No, Gebran Bassil, Ne7na Meghterbin

Gebran Bassil – our esteemed minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigrants – wants to change the name of the ministry he is heading from that dealing with Immigrant affairs, to – what I would assume translates as: Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Diaspora. In Arabic, the change goes from Meghterbin to Mountashirin.

The change, it seems, is Bassil’s attempt – in his ever lasting effort to gain a parliament seat in my home district (which he will get with this freak of an electoral law they’ve come up with) – to indicate to us, Lebanon’s immigrants at large, that our identity is Lebanese.

As if we have forgotten.

We may have left the country, dear sir, but the attempt to wash away the very hard decision of us deciding to pack up everything and leave will not be accepted. The mere fact that you think I need to be reminded of my Lebanese identity is insulting.

I have not forgotten that I have not seen my parents in months. I have not forgotten that I couldn’t be next to my grandfather as he drew his dying breath. I have not forgotten that I am missing out on Celine and Yasmina growing up. I have not forgotten that I have not seen my best friends and have not been in their lives for almost a year.

I have not forgotten that I will be missing out on Celine and Simon’s baptisms. I have not forgotten that I haven’t hugged my grandmothers in what feels like an eternity. I have not forgotten that I haven’t seen my brothers in months either.

And yet, here we are.

What makes me Lebanese is them. It’s what I’ve left behind and I remember every single day of being ten thousand miles away, as I get glimpses of what I’ve left behind over WhatsApp voice messages.

No, you do not get to sugar coat me being away from home.

I have also not forgotten the country you and your friends made me leave. In the time I’ve been here, America has offered me more – and I’m not even their citizen – than what my own government has in over twenty seven years of being its citizen.

America has offered me well-paved roads. You haven’t.

America has offered me a well-paying job. You haven’t.

America has offered me fast internet, water that doesn’t die off on me, electricity that I can rely on, gas that doesn’t break the bank to buy, accessibility that cannot be replaced, and prosperity that cannot be priced.

America has offered me a place in which I can build my own home, without worrying about tomorrow might bring. You haven’t.

What have you offered?

You’ve offered a country where everyone has a militia, where you don’t succeed based on your qualifications but based on who you know, where half of people my age are struggling to find a job, where corruption is our modus operandi, where the most basic of human requirements are not provided to me.

But please, do remind me that I’m Lebanese. Remind me of how I can’t go on vacation anywhere without needing two hundred and fifty different pieces of paper to have them consider me for a visa. Remind me of how you and your friends have turned the country’s reputation into a shithole. Remind me of all that baggage that I’ve willingly left behind – just because you need my vote, I suppose.

You think we wanted to leave. No one wants to leave their home, and everything that they’ve known their whole life. But you’ve made me do so.

I have not forgotten why I left. I thank the heavens each day that I took that decision. And it won’t really matter what you name your little useless ministry, at least for me.

Come April 29th, Lebanon’s voting immigrants – please choose wisely. And on May 6th, I hope the Lebanese populace back home remembers that their sons and daughters are immigrating for a reason.

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A Record 111 Women Are Running For Parliament in Lebanon’s 2018 Elections

As Lebanon’s 2018 elections go on in full swing, a total of 976 candidates have presented to the Ministry of Interior affairs as of the deadline at midnight on March 6th. Of those, 111 candidates are women.

There are two ways to look at this. 111 candidates being women is essentially only 11.37% of the total number of candidates. Yes, the percentage may be dreary, but back in 2009 – the last time we actually had parliamentary elections – only 15 women had run, from a field of over 702 candidates. That’s nearly 2%, an abomination by all measures.

So instead of saying that 111 candidates being women is not good enough, I choose to celebrate the milestone of having that many women run. It’s the highest number since El-Taef agreement, and will only be just a stepping stone for future elections to come.

