent packing to reign as King in Iraq.

By 1920, the Zionist movement managed to lure a few Jews to establish agricultural colonies.  Tel Aviv was the main coastal colony.  The Jewish Diaspora had felt the impossibility of establishing a Jewish state and money was trickling.  The Jews in Tel Aviv went on a rampage and confiscate the Zionist money in order to buy food; and the Rothschild delegate in Palestine was ordered to stop payment on land purchased for new colonies.

Nevertheless, the Zionist movement refused hopeless Jews visa exit out of Palestine.  The Palestinian government, under British mandate, had permitted to add Hebrew names to the English and Arabic administrative institutions. Things have changed since then.

Types of history stories: Mount Lebanon case study (November 26, 2008)

 Most history books are series of battle stories of who won and who lost, what were the causes for the initiation of the wars, which monarch was pleased and which ones were utterly frustrated, which century was mostly a military victory in the long-term, which decades experienced the plague and other infectious diseases that decimated a quarter of the population, who had the upper hand States or religious hierarchies, who were the “noble” figures and military geniuses in battles and in fortifying the forts, the adventurers who acquired whole continents for the throne simply by planting the flag of the monarch, and this sort of crappie stories.

If you are interested in serious stories on socio-political-cultural structures of civilizations and their development, you have to invest time researching, and dusting off voluminous manuscripts, (preferably for higher education degrees), and analyze the fundamentally biased contradictions among the scholarly treaties, a job that is outside your research purpose and in comparative literature.

This is a long sad history and I would rather develop on the case story of Mount Lebanon (barely 100 * 10 kms), a mountain region that is part of the State of Lebanon.

Not that this story is refreshingly magical, but because it tells the story of all the under-developed societies and current States waging frequent genocides and civil wars; (States that are obviously recognized by the United Nations).

I previously published a short essay on the various fallacies that were heaped on this majestic mountain chains and its brave and eternal people; please refer to that essay for further details.

Since time immemorial, Mount Lebanon was an ideal ecological place in weather conditions and abundance of fresh water.  Fruit trees and milk and honey and snow-covered mountain chains and virgin forest were trade marks of Mount Lebanon among all the invading Empires.

Mount Lebanon was a refuge and a sanctuary for the mystics and ascetics of most religious sects.  All kinds of sects and tribes have found refuge in Mount Lebanon, but it was not exclusively because of religious persecutions.

The inhabitants of Mount Lebanon are not a homogeneous ethnic group within sectarian differences. Mount Lebanon had experienced the absorption of many different ethnic tribes to serve the interests of the Empires that transferred entire tribes from various locations in their Empires to keep close control on the existing local tribes in occupied territories.

There were 3 major waves of Christian sects fleeing persecutions by other Christian sects who were affiliated to Byzantium with Constantinople as Capital.

These waves started in 325 during the Emperor Constantine, restarted around 400, culminated in the year 1,000 and then resumed around 1200.

The last wave caused the “Moslem” in the early 19th century was by extremist and salafist Wahabit sect, originating in the Arabia Desert of Najd, performing frequent razzias in and around Damascus in Syria. (The Oligarchy in Saudi Arabia is of this infamous sect).

The Druze Moslem sect members in Mount Lebanon were never refugees from no where. They lived in Mount Lebanon and were of various sects; they converted to the Fatimid Moslem sect who ruled Egypt for over a century around 950.

The Fatimid dynasty were fundamentally a Chiia sect (Moslems who refused a Moslem Caliphate, especially a Sunni Caliphate) and had Sufi tendencies and other esoteric beliefs.  During the Sunni Mameluke dynasties, Druze fled Aleppo to the Golan Heights and into Lebanon, but not necessarily to Mount Lebanon.

The Chiaa Moslem sect inhabited most of Mount Lebanon during the Omayyad Dynasty and ever since, in order to control the seashore from Byzantium navy incursions.  The Sunni Caliphates made it a trend to persecute the Chiia at every opportunity.  Many tribes from Turkmenistan, Persia, and Kurdistan were relocated in Mount Lebanon to balance the Chiia and keep them in check.  The Chiia were especially persecuted by the Ottoman since the Safavid Persian Dynasty got ascendance in the 16th century.

The Chiia tribes had no central religious authority and thus were not cohesive enough to share authority in Mount Lebanon with the Maronite and Druze in the last 3 centuries.

Mount Lebanon was mostly a social chaos of tribal rules with loose connections to a central authority of one of the multitudes of Empires through the paying of taxes and tribute.

A foreigner felt a sense of freedom but not liberty outside the tribe. Uprisings against the central authorities of the successive Empires were very rare, not locally initiated, and were quickly and easily repressed.

Mount Lebanon was never militarily impregnable by the forces of the Empires.

