Here’s a round-up of your current “it” Lebanese news.
- Patriarch Raï is visiting occupied Palestine/Israel/Whatever on May 25th.
- Some Lebanese are not happy about his upcoming visit.
- Those Lebanese are beginning to hint at possible noxious ramifications of the patriarch’s visit to Israel.
- Those Lebanese have begun to group Lebanese Christians in the cliche and stereotypical war-time view of them being constantly in bed with Israel.
- Despite the uproar, Raï is adamant on visiting Jerusalem and receiving Pope Francis as the head of the Maronite congregation there.
- Raï called upon those who are pissed to get over themselves.
I wondered a while back how is it that the Maronite Patriarch cannot visit his Maronite congregation in what is now Israeli territories. Which precedes which, the fact that the patriarch is always Lebanese due to most Maronites being Lebanese or the fact that the patriarch is a man of religion, regardless of what one has to think about his or any other religion?
Today, it seems that the latter is taking precedence. The Maronite Church is keeping the details of the visit as secret as possible. We know that the Patriarch will not be using his Lebanese passport, obviously. We know he will be using a special Vatican-issued permit. We know he will be going to Jerusalem from Cyprus. We know him going there is to receive Pope Francis in the Maronite archdioceses of which he is responsible.
What we know as well is that it is the obligation of the Maronite Patriarch to visit the many archdiocese over which he precedes at least once every five years. The Maronite people who happen to reside in Israel/Occupied Palestine have never had an official visit from the head of the Church they believe in. Such a visit is long-overdue.
To the rest of Lebanese, fear not. None of us can visit Israel that openly and get away with it. The status quo will stay as such until judgement day I would assume but what Raï’s upcoming visit is doing is basically galvanizing the talk about the extent of our animosity towards Israel and where this animosity becomes detrimental to us as Lebanese in the 21st century.
Bashing the patriarch left and right, calling him an undercover Israeli agent, hinting at Lebanese Christians being Israel-fans just because the patriarch is visiting Israel, hinting at possible civil strife in case he goes to Israel and turning a religious trip into a matter of national crisis is the type of fearful, stone-aged Israel-centric mode of thought that in 2014 is no longer acceptable.
It’s become way too easy to call someone a traitor, an agent, call for his execution and whatnot whenever Israel gets mentioned in a sentence. It’s become a knee-jerk reaction to some. This ideological terrorism is not acceptable anymore, but at least Raï can take it and still come out unscathed. What good will it do if the patriarch stays in Bkerke while the Pontiff visits Jerusalem? What good of a message does that send? Isn’t it high time we have a discussion about do’s and don’t’s without someone getting a death threat in return?
Patriarch Raï’s visit to Israel is not suicidal as some people have called it. It will not lead him to normalize with the state of Israel. It won’t indicate a new aged shift towards forgetting the Palestinian cause, forgetting what Israel has done to this country and what being enemy states entails.
Odds are Raï will not applaud the name of Israeli politicians if they’re announced somewhere during his visit, the way he did when he visited Syria last year. He won’t acknowledge Israel’s politicians or its policies. And still his visit is made into the next coming of the apocalypse among some parts of the Lebanese populace.
Not minding Raï going to Israel does not mean unequivocal support to the state of Israel and what it represents. It does not mean we want peace talks to commence right now. If anything, you can look at Raï’s visit to Jerusalem as him saying that it’s not Israeli land. You can look at his visit as a pioneering movement in the act of resistance against Israel: doing so right from within at such a high profile level. Or you can just call him a traitor and be done with it while you listen to Fairuz’s “Al Quds.” It’s your choice.
Pity the nation, I presume, that gets more hormonal over Raï visiting Israel under his religious title, not citizenship, than over an the Iranian ambassador who considered our country part of his extended nation. It sort of puts the whole hypocritical approach to our sovereignty and national pride in context. But has Lebanon ever been anything but hypocritical? It’s hypocritical when it comes to the way we practice religions or lack thereof. It’s hypocritical to the way we practice politics or lack thereof and it’s hypocritical when it comes to which countries we consider as enemies.
Get off Raï’s back. His visit to Jerusalem will probably do more to the Palestinian cause than months of Starbucks boycotts, calling on Lara Fabian concerts to be canceled and threatening Lebanese who dare to use the I-word in a sentence with high treason. What a country.