This year’s elections has the highest number of candidates ever recorded. The previous record was 702, in 2009. There were 484 candidates in 2005, 545 in 2000, 599 in 1996 and 408 in 1992, the first election after the Taef agreement. Prior to the Lebanese civil war, with less seats in parliament, the most candidates that had run was 366 in 1972.

The reason these elections have had a higher influx of candidates in general is the new election law at hand: it allows more representation to entities of the electorate that had been diluted away previously. Even Lebanon’s political parties are fielding candidates in districts that they had not been competitive in. For instance, the Lebanese Forces and FPM have candidates in the deep south and the Beqaa-Hermel districts. More importantly, however, a good chunk of those candidates are people from Lebanon’s civil society who had fought tooth and nail over the past few years against the limitless corruption of those in power.

Interestingly enough, a quarter of Lebanon’s current parliament members are not running for re-election. The most notable of those is probably former prime minister Fouad Sanioura, who held the Sunni seat in Saida since 2009. Many simply didn’t stand a chance at defeating a challenge in the shuffling of proportional representation.

While 111 women running for parliament is an achievement in itself, it shows – yet again – that Lebanon’s political parties have failed in further strengthening the political might of this core demographic in the Lebanese population. Remember the days when they were talking about women quotas? Even their most conservative of quotas is higher than the number of women candidates that are running, and definitely higher than the ones they will have on their list.

For a full list of the candidates, click here.

It’s up to us, therefore, to make sure we have as many new and fresh faces in parliament as possible. As an expat in the United States, I will vote on April 29th. My district – Batroun – has the least number of candidates running in the entire country: only 10 candidates are running for 2 Maronite seats. Of those 10 candidates, a phenomenal journalist, lawyer, and friend named Layal Bou Moussa is hoping to make a dent in the Lebanese political sphere.

It is without hesitation, therefore, that I say my preferential vote will be going to her this year. She has proven over and over again to be a loud voice for all the oppressed. As a reporter for New TV, she’s exposed corruption of those in power. It’s time we give her a chance, every one else in my district has been in power in one way or the other since at least 2005. Enough is enough. On April 29th, I’m with her.

There’s a lot to say about the chance that people from Lebanon’s civil society have to get to parliament. But if we all belittle their chances and either not vote or vote for political parties instead, then we’ll be falling into the same rabbit hole we’re never going to get out of. It’s worse when there are accomplished candidates running in our districts that need our votes.

Other notable female candidates running are:

  • Paula Yaacoubian for the Armenian seat in Beirut’s 1st district,
  • Joumana Haddad for the Minorities seat in Beirut’s 1st district,
  • Jessica Azar – MTV journalist – for the Greek Orthodox seat in Metn,
  • Sethrida Geagea for the Maronite seat in Becharre,
  • Gilberte Zouein running for the Maronite seat in Keserwan,
  • Maya Terro running for the Sunni seat in Chouf,
  • Sandrella Merhej running for the Maronite seat in Baalbek,
  • Lina Mokhayber running for the Greek Orthodox seat in Metn,
  • Raghida Dargham running for the Druze seat in Beirut’s second district,
  • Michelle Tuein running for the Greek Orthodox seat in Beirut’s first district, among others.

How many of those candidates will end up in parliament is yet to be determined, but the mere fact that since the last time we’ve held parliamentary elections, the number of Lebanese women willing to throw in their hat into the figurative political scene has grown by more than 700% is telling. Maybe this time, we can actually get more than 4 women out of 128 members of parliament.

The next deadline in the election process is to submit lists. Candidates cannot run on their own anymore, and as such they need to be part of bigger lists that are running candidates to their district. This is because the new electoral law adopts proportional representation, which will make voting not as simple. The following is a neat video by the Lebanese Forces about how the law work. Yes, it’s a political party’s video, but no it’s not partisan in its information:

 

Lebanon Bans Steven Spielberg’s “The Post” Because Of His Support of Israel, Proving The Country Is Run By Stone Age Airheads

At the rate Lebanon’s censorship bureau has been going for the past year, the country might as well have rang in 1918 instead of 2018, because the situation has become unacceptable.

