The Lebanese government decided to hold by–elections on August 5. These elections are to fill the parliamentary seats that became vacant due to the despicable assassinations of the past months. This decision, the nominees and the campaigns are the subject of discussions of many blogs in the Lebanese blogosphere. Other topics also discussed this week include: the Lebanese middle–class, Lebanese architecture, language and social consciousness, and why dictatorship may be the best solution for Lebanon. In addition to these, there are posts about activities taking place during summer, the border town of Ayta Shaab a year after the July war and about blogging and netizens. This week's weblog include the aforementioned and posts that request and discuss aid given to the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. Enjoy:
Jamal’s Propaganda tackles the issue of the by–election by discussing the curricula–vitae of the candidates in a very sarcastic post that he begins by saying:
An election is the process through which the people hire a parliamentary representative to work for them. It is imperative in any hiring process to thoroughly evaluate the candidates for the job. A one on one interview with the candidates would be ideal. Some might argue that it would be exhausting for the candidates to answer to thousands of citizens, but isn’t that the job description of the Member of Parliament? Anyways, in a more practical world a town hall meeting style debate should be the minimum required interaction between the candidates and the decision makers, but even that is absent in our democracy since that might be considered a form of accountability which is officially a sin in all 18 religions of Lebanon. This leaves the people only one way of judging the candidates which is by looking at their curricula vitae.
Lebanon Update  contends that it is very difficult to stay neutral in Lebanon. He explains his position and goes on to discuss the elections:
these days you have to have an opinion in Lebanon. It seems that these are not the times for neutrality: you are either with March 8 or March 14. In that sense, Lebanon starts to resemble a two party state, similar to the USA. There is one huge difference, though: in America, the winner takes it all, the loser’s standing small…and the losers are OK with that. Not so in Lebanon. In a suffocating way, the Lebanese political scene does not allow the winner to take anything unless all losers agree.
Jeha’s Nail  also discusses the elections and introduces his analysis by saying:
We Lebanese wear our emotions on our sleeves, and we often tend to overreact with passion. Doing so, we can greedily focus far too much on the potential Rewards, and forget about the Risks associated with our actions. The Elections in Metn and Beirut 2nd District are a case in point.
Middle class, language difference, Ayta Shaab, dictatorship etc.
Remarkz posted some socio–political analysis of some aspects of the Lebanese society. In one of these articles he states that difference of the language of broadcast in the local Lebanese radio stations is a symptom of the difference in the social consciousness of the Lebanese and he gives examples to explain:
Let's take the events of Nahr el Bared and the political deadlock as an initial environment from which media derive statements about modes of conduct.
One conclusion of all this is that there are no French media outlet (written, spoken, visualized), none whatsoever, that dedicates its program to real social issues. So no wonder that you have a francophone population that is mainly unaware or oblivious of such issues but very much vociferous about hazy concepts of “independence” and “rule of law” tainted sometimes by mild racism..
Social and economic issues are indeed debated in Lebanon but mostly in Arabic. To some extent, you can find some voiced in English. This is why I would argue that the English-speaking community is already more aware of things. So some English-French speakers but most importantly readers, may be more in touch with what's going on (Daily Star has some good stuff being written from time to time, although this hits a very narrow portion of English speakers, not those who don't read obviously). There is no fully fledged English language radio station. I think radio is a very important media outlet especially among the average working class.
Remarkz  also visited the southern border village of Ayta Shaab and wrote about his first impressions in the village that was bombed heavily during the July war last year.
Arz el Jabal  sees that Lebanon has lost its future and is retrogressing because it has lost its middle class:
Many countries have marked their stability by the size of their middle class. American democracy and power was spurred by growth in the middle class. Even in Communist China the new burgeoning middle class of 200 million wants more stability and rule of law. To quote Ayn Rand, “upper classes are a nation's past; the middle class is its future.” However, in Lebanon a middle class is almost nonexistent. Beirut is a have or have not world; if Rand was correct, the Lebanese are definitely retrogressing.
Arz el Jabal also posts a conversation with a Georgetown doctorate degree holder who believes that the best solution for the Lebanese problems is a dictatorship:
a woman who had lived through the Civil War, and has a doctorate from Georgetown say, “the only way to fix Lebanon is with a dictator. Get a dictator who stops the sectarianism, makes us a nation, and gets some order.” While she was fervently anti-Syrian, she must have noticed how Syria had grand gardens, clean streets, working traffic lights. Laws were observed and there was a semblance and order about the place. This is all completely lacking in Lebanon. Lebanon looks like a tribal mishmash.
If you are interested in restored 1798 houses built in accordance with traditional Lebanese architecture then go to Kadmous .
Independence 05 mentions some of the activities that are or will take place during summer in Lebanon:
Lebanon this summer, it turns out that some festivals are still on-going such as Byblos Festivals. Smalla concerts and gigs are taking place in several pubs and restaurants. And unlike what a lot predicted for Lebanon's summer to be dead and boring, night-life in Gemmayze street (Beirut) is back, and wild hot beach days are getting hotter and hotter. Several local radion stations are hosting the music in several resorts, creating an environment of strong dancing on house and electro music.
Help and donations
Body on the Line  posts about requests for donations needed for the relief work with displaced Palestinian refugees from Nahr el Bared, in addition to donation requests for other crises affecting indigenous populations in the United states.
Ya-Ashrafe-nnas  gives an account of a 20 yr old activist who is working with the relief volunteers who are helping the displaced Palestinians in the north of Lebanon and discusses what it means to be a pro–Palestinian:
When I meet foreigners who say that they are pro Palestinians I am not impressed, for to be a pro Palestinian one need to understand the hardship of being a Palestinian, or you're an “academic” “theorist” pro Palestinian who doesn't really know how does it feel to be a refugee or under occupation.
books can teach you the truth, but you can only live the truth right here among us.
Finally, what is blogging, who blogs, citizen journalism versus professionalism, the business of blogging, are among the issues discussed in this article at Pierre Tristam’s Candide’s Notebook :
Netizens are non-professionals who take the floor and intervene in discussions otherwise open only to experts. Who make themselves heard even if they have not studied rhetoric, are not PR consultants, and do not hold shares in the media industry, which would guarantee a certain degree of attention for their opinions. People who castigate the brainwashing, deceit and exploitation, the whole swindle of the State in the late capitalist age, who no longer simply accept the business world, which is also in the throes of its late capitalist stages, and who write, write, write whenever it is particularly painful. And they certainly do not mince their words when they write, not even when the opposite number that has provoked them to such an extent is the most powerful newspaper in the land. On the contrary, the more powerful the adversary, the greater the motivation to demonstrate one's capacities as a critic.
that citizen journalism works particularly well when it is produced by journalists for journalists or would-be journalists. To that extent, “this blogging business” as such should be thoroughly called into question once again.
See you next week.