Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Rita Zoghbi

“An open book: A life of remembrance” by Maitre Phares Zoghbi

A livres ouverts, une vie de souvenirs”, a biographical book

I am a frequent visitor to the Phares Zoghbi’s library in Cornet Shehwan. Unfortunately, the librarywas turned over to the University of Saint Joseph for management, as long as the library find domicile at Zoghbi’s house.

I asked the resident director of the house-library, Rita Zoghbi (not a relative), about books that Maitre Zoghbi has published and she gave me two of them free, both written in French: “Liban: le salut par la culture” and “A livres ouverts, une vie de souvenirs”, a biographical book.

Two months ago, I overheard Maitre Phares asking Rita about the final count on the books in his library and she replied: “I think we reached over 50,000 manuscripts and counting”. I am still baffled why Maitre Phares decided on the Ph in his name instead of the simple F.

“A livre ouverts: une vie de souvenirs” by Phares Zoghbi is a biography of an individual trying to discover his entity, his culture, and his philosophy to life.  The author lost his father when he was ten.  Phares’ mother had to let go of her son. His married uncle, without child, volunteered to adopt him in Lebanon.

From a care free life style in Brazil, the author had to experience a controlled and restricted atmosphere in a non urban environment in Lebanon, where communication was limited, since the new family could not speak Portuguese and he could not speak Arabic or Spanish.

I was pained that the author had to forget and forgo the Portuguese language when he moved to Lebanon and had to learn Arabic and French.

It is my contention that a language that you can master its reading is an additional soul that enriches your perspectives, enlarges your horizon, and increases your moral character and diversifies your philosophy on life.

Maitre Phares is one of thousands of Lebanese children, like me, who had to learn or relearn their mother tongue when born overseas, simply because we have no strong national spirit to unite us and stick to a national language which is Arabic.  The schools overseas that teach Arabic are so scarce and so poorly taken seriously that we feel plagued by an inferiority complex that drives us to master other languages to an extreme.

The problem of how a language can balance between the scientific exigencies and the cultural demands is even more acute in Arabic, notwithstanding that updates on the new development and social changes that require new terminologies and different structure in expression are not followed up.

Maitre Phares mentioned several people and books that affected his system of beliefs such as Emmanuel Mounier “Le Personnalisme”, Denis de Rougemont “L’Aventure occidental de l’homme”, Jean Guiton “Portrait de M. Pouget”, Pierre Boisdeffre ” Metharmorphose de la litterature de Barres a Malraux”, A.M. Alberes “L’Aventure intellectuelle du XX siecle”, Jorge Amado “Bahia de tous les saints”, Rene Habachi “De l’homme et de la connaissance”, Malraux, Bergson “L’Energie spirituelle”, Teilhard de Chardin “Le phenomene human”, Camus, Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir and Michel Foucault in “Les mots et les Choses” who is the representative of the Structuralism movement that announced the “death of man” and the irrelevance of the subject matter, since human kind is basically doomed even before Earth vanishes to smithereens.

I quote: “Man is an invention that the archaeology of our thinking easily proves that man is a recent creature and that his end is coming soon”.

Claude Levi-Strauss has become a major source to Maitre Zoghbi to comprehend “structuralisme” or the new science mouvement; Levi-Strauss’ published  books are: “Tristes Tropiques”, “Mythologiques: le cru et le cuit”, “Du miel aux cendre”, “L’Origine des manières de table”, and “L’Homme nue”.

Maitre Zoghbi is on the lookout for any philosophy that would restore his belief in man and personal evolution.  The favorite magazines (revues) of Phares Zoghbi were Esprit and Les Temps Modernes.

I am proud and happy that our neighborhood has a library founded by the sweat and dedication of an internationally cultured man.

“Liban: le salut par la culture” discusses the meaning of culture, the Lebanese political and social realities and the viable remedies, the Lebanese national pact, the genesis of Maitre Phares’ philosophical views, the subject of the Francophone, a sarcastic description of the US dollars supremacy, and other topics.

The chapters on Lebanon are interesting and offer rich perspectives; even the many sections that deal with topics about the social and political problems of Lebanon that I am familiar with they are still worth reading carefully because I discovered a few gems and personal and historical facts.

