Lebanon: Peace, Art, Humor and Politics

Topics discussed in the Lebanese blogosphere this week involved, among others, literature, war-art, the art of souvenir production and war-humor. Peace is a topic that is almost always present. A few samples discussing and dissecting the concept of peace with Israel has been selected for this week’s roundup. In addition to these we have historical account, from a personal view point, of one blogger who lived the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and what followed. Happy surfing.

The death of Naguib Mahfouz, the only Arab to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature prompted The Angry Arab News Service to write a post in which he said:

I certainly will argue that his prominence in Western eyes rose in the Sadat era—when Sadat’s trip to Israel made Egypt an acceptable model of Arab countries, when things Egyptian became less controversial than things Arab or Muslim in general. The respect for Mahfouz was a reward for Sadat.

“Peace Art Graffiti in Beirut” is a topic mentioned by Raincoaster posting from Cold Desert where combat zone graffiti artist Arofish, who was drawing in one of the most bombed out areas in Beirut, is quoted:

I was asked by local people to paint something happy, to reflect the spirit of the community. Before starting I banged up a piece of explanatory text on the wall (…) It reads: “When Ramallah, in Palestine, is put under curfew by the Israeli Army, nobody goes outside for days. The streets look completely deserted. But from a tall building, if you look out over the city, you can sometimes see hundreds of many-coloured kites, flown from the roof-terraces by the children of Ramallah. The children you can see here are flying kites to celebrate the spirit of the people of Dahyeh. Some kites you can see are flying away. These are for the children who are no longer here; they are no longer held down to the Earth.”

Sietske in Beiroet, the Dutch Woman Abroad, returned to Beirut from what was supposed to be her summer holiday. She visited the bombed areas of Beirut and wrote on the reconstruction efforts, the dust and rubbles of the suburbs, and the misery of the housewives. In addition to posting new photos on her blog she wrote about souvenirs she got from the suburbs:

I’ve done an earlier piece on Nasrallah’s charm offensive. When I was down there yesterday, I bought some ‘souvenirs’; A T-shirt with Hassan Nasrallah, some key chains with the Hezbollah logo. People in Holland almost gasp when you say you can buy Hezbollah flags on the street. They all want to have one. In Europe it is inconceivable that you could buy Hezbollah supporters stuff in the open.
I had an American colleague here who bought a flag for her brother in the States, but was looking for all kinds of ways to hide it in her luggage. “This will never make it through customs,” she said.

The issue of peace is a major concern in Lebanon and the Middle East. A few of the bloggers discussing this issue are mentioned here:

Mirvat, who is one of the contributers at Lebanese Bloggers Forum raises the question of the possibility of peace with Israel at the end of her article “Some Palestinian Mood …” :

Even when those Arabs do not necessarily believe in fighting for their fellow Arabs […], and regardless of how they were raised and who they identify with […], how can a human being be willing to make peace with a nation on his border that treat his fellow human beings with utmost disregard for all considerations of human decency, fairness, equality and freedom.
Awfully naïve of course but let's start here shall we?
If you do not have a problem with the state of Israel, where do you stand on morality?

Blogging the Middle East has a detailed critique of a statement by the Israeli Peace Now organization. The analysis also touches upon the concept of peace movements in Israel. The following is an excerpt from the opening paragraphs:

Throughout the latest round of Israeli aggression (yes, that is what it was) I kept reading Israeli media, hoping to find a hint, however faint, of genuine disgust at the killing being done in the name of Israeli sovereignty, security, and deterrence. Alas, no such thing was to be found. The few who ventured to criticize pointed to the losses in the ranks of the Israeli army, the failure to stop the Katyushas from raining down on the north, the terrible suffering of the northerners who were holed up in shelters or were living in “refugee” tents on the Tel Aviv beach, the horror of it all… To make it worse, to the utter discomfort of these open-minded, freedom and democracy-loving people whom Western media never fails to hail as heroes (at the same time portraying the “enemies” as bloodthirsty war-mongers who do not value life, freedom, or peace), the war “against HezbAllah” was not going as planned. Not because there were too many civilian deaths on the other side of the border, but because there were too many Israeli soldiers wounded and killed, and apparently too lenient a policy on behalf of the Israeli Air Force.

The latest war with Lebanon caused some Lebanese blogger to desert the peace camp with Israel according to Solomon2:

A few months ago a Lebanese-Canadian executive who blogs using the moniker Perpetual Refugee traveled to Israel to assume control of his company's subsidiary from the incompetent Israeli management. Expecting a hostile reception and prepared to wield his wrath as revenge for the humiliation he felt as a child in Israeli-occupied Lebanon, he instead discovered warmth, affection, and devotion as the Israelis looked to him as their leader.[…]
This summer's conflict puts a different perspective on our Perpetual Refugee. He saw his family and acquaintances as weak and defeated, and decided that was unacceptable.[…]
The Perpetual Refugee is now lost to us, consumed by the very demons he tried so hard to escape from. Let us mourn.

Then there is the issue of moral values discussed by Chet at Voices from Iraq/Palestine/Lebanon who had his take on morality and moral values of the warring parties in the recent Lebanese crisis as well as the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East.

Humor and the media were taken up by Finkployd at Blogging Beirut. In one of the posts we have war humor: “Quotes in History”, while in another we have Lebanese media beating Israeli media:

With Al-Manar's accurate and uninterrupted broadcast during the 2006 Israeli War on Lebanon, and LBCi's soon to be aired documentary featuring a never before seen video of Ron Arad, Lebanon has once again become the center of media production in the Middle East.
Further proof lies in reports of more and more Israelis tuning into Lebanese television, radio, and satellite broadcasts to get the news, or rather the real news.

In light of the decision of the United Nations to send International Forces to Lebanon to resolve the issues raised by the recent Israeli war on Lebanon, Marwan Kyriakos-Saad wrote two posts about his teenage experiences in Beirut during the Israeli invasion of 1982 and a similar decision back then to send Multinational Forces which were supposed to separate the Lebanese from the Israelis and act as a peacekeeping force. The first post “Summer ‘82” and the second“Autumn ‘83” serve as alternate historical lessons.

On the local political scene, Abu Kais criticized the decision of the Lebanese parliament to have a sit-in until the Israeli blockade on Lebanon is lifted instead of passing much needed legislature for the country. He wrote:

This buys everyone time, especially the Lahoud-Hizbullah-Aoun camp, which would rather see the government toppled before the parliament's majority gets its way. How apt would it be for them to decry the inefficiency of the government while idling in downtown Beirut? And how convenient would it be for Assad to see the Hariri tribunal delayed?

Finally the fact of war leftovers such as unexploded cluster bombs causing post-cease fire casualties does not stop the Lebanese from propagating some war jokes which seems to serve as a form of therapy to carry on.

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