The Lebanese Version of Benetton’s “Unhate” Campaign

Leave it to the Lebanese to spoof controversial ad campaigns. Soon after Benetton’s “unhate” campaign basically went viral, online pictures of rival politicians making out surfaced on line and have been already shared a gazillion times on Facebook.

In case some of you wanted to see Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea kissing Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun or Saad Hariri kissing Hassan Nasrallah (to be honest, I really hope none of you wanted to see either of those), these pictures are for you:

Hariri & Nasrallah

Geagea & Aoun

The “United Colors of Benetton” logo has been changed to “United Colors of Lebanon” to show that Benetton has nothing to do with these. I’m pretty sure Benetton wouldn’t dare to do anything of the sort with Lebanese politicians. Can you imagine the black shirts that would pop up around Achrafieh because, you know, Benetton is Italian and Italians somehow have roots in Achrafieh.

But no matter, the fact that I think ads like this are pointless aside (check my opinion here), I really hope we get to a day where rival politicians can actually find themselves in a room without wanting to kill each other.


32 thoughts on “The Lebanese Version of Benetton’s “Unhate” Campaign

  1. WTF is this?? Its fake (duh?) but its inadmissible doing such things OMG a whole intercontinental campaign should be led against this inadmissible crap… whether it is nasrallah and hariri or the pape and the imam this is something inacceptable… :@


  2. The fact that all.lebanese had the same homophobic reaction to this makes me have hope one day this crappy group of people will gather together and agree on something.


    • I don’t think you can categorize the response as homophobic when the ads themselves are irrelevantly pointless in the first place and, well, obscene. If the ads had been of men kissing on the cheeks and there was an uproar, perhaps homophobic would apply. More liberal societies than Lebanon are offended by these. (the original ads, not the Lebanese spoof).


    • seriously? You’re comparing years of “black shirt” transgressions to an incident where Christians peacefully chanted in front of a store that sold sandals having a cross on them, a shop that reopened after the weekend?

      To say the odds are even of both of the aforementioned events is also nonsensical, silly and unfounded. Do you want to begin to enumerate what “black shirts” did around Achrafieh and Beirut in the past 2 years alone?
      Or is painting a Cross on a shop front now the equivalent of terrorizing all Beirutis with weapons and calling their terror “a glorious day”?
      Neo-Crusaders… Yeah right.
      You might want to check my blog’s archive for my thoughts about the shoe incidence.


  3. And just for the record, no, it’s not OK to paint a cross on the door of a shop owned by a Muslim, especially since he apologized for the insult he might have caused. This is KKK-like behavior — they might as well just lynch him for it.

    What would reaction be if someone sprayed “Allahu Akbar” on your door?


    • What would be your reaction of I opened a shop in the heart of Bint Jbeil and sold shoes with Mohammad’s face on them?
      Odds are I won’t be alive to tell the tale.
      Perspective Youssef, perspective.
      The cross is graffiti compared to what “black shirts” do.
      Ma3le ye3ne. Remember when “black shirts” invaded Achrafieh just because their leader was portrayed in a TV show?


      • I never said it was OK to either sell shoes with crosses on them, or “invade” Ashrafieh. It was you who brought up a completely irrelevant subject by talking about the “black shirts”. No one has even reacted to the pictures because first of all — as far as I know — no one claimed responsibility for them, and second, they were not shown in mainstream media.

        And I don’t know if you watch anything other than (Lebanese) MTV, but it has been scientifically proven that the edge of the universe is NOT located at the corners of Sassin Square. I repeat: is NOT.


        W fhemet innak bta3rif thajjeh kilmet perspective, walla fhemet. illeh yyeha ba3d marra.


        • If you actually read the sentence in which I mentioned “black shirts” you would have seen that I said had these posters been officially done by Benetton, these black shirts would have popped up somewhere (I chose Achrafieh because that’s where they usually pop up when they get bored/annoyed).

          And I am not from Achrafieh so yes, I know the world does NOT end at Sassine Square, I repeat, I know it does NOT end at Sassine Square. And no, I don’t watch Lebanese TV but if there’s a TV station that’s good enough in Lebanon for me to watch it will be MTV (not Manar or NBN or NewTV obviously). No need to get tacky now, do we?
          Besides, this point is irrelevant to the discussion at hand: what TV station I watch and where my world ends.

