“West Beirut” and “The Insult” Director Ziad Doueiri Arrested in Beirut Because His Last Movie Was In Israel

Pity the nation that insults its people as other nations honor them.

Ziad Doueiri is probably the most essential contemporary Lebanese cinematic director. His movie “West Beirut” is probably the most renowned Lebanese movie for the past 2 decades and his latest “The Insult” just made its debut at the Venice Film Festival to rave reviews and a best actor win for Kamel El Basha, starring as Yasser in the aforementioned movie.

And yet, here we are, with such a Lebanese pioneer being arrested because his prior movie, The Attack, was set in Israel even if it did not show the Israeli state in a good light.

I had the chance to watch The Attack in 2013 when I was with a friend in Paris. That same movie had been banned in Lebanon because it was set in Israel. Understandable, given the country couldn’t even handle a movie where the main actress was Israeli. And even though I was not a fan of that movie at the time, I was still able to commend the fact that it commanded a discussion. Be it with the other Lebanese who watched it with me, or the French people in that theatre who were wondering about what the details the movie discussed actually meant.

“The Insult” opens in theaters in Lebanon in a few days. Local movie reviewers such as Anis Tabet have given it a glowing recommendation. But that seems not to be on the same wavelength of the Lebanese state that’s arrested Mr. Doueiri at our airport for “dealing with the enemy.” He was coming here prior to the Tuesday premiere of his movie.

It’s horrifying to see how narrow-minded we can be and how despicable our levels can sink when dealing with the people of our country that help raise our voice on international levels, such as Mr. Doueiri, because of convoluted measures that have no reflection whatsoever on reality: a person filming a movie in Israel does not mean they are in bed with the enemy.

Following his arrest at the airport, Doueiri’s Lebanese and French passports were both confiscated. He is scheduled to stand trial in front of Military Court tomorrow at 9AM, Beirut time. Meanwhile, his movie “The Insult” has been selected by the Lebanese Ministry of Culture to represent Lebanon at the upcoming Academy Awards.

Bipolarity much? Not only are they arresting him five years after he had been in Israel and after multiple visits back to Beirut, but you can’t also arrest a director for “treason”, and then use him to propel you on the international cinematic stage. You can’t arrest a Lebanese citizen and then use his work to wash away the many failings that constitute your modern republic.

The arrest of Ziad Doueiri comes after a complaint lodged against him. Expect the campaign against the director to go into full blown mania soon.

It’s not just the lack of consistency that’s horrifying, it’s the absolute carelessness of our basic rights as citizens, and the fact we are at the whim of some entities that have nothing better to do.

The entire notion that Military Court can judge civil issues is abysmal. It’s even worse when you realize that Doueiry was in Lebanon to film “The Insult,” even spending two weeks doing so at the country’s highest court.

The question therefore becomes: why now? What prompted them to realize just before his movie’s Lebanese release that he has a troublesome past?

I bet some people in Lebanon would be happy to see Mr. Doueiri foresake his Lebanese citizenship. After all, the bar at which some label others as traitors seems to fluctuate depending on whether their existence is essential or not. At the rate we’re going, he wouldn’t be mistaken to do so. After all, we have no issue with any other foreigner who’s visited Israel to come into the country as long as their passport doesn’t have a stamp.

Utterly despicable. Here’s hoping the Prime Minister and our government see through this bullshit.

Update: he’s been cleared by military court.

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Lebanon, The Only Country With A St. Charbel, Celebrates Having The Biggest St. Charbel Statue In The World

A 26 meter St. Charbel statue made its journey from Jounieh to Faraya. If that’s not enough of a Keserwan dose for one day for anyone, I don’t know what is.

The problem is it doesn’t stop there. The problem is that this huge statue is being celebrated as some kind of national achievement, à la the giant plate of hummus we made to beat Israel as they continuously attempt to appropriate our national food.

Except there’s really nothing to prove to the world or to ourselves or to even Mar Charbel himself here, and there’s no other society on Earth today that’s setting out to beat us when it comes to how big we can make a Mar Charbel statue. Why? Because there’s no other country on Earth that has a Mar Charbel to begin with, and no other country celebrates this particular saint as much as we do.

I’m beginning to think St. Rafca and St. Hardini are beginning to get jealous at the amount of attention Maronites put towards St. Charbel while completely ignoring the fact they have a bunch of other saints to indulge with endless veneration. But please don’t get any more ideas for 26 meter statues.