The definition of culture and what culture is needed for the Lebanese as a people is worth diagnosing.  During the colloquium of Avignon in April 1982 that discussed establishing a Euro-Afro-Arab university in Alexandria (Egypt), since Lebanon was still involved in a civil war, Jacques Berque said: “La culture c’est le movement d’une societe qui s’ efforce de chercher ses explications et de se donner une expression”. (Culture is a society’s movement at the look out of explanations and finding an expression)

I quote “La culture n’est plus fin de partie, elle est appareillage; un projet de retrouvaille qui ramasse le passe, le présent et le future dans une perspective d’un grand dessein qui galvanise les désirs et les espoirs, un projet qui œuvre sur l’environnement, produit du médiat et de l’immédiat”.

In that perspective Maitre Zoghbi delineate the following principles for a socio-historic research for our culture:

1. Islam admits the idea of a state-nation. There is nowhere mention in the Koran or in the 7adith that when Moslems are part of a nation that Islam should dominate.

2. As the Christian religion should not be confounded with the periods of inquisition, Islam experienced long periods of tolerance and the sourate of the Table is an example.

3. That historically and sociologically, the culture of any community cannot dissociate from its surrounding.

4. If the West is presently our primary source of cultural nourishment the East is our lot, our beginning and our destination.

5. That this enterprise of long-term cultural osmoses and synthesis should not entitle any constraints in religion, ethnic particularities, any refusal of differences as long as the communal effort is preserved.

In support of these principles the author was encouraged by the views of many intellectuals that converged with his opinions like Antoine Messarra, Michel Hayek, Roger Arnaldez, Hisham Nachabi, Youssef Ibech,  Sobhi Saleh, Rene Habashi, and Jean Maroun.

Frankly, I have realized that auto-censorship in this confessional, feudal, and isolationist system that exhibited fascistic pressures on cultural movements that might exhibit serious threat to its survival.

Maitre Zoghbi explained in great length the historical creation of the Republic of Lebanon.

In 1919, Father Henri Lammens summed up the historical evolution of the Syrian nationality in well defined geographical borders and tradition, which the classical Antiquity and the Greek, Roman, and Arab empires recognized the fact that the people within these natural borders constitute one nation.

In fact, the colonial powers recognized that the people in the Near East constituted a cohesive entity within natural boundaries linking the east and Africa with rich and qualified human resources and natural raw materials and might eventually disrupt the colonial trade and expansion.

The current political States established by the mandatory powers should not erase the fact that we are one people in history, geography and culture regardless of political consensus among the political states to live as independent states.

It is true that Israel would like to divide these States even further, according to religious sects in order to provide political legitimacy to its existence and also to be able to subjugate these tiny and helpless states.

The Israeli archives prove that the Maronite Patriarchs and the Maronite parties of “Al Ketlate Al Watania” of the Edde family and “Al Kataeb” of the Gemayel family were in constant negotiations with Zionism long before its foundation as the State of Israel.  Many Maronite clergy and political leaders were in cohort with Zionism so that it might acquire some political legitimacy in Lebanon in the face of the Moslem majority.

The issue of national resistance against the successive aggressions of Israel on Lebanon and the neighboring Arab States has been discussed.  The author mentioned the articles of Michel Chiha in the daily “Le Jour” where he warned in 1948, four days after the foundation of the State of Israel, that resistance is a question of life and death for the Near East and Egypt.

Again, either the author wanted to restrict his references to articles written in French and didn’t want to venture into translating from Arabic manuscripts or he just wanted to select articles that appeared in the daily “L’Orient Le Jour” or most probably the auto-censor is working against the teaching of Antoun Saaadeh. 

This leader Saadeh has founded a party in 1937 for the purpose of uniting the people against the Zionism development; he warned that if an organized force is not formed to counter the ever expanding forces of Zionism then the State of Israel will be founded and we will have to suffer the consequences of existence for centuries.

Sa3adeh also was the first to warn that oil is an international weapon that was not used to counter the schemes of the Western nations in Palestine.  Actually, Sa3adeh was summarily executed because the British and American were anxious to have the oil pipeline “Tapeline” contract ratified.

Habib Abu Chahla, the appointed Lebanese lawyer for Tapeline, was the force behind convincing the President of the Republic Bechara Khoury to get rid of that nuisance of Antoun Saadeh who fought against the comprador economy in Lebanon.