Mount Lebanon was relatively at peace because the local tribes did not make waves and were left alone as long as they paid the tributes and appropriate taxes.

Thus, Mount Lebanon was an ideal subject to central powers and was left undisturbed most of the time, except when local skirmishes necessitated local Emirs to support the Pashas of Damascus or Akka in men of war with their own armaments, mules, horses and supplies.

Mount Lebanon was never a whole entity socially, politically or administratively.

Mount Lebanon proper, as defined by the Maronite sect, comprised the high altitudes (Jroud) of the districts of Bshari, Betroun, and Jubeil.  Mount Lebanon was most of the times divided into, at least, 3 administrative provinces with capitals on the sea shore such as Tripoli, Beirut, Saida (Sidon), and Baalbak in the Bekaa Valley.

The “jroud” of the districts of Kesrwan, Metn, and Gharb were separate administratively from Mount Lebanon proper; the district of Shouf was also separate and belonged to the province of Saida.

Mount Lebanon is not the bedrock of communication among various ethnic and religious groups.

The more communication systems become easier, faster and more versatile, the more transport infra-structure develop, the more the tribal system in Mount Lebanon worsen from tribal into a caste system.

Current communities in Mount Lebanon have evolved to the worst; not only they are ferocious castes members but the number of officially recognized castes has jumped to 19 castes and increasing at each election or civil war.

Not only these castes are closed sects but they gained political powers in their self-autonomous officially unrecognized respective cantons.

The latest election laws are reflecting this dangerous trend for mini-state status.  Mount Lebanon is staunchly defying the entire set of hypothesis on “The World is shrinking into a village“.  Mount Lebanon is a proven case that village mentalities are defining the World.

Whereas the Maronite Christian sect enjoyed the better centralized religious authority since 1200, it has now disintegrated to the benefit of the other religious sects that are more united politically under their religious authorities, although not necessarily socially.

Rainbow over the Levant: End notes and Post notes (fiction story)

End notes

Mount Lebanon continued to flourish at a diminished rate.  And while the Mamulks of Egypt refrained from further military campaigns, because the expenses of expeditionary forces had no financial return in Mount Lebanon, the authority and unity of the Levant’s governments were disintegrating: prompted mainly by the practical and pragmatic average leaders who responded to the sobering realization that they would never be allowed to be a significant political force in the Middle East. 

Mount Lebanon reverted as a province to the Viceroy of Tripoli, with the same original conditions of self administration, and gradually succumbed under the traditional feudal and confessional system.  Many Emirs were successful in strengthening their hold by offering many carrots than whips, and maintaining a sort of false elective position in municipalities.

Asaad married a daughter of the Emir Shehab tribe in the Chouf; Wujdan married into the family of a prominent feudal lord of Abi Lamaa in the Capital Mtein, and Jacob the son of Noura and Antoun married from the Emir Maan tribe in Deir Kamar in the Chouf.  

Noura never returned to Lebanon and did not attend her son’s wedding, but instituted centers of learning in Rome and Florence, which were later to be acquired by the Maronite clergy.  Samar was the official administrator of an ambulatory circus/theater business and Mariam married her lover Ignatios and took to editing the theatrical pieces submitted to her for the circus.  Mariam occasionally directed and produced drama shows for the exclusive benefit of her adoptive daughter company.

The consequences for the success and ultimate failure of the insurgency movement were not insignificant.  In local politics, the Emirs and feudal Lords understood that the citizens in Mount Lebanon could not be governed is the same heavy handed tactics, by simple decrees from any Emir as was commonly done by the Viceroys.  Most of the rules and regulations were enforced because of agreements among the main warlords and the clergy; even the local chieftain had a veto power in his district and could delay the implementation of many central orders indefinitely, unless a convenient tradeoff was negotiated.

In external politics, the Sultans in Egypt, and later in Istanbul, understood that, once an Emir from Mount Lebanon managed to unite its people, a united Mount Lebanon was to naturally expand into Syria and Palestine and prove to be a bothersome foe.

The formal strategy was that the best politics to maintaining the allegiance of the people in Mount Lebanon to the central authority was to divide the region into sectarian counties, which would insure the impossibility of uniting Mount Lebanon. 

Many foreign tribes from Iraq and the Caucasus were transplanted in the various districts of Mount Lebanon.  However, Maronite families, for economic reasons, infiltrated most of the districts as cheap land laborers “fallaheen” and settled in which would, eventually, cause dissents among the religious sects two centuries later, and lead to several civil wars.

After the first civil war in 1860, four European Nations claimed protection for their corresponding Christian sects: France for the Maronites, England for the Protestants and Anglicans, Russia for the Orthodox, and Austria for the remaining various Christian sects.

