Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sharing Christmas with my son

About 5 in the afternoon on the 1st Sunday in December dad would take you in his white Austin Wolseley to Hamra Street to see the Christmas lights. He would park his car and take you to The Express café for some hot chocolate and a piece of fôret noire while you sat there watching the cars and passers by looking at the decorated shop windows. Once your cake safely tucked away in your belly, hands and mouth cleaned so that all evidence of you eating desert before diner disappears; he will zip up your anorak and take you on your magical Christmas tour.

A trip to “Toyland” (our humble version of FAO Schwartz) is a must; dad will be most attentive trying to see what catches your eye the most so that you might find it under the tree. Walking along the side walk you will encounter a few Santas wringing their bell and distributing candy, and if you ask why is there more than one, dad will tell you that those are Santa’s helpers paving the way for Christmas eve.

Back home, diner on the table, you make an effort to eat so that you don’t let mum on your secret adventure. All is merry and joyful. Around the diner table there are no talk of a vacant presidency, car bombs, Syrians, Aoun, Hizbollah…etc; the only heated argument is that your dad might have brought you back a tad passed your curfew.

The following Sunday your aunt might take you again to Hamra street, but this time to a church where the choir sings to Jazz. Whilst she is praying you listen to the music and let the rhythm engulf your soul. Again another trip along the side walk filled with Santas and candy and a feeling of happiness and security.

The above is nothing but a small percentage of my Christmas memories. I will not share more with you, for I know that you will never have anything similar. Once you are old enough my son, and will read this text I would like to apologize in advance for the sadness you might feel. Hamra Street is no longer what it used to be, Lebanon is no longer.

I love you, and I am sorry.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

If Kipling was Lebanese

If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on politicians;

If you can trust no leader when all others blindly follow,

But make no allowance for their ignorance too;

If you can no longer wait, and is tired of waiting,

Or being lied about, then deal with the lies,

Or being hated just let them with their hating;

And yet you don’t compromise, nor give up:

If you can make your voice heard, and never shy away;

If you can think, and not let others think for you;

If you can meet with slogans and promises

And eradicate those two impostors with a swift blow,

If you can apply onto you that patriotism you profess

Unshaken by various attempts to demean or diminish it,

Or watch others bargain with the souls of those who fell,

And never think that you can leave it to history books;

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

Or walk alongside men, but not follow blindly,

If neither foes nor friends you lend your trust to,

If some men count with you, but none too much;

If you can cherish this Biblical land and protect it with your blood,

Yours is dignified life and all that it entails,

And – which is more—you’ll be Lebanese my son !

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Schizophrenia at its best!

The following is not what I stand for, but it stems from a deep sentiment of frustration and guilt. It is nothing but my own cowardly way to vent my anger.

Frustration for realizing that all efforts spent towards a dignified and free Lebanon has gone to waist; and guilt for having brought my son from his safe haven to the land of struggle and strife.

The following is no political analysis, it was never my forte.

The following is part of my belief in the legend of the Knights of the Round Table, and my way to justify the evil that still lurks within my soul (although a contradiction). A mask I have put on in order to excuse what I witnessed and participated in during the war.

Tout comme l’a dit Moustaki dans la marche de Sacco et Vanzetti, ou même dans ‘’le déserteur’’ de Boris Vian ; quoi qu’on prétend être pacifiste notre bonté a ses limites (opinion personnel).

Aujourd’hui je déclare (non pas ‘’l’état de bonheur permanent’’) mais la bataille de survie d’un pays et d’un peuple qui a longtemps ouvert (peut être malgré sa volonté) ses portes a ceux qui ont souffert, et maintenant font souffrir.

A ceux qui ont usé de l’hospitalité dont on a toujours été fière, et en on fait leur base de chaos et de meurtre gratuit.

Je déclare la guerre à tout ceux qui ont usés de la bonté de cœur de toute une nation, qui ouvert ses portes aux chiens galeux que nos voisins ont massacrés sans remords ; et qui maintenant nous massacrent.

Je fais un appel a mon peuple, a mes concitoyens (moi qui jouie d’une autre nationalité, et je l’admet) d’éduquer nos enfants, non dans la tolérance ; mais dans la bataille de survie.

Le temps est venu, pour tout Libanais patriote, de s’armer contre ce fléau qui menace notre être.

Aujourd’hui, je ne suis plus un être clément, Chrétien, Païen, Bouddhiste…etc ; je suis un simple homme conscient du mal qu’on essaye de m’affliger et du projet d’extinction qui frappe a ma porte.

Ma force de survie est plus forte que ma moralité et mes idéaux, mon devoir de père et surtout de citoyen passe bien avant de celui de mon bien être.