          The fact of the matter is: had the posters been official, Benetton would have been raided by “black shirts.” They’ve done much more for much less.

          And I’m glad you like the word perspective. You should have it. Sorry for saying it again.

          For the record, I’m not with the posters, which you would have known had you read my other post on the matter (it’s hyperlinked in this one).


  4. Once again, you’re jumping into false conclusions.

    I never criticized you for posting the photos, and I didn’t defend Manar or NBN. They’re not my favorite channels either.

    But you just proved that I was right to bring up the MTV issue when you said you would rather watch it.

    When you say that you endorse a television station that adopts a racist approach when dealing with a sensitive social issue such as crime (I’m talking about the link below), it closes the circle of our conversation, by explaining why you brought up the “black shirts” issue in the first place. (Again, I’m not defending any “black shirt” approach to politics or expression).

    So, just to wrap up this lovely conversation (not because I don’t like you but because I actually have work to do), I don’t mean to offend you personally, but I think it’s a tiny wee bit paranoid to directly think about the “black shirts” when no one has actually threatened Ashrafieh.

    Perspective, Elie, perspective. (See, thanks to you now I know how to spell it too. Thank you so much).

    Good night.


    • Actually you mentioning MTV and me “endorsing” it is as non sequitur to the whole argument as it can be. First, my tv channel preference has nothing to do with what I’m exposed to. What shows do I watch on MTV? what do I want to watch on MTV? If I steer clear from political shows, your point is rendered invalid. If I watch nothing but Talk of the Town, your point is also rendered invalid. So no, my TV station of choice has nothing to do with the perspective I have.
      Ma3le, I’d much rather believe the “black shirts” to be actually good people, fighting for the benefit of my country. But from what I’ve seen, no they are not.
      I cannot but feel “Achfrafieh” (being the representative of places like it because at the end of the day it can happen in any place) being a probable place for any response that would have taken place had the ads been official.

      Now Lebanon who had blogged about the pictures were forced to delete their blog post soon after they published it. I’m pretty sure it’s not because of the Aoun-Geagea pic.

      And you know what, by the looks of it, I’m not as blinded as you. I’ve seen both ends of the spectrum and I chose to take my side. And no, it’s not with those who get offended because their political figure of choice got “made fun of” at a political satire TV station and then they take it for Achrafieh to make their point, causing the show to go off the air for 30 days.
      No, this is not the way you handle things. You don’t ban movies that are against things you believe in just because they are so. You don’t hide director’s names and stop international comedians from coming over just because they don’t support you. That is cultural terrorism and what those “black shirts” do every day of their existence in Lebanon is terrorism because terrorism is not just against “enemies” it’s also against your fellow countrymen.

      PS: I didn’t even watch the youtube video, not out of disrespect but simply because it will not bring me any perspective (I’m really glad you learned a new word. Yay!)


      • Yes, not only did I learn a new word, I also learned to toss it around whenever I want to sound intelligent and have nothing useful to say. Once again, thank you so much.
        You’re such a great mentor.

        I didn’t mention the television report that MTV broadcasted to suggest that your views are modeled by the content of shows it produces. I did because you said that if you were to watch Lebanese TV at all, you would be more inclined to watch MTV. May be I shouldn’t have resorted to an ad hominem argument, but it was a nice coincidence nonetheless to find your “intuition” lead you to take pride in a TV station that has already proven to embrace a considerable amount of racism. (Since you’re not blinded like I am, why did you decide that watching that clip will not bring you any perspective? If you watch it you’ll find the same “Christian community is in danger; run away from anything alien”- rhetoric, which you were so eager to express without any concrete justification. May be you’re right, you already have that perspective).

        As for “terrorism”, first of all, I agree with your statement about cultural terrorism(or even political terrorism for that matter, because the black shirts incidents was related to the tribunal issue). Like I said, I DO NOT APPROVE OF THE BLACK-SHIRTS APPROACH.