 Post note

Two years after Antoun’s martyrdom, a valuable manuscript was found in the cave where he was hiding and preparing for the second revolution.  The First Emir noted his grand plans for his new Republic; the first phase envisioned a federation of States in present Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Palestine that could withstand a Tatar resumption of hostilities, along with strong support and cooperation with the power in Egypt under proper circumstances.  This federation could enjoy natural barrier borders except in the southern region with Egypt, unless part of the Sinai desert could be used as a buffer zone. 

The desert between Syria and Iraq would be inhabited with settlements designed to map out routes of possible invasions from Iraq or Turkey. The Zagros or Torus Mountains between Turkey and Syria and the Bakhtiar Mountains between Iraq and Iran were formidable natural barriers that could hamper any invasion from the North, given proper intelligence were supplied in due time.

The First Emir also suggested election of a President for the united federation for a six-year term and renewable for only another six years term. Each State would elect a Prime Minister and a State parliament and these parliaments would elect representatives to the Federated Senate that elect the President for the Union.

The whole region was under dominion of large Empires for long periods in history and it happened that a window of opportunity under a charismatic leader unified the people of Mount Lebanon for three decades, and proved that they were worth instituting a civil society that could influence positively the Greater Near East.

In fact the Levant managed to be unified twice more under the Emir Fakhr El Din of the Maan tribe in the seventeenth century, and Emir Beshir of the Shehab tribe in the nineteenth century during the Ottoman hegemony, and they naturally expanded their dominions to parts of Syria and Palestine.

There are many occasions in our land to celebrate Antoun.  Some of the Antouns have European spellings like Antoine, or Russian like Anton, or Latin as in Antonios or Greek like Antonionus or Manatios; some Antouns are Catholic Saints or other Christian denomination Saints, some call him by nicknames like Tony, Tanios or Tannus, but to our people there is a myth that a brave martyr, and a 14th century hero, by the name Antoun unified us and defeated obscurantism.

The next leader who will be successful in unifying us as a viable geopolitical power in a united demographic bloc in this century will be given the highest honorable title of Antoun

Chapter 7:  Consolidation of the kingdom; (continue 11)

Antoun had a few rudimentary ideas concerning the organization of the social fabric but he lacked reprieves for consolidating his hold on power. Fortunately, the new leader had good qualities of listening carefully to suggestions and delegating authorities to matters considered not to affect directly his grip on power.

Mariam Najjar was an excellent counselor and was motivated to enlarge her knowledge and participate in the decision units.  She suggested that one priority was to establishing elementary schools in every town and argued that without a learned youth the future of the regime would be totally dependent on foreign experts who would deplete the treasury.  She advanced the concept that relying on the know-how of other nations was the main reason why so many dynasties had died out or been replaced by dynasties elevated from mercenaries who did not care for the well-being and stability of the societies they governed.  

However, there was the realization, experienced by most families living in high altitude of over 1000 meters above sea level, of the high mortality rate in extended families during the winter season that lasted five months. Many died from suffocation, pulmonary diseases, and contagious illnesses.  Psychological disorders lead to brutal physical behaviors from close contact in unfit environmental conditions. At the time, and for long time afterwards, homes were simply of  one room;  the door was the only opening to fresh air.  Around ten people on average crowded that cloistered unique room for the duration of winter.  

As was the custom, large families usually dedicated their second or third sons to the clergy’s institutions to become priests and a few daughters to turning nuns; thus, avoiding feeding extra mouths and making more space for the other members of the family; many kids were lent to work for free in return for shelter and food and some education during the harsh season.

To return the favor for the outlawed citizens, it was decided that intern or boarding schools be erected for girls and boys separately where children of ages ranging from nine to thirteen would dwell in for 5 months from mid November to mid April.

 

Boarding schools

The first intern or boarding school was established in Baskinta and demonstrated in its first year that mortality was drastically reduced in winter when the number of family members was cut in half within their reduced dwellings.  Consequently, this facility provided during the winter season education and healthier quarters for children and lent longevity to the extended family members. Nuns and monks would run these schools in the beginning until a new generation of trained and learned lay administrators and educators took over gradually. 

The teaching was traditional the first two years until tighter administration and teaching procedures were enacted; a single instructor perched on a cushioned flat stone faced half circles of students sitting on the ground and was responsible for all the beginners in the reading class ,regardless of the students’ age and gender.  The master’s long reaching stick would not discriminate inattentive heads; heavy physical punishments were the lot of free spirits who dared stand for their rights or argued boldly. A few families would even worry if their kids were not physically disciplined as signs of careless and apathetic behavior on the instructor’s part in guiding their kids’ progress in learning.   