A section was reserved to analyze the Sepharades Jews, over 65% of the Jews in Israel, who came from the Arab States and carried with them the customs and traditions of the Orient and were forced not to learn Arabic and dissociate from their oriental culture as a heavy baggage for the development of a modern Israel.

Auto Stop in Mount Lebanon: Around Ain 3ar, Kornet Chehwan and Beit-Chabab…

I have been walking to the nearby private library of Fares Zoghbi (50,000 books) almost every day, rain or shine in the last 15 years.

It is no longer private, see note. It is maybe a two-mile walk and I make sure to flag every passing car in the first years when I had no internet connection: my purpose is to reach the library and to type my articles and post them on wordpress.com.

Yes, my purpose is to enjoy a climate of quiet and focused brain work and selecting fresh acquisition of books and magazine to read at home.

The manager Rita Zoghbi always bribes me with a cup of coffee: I am the most dedicated customer, and frequently I help myself with a cup of Nescafe around noon.

I am often invited to have pieces of cakes, sandwiches, cookies so that I don’t feel hungry when I arrive home around 2:15 pm.

The library closes at 2 pm and reopens at 3 pm, but I never return in the afternoon; supposedly I have other “cats to whip”.

Recently, Rita allowed me to stay while she is on afternoon break, and I am enjoying a continuous stay till 4:15 and generating plenty of productive works…

I decided to walk to the library, rain or shine, after I sold my car and do prefer Not to drive other people’s cars: You are always blamed for previous car defects that were not repaired…

Only old cars stop to pick me up; but I don’t mind at all: any short lift saves me time and physical energy.

A few drivers extend their arms meaning they are going far; as if I am going to Beirut or asking them to tour the world.

Any short lift is fantastic service to me, but how drivers figure that out?

Drivers of new cars and women drivers never even slow down to check on this hapless guy having the guts and recklessness of flagging them.

Since I start walking by 10 am, after finishing work on my garden and using up the scarce resources on water, I noticed that most cars are driven by women.  Not that they are going to a job, but they look intent on reaching destination and they have got to be driving somewhere.

Invariably, cars driven by women are very new; mostly monstrous four-wheel drive cars, and shining: cars driven by women have got to be shining for glamour reason.

In rainy days, I keep flagging my arms to warn drivers to slow down, lest they drench me worse than the pouring rain. Most people interpret my waving arms as curses and they accelerate. A few understand the gesture and smile to me sheepishly and slow down, then accelerate furiously.

You may be asking the interesting question: “Why do you have to walk?

First, I sold my old car: I could no longer afford to repair it, much less afford the increasing cost of gas.  I figured that 50% of my “savings” went into my old car.

Second, I am very reluctant supporting the huge budget imbalance of my pseudo-government, sort of civic disobedience:  apparently, the government makes tons of money from direct and indirect taxes from the stupid people who own a car.

Third, my monkish life-style (forced hermit) is restricted to about 4 miles around my residence and I don’t need to pay extra expenses renewing my driving license or car insurance or shoulder any other emergencies tasks like giving rides to nieces and nephews.

Oh, I can find many other reasons for why I have to walk, but mainly I am out of work and not in the mood of working at minimum wages or having to commute to a stupid job and wear down my nervous energy in traffic and pollution.

I used to teach at a university and I needed two hours to drive back and forth for a one-hour class.  I figured out that staying put, doing what I love to do best (reading, writing, and publishing for free), was saving me money and useless anxieties.

Thus, the best strategy to save your mental, physical, and nervous health is to decline earning money working for other people.

The less money you have the better; unless you win the jackpot: and you are stuck with an even bigger problem of managing too much money.

You almost always lose your money to scams who are much more astute than you are in these kinds of “money distribution” business.

One more huge advantage for walking to the library and being penniless:  I developed intelligent sensitivities.

I now have figured out that my close relatives are extremely judgmental for no other reasons that they have no guts to change their lifestyle.

I once asked my niece for $20 a month (less than what most people earn in third world countries).  That request was sent by internet two months ago; I have got to receive a reply.

I know that my other nieces and nephews learned about my request but there are no volunteers.

Judgmental are people; worst than Nazi, even if they don’t care about politics or are vegetarians or veg.

I noticed that all my nieces and nephews agreed to punish me for not trying to find an “earning job“. As if spending $100 on a stupid single eating out is an “energy booster” for their stupid “middle class” mentality…

Note: The library is no longer private: Owned by the French Jesuit University and making it hard for people to enjoy reading…They started charging $30 to come in and read.