        Second, the Maronite church is just as much of a cultural terrorist as anyone else. Because of them, the television series about Jesus and the Da Vinci Code were banned in Lebanon. Furthermore, what is more relevantto our discussion is that no one dared to show the doctored photo about the Pope either(I’m talking about mainstream media again).

        [Black robes just as tolerant as black shirts]

        And third, you’re mixing up three different incidents.

        When protesters ransacked Achrafieh in 2005, it wasn’t Hezbollah, it was Salafi demonstrators, most of whom had come from the North, and guess who these nice fellows voted for during the elections which happened then!

        [Achriafieh riots, no black shirts]

        As for the incident related to the television show on LBC in 2006, I doubt that it involved actual concerted effort on behalf of the Hezbollah leadership. Not because Hezbollah was so idealist about freedom of expression, but because they had just signed their agreement with Aoun, and it was a major embarrassment for them to see their supporters riot in Christian areas. And from what I remember, it didn’t involve Achrafieh. Protesters came out from Dahieh and blocked the road next to Mar Mekhayel Church, and then official Hezbollah members rushed to open the road in order to contain the situation and save themselves the embarrassment. [Riots near Christian area; no black shirts;probably, but not entirely sure, no Achrafieh]

        When there were actually Black Shirts involved, it was not in Achrafieh. They gathered in main streets in Muslim areas of West Beirut– not that this makes it acceptable. [Black shirts; No Achrafieh]

        So the three main elements of your hypothesis — the Black Shirts, rioting related to religious sensitivities, and Achrafieh — have probably only existed at the same time in your brilliant, unbiased, non-sectarian, clear-sighted and none-paranoid mind. So your setting your prediction based on a ‘precedent’ which — again I’ll say probably — never happened in the way you presented it. That doesn’t make it a very sound precedent.

        Did I remember to thank you for teaching me a new word? Perspective, perspective … I’m not blinded anymore Elie, I can see, I can see! (I’m still a little tacky though, I promise you to work on that) Yes! Hezbollah are terrorists! How could I have missed that! Thank you for showing me both sides of the spectrum!Thank you so much again!


        • 1) I’m really glad you learned a new word. I feel I’ve accomplished something for the day.
          2) I do not approve of whatever “racist” report MTV did. But at least they did it once. Not over and over and over again like all the other Lebanese stations. And perhaps the whole Christian community in danger element of your idea is true. You only need to look about purchases of land and “black shirt” terrorists not allowing security forces to enter land they’ve illegally stolen from Christian churches. But that’s an altogether different issue. But yeah, poor “black shirts” they’ve been hurt a lot and their community shattered. Even today. They’re targeted. I cannot but feel utter and overwhelming sympathy. How could I suggest otherwise? Shame on me. It’s probably why all my “black shirts” friend speak of a “black shirt pulse” they have that keeps throbbing against the Lebanese system.
          3) I do not approve of what the Maronite church did with DaVinci code but there is a drastic difference between what the church perceives as an insult to Jesus Christ and what “black shirts” perceive as an insult to Hassan Nasrallah. And what’s relevant to our discussion is that I haven’t seen the Benetton ad in any mainstream media channel, including the Abbas-Netenyahu one. So there goes your argument about the pope picture.
          [Black robes are more tolerant than black shirts. And they don’t have the weapons to force their point.]
          4) I wasn’t talking about the particular incident with the riot against the Danish embassy in Tabaris, which I do not approve of. But I’m pretty sure Salafis wouldn’t care about a picture that “demeans” papa “black shirts” and his turban. After all, as you said, they voted against him and have no intention to defend him.
          5) Of course Hezbollah leadership didn’t ask its citizens to go and do riots against a satirical TV show on that particular day. They had trained the citizens enough for such occurrences when they eventually did. After all, papa “black shirts” is such a holy figure you cannot begin to make a satire out of him. It’s not like they can be like those Maronites whose patriarch was put on that same TV show and yet no one rioted . But the fact that those citizens felt obliged to do so is the worrying thing. What says they don’t feel “obliged” to do so again had the pictures been officially done by Benetton. And for the record, my family who lives in Achrafieh had a ruckus happen in their neighborhood (by black shirts) on that day as well. So no it was not confined to mar Mikhael.
          6) The Black shirts got to Achrafieh (Sagesse area) that’s why all schools in Achrafieh closed on that day. I was there. I saw them.