Families would rather go and visit their children at school on Christmas vacation and stay with them for a couple of days benefiting from warmer lodging in barns and healthier food varieties.  Christmas was a happy period for everyone in the school where children would get busy building mock-up houses, trees, animals and figurines for Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, the shepherds and the Magi kings and presenting homemade gifts to their parents in return for assorted delicacies.

A typical day at intern schools started at 6 a.m. followed by house cleaning, chicken feeding, cow milking, kitchen food preparation, and carrying necessary supplies for the day; then, at 7:30 mass and breakfast.  Classes for reading and writing in both Arabic an Aramaic languages and basic arithmetic would begin at 8:30 and end at 12:30 for lunch.  A short recess ,then off to working in the artisanal shops of carpentry, pottery, glass painting, iron forging, cloth making, glass blowing and farm tending until 4 p.m.  The children would then head to the supervised study lounge until dusk, followed by diner and Vesper prayer.  

By seven everybody was already in bed in order to save on candles and oil consumption.  Children less than eleven years of age would sleep ten in a room on hay stacks with spreads of goat skin; the older ones would sleep seven in a room.  It was not the sleeping quarters that mattered for the kids but a larger freedom to move around and be outside during the day with three fulfilling meals.

Meat was scarce but the kids were frequently fed “kebbe nayyeh” for Sunday’s lunch and eggs with “kaorma” for Saturday’ breakfast and tabbouli or mjadara on Fridays.  The usual staples were cereals, beans, crushed wheat, lentils, onions, tomatoes, cabbage, soup and plenty of breads. Fruits were a delicacy, especially apples which could be stored; sometimes, apricot and blueberry jams; and more often molasses and “rahat el halkoum”.

Most of the toys and game equipments were homemade.  They used to fabricate rectangular flat wood plates, mark a number of 3 decimals on it and a string to attach around the forehead.  They divided themselves in two groups and scattered in the woods hiding their numbers on tree trunks.  If the enemy guessed the hidden number attached to the front head then the opposite member was out of the game until everyone in one team was out. With time, many of these masks would become marked one way or another and the unfortunate wearers soon found themselves guessed out immediately, no matter how tightly they hid their front head closely to a tree trunk.

They also made rudimentary balls and divided themselves into two teams:  the member hit by the thrown ball was “killed” and transferred to the opposite line unless he caught the ball and then the thrower was considered eliminated.  They fabricated backgammon and tic tac toe gizmos and the like games.  The most rewarding type of equipment were sling shots, wooden swords and arches; the kids would go out hunting rabbits and squirrels within a short range because wild beasts were commonly found such as hyenas, wild boars, and wild dogs.

This system of schooling was expanded to towns at lower altitude for a shorter winter season of only 4 months.  Somehow, a few of these schools constructed annexes around their grounds with the help of the military garrisons close by and were transformed into major production centers for army supplies and exported objects.  In the winter season skilled families of the interned children would manufacture goods and help in the maintenance of the institution while the remaining of the year the school and its annexes would be invaded by skilled workers occupying the living quarters for 6 months. 

There were cases of greedy administrators in tandem with local officials abusing children as slave workers and delaying the release of the able and skilled children. Families got wind of these awful practices and stricter monitoring procedures of these institutions were established.  Families were encouraged to resume sending their children to the nearest parochial schools for a couple of hours during the busy seasons in return for preferential winter work facilities at the boarding schools.  These boarding schools became popular and families from afar trekked their children to Baskinta until new boarding schools were available and mushroomed to every district in Mount Lebanon. 

This system of boarding schools developed into more professional institutions :  Overseas parents inscribed their children for a substantial sum of money in return for lengthier educational periods and better accommodations for housing different age groups of students. In the newer more professional boarding schools with diverse ethnic and religious affiliations there occurred a few religious frictions among the adult students without any repercussions to the children who found happiness and joy in being together, energetic and secure in their daydreams.  Like most institutions in the Levant, the boarding schools experienced traumatic and feverish times but never took roots to grow and then suffered sudden death.

After lengthy discussions, Antoun agreed with Mariam that it would be an excellent decision to offer incentives to municipalities for arranging educational facilities.  Instead of villages constructing more churches, the central government offered to incur half the expenses for constructing schools, the wages of the instructors and lunch for all the students.  In return for free education for a 4-year period the graduates would refund part of the expenses after securing better employment. This edict would be formalized so that no State investment would be contemplated without local and regional investments and participation.  The rational was that if investments were shared by the well to do inhabitants who tend to mind a return on investments then, proper and timely execution of projects were more secured since founded on individual interest.

Within a year Antoun appointed Mariam Najjar as his education counselor. Mariam encouraged many visiting scholars to settle in Mount Lebanon and more opportunities for various disciplines sprouted in education that required specialized higher educational institutions.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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