And this year 2012, the university closed the library for December, and we are waiting for the end of February for the university to decide on a new manager and other higher fees and constraints.

The Cultural Foundation of Maitre Phares Zoghbi: Kornet Chehwan, Lebanon (May 1, 2009)

I used to be, and still are, a frequent visitor to the Phares Zoghbi’s library in Kornet Chehwan.  I currently patronize it almost 5 days a week.

Once, I missed a day and Maitre Zoghbi called me home: he was worried that I might be sick.

Maitre Zoghbi turned over the library to the University of Saint Joseph (the Law Department) for management as long as the library is domiciled at his house. Many lawyers and judges pay visits the library for sources of references that are unavailable in other libraries and universities.

I once overheard Maitre Phares asking Rita Zoghbi, the resident manager, about the final count on the books in his library and she replied: “I think we reached over 50,000 manuscripts and counting”.

Fresh news books in French and Arabic are purchased on weekly basis and Maitre Zoghby used to enjoy touring the various commercial libraries for selection.  Recently, Maitre Zoghby was inspired to add magazines; he is paying for them. The University pays the tab for the new acquisition of books.

With this encouraging environment I am cranking up on average three articles every couple of days and publishing them on the internet that the library has connected to, a few months ago.

I enjoy having a smoke in the garden and picking up a rose or a flower and insert it in my lapel hole.

When Layal Kanaan spent a month in the library (she sits in a large room and I in another) to write her dissertation on French linguistics among the Lebanese I used to bring her an assortment of flowers.  She later told me that she prefers flowers to die in the garden.

It didn’t make much difference to me: I love to see everyone I encounter wearing a flower, a kind of “movable feast” for the eyes and morale proving nature’s eminent glory, beauty, and versatility.

I asked Rita about books that Maitre Zoghbi has published and she gave me two for free, both written in French: “Liban: le salut par la culture” and “A livres ouverts, une vie de souvenirs“, a biographical book.

I had posted this book review on my blog Adonis49.wordpress.com.

Maitre Zoghbi was the lawyer of the Lebanese daily Al Nahar (The Day) and of the Casino of Lebanon.

In every trip outside Lebanon, it was the libraries that were his favorite hangout and books were shipped to his library/house.  Maitre Zoghbi financially aids several local “non-profit” institutions related to health and learning.

Rita is managing the library and taking good care of Maitre Zoghbi.  She arranges for his meetings, communications, translating his occasional illegible hand writing, preparing Turkish coffee for visitors, his appointments to physicians, and calling for taxis (Maitre Zoghbi never learned to drive and he would never miss an occasion to personally offer his condolences to a dear departed).

Occasionally, Rita organizes study groups on authors and philosophers once a month; she invites neighboring schools to check out the library and have special classes.

Maitre Zoghbi prefers to meet with his visitors among his books. As I enter he is already busy inserting “book marks” (that Rita had cut out and prepared for him) in every page he flips, just feeling the need to insert paper book marks.

Maitre Zoghbi is proud that he celebrated his 93 rd birthday this March. He is still relatively functional in walking and reading. Once, he had to climb an incline of a route around the house and it had rained; he was utterly exhausted and scared as he slipped several times; I found him walking by the wall as I parked and gave him my arm.

I horde an oversize room, well heated and well lighted.  I keep a dozen books on the conference table. That should keep the impression that Lebanese adore reading.

Rita shares with me cookies that go with coffee or sections of any fresh sandwiches that she receives. Sometimes I don’t feel hungry at lunch time when I go home.

The library closes when the University is officially closed, which cramps my style and habits.

Once, my sister gave me ride because of car problems. The library was closed and I had the opportunity of investigating drivers’ charity level. I walked half the distance before someone stopped for me.

It shouldn’t be more than a 2-kilometer trip from my home, and if my experience with hitchhiking is satisfactory then I will sell my old car.

For $20 a year you own a kingdom of learning and an oasis of peace and tranquility.

You can find huge volumes of artistic manuscripts for all kinds of famous painters and photographers.  Good reading.

Note 1: I have since sold my car and walk to the library carrying a school backpack. On rare occasions I am lucky with a driver stopping to pick me up.

