Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Hummus (il)Logic: Here, right-wing Lebanese sectarian Christian writer Michael Young, who in recent years dropped the Arabic part of his name for some reason, expresses his support for the Lebanese sectarian system, and its fundamental inequities. The Maronites, for example, are the 3rd largest community, but yet they receive more parliamentary seats than Sunnis and Shi`ites who (as respective communities) far outnumber Maronites in Lebanon. But the founding myth of Lebanon has to be preserved. Young also claims that the electoral system discriminates against Christians, without mentioning that in order to preserve the myth of 50-50 Muslim-Christian ratio (the formula of At-Ta'if) Muslim voters have to be disenfranchised throughout the country. In fact, according to this formula, Muslims receive a parliamentary seat for every 25,000 voters, while Christians receive a parliamentary seat for every 18,000 voters. Young, like the right-wing sectarian Patriarch, wants Muslims to vote for Muslims and Christians to vote for Christians, and then they dare to chant "National Unity." National Unity my...potato. Furthermore, notice that they are concerned about Christian deputies winning by Muslims votes in South Lebanon (Young mentions that), but no mention is made of a Shi`ite deputy in Jubayl who wins with Christian votes, etc. The sectarian nature of their complaint betrays the sectarian motives. But let us not kid ourselves. There are those in Lebanon, and some have said so explicitly in the heat of the Hummus Revolution, like Jubran Tuwayni and Pierre Gemayyel, who believe that the Christians while a minority constitute a qualitatively superior group, and should thus receive a political share far beyond their numbers. That was the French Mandate's idea. This is like when Lord Balfour (new biographies of him confirm that he was an anti-Semite by the way) was asked in his Hotel room about justification for his "declaration." He said: "you see, numerical self-determination was excluded." That is the (il)logic of Zionism and Lebanese nationalism (or Lebanese Zionism). And only Young, or an American correspondent in Lebanon, would claim that the Shi`ite speaker of parliament has more power than the president. Does anybody believe that Birri had more influence over the state apparatus than Lahhud? And it is true that the prime minister had tremendous powers, but that was more Hariri, than Ta'if. Hariri wanted to be the sole undisputed leader of the country; the maximum leader so to say. This was the origin of his conflict with Lahhud and Syria, not principles or sovereignty. Having said that, the Syrian government (which has disregarded and denigrated Sunni political representation in Lebanon for years which explains the recent outburst) has dealt very unjustly with the issue of Christian political representation. It allowed a sectarian system to be installed according to which Muslims can choose their representatives, but Christians cannot. Christian representation was not allowed to be genuine because the Syrian government and its Christian clients wanted to exclude popular currents. That was certainly unfair, and only helped to boost the fortunes of `Awn and Ja`ja`. All those sectarian formulas and designs, whether to the advantage of Muslims or Christians, will ultimately fail. Only a fully secular system, that would cover the political system and the personal status laws, would be able crystallize national unity for the population. Ilyas Hrawi (for political reasons and not for any secular concerns) proposed during his presidency civil marriage in Lebanon, and Hariri mobilized the Sunni clerical establishment against him, and aborted the plan. But the secular arrangement will not happen, and that is why Lebanon (as a homeland or nation or a large cafe) is doomed. In the Beirut election, by the way, (which received the congratulations of UN and US) the ratio of contestation was 1.8 candidates per seat. Imagine. Finally, as I read about the upcoming parliamentary "contests" in Lebanon, I realize that you cannot support any one side in that country. You cannot find one party (on the left, right, or center, on the Muslim or Christian side) that sticks to principles. Thus, you see the notorious fluctuations of Jumblat (he has been fluctuating from one day to the next as of late); even Najah Wakim aligning himself with `Awn; Hizbullah making alliances with `Awn and running on the same list with Tuwayni and Gemayyel; the SSNP aligning itself with `Awn; the Lebanese Communist Party aligning itself with traditional feudal leaders in South Lebanon; and the so-called Democratic Left serving as mere puppets for the Hariri apparatus. This explains why I was never, even or especially at the height of my political discoveries as a teen, drawn to "a Lebanese cause." There is no Lebanese cause to speak of. What cause? Unless you are talking about fraud, sectarianism, clerical interventions, daily political oscillations, and fakeries. That is why the cause for me has always been...Palestine and socio-economic justice...everywhere.