The Most Sectarian Ad On Lebanese Television

OTV is currently running this Election Law promo ad in support of the “Orthodox Gathering Law” championed by the political party running OTV, the Free Patriotic Movement.

Here’s the ad:

I know firsthand that many people think this way – but to turn shameful political gossip that goes on behind closed doors into an ad that’s supposed to convince others of the same rhetoric is taking it way too far. This ad disgusts me.

But let me do what the ad does and say the following:

My name is Elie. I’m a Maronite from Batroun. At least that’s what my ID says *flashes new ID to the camera.* No matter what I do, I’ll be voting for Maronites. I don’t want to vote for Maronites only because I don’t believe they represent me.

You didn’t expect that now, did you?

There’s a fine line between proving a political point which I’m sure Aoun’s many MPs and politicians (à la son-in-law prodigy Gebran Bassil) are more than capable of doing and what the ad is all about. After all, part of the reason why I changed my opinion regarding the Orthodox Law (click here) was seeing an FPM MP named Simon Abi Ramia go on and on for ten minutes about how the Sunni vote is “killing off” Christians by drowning them out and choosing MPs that do not represent them. Such sectarian messages from MPs and TV promos such as the one in this post should not and will not be tolerated on any form of television.

Here’s a word for the politicians who believe that MPs selected by Sunnis do not represent me:

I, a Maronite Christian as we’ve already (and nauseatingly – because that’s a point that resonates apparently) established feel more represented by Nabil De Freige, Atef Majdalani, Samer Saadeh etc.. than by Assad Hardan or Emile Rahmeh.

You know what’s ironic? The FPM is supposed to be a “secular” party. At least that’s what my FPM-supporting friends kept shoving down my throat when I expressed discomfort with their party. “Oh you’re just being a Christian extremist” they said. “We embrace everyone,” they said.

The way I see it, the only thing the FPM is embracing lately with these disturbingly bad ads, with their horribly divisive rhetoric is a rising bout of Christian extremism. And Christian extremists today do not represent me.

Enjoy the ad by the only people in the country who care for your rights as Christians. Because, you know, Lebanon is made for you and no one else.

“Aux-armes, Chrétiens! Formez vos bataillons! Marchons, marchons! Qu’un sang impur (those darned Muslims) n’abreuve pas nos votes!” (this is a play on the French national anthem and translates to: to your arms, Christians. Form your battalions. Walk on, walk on so that impure blood doesn’t water down our votes.”) – this is the new slogan for the 2013 Elections.

Be ready for a lot of “we tried to restore your rights but THEY *points finger* didn’t let us” speeches over the next few months.

Insulting May Chidiac

To say these people are retarded would be an insult to those who were born with mental deficits.

To say they are worthless bitches would be an insult to all female dogs everywhere, including those ugly Chihuahuas.

To say these people have half of their brain missing would be an insult to all types of brain pathological atrophies.

To say these people are scum would be an insult to garbage.

The people I’m referring to are those who found it nice and interesting to insult May Chidiac. Why? Because she was considering running for parliamentary elections in 2013. Where? In the “stronghold” of their leader, Keserwan.

I was under the impression Keserwan wasn’t the property of any political leader, let alone someone who originally hails from Beirut’s Southern suburb. But I may be mistaken. After all, to them I’m a Maronite from Batroun who’s just angry his Maronitism is of a second degree compared to our neighbor to the South.



I have something to say to these people who find it okay to call a person who survived an assassination attempt, losing half her limbs in the process, a half human. I don’t wish these people ill – i.e. I don’t wish upon them a car accident that would mutilate them and get them into a course of physiotherapy and surgical operations that would take more than 7 years. What I do wish for these people is a brain with the mental capacities of a ten year old. Maybe then they can actually know the severity of the garbage they’re uttering.

Nicóle Bekhaazi – walaw at the Ó? – Elias Aoun, Ghosn Joe, the 69 people who “liked” Nicóle’s picture and the countless others who agree with them and with whom we’ve all had fights about this same issue are irrelevant. And I wish they  hadn’t gotten the attention they so desperately wanted. But they did. And here I am trashing them. Frankly, I felt like insulting them. I felt like giving them a taste of their own medicine. I felt like attempting to sink down to their level for a moment but I still have a long way to go to reach their low.