          So no, I am not paranoid. I just say things the way they are without being overwhelmingly brainwashed by an Israel-hating OMG everyone-is-out-there-to-get-us mentality. And yes, I’m as much sectarian as you are and unbiased as you are. You might have missed something but the fact that this is my blog means I can say whatever I want and be as biased as I want to be. I can say what I want to say and not care. I am not a news reporting agency nor am I a politically neutral person.
          And I’m really glad you can see now. Did the light blind you? I’m pretty sure it did for a moment there. Not here’s another word for you: perception. Stop trying to convince me of yours. It will never work.

          PS: this is the last comment I will allow on this issue. And no, this is not censorship. It’s called moderating which, as the owner of this biased sectarian blog, I am entitled to do.


  5. Elie you said: “I don’t think you can categorize the response as homophobic when the ads themselves are irrelevantly pointless in the first place and, well, obscene. If the ads had been of men kissing on the cheeks and there was an uproar, perhaps homophobic would apply”.

    Most people would not categorize people kissing as obscene. If it were a reaction to mere ‘obscenity’, movie theaters would be empty because I can’t think of a single movie that doesn’t have a (hetereosexual) couple kissing (well, maybe The Lion King). Where’s the anti-obscenity reaction there?
    Therefore, it’s a reaction to two _men_ kissing. (In Lebanon, no women are in positions of power important enough to mention..). A.k.a. a homophobic reaction.
    As for “2 men kissing on the cheek”, that’s a rather common occurence in Lebanon, when you are meeting people. Heck, politicians engage in it on camera at public occasions. So I fear it’s a strawman argument that you make. In fact, I expect a juvenile reaction to cheek kissing in the US, say, more than in Lebanon, because in the US it’s just not done.
    Incidentally, this goes to show that reactions to sexuality are not proportional to the act or universal, but are very contextualized. This in turn invalidates your next comment, that “More liberal societies than Lebanon are offended by these”: first, you probably mean “sexual liberalism” specifically. In those same “more liberal societies” (which itself is a fluid concept), there are groups that don’t care about the ads either way, and others that endorse them (as I believe you say yourself in the hyperlinked post).


    • Most people would categorize photoshopped pictures of their leaders kissing as obscene as evident by the uproar the original pictures caused in those “more fluidly liberal” countries.
      As for movies, I can give you many examples that don’t involve passionate make out sessions every few seconds that people still watched: Where Do We Go Now, almost all Harry Potter movies, Lord of the Rings, Avatar, etc….
      Second, the Lebanese version of the ads are nowhere near official. If i had photoshop skills, i would come up with a version of the ads that includes women politicians. But I don’t. So there you go. The fact that these four politicians have had their pictures made and not others is simply because to most people, these four as the most relevant ones today.
      And yes, kissing on the cheek would convey the same message as Geagea having his tongue down Aoun’s throat. Kissing on the cheek being a common occurrence does not deter it from being efficient for ads like this. And even in the US, it may have put off less people. Or maybe holding hands in a romantic way would have also been less “obscene”. People in the US and the UK found the ads to be obscene. Is that because they are not exposed to homosexuality? Or is it because the ads are perhaps revolting and useless?
      Finally, there are people that don’t care either way. But ads like these don’t cause as big an uproar in more “sexually-liberal” societies simply because they are sexually liberal. But an uproar they did cause.


  6. Shou baddak bel Habal. I don’t like the pictures but I love the way you twisted them
    Into a political statement that is really very true.
    Now Lebanon has removed their post most probably because they were afraid thugs would crash into their offices.


  7. All these ads do is confirm that gay people should be fcking killed. Once again gays have to throw it normals peoples face. Go home, get fucked by your boyfriend or whatever the hell you devil worshipping morons do, and shut the fuck up about your pathetic sinful lives. Last time I checked if everyone was like you the human race would be extinct. Whoever invented this ad have fun in hell.



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