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Lebanon: Academia, Agriculture and Construction

Let us begin this week’s roundup of the Lebanese blogosphere with non–political posts. Let us start from a post about two Lebanese salads that are used as appetizers during meals:

Skylark shows us (Fr) how to prepare Fattush and Tabboule, which are two delicious Lebanese salads that are usually found whenever Lebanese spread the table for a guest.

Now that we have satisfied our taste buds, let us move to publishing and academia. Lazarus wrote at the Lebanese Blogger Forum about “A Lost Summer: Postcards from Lebanon” which is a book that compiles quotations, written during the summer war in Lebanon, expressing the thoughts and feeling of people, Lebanese and non–Lebanese during that war:

During this summer war, many people wrote their thoughts and feelings and sent them to friends and family via emails, blogs, and text messages. After several months of work, a group of individuals have been able to compile a collection of quotations from these writings with the aim of capturing the essence of that time. The writings come from Lebanese and non-Lebanese, and were paired (in the form of postcards) with personal photographs that individuals had taken, making this book one for the people by the people.

Staying in the academic world, we have Ibn Bint Jbeil, who calls for the support of the General Union of Palestine Students at San Francisco State University. The Union is working on getting a mural, that pays tribute to the late Dr. Edward Said and to Palestinian culture, approved for their university campus.

The proposal went through committee and student government and university board and received support, but just before the final step of approval, university president Robert A. Corrigan prematurely denied the mural and placed a moratorium on all art at the San Francisco State University Student Center.

What objections did Corrigan have? He stated that the University's policy is to allow for celebration and pride in one's heritage and culture “expressed without hostility or denigration of another” (culture).
Please take a look at the mural proposal above, and try to find what Corrigan is referring to.

Agriculture in Lebanon is a rarely given serious consideration. Abu Ali points out the mistakes of this policy in some of his posts. In this post Abu Ali analyses the Israeli tactics of destroying the social fabric of South Lebanon by destroying its agriculture which connects people to their land and also blames the successive Lebanese governments for neglecting the development of rural areas and the welfare of the smallholder farmer everywhere in Lebanon.

In spite of what urban people may think, farming is still important in Lebanon. This is especially true in the South. Like elsewhere in rural Lebanon, agriculture is not the main source of income of Southerners, but its contribution is in the order of 30 per cent to the total family income. This figure does not take into account the health, social, cultural, environmental and spiritual benefits offered by agriculture. Most farmers in the South are small holders, family farmers who produce primarily for auto-consumption and local trade. The July war affected them very badly. Because they were displaced from their villages by the Israeli army, they were unable to harvest their crops, which rotted in the fields.

For someone who is new to the political affairs in Lebanon, what is happening today may seem to be happening for the first time in the Lebanese history. Marxist From Lebanon writes a historical essay, starting from 1840 till our present days, showing how history seems to be repeating itself and presents the reasons for that:

“freedom and democracy existed not in spite of, but because of, the country’s multi-communal society: its equilibrium rendered authoritarian solutions impossible

Lebanon has always been a singing duet when confrontations were about to take place

Democracy is not favored in Lebanon, but it is the only method despite the fact that Democracy in Lebanon is sect-based.

Finally Sean criticizes America’s decision to black list the construction company, Jihad al Binaa, which is affiliated to Hezbollah, as a strange way to make friends in Lebanon:

Al-Binaa has been responsible for rebuilding thousands of homes in Lebanon that were destroyed or damaged by Israeli attacks. This is supposed to be a gesture that will hinder Hezbollah's reconstruction efforts, presumably to give the government an edge. But Beirut has so far proved fairly unwilling to spend all the money it's been given on rebuilding people's homes in the south or in Dahiye. Hezbollah, on the other hand, sent out 1,000 engineers and thousands of volunteers to do reconstruction surveys in damaged or destroyed neighborhoods.

Stay well and be back for more from Lebanon.

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