The fact of the matter is this St. Charbel statue is not a national triumph. It’s not even a religious triumph. If anyone knows any inkling about the life of St. Charbel, they’d have known that his entire life was centered around that which is humble. His pillow was a wooden log. His mattress was a thin layer of cotton on the floor. His entire life was a celebration of what it is to be a human who knows that pride is not how you heal your soul.

And yet here’s a 26 meter statue of him being paraded around as some form of victory. For whom? For him? He’s probably nauseous at the site of it wherever he is. For Maronite pride? It’s pitiful if that entity needs a 26 meter flag for validation. For Keserwan to have some claim to being a religious pilgrimage site for the country as it boasts to being the beacon of Maronitism while every saint in this country lays elsewhere?

This 26 meter St. Charbel statue is yet another example of a practice that we as Lebanese excel at: the art of vanity. Even in prayer and religion, two acts which should be as subdued and restricted to one’s person, we have to get out of our way to prove – no idea to whom – that we can do it bigger, flashier, and better.

I wonder, what does Faraya have to do with St. Charbel in the first place? He was not from there. His town Bkaakafra, in the heart of the North, is long forgotten in this equation. He was not buried there – Annaya, Lebanon’s top pilgrimage site seems not to be part of this. The only reason why such a gigantic statue would be placed in a town whose entire economy revolves around tourism can be summed up with one word: boasting. It’s a “mine is bigger than yours” country.

Picture this from now: visit Faraya, home of Lebanon’s most visited slopes… and the biggest statue of the country’s most famous saint.

What this statue does is further numb the masses to the many failings that their politicians have dealt them by giving them the opioids they crave most: look at how big we can make your religion look. It’s only a matter of time before the region’s and other Maronites politicians rise to the mantle of declaring themselves responsible for such a statue. Remember this come Election time, for they will remind you of it.

For a saint whose entire existence was to get his fellow Christians to rise beyond their idolatry, this statue is the biggest insult one can deal him. You’re not doing St. Charbel proud by erecting a 40 ton statue of him. You’re not making him proud by boasting about this being the world’s biggest, a foolish claim to say the least. We’re not proving anything to the world except how unfocused and deluded our priorities are as a nation if we go gaga over a statue whose purpose is to boost someone’s ego.

I wonder, as a closing thought, what this statue cost. How many hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent on a statue of a saint that could have been spent in donating money to the Monastery where that saint’s body resides or, better yet, to his village to better its infrastructure or, even better, actually help the needy societies – Maronite or otherwise – of this country, for that is what Charbel would’ve wanted.

Until then, enjoy the traffic.

In Battle Against ISIS, Lebanon’s Army Pays Tribute To Spain’s Terrorist Attacks Victims


As Lebanon’s Army General Joseph Aoun tweeted the commencement of operation “Fajr el Jouroud,” which translates to “the dawn of the mountains,” Lebanon’s Army has started its full blown assault at the remaining entities of ISIS that are still plaguing the mountain regions of Al-Qaa and Aarsal, on Lebanon’s Northeastern Border with Syria.

I am confident that our army will be victorious. In only 24 hours, they’ve captured lands that were controlled by the terrorists and have planted their flag, as well as the Lebanese flag, on many hilltops that had been – up to that point – controlled by the cancerous entities that had tried to spread among Lebanese society without fruition.
This assault at ISIS in order to push them back from where they came and secure our Northeastern Border is a moment of triumph for the country against everything that ISIS is and that it has done.

Today, remember the Lebanese victims of Istanbul’s attack on New Year’s Eve. Remember the suicide attacks of Borj Al Barajneh that killed over forty people in 2015. Remember the many bombings against the Army in Arsal. Remember the suicide attacks in Qaa that killed 5 people. Remember the Jabal Mohsen attack in Tripoli. Remember every single victim in this country whose entire future was wiped away by these people whose entire cause revolves around making everyone else afraid of living.

In the midst of this assault on ISIS, Lebanon’s Army didn’t forget that its sacrifices and struggles against the terrorists are not only restricted by the borders of the country it’s fighting in. In fighting ISIS, Lebanon’s Army is going international in the fight against ISIS, and this is exemplified by the above picture of an army solider planting the Spanish flag on top of a liberated hill along with the Lebanese flag.