Note 2: Last year, the library closed as Rita got busy with her own business “Baby Step“. This March 2014, the library re-opened officially and Maha can help you with your search. Opened from 8:30 to 4 pm Monday thru Friday, and Saturday from 9 to 3 pm.

“Lebanon: safeguarded by its culture”? by Phares Zoghbi

August 19, 2007 “Liban: le salut par la culture” 

I am a frequent visitor to the Phares Zoghbi’s library in Cornet Shehwan and which was turned over to the University of Saint Joseph for management. This private library is to find domicile at Zoghbi’s house.

Phares Zoghbi’ is a renown lawyer and is 94 years old.  I asked the resident director of the library, Rita Zoghbi (not a relative), about books that Maitre Zoghbi has published and she gave me two for free, both written in French: “Liban: le salut par la culture” and “A livres ouverts, une vie de souvenirs(An open book: A life of remembrance), a biographical book.

Two months ago, I overheard Maitre Phares asking Rita about the final count on the books in his library and she replied: “I think we reached over 50,000 manuscripts and counting”.  Most of the manuscripts and magazines are in French and Arabic, and the library host rare books on legal matters and legal opinions.

The following critical summary merges the two books because the philosophical views of the author are shared in both books.  I didn’t translate the French quotations into English and thus, the style is hybrid.  It is funny that even the word processor is very confused trying to auto-correct the typos.

“Liban: le salut par la culture” discusses the meaning of culture, the Lebanese political and social realities and the viable remedies, the Lebanese national pact, the genesis of Maitre Phares’ philosophical views, the subject of the Francophone, a sarcastic description of the US dollars supremacy, and other topics.

The chapters on Lebanon are interesting and offer rich perspectives; even the many sections that deal with topics about the social and political problems of Lebanon, which I am familiar with, are worth reading carefully because I discovered a few gems and personal and historical facts.

The definition of culture and what culture is needed for the Lebanese as a people is worth diagnosing.  During the colloquium of Avignon in April 1982 that discussed establishing a Euro-Afro-Arab university in Alexandria (Egypt), since Lebanon was still involved in a civil war, Jacques Berque said: “La culture c’est le movement d’une societe qui s’ efforce de chercher ses explications et de se donner une expression”.

I quote “La culture n’est plus fin de partie, elle est appareillage; un projet de retrouvaille qui ramasse le passe, le présent et le future dans une perspective d’un grand dessein qui galvanise les désirs et les espoirs, un projet qui œuvre sur l’environnement, produit du médiat et de l’immédiat”.

In that perspective, Maitre Zoghbi delineates the following principles for a socio-historic research for our culture:

1. Islam admits the idea of a State-nation. There is nowhere mention in the Koran or in the hadith that when Moslems are part of a nation that Islam should dominate.

2. As the Christian religion should not be confounded with the periods of inquisition, Islam experienced long periods of tolerance and the sourate of the Table is an example.

3. That historically and sociologically, the culture of any community cannot dissociate from its surrounding.

4. If the West is presently our primary source of cultural nourishment, the East is our lot, our beginning and our destination.

5. That this enterprise of long-term cultural osmoses and synthesis should not entitle any constraints in religion, ethnic particularities, any refusal of differences as long as the communal effort is preserved.

In support of these principles, the author was encouraged by the views of many intellectuals that converged with his opinions like Antoine Messarra, Michel Hayek, Roger Arnaldez, Hisham Nachabi, Youssef Ibech,  Sobhi Saleh, Rene Habashi, and Jean Maroun.

What is disturbing is that the author failed to mention Antoun Saaadeh who wrote in 1940:

“Islam (peace) in his two messengers: Jesus and Mohammad” and proved that the fundamentals of these two religions do not differ and that, when thirteen years later Mohammad established firmly his message, he had to deal with the socio-economic and political divergences among the tribes and had to codify their behaviors and thus, interpretations were necessary and differences with evolving societies required fine tuning…”

My impression is that the author followed the auto-censorship in the Lebanese system to keep Sa3adeh a taboo name, otherwise credibility would be robbed from the author and his ideas utterly invalidated.

Frankly, I have realized that auto-censorship for a long while in this confessional, feudal, and isolationist system that exhibited fascistic pressures on cultural movements that might exhibit serious threat to its survival.

Maitre Zoghbi explained in great length the historical creation of the Republic of Lebanon.