Le devoir de tout Libanais est de mettre de côté toute sorte d’idées préconçues et de moralité, de prendre les armes. Oui prendre les armes, d’éradiquer tout ceux qui durant plus de 30 ans ont essayé (en vain) de nous supprimer (et d’établir leur propre canton, ou même annexe) .

Aujourd’hui je déclare la guerre de survie.

Aujourd’hui (même hier) je déclare ma haine à tout ceux qui envahissent le centre de MA ville et d’un air hautain parlent de patriotisme.

Merci ! Mon sang je l’ai déjà versé, mais je ne verserais pas celui de mon fils. Ce Liban je le réclame, à moi et rien qu’a moi !

Aujourd’hui je deviens Musulman, je déclare une ‘’Fatwa’’ qui me permet d’éradiquer ce mal qui a fleuri impuni sur MON territoire.

Aujourd’hui je déclare l’enclenchement de MA croisade, non pas Chrétienne ; mais Libanaise.

N.B: For you my son, I sure hope that when you will come to age, things will have changed for the better; and that you won't have to repress all the hatred I have come to shed.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Where can I cash these slogans?

“Proud to be Lebanese”, “Lebanon forever”, “ No to fanaticism”, …. And many more. All fine sentiments and words, and then what?

Where did all those slogans lead us to? Did they:

  • Improve our quality of life?
  • Reduce the national debt?
  • Increase our GNP?
  • Free the hands of the judiciary?
  • Provide us with a fair electoral law?
  • Protect our basic human rights?
  • Make available affordable basic necessities?
  • Create new job opportunities?
  • Insure a decent retirement fund?
  • Fix any of the problems with the National Health Service?

Do I really need to go on, or is this enough for a start?

The list is endless and ever-growing; and yet we do nothing. We are still waiting for some miracle government/leader who will take us out of this ever deepening abyss. Well my friends this is not going to happen unless we all wake up and act. Express your disapproval of this status quo in every possible peaceful mean; be relentless in your quest for a better nation. Do not sell short your dignity and freedom. Do not sell short LEBANON !!!

Guilty of the highest crime!

Another night of watching different local TV channels jamming the airwaves with lies, accusations, attempted explanations; and sponsoring more hatred in a community that still clings on to words uttered from the mouths of so called leaders who change positions more than Sabah changes husbands (Ms Sabah, please excuse the metaphor).

Ever since that last war started (more like "imposed" upon us) we were bombarded (not only by Israeli missiles), but with words such as "Treason, American Agenda, New Middle East, Syria, Iran, International Tribunal, Tawlet Hiwar....etc". Every single politician, including Talal Arslan (the forgotten son) took turn on different podiums screaming obscenities and spitting at the crowds whilst delivering speeches in a vain show of patriotism.

And I, like most Lebanese; watched, listened and at times was moved.
Not anymore!

I have a son (
Tarek), 11 years of age, holder of another nationality (British); who now is begging me to leave and go back to England. My son, at 11 does not see any future for him in Lebanon.
Tarek is a nature and animal lover who sees the beauty of his country and cannot stand to see it destroyed by ignorance. His eager mind cannot grasp political notions (yet), but his innocence cannot accept all this hatred.

Michel, Hassan, Saad, Samir, Fouad, Walid, Nabih,...etc your are destroying our youth, you are killing the future of our country.

You are all guilty of the highest form of genocide!

Friday, November 23, 2007

On a lighter note !!!

