The Case of Lebanon’s History Book

As a Lebanese who has gone through our educational system, I’ve learned about Lebanon’s history in two separate grades: grade 9 and grade 12, as a preparation for the official exams that I, similarly to many other students, undertook come the month of June of that corresponding year. The difference in the material between grade 9 and grade 12 was literally nonexistent. We used the same book, same notes and discussed the same era all over again. It was as if our history stopped around 1946, when the French army left our country, marking their departure with a carved stone at the Nahr El Kalb valley.

The thing about writing history is that no matter who writes it, it will never be objective. Even the most objective of historians cannot have the history they write be absolutely devoid of a personal touch here or there, which, albeit subtle, can convey a different meeting altogether.

Recently, however, the talks about writing a history book for Lebanon that goes beyond the 1946 obstacle and into the 21st century was in the works. And for that matter, a governmental committee was appointed to discuss what was relevant and what was not.

The members of the committee are: minister Mohammad Fneish, minister Nicolas Fattouch, minister of education Hassan Diab, minister of culture Gaby Layoun, minister Ali Kanso, minister of health Ali Hassan Khalil, minister of justice Shakib Kartbawi, minister of information Walid Daaouk, minister of tourism Walid Abboud and minister of sports Faysal Karami.

In the case of this committee’s attempt at writing a history book for Lebanon, which will be later submitted to the Parliamentary Education committee for approval, their definition of objectivity is: write whatever you want, omit anything you don’t like and voila.

In the draft for this book, every single mention regarding Hezbollah addresses the party as the “Resistance” and glorifies all its struggles and conflicts with Israel, from the 1980s up till now.  On the other hand, minister Mohammad Fneish refused any mention of the March 14 “Cedar Revolution” and anything about the Syrian occupation of Lebanon. The book was also going to omit anything about the protest of the opposition in Beirut’s downtown for two whole years, including the May 7 incidences in Beirut.

In short, anything related to the mistakes Hezbollah did and anything that showed the Syrians in bad light in Lebanon was to be omitted, which is perfectly understandable coming from people like Ali Kanso and Mohammad Fneish, with them belonging to their correspondant political parties.

But what’s worse is a statement for FPM minister Gaby Layoun who said: “the March 14th “Cedar Revolution” is only but an illusion set by that camp.”

And that’s what’s truly horrifying. Set aside the fact that this committee is as one-sided as one-sided goes and ignore the absolute necessity of having at least a counter opinion regarding something as vital to Lebanon as its history book. If the FPM ministers are now ignoring something they were a vital part of and calling it an “illusion” then what can one expect from those who were vehemently against such the movement that got their Syrian BFFs out of the country?

If Hezbollah ministers did not want any reference to the struggles many Lebanese had to go through with regards to the Syrians, which has always been part of their hypocritical propaganda of Israel being our only enemy, when did the Syrian epoch become nonexistent for the FPMers too?

In simple pictures,

according to Mohammad Fneish, Ali Kanso and Gaby Layoun, who happen to be a ministers in:

Lebanon's current government

the following:

the Cedar Revolution

is as real as:

Harry Potter

I’m fairly certain such a draft for our history book will not pass. But you know what, even if it did, the thing about history is that it comes from more than one source. I don’t remember much of the history I was spoon-fed in grades 9 and 12. But I do remember what I lived through and I am writing about it. This blog, for instance, along with all its political content, will be here long after I’ve stopped blogging and long after I’ve even stopped existing. Well, try to censor that I guess.

What’s truly troubling, though, is how such a draft came to exist in the first place. What’s terrifying is that some minds can fully rationalize writing that draft. What’s absolutely frightening is that those minds are in absolute power.