As such, this battle against ISIS in Lebanon is a triumph for the world too. It’s for the multi-national victims of those terrorist cowards in Spain. It’s for the victims of the attacks in Paris, Nice, Brussels, Berlin, Istanbul, and Egypt’s Copts. It’s a triumph for those people whose only “fault” was being of a certain country, at certain locations, of certain religions, of being people whose entire existence frightened those terrorists and their message.

I hope Lebanon’s Army plants more of our flags on more hills as they fully liberate our lands from such pests. I hope Lebanon’s people stay united behind the army in such tough and dark times, as we try to move forward as a country towards more secure borders, in synchrony with how important such measures are for the entire world.

Fuck ISIS. 

Beirut To Break The Record For World’s Longest Continuing Party At 56 Hours

At a time when the biggest plates of hummus and biggest lemonade reserves aren’t enough, Beirut seems set to do what Beirut does best, and that’s throw the biggest party out there – literally this time.

In 2 weeks, between August 28th at 7PM and the dawn of August 30th, and under the patronage of Lebanon’s Ministry of Tourism, Lebanon will try to break the Guinness World Record for longest continuous party, at 56 hours. The previous record was held by Dublin, Ireland and was set at 54 hours.

The attempt to break the world record will take place at Nurai, which is located in Monot. In order to accomplish this task, Guinness will be monitoring the place for the set duration of time to make sure it’s continuously in “party” mode.

To help accomplish the task at hand, a bunch of artists, live bands, singers and DJs will be continuously performing for the duration of the party. The Ministry of Tourism will also be providing transportation to and from the site of the event.

I may not be there to participate and I sure am not the go-to person for any partying-related advice (God forbid), and I may also hate the notion of Beirut being synonymous with parties all the time but that has become as part of the city’s identity as its other more traditional landmarks. Is it a bad thing? Perhaps when it’s blinding the Lebanese masses from further critical thought of their own societies as long as Beirut is featured on some list somewhere as a Phoenix rising from the ashes party town.

The world record breaking attempt may not fix the horribly broken sectors that are maiming this country, but it is a good step from the Ministry of Tourism to further boost Beirut’s image as a go-to destination for party goers of the world, especially given that Lebanon hosted one of Tomorrowland’s live events a few weeks ago in July.

It’s especially beneficial at a time when Lebanon’s summer tourism season is seeing a boost with the political calm the country is experiencing and with Arab Gulf citizens slowly but surely returning to their habits of visiting the country to spend their summer vacations. Such an event will also contribute to setting Beirut apart from other cities in the Middle East when it comes to such lifestyle aspects, and – at least momentarily – help airbrush the country’s image, if only for those who are still susceptible to that.

Either way, I hope the event is a success. I hope those who do attend have a good time, and I sure hope the event’s organization is at the needed level for such a massive undertaking.

H/t Adeela.

Lebanon Appoints Dr. Amal Mudallali As First Woman UN Ambassador


To break away from the horrific news of how some fascist and racist Lebanese want to beat up Syrian refugees, enforce taxes on them for breathing, force them into slavery, among other things, one piece of good news emanates from the country today in the form of Amal Mudallali, who was just appointed as our U.N. ambassador.

Picture via Dyala Badran


With her appointment, Dr. Mudallali now becomes the first woman ever to be apppointed to such a title in Lebanese history. 

Dr. Amal Mudallali is a Lebanese-American CEO of Bridges International Group, a contributor to Foreign Policy, and a former global fellow for the Wilson Center from 2012 till December 2016, with projects centered around the Arab Spring. 

Her major publication for the Wilson Center was about the history of the UN and Lebanon, as well as the resolutions that have shaped the country between 1958 and 2007. The Woodrow Wilson Center for scholars is part of the Smithsonian Insitution Act, and is considered to be a highly respected think tank, among the world’s top ten. 

Prior to that, she was the Washington Correspondent for BBC where she covered U.S. Policy towards the Middle East.

Such a positive first step in Lebanese diplomacy should be encouraged, especially that it comes at the heels of statement by our minister of foreign affairs during which he said that married women should not be permitted to go through diplomatic missions or become diplomats.

That level of misogyny, albeit it’s quite common for a country such as Lebanon, is not something we can tolerate – at least when it comes to such stages that represent us in front of the entire world.

I hope Dr. Mudallali lives up to her credentials and represents the country well during her tenure at the U.N. In such tricky times, we need all the diplomatic skills we can muster. 