On a Remote Farm: Geagea Milks the Cows, Aoun Helps and Bashar Watches

Lebanese leaders Samir Geagea and Michel Aoun may be at each other's
throats politically, but their namesakes in the Okla family get along
like a house on fire.
Mazyad Ibrahim Okla, a farmer in Qabb Elias village 50 kilometers east
of Beirut in the Bekaa valley, has named his five sons Aoun, Geagea,
Chirac, Lahoud and even Bashar after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Now another baby is on the way, and Okla is impatient for the election
of a new Lebanese president so he can give that name to the child if it
is a boy.
Each child's birth has coincided with a major political event.
"Aoun was born in 1990 at the end of the civil war and general Aoun was
a hero," said 48-year-old Okla, who has also fathered four girls.
A visit by Jacques Chirac to Lebanon in 1996 prompted him to name a son
after the former French president, who does not remotely resemble the
gap-toothed olive-skinned boy.
"France is our best friend, and Chirac was Hariri's friend," he said of
former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri whose assassination prompted this
devoted loyalist to name a daughter "Irhab." The word means terrorist
in Arabic.
"My wife gave birth 10 days after the assassination. If it had been a
boy I would have called him Hariri."
Okla does not regret naming his plump-cheeked blond-haired two-year-old
"terrorism" even though it may raise the ire of feminists and women'
rights groups.
"I want everyone to ask her what her name means when she grows up, so
she can tell them about dear Hariri," he said of the anti-Syrian
five-time premier.
Of his sons, Lahoud -- named after the incumbent pro-Syrian president
Emile Lahoud -- is teased most at school.
According to his sister Waad, the eldest child who cares for her
siblings when their parents are working on the farm, Lahoud came home
one day from school and was crying.
When she asked him what was wrong, he replied: "Everybody tells me my
days are numbered. Why is something bad happening to me?"
As Waad tells the story, Geagea goes off to milk the cows in the barn
and Aoun who is two years older goes to help him by holding the pump.
Little Bashar hides behind a milk churn, and shyly looks on.
Aoun says he wants to follow in the general's footsteps and join the
army or the police, while Geagea -- who is the best student among them
all -- wants to become a fighter pilot.
With another baby due soon, the Okla family plans to name the new
arrival after the next president.
But the politically divided country has been unable to choose a new
head of state because of disagreements between the anti-Syrian majority
and the Hezbollah-led opposition.
If the new arrival is a girl, therefore, she will be called "Salam"
which means peace in Arabic.
Okla and his wife Hammama, Sunni Muslims, plan to have "as many kids as
God wants" and say they will continue naming them after politicians.
With a Chirac and an Assad already in the family, another "foreigner"
being accepted into the fold cannot be ruled out.
But asked whether they would name any new children after US President
George W. Bush or his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, both
shake their heads emphatically and shout "la, la!" -- 'no!' in Arabic.
"Only after the French, because they really like us," decides Mazyad Ibrahim Okla.(AFP)

food for thought

whilst visiting different sites and blogs I came accross the follwing nightmarish article.

By pumping up the Lebanese crisis to explosion level, Tehran and Damascus steal Middle East interest away from Annapolis conference:

After Tehran and Damascus vetoed all six candidates for the presidency to succeed pro-Syrian Emil Lahoud on Nov. 24, candidates have been dropping by the wayside almost daily. The 79-year old former minister Michel Edde was the latest to be disqualified after he took instructions in Damascus for safeguarding Syrian interests in Lebanon.

DEBKAfile’s Middle East sources: Tehran and Damascus have joined hands to bring the Shiite Hizballah to the fore in Beirut and sabotage the Annapolis conference to demonstrate how Tehran & Co. is calling the shots in the Middle East - not Washington.

Our sources outline the worst-case scenario - failing a breakthrough in Beirut on an agreed president in the next 48 hours.

The outgoing pro-Syrian Emile Lahoud president will exit the Baabde palace Saturday, Nov. 24, and transfer his powers to the Lebanese chief of staff Gen. Michel Suleiman, who is considered moderately pro-Syrian and a Hizballah supporter.

The army will then rally behind the general rather than the pro-Western prime minister Fouad Siniora. This will leave Siniora with the option of calling on the backing of the Sunni militias led by majority leader Saad Hariri, Walid Jumblatt’s Druze forces and Samir Geagea’s Christian Phalangists. This bloc will find itself ranged against the bulk of the Lebanese army and Hizballah’s armed forces.

All the ingredients for turmoil and civil strife will then be in place, with the advantage held by the anti-West grouping in terms of numbers, training and weaponry, lavishly supplied by Syria and Iran.

President George W. Bush and every world leader he can rope in have been engaged in frenzied diplomacy in the last 24 hours to fend off this development. A conflagration in Lebanon would jeopardize the US administration’s policies not only there but also in relation to Iran, Syria and the Palestinians. The Washington-Annapolis meeting would become an empty charade.

Russian president Vladimir Putin in particular has lent his weight to Washington’s effort by applying to Bashar Assad and asking him to attend the meeting and work with the US to solve the crisis over the election of a Lebanese president. The Syrian president has not so far responded.

Nicolas Sarkozy also phoned Assad, the first time a French president communicated with the Syrian president in the two years since the Hariri assassination. He too drew no response. Many of France’s foreign policy eggs repose in the Lebanese basket and their loss leaves the relationship Sarkozy hoped to develop with Damascus and Tehran going nowhere.

Another caller to the presidential palace in Damascus was Italian prime minister Roman Prodi.

For Israel, the emergence of Gen. Suleiman as Lebanon’s strongman would add a serious setback to those Israel suffered in its 2006 Lebanon War with Hizballah. The UN peacekeeping force, which is required to cooperate with the Lebanese army, would be paralyzed and the last barrier removed for keeping Hizballah out of South Lebanon and at a distance from the Israeli border.

For the Lebanese Shiite terrorist group, Damascus and Tehran, this development would cap their strategic gains of last year.