Why do I want to do that? Because people like them are not people you can talk to. They are people you talk down to.

On the other hand, there’s the semi-official stance of the Lebanese Forces via their Facebook page. This stance basically called all Aounists stupid.

And this is also beyond unacceptable. You do not call people who differ from you politically stupid just because you don’t agree with them – except the people insulting May Chidiac. Not all Aounists are like that – regardless of whether you agree or not with their politics. And this coming from the Facebook page of one of Lebanon’s leading parties makes this a transgression that cannot be ignored.

The Lebanese Forces need better moderators for their Facebook page: ones that know right from wrong and what can be posted on such pages and what cannot. They could have stopped at saying “May Chidiac is a line you cannot cross.” And it would have had the desired impact.

On the other hand, the insults also made it to LBC news. And I find it very professional of them that they discussed this knowing that she doesn’t work with them anymore.

Bel 3arabe l mshabra7, khara ha heik 3alam. Tfeh. 

Blackout Beirut: The Recent Electricity Crisis in Lebanon

I felt like I was in a war zone this past weekend when the power in Beirut kept circulating between three hours of grid connection and three hours of grid disconnection. Perhaps the “highlight” of my day was trying to shower using a lit candle as your only source of light.

I am used to electricity outages. I am from a village in Northern Lebanon where more than 12 hours of coverage per day is seen by many as some form of the second coming of Christ. But in my village in North Lebanon, I have a “moteur” subscription which fills in the many blanks left by the electricity we should get from our dear state. In my Achrafieh neighborhood, however, you don’t have “moteur” providers because you never needed them before. Add to that grandparents who have been through weeks and weeks of no-electricity during the civil war and it makes the three hours tolerable for a power-needing person like me.

But no matter, as Beirut cycled between Beirut-on and Beirut-off in three hour turns, even the iPhone app to track the outages didn’t work anymore. And I had no idea what was happening until I watched the news and saw that workers from South Lebanon had apparently decided to strike at the Zahrani Power Plant. A little delving into this and a political nature of the strike is also revealed. Nearby municipalities supported the decision of the plant’s “workers” for strike. The “apparent” cause? Electricite du Liban (EDL) decided to move a 40 MVA transformer from the Plant to the nearby city of Saida.

Part of the news report I watched has Southerners complain about them being “left out,” about them being “targeted” by the Lebanese state with only few hours of coverage per day. My initial reaction was: are they [insert obscene word] kidding me?

Let’s get  a few things straight.

1) The Southerners are not the only people who have suffered in Lebanon. It’s 2011. The Israelis left 11 years ago. The July 2006 war happened, well, in 2006. We all stood by them through all of their Israel-related misery. We harbored them in our schools, gave them food from our homes and did what any proper citizen would do. They can stop accusing the whole country of targeting them whenever something doesn’t go their way.

2) I get as much coverage as they do in my village in North Lebanon and yet you don’t find me storming power plants and cutting power for those who have it. This is NOT the way you solve things.

3) Apparently our beloved minister Gebran Bassil (whom we, in my caza, voted against a bunch of times and yet always found in power) couldn’t even get the political parties behind the “workers” to get them to stop their “strike.” This begs the question: if the minister of energy, who’s also a proud ally of those political parties, can’t reign them in, then who can? This also raises doubt on exactly how far Aoun can control Hezbollah. Mr. Aoun was always proud of being Hezbollah’s main ally in the country, believing that Hezbollah did whatever Aoun wanted. Well, not always, is it?

4) Now that our prime minister Miqati has apparently sorted things out, the question asks itself: what if Hezbollah decides to act out again? what’s there to stop them? If their own allies can’t do anything against them then who can? What’s to stop this whole “I can do whatever I want and you can’t do anything about it” mentality that they have?

As I came back to my Achrafieh neighborhood at 6 pm today, I was struck by how dark it was. Few were the buildings that had lights in them. The streets were dark. The people were gloomy. I couldn’t wait to go back home to North Lebanon where there was actually light and mind you, my house in Achrafieh is exactly halfway between St. George’s and Geitawi hospitals – you’d think an area where two hospitals were located would get some preferential treatment. But no matter. A friend in Jal El Dib had 8 minutes of electricity all day today. A friend in Mansourieh a little more than 8 minutes but also a dismal amount. And yet, you don’t find us storming roads, burning tires, calling for strikes in power plants in our regions. It’s not that we couldn’t do that. The easiest thing to do is spur violence. What’s not easy, however, is to suck it up and work on fixing the electricity situation, which has been coexistent with our life as far as I can remember, with a radical solution, not ruin whatever few megawatts other people get.