Lebanon’s Government Is Using Syrian Refugees and Fear To Kill Democracy and Pass Its Agenda

Tensions in Lebanon are at an all-time high as political rhetoric against the refugees seems to have found its way to a union the like of which we haven’t seen before, bolstered by public support that’s near-unanimous, fueled by pro-Army rhetoric that’s become so intense it’s bordering on worrying.

The Lebanese Army has been engaged in a courageous fight against ISIS militants who have embedded themselves in refugee camps in the Beqaai border town of Arsal. The details of the fight, which is still ongoing, have become known for most. The gist of which, however, is that despite Lebanon’s army advancing against the militants, some transgressions against civilian refugees have taken place, with some of them dying during captivity prompting questions of torture.

As it is in Lebanon, of course, even mildly thinking about criticizing our army’s practices, or wanting an investigation to take place in the death of those civilians, is equal to high treason. It seems that everyone is supposed to accept that the army does what the army wants, without any repercussions. Except that that is how dictatorships are made, and last time I checked the country was not as such.

The moment we start compromising on basic human rights, regardless to whom those rights belong, we are beginning to give a blank check to authorities to extend the same treatment to us at a later point in time. What’s to stop Lebanon’s armed forces, army or otherwise, from – eventually – doing the same to Lebanese citizens who may or may not be suspects in something that people are unanimous in opposing?

The army is not to be above reproach or criticism. The more we put our army or our security forces on pedestals, the more we’re giving them way to break our necks, and whatever they want, just because we’ve let them. It’s a slippery slope between being thankful to being blindly adoring and, consequently, approving of anything and everything someone with a military title does.

Yes, it’s beautiful to be thankful for their efforts and sacrifices in fighting for our safety. But that doesn’t make them holy. And it doesn’t make the mere possibility of civilians, regardless of nationality, being killed under torture or suspicious conditions okay.

Naturally, and because trolls on Facebook are quite rare to find, a pro-Syrian refugee and anti-Lebanese army page sprung up on Facebook. It was started by a 24 year old Syrian residing in Ain El Helwe who was just arrested for enticing violence and hatred against the Lebanese Army. That Facebook page soon became the medium through which many Syrians, and some Lebanese I dare say, expressed their undying hate to Lebanon, its people and its army.

The reply to that was in a surge of anti-refugee rhetoric, with a political discourse that’s unanimous in wanting to send all the refugees to Syria’s safe spaces. The culmination of the social media wars translated through calls for two protests: one pro-refugees, organized by a Lebanese socialist club, which was later branded as anti-Army, prompting hundreds of Lebanese to change their Facebook pictures ones with army support frames, and calling for a protest to oppose the previous one.

Naturally, our Ministry of Interior affairs banned all protests as a result. Keep in mind that parliament is planning a tax hike coming later in the week, and banning all protests in the country under the guise of “security” is a mere ploy to silence people against such governmental steps in taking away more of our money, stripping us of our constitutionally given right of expression and making sure they create the illusion that the country is in turmoil.

It seems odd that, after more than 6 years of the Syrian War, today is the time that all of our politicians seem united in the way they want to deal with the Syrian refugees. Add that to the list of massive short-sightedness that’s become synonymous with the way they handle things.

We’re a tiny country, that’s 1/10 the size of Syria with about 1/5 of the population. And yet, over the course of the past 6 years, we’ve received about two million refugees, the impact of which over the country could not be brushed under the rug. We have no functioning infrastructure, no social structure to support them and – simply – no decent means to support them. Our borders, however, remained open. We had next to no regulation of the influx, near non-existent regulation of the border. The problems at hand could have been prevented had we been slightly more aware of the impact of suddenly adding two million people to your population, which feels like quite the normal realization to get to. Unless you’re a Lebanese politician of course.

Not all refugees are bad people, however, and using some of them to put the entirety of them in the same box in non-sensical. The majority of Syrian refugees in the country don’t agree with the posts of Facebook page that’s causing all the outrage against them. The majority just want to live and let live, make ends meet, provide for their families and count the days until they can return home – their actual home, not safe spaces inside what was once their country. And yes, many are thankful for being given homes in our country, the same way you’ve been demanding them to be grateful as if our government has provided anything for them other than allowing them to build tents in fields no one uses.