Israel’s prime minister would be better occupied dealing with this new security crisis on its borders, Israeli security sources tell DEBKAfile, than posing with Mahmoud Abbas at a photo-op in America.

Arab League foreign ministers, called into session Thursday, Nov. 22 to decide on a delegation to the US-promoted Middle East conference, postponed their Cairo meeting to Friday, for another attempt to solve the Lebanese crisis. The lines between Arab capitals have been humming day and night.

The Middle East special envoy Tony Blair traveled to Riyadh Wednesday but failed to persuade the king to send a minister to Annapolis. The Saudi ambassador to Washington will therefore head his country’s delegation. Syria is not expected to attend.

Source: DEBKA file.

Friday, November 16, 2007

My Very Young Countrymen, take heed !

WARNING: If you do not care for free advice, then stop reading.

Although I can relate to your enthusiasm and your frustration; nevertheless I would like to share with you a small percentage of my memories, in the hope that you might do without anything remotely similar.

Just like you I did fall for (what turned out to be empty) slogans, charismatic leaders (still being followed by YOU today), false sense of patriotism and a strong will to survive.

Before I lay naked part (and a very small part indeed) of my soul to you I would ask of you to consider if you can afford to live with the following.

· Going to pay a visit to a friend’s house (within your restricted area) just to witness a man being tied to car (barely alive) being dragged on the asphalt hitting the sidewalk and anything else on the way of the Toyota jeep he was tied to?

· Being stopped at a check point manned by so called refugees (armed to the teeth) whilst on your left 4 of your fellow countrymen were slaughtered using a butcher knife from ear to ear?

· Having to listen to Sharif Al Akhawi (aka salkeh wa amneh) on the car radio to know which road is safe to take, knowing damn well that the information was valid for a very short lapse of time.

· Waiting endlessly in line to fill up your car with one gallon of fuel, not knowing if you might die in the crossfire cause by some overzealous militia men?

· Crossing the dividing line and seeing naked bodies hanged from their feet with their genitals cut off and taped to their mouth?

· Having your best friend gone mad to the extent that above his bed you can clearly see in pickle jars different body parts belonging to those who fell victim of his deranged mind?

· Having your parents worry each and every time you went out, not knowing if ever they will see you again?

· Carry all sorts of weapons on your side and in the boot of your car, and for any stupid reason feel like you can fire your weapon and get away with it?

· Enlist in a party and think that you have become invincible within your party sphere of influence?

· Obey blindly the decision your leaders passed on to you and wage a battle against your own brothers and those who fought alongside you (ie: Safra)?

· Join a humanitarian organization (Red Cross for example) just to find that it is not even respected by any of the feuding factions?

· And if you are a Christian, go to church to confess and be told by the same priest that provided you with weapons that you will rot in hell for you are spawn from the devil.

The above is nothing but a very small percentage of what you might have to deal with if you do not curb you blind allegiance to those who inflicted upon me (and many from my generation) the ailment I live with today. Ignorance is no longer allowed, nor tolerated; especially that information is at the grasp of every Tom Dick and Harry. In my days we did not have the luxury of a working telephone (and I am not talking about cellular) let alone the internet.

Do your research, read the documented events of the Lebanese war (1975). Take your time, analyse dogmas and speeches; and then decide if any of the current politicians is worth following and shouting “bil rou7 bil dam nifdik ya...”

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

That cursed presidential seat.

Emile (the father that is) in all his tanned splendor went on TV (Algerian that is) and declared (between two idiotic smiles) that he was here to stay (forever and ever).
Oh lucky us!
I still wonder why our dear patriarch stopped the march onto Baabda; I sure hope that he now regrets this sad decision.

Why is it that the strongest symbol of Syrian hegemony is still allowed to bark loudly pushing us (Lebanese that is) further into the abyss?

Why is it that WE the people still wait for certain (mainly sold out) leaders to give the order to march onto Baabda ,formerly known as “Beit Al Sha3b” (home to the other army general turned mad) and demand the impeachment of such a despot?

Here is some food for thoughts (and humor me if you may) to all of you out there who belong to what is now known as the silent majority:

· Organize a specific day and e-mail our dear president a simple letter that says “Dear Mr. President kindly get off your seat”(feel free to add “go swimming wearing your Speedo”).
· Put bumper stickers on your cars that read “Swim off”.
· Place posters (preferably at night when no one is watching) in front of all governmental institutions (over and over again, because they will be removed) stating “Mr. President, you no longer represent us”.
· Make leaflets in the simplest and less costly way demanding Lahoud’s resignation and distribute them on every street corner.
· Write to all the media and demand that your voice be heard.
· Finally organize yourself and march onto Baabda, even erect tents if need be (ask our friends down town for technical advice and know how).

Suggestions are welcome!