In 1919, Father Henri Lammens summed up the historical evolution of the Syrian nationality in well defined geographical borders and tradition, which the classical Antiquity and the Greek, Roman, and Arab empires recognized the fact that the people within these natural borders constitute one nation.

In fact, the colonial powers recognized that the people in the Near East constituted a cohesive entity within natural boundaries linking the east and Africa with rich and qualified human resources,  natural raw materials, and might eventually disrupt the colonial trade and expansion.

The current political States, established by the mandatory powers, should not erase the fact that we are one people in history, geography and culture, regardless of political consensus among the political states to live as independent States.

It is true that Israel would like to divide these States even further according to religious sects in order to provide political legitimacy to its existence and also to be able to subjugate these tiny and helpless States, one State at a time.  The Israeli archives prove that the Maronite Patriarchs and the Maronite parties of “Al Ketlate Al Watania” of the Edde family and “Al Kataeb” of the Gemayel family were in constant negotiations with Zionism, long before its foundation as the State of Israel.  Many Maronite clergy and political leaders were in cohort with Zionism so that it might acquire some political legitimacy in Lebanon in the face of the Moslem majority.

It is true that genuine representative democracy should offer minorities, whether religious sects, classes, or professions, proportional representation in parliament, government and jobs.  Thus, our genius should be directed at easing the apprehension of the minorities and establishing a unified civil code that group us as one people under the law.

First, we should start by diminishing the powers relegated to the 18 recognized religious sects,  the de facto ruler of our lives from birth to death. For the central government to recover its responsibilities over all the Lebanese citizens it can start by taxing heavily the financial resources of these religious hierarchies and gradually recuperating the duties that the central government is entitled to in modern democracies.

Since our independence in 1943, the motto of ruling class was that we need first to erase the confessional inclinations from our mind before putting in writing a civil code, as if it is possible to reach a civil society without first codifying our civil status as the law of the land.

The National Pact of 1943 for tiny Lebanon was not bad in itself if the intention was to represent the various communities constituting the Lebanese fabric, but it quickly degenerated into a confessional oligarchy of spoilage of the political privileges between the feudal and financial figures of the Maronite and Sunny sects, which dominated the urban centers and economic comprador infrastructure.

The flawed electoral systems since the independence meant the hegemony of the leaders of the two sects; it is so true that leaders in these two sects had to run in the districts of Bekaa, Akar, and the south in order to win a seat in the parliament when they failed in their own districts.  The various alternative electoral systems prevented a normal evolution toward a stable democracy because political secular parties and associations were unable to be represented and when they had the popular support then the governments managed to cheat them out of their due rights; this political system could not generate a stabilizing effect in our multi-religious society.  Lebanon suffered two “military coup d’etat” simply because the system refused to recognize the election of secular figures.

My opinion is that it seems that the Lebanese intelligence is not so far working toward a stable and secure State after over 65 years of independence from the French mandate.  What is needed is to create a bi-level parliament; one parliament would be constituted by political parties, professional associations and syndicates in a proportional quota and the other parliament represented by one deputy for one electoral district so that all religious minorities will be represented. The latter parliament would have a certain level of veto power over specific legislations by the former parliament and would also cater specifically to the individual districts.

It is hoped that the combined number of deputies in both parliaments should never exceed 128 deputies who are taxing heavily our resources and providing largess to their descendents in amenities and political privileges.

The issue of national resistance against the successive aggressions of Israel on Lebanon and the neighboring Arab States has been discussed.  The author mentioned the articles of Michel Chiha in the daily “Le Jour” where he warned in 1948, four days after the foundation of the State of Israel, that resistance is a question of life and death for the Near East and Egypt.

Again, either the author wanted to restrict his references to articles written in French and didn’t want to venture into translating from Arabic manuscripts or he just wanted to select articles that appeared in the daily “L’Orient Le Jour”, or most probably the auto-censor is working against the teaching of Antoun Saaadeh.  The leader Saaadeh has founded a party in 1937 for the purpose of uniting the people against the Zionism development; he warned that if an organized force is not formed to counter the ever expanding forces of Zionism then the State of Israel will be founded and we will have to suffer the consequences of precarious existence for centuries.