What’s mind numbing is the hypocrisy of it all. Picture this: you, as a Lebanese, being labeled as a terrorist because one Lebanese was involved in the 9/11 attacks. Or you as a Lebanese being targeted systematically by police in countries you’re an immigrant in because some segments of your country’s nationals are drug dealers or criminals. Imagine Lebanese Australians or Lebanese in Dearborn, Michigan being cracked down on by authorities in the United States or Australia for reasons as silly as them being “guilty” by virtue of them having Lebanese in ethnicity. Wouldn’t you be outraged? Wouldn’t you be up in a fit, cry racism and xenophobia?

Today you’re left with a country where manifestations of free speech are banned, where people do not allow you to even think about criticizing the army, where sympathizing with refugees is beginning to get closer to becoming treason, where our politicians are literally using those refugees to fuel hate and fear in order for them to pass all of the agendas they want, under the radar, in plain sight of everyone.

The safety of Lebanese and the dignity of Syrian refugees are not two mutually exclusive entities. We have been led to believe they are by politicians who are using us in order for them to be allowed to do whatever they want, whenever they want, and put it under the guise of the country’s best interest.

A banana republic? It’s time to find a new fruit. Everyone needs to sit back, take a deep breath, stop jumping to conclusions every thirty two seconds and realize that this path is exactly where they want you to be.

Justin Trudeau’s Government Rejects Request For Direct Flights Between Lebanon and Canada

Remember that Trudeau fellow whose PR-smart maneuvers have made him one of the world’s, if not the world’s most loved politician? From his quirky socks, to his cheeky videos that celebrate everyone, it seems that this politician’s new views are as restricted as his predecessors, at least when it comes to the hope of finally advancing the aviation sector to allow direct flights between Beirut and Montreal.

In a petition started in 2016, by one of Trudeau’s own MPs, Lebanese-Canadian Eva Nassif, the request for direct flights to be started between Beirut and Montreal was made. The petition garnered 4000 signatures and made its way along Canada’s formal political tracts, up until it seemed that there would tangibly be – at least within the next two years – Air Canada flights that work non-stop between those two destinations.

A source in MEA had indicated that for the first two years after the approval of that flight, Air Canada would have had exclusive rights with MEA selling tickets on its airlines, followed by our national carrier being allowed to fly the route later on – 2019 was a presumptive date.

All of this, however, will now not take place as Justin Trudeau’s government has rejected Air Canada’s request for a direct flight, as mentioned in a tweet by Air Canada executive Duncan Bureau:

The refusal was once again cited to be related to security reasons. This is not the first time this happens with a Canadian government. In 2003, Air Canada had begun selling tickets for its inaugural flight between Beirut and Montreal when, at the last moment, the Canadian government pulled the plug on such a flight, citing yet again, security reasons with a senior government official saying it was to safeguard Canada against terrorism.

Direct flights between Beirut and North America have been banned since the 1985 after the TWA plane hijacking in the airport. Of course, 1985 was prime civil war time in Lebanon and it’s been more than 30 years since, but the only amendment to the ban for American airlines to land in BEY and for MEA to fly to the US has been through U.S. president George W. Bush who allowed American governmental planes from landing in Beirut if they need be.

Canada’s fear towards allowing a direct flight from Beirut to its airports are unfounded. Lebanon has not witnesses the airplane terror attacks that, say, Egypt has witnessed only recently and Cairo’s passengers can still fly directly to Montreal. Air Canada also has direct flights to risky areas around the world, such as Tel Aviv, Istanbul, among others.

However, according to the Huffington Post, it seems Canada’s decision is less about its own security woes, and more about not pissing off its southern neighbor, the United States, which maintains – and would probably not alter it anytime soon – the ban against flights entering its airspace, coming straight from Beirut. You’d think that a PM as anti-Trump as Trudeau would at least oppose Trump in more than just empty speeches, with actual action that would serve about half a million Lebanese-Canadian who could use such flights, but no dice.

The story of Lebanese woes with Canadian airports doesn’t stop with direct flights. It transcends it to the fact that we need transit visas to do layovers in their airports, something that many don’t realize until they’ve booked a flight to or from the U.S. by way of YUL, only to be denied boarding in their airport of origin.

Perhaps it’s time that the Lebanese-Canadian lobby pushes for much needed reform to the way their governments are dealing with Lebanon and its people in regards to this particular issue. After all, such flights and ease on transit restrictions are in the economical interest in both countries, and would go a long way in showcasing a Canada that puts its money where its mouth is, instead of empty speeches and cute socks.