And this is one of the reasons, dear Hezbollah, I can never – ever – support you.

But you know what’s interesting? Out of all the governments that have been ruling the country since 2005, this is probably the most dysfunctional one. What’s sad? It’s one-sided and made up mostly of those who want to change and reform. Well, here’s how it goes: over promise, under-give, the system blows up, blame others.

Between Brad and Bkerke…

February 9th, St. Maroun’s day, the founder of the Maronite Church.

On this day, we are observing two totally different scenes.
One in Bkerke, Lebanon and one in Brad, Syria.

In Bkerke, the Maronite Patriach, held Mass to celebrate the day. Notable politicians attended.
In Brad, a Lebanese Maronite political leader took his family and supporters to celebrate the day.

The difference in meaning between both celebrations is anything but subtle…

Do not be fooled by the apparent religious cover of the celebration in Brad… it is all political.
Brad might have been an important Maronite location in the past but the present value of this site is what matters: there is nothing currently Maronite about it except its history. If Maronites had felt it suitable to stay in Brad, I’m positive Brad would have been a Maronite beacon today. But this is not the case. What is left in Brad is a few ruins to commemorate the days when Maronites were actually there.

On the other hand, Bkerke is the seat of Maronitisim of the whole Levant region – it is the reference. It is the place where people should celebrate St. Maroun’s day. It is where all Lebanese citizens, regardless of their religious affiliations, come to share the celebration with the Patriarch.
Look at it this way, what would be the value of Rome and the Vatican if they weren’t the current location and base of the Holy See?

This political leader probably thinks he’s making a good deed by visiting Syria to celebrate this day. He probably believes that showing that not all Maronites consider the Patriarch and Bkerke their reference, to further solidify the idea that the diversity in Lebanon, even within certain sects, is a good thing, only working to the enriching of society. I believe this is the best case scenario explanation of his motive.
It would have been good if this precise leader wasn’t so adamant about fighting for Christian – and precisely Maronite – rights.
A simple common sense question I believe I am entitled to ask: do you believe, Mr. politician, that showing a divided front to the world is a good way to fight for your rights? What rights are we supposed to fight for if we can’t even agree where we want to celebrate our founder’s day? What gives us the right to even fight for our rights if we can’t even agree on a proper reference for us in our country?
The reality is: he wants to show that a sizable fragment of Maronites actually consider him their reference.

What is even more ironic is the hypocrisy this leader has shown throughout his dealings with Bkerke and yet his followers seem to forget about it.
2005: The patriarch and Bkerke side with him… the patriarch does not receive any bashing
2005 onwards: This politician shifts sides.
2005 onwards: The Patriarch and Bkerke became critical of him and he, along with his followers, began bashing the patriarch.

This leader is preaching to his followers in Brad. But what about those followers? I know some of them. Some of them are from my hometown, I even share blood with some. And I’ve heard them say on way too many occasions that “our patriarch isn’t worth Hassan Nasrallah’s shoe”. This is how low these people think of their patriarch, their true reference. What does that say of them?
And why do they think so low of the patriarch? Because their political leader is at odds with how the Patriarch views the right direction for our country to be… You see, the simple chronological sequence I illustrated earlier only goes to show that the Patriarch and Bkerke are firm in their convictions. They have not changed. It is those who have changed and cannot tolerate criticism that have been the most sensitive and therefore, the most brutal towards Bkerke.

There are many more differences between Brad and Bkerke than a few hundred kilometers… the difference between Brad and Bkerke is that of ideology.

The only thing this political leader is accomplishing is distancing himself from the Maronite Church. If only he had the common sense to see that this Church he is trying to ignore is a 1600 year old institute that has overcome many, many bigger hurdles than the one he thinks he’s setting up.
If only he had the common sense to see that, at least on St. Maroun’s day, he should at least attend Mass at Bkerke and show the world that at least on the day of their founding, Maronites are united in their cause to stay in the country that made them and in the country that they have made.