Sa3adeh also was the first to warn that oil is an international weapon that was not used to counter the schemes of the Western nations in Palestine.  Actually, Sa3adeh was summarily executed because the British and American were anxious to have the oil pipeline “Tapeline” contract ratified and Habib Abu Chahla, the appointed Lebanese lawyer for Tapeline, was the force behind convincing the President of the Republic Bechara Khoury to get rid of that Saadeh nuisance to the comprador economy.

Since every single one of our problems is current from the time of our Independence, and getting worse, it is worthwhile to discuss the immediate quagmire about the election of a new president to the Republic.  And since the President is elected by the members of the parliament it would be fair to suggest that the timing of the election to the Chamber of deputies be done four months before the end of the term of the President in order to correspond to the wishes of the people.

Obviously, the terms of the deputies must be modified from four to three years or one third of the chamber should be renewed every two years.  The President should be given the right to dismiss the parliament once in his term and also to dismiss the government once in his term so that the system can avoid these gridlocks so very frequent in our history and go back to the people for referendums.

If we have any intelligence left to organize our society, it is about time to re-think a Constitution that has learned from our constant and frequent political troubles and insert any revised national pact into the one an unique Constitution as the foundation for our survival and progress.

A section in “Lebanon: safeguarded by its culture” was reserved to analyze the Sepharade Jews, over 65% of the Jews in Israel, who came from the Arab States and carried with them the customs and traditions of the Orient and were forced not to learn Arabic and dissociate from their oriental culture as a heavy baggage for the development of a modern Israel.

“A livre ouverts: une vie de souvenirs” by Phares Zoghbi is a biography of an individual trying to discover his entity, his culture, and his philosophy to life.  The author lost his father when he was ten and his mother had to let go of her son when his married uncle without child volunteered to adopt him in Lebanon.

From a care free life style in Brazil the author had to experience a controlled and restricted atmosphere where communication was limited since the new family could not speak Portuguese and he could not speak Arabic or Spanish.  I was pained that the author had to forget and forgo the Portuguese language when he moved to Lebanon and had to learn Arabic and French.  It is my contention that a language that you can master its reading is an additional soul that enriches your perspectives and enlarges your horizon and increases your moral character and diversifies your philosophy on life.

Maitre Phares is one of thousands of Lebanese children like me who had to learn or relearn their mother tongue when born overseas, simply because we have no strong national spirit to unite us and stick to a national language which is Arabic.

The schools overseas that teach Arabic are so scarce and so poorly taken seriously that we feel plagued by an inferiority complex that drives us to master other languages to an extreme.  The problem of how a language can balance between the scientific exigencies and the cultural demands is even more acute in Arabic, notwithstanding that updates on the new development and social changes that require new terminologies and different structure in expression are not followed up.

Maitre Fares mentioned several people and books that affected his system of beliefs such as Emmanuel Mounier “Le Personnalisme”, Denis de Rougemont “L’Aventure occidental de l’homme”, Jean Guiton “Portrait de M. Pouget”, Pierre Boisdeffre ” Metharmorphose de la litterature de Barres a Malraux”, A.M. Alberes “L’Aventure intellectuelle du XX siecle”, Jorge Amado “Bahia de tous les saints”, Rene Habachi “De l’homme et de la connaissance”, Malraux, Bergson “L’Energie spirituelle”, Teilhard de Chardin “Le phenomene human”, Camus, Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir and Michel Foucault in “Les mots et les Choses” who is the representative of the Structuralism movement that announced the “death of man” and the irrelevance of the subject matter since human kind is basically doomed even before Earth vanishes to smithereens.  I quote: “Man is an invention that the archeology of our thinking easily proves that man is a recent creature and that his end is coming soon”.

Claude Levi-Strauss has become a major source to Maitre Zoghbi to comprehend structuralisme or the new science mouvement; Levi-Strauss’ published  books are: “Tristes Tropiques”, “Mythologiques: le cru et le cuit”, “Du miel aux cendre”, “L’Origine des manières de table”, and “L’Homme nue”.  Maitre Zoghbi is on the lookout for any philosophy that would restore his belief in man and personal evolution.  The favorite magazines (revues) of Phares Zoghbi were Esprit and Les Temps Modernes.

I am proud and happy that our neighborhood has a library founded by the sweat and dedication of an internationally cultured man.  I am still baffled why Maitre Phares decided on the Ph in his name instead of the simple F.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

December 2020
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