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Posts Tagged ‘Tales of Twin Cities: Beirut and Haifa

Tales of Twin Cities: Beirut and Haifa (April 1, 2009)

 

By the year 1933, the city of Haifa was the main magnet for the Levantines and Iraqis.  A railroad linked it to Egypt, Damascus and to the Hijjaz (Mecca) in the Arabic Peninsula.  A pipeline was exporting half of Iraq’s production toward Europe.  A modern port was the main export location of Syria’s wheat and grain to Europe. A new oil refinery was installed. Haifa was the most prosperous and promising destination for the Lebanese. 

Many streets were named after Lebanese towns and cities.  Anywhere you walked the stores had common Lebanese family names.  The Maronite Selim Khoury from Bkaseen (by Jezzine) was considered the richest in Palestine; he instituted a modern silk factory and many laborers from Lebanon flocked there. 

The families of Bustros, Sursok, and Tuweiny owned half the fertile plains in Galilee about (180 square kilometers). Suleiman Nassif had exclusivity on thermal pools. The CAT Company, a building contractor, erected series of houses outside Acre’s walls.

Lebanese educators and intellectuals taught there.  The famous lawyer, Wadi3 Bustani was the special counselor to the British Governor Colonel Stanton.  Dailies were created.  Haiffa was like Qatar and Dubai today for the Lebanese emigrants; they were welcomed and needed to absorb the fast pace economic explosion.

Then, in 1948, the infamous Zionist State was created by a majority of a single vote in the UN.  The administrations of the USA, France, and Britain wanted to get rid of the Jews in their midst.  The monster Stalin stupidly believed that Israel would be the first communist State in the Middle East.

The tide turned and the Palestinians flocked to Lebanon; the prosperous and educated Palestinian refugees headed to Beirut.  What the English and USA governments could not do in Lebanon was done by the Palestinians:  the English language spread and prospered. The American University in Beirut got a new lease on life; most of the Arabs in the Gulf, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq studied in Beirut.

The port of Beirut was modernized and expanded and replaced Haifa; oil pipelines and refineries were installed in Lebanon, most of the land transit passed through the port of Beirut.

South Lebanon was transformed into a vast garden of orange and apple orchards thanks to the expertise of the cultivators of Jaffa.  The financial institutions in Beirut flourished.  The insurance businesses got foothold; even today, most of the insurance executives are of Palestinian origins. Folk dancing, songs, theaters were initiated by Palestinian artists.

The rich Palestinian Christians were offered the Lebanese citizenship. The poor Palestinian Christian refugees were installed in camps in Christian districts such as the camps of Jisr Pasha, Dbaiyeh, and Mar Elias.  The Palestinian Moslems were distributed in camps all over Lebanon.  

These inexpensive Palestinian workmen were the main backbone for the emerging small and medium industries and in agriculture; until the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) disturbed the entire structure when it installed its headquarters in Beirut in 1969.  During the civil war that started in 1975, all the Christian Palestinian camps were overturned by the Lebanese Christian militias and the surviving refugees expelled from the Christian regions or cantons.

The PLO was forced to vacate Lebanon in 1982 and the Palestinian workforce was replaced by Syrians and the Palestinian refugees were confined to their camps; they experienced renewed constraints on work permits and selective jobs and restraining labor licenses.

Since time immemorial, the southern Lebanese seaport of Tyr was the administrative center for the entire region extending to beyond Haifa, Mount Carmel, and including upper Galilee. Under normal circumstances, the coastal zone from Tyr to Haifa could have been the largest Megapolis on the Mediterranean Sea.

The newly created apartheid Zionist State disrupted all kinds of major development in the region.

Note 1: I am reading the interesting Arabic/Lebanese book “This Life, my Sweetheart” (Ya Dunia, ya Gharamy) by Ussama El Aref.  One of its chapters inspired the theme of this article.

Note 2: After the Second World War, Germany welcomed the Kurdish workforce, arriving by train with fanfare and official bands, because it needed badly to reconstruct the country.  Germany thinks that it finished reconstruction and has no idea how to repatriate the Kurds of Turkey. 

Germany is offering to finance private enterprises in the Kurdish region for any Kurdish family willing to return.  The catch is: would anyone not feeling secure and safe in his homeland return?  Would Germany re-welcome any Kurds if political conditions deteriorate?


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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