The latest victim of a censorship bureau that doesn’t want to upset what’s becoming a form of cultural terrorism in the country is Steven Spielberg’s “The Post,” a stunning drama that is absolutely VITAL to be seen today.

The reason why Lebanon has an issue with Spielberg is both anti-semitic and because of the country’s anti-Israel laws. When Spielberg’s Tintin was released, his name was struck out from the poster in order to upset anyone due to his last name’s obvious Jewish background. His name was eventually added to the blacklist of the Arab League’s Central Boycott (of Israel) Office because of a donation he made to the Zionist state in 2006.

Yes, Spielberg making donations to Israel is abhorrent, but he’s not the only Hollywood figure to do so, nor will he be the last. When and where do we draw the ridiculous line about what we ban and allow in this country when it pertains to Israel, because this sure as hell is pushing it. An American director, with no ties to the country in question except for his religion, makes a contribution to the country like thousands of other Westerners and Americans do, and he’s suddenly persona non-grata?

To make matters worse, the decision to add Spielberg to that Arab ban list occurred in 2007. He’s had countless movies released in the area since, without any form of controversy. He has been director and producer of many movies that were released without a glitch in the area. Of those movies, I list: Transformers, The BFG, Bridge of Spies, Jurrasic World, Lincoln, etc…

Over the past 10 years, Lebanon has screened SIXTEEN movies in which Spielberg was either directing or producing. And here comes 2018, with Lebanon’s BDS office finding new muscle in our government, and the country won’t be able to get any of his movies ever again.

I would call such a ban illogical, but those calling for him to be blanket banned don’t really understand logic. They are the same people who believe Gal Gadot’s existence in a movie is a covert attempt at spreading zionism into the subconscious of the Arab masses, except in Gal Gadot’s case the argument was that she was actually Israeli, whereas in Spielberg’s case, the affront is an association to the n’th degree, just to appease to some people’s hypersensitivity, but I digress.

Being in the United States, I had the pleasure to watch “The Post” in its opening weekend a few days ago. The movie, set in the 1970s, features legends Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks as the owner and editor of the Washington Post at that time, respectively, as they try to reveal government secrets about the Vietnam War, during Nixon’s White House, as he attempts to silence the press.

The movie, based on a true story, is exceedingly important in today’s day and age where freedom of speech, the press, and the important of expression are all threatened. The irony of a movie about fighting off censorship being censored in a country that is developing a knee-jerk response to anything that ruffles its feathers should not escape you.

What we have in Lebanon is a bunch of airheads in power, whose brains only function in binaries, and who can’t appreciate enough nuances to be able to distinguish between cause to ban (which should never exist, but it’s Lebanon) and not. Instead, The Post is the second movie to be banned this week after Daniel Radcliffe’s “Jungle” also receives the same fate, when it’s discovered that the screenwriter, and some of the people involved in the making of the movie are Israelis.

To expect any movie coming in from the U.S. to be Israel-free is non-sensical. To expect any media import that we get from the big bad West to be Israel free is stupid. What’s next, banning everything that breathes because of a positive opinion they have of the Jewish state? I’m willing to bet those calling for the movie to be banned have watched countless Steven Spielberg movies before.

I expect this bullshit we’re dealing with not to decrease over the next few months, but to further perpetuate like the rabid fire it’s becoming. The next Nathalie Portman movie? Forget about it. Anything featuring Gal Gadot? Forget about that either. Any Steven Spielberg movie coming up after The Post? Nope. It’s just sad.

Again, I reiterate what I’ve said countless times before. Boycotts are not bans. Boycotts add to whatever message the BDS folks want to propagate in the country, whilst bans do the exact opposite. With every single movie they cause to be banned, they lose more people who’d be willing to support them. But I guess they don’t really care about that, either.

The hypocrisy of banning movies in Lebanon because they’re an easy target should not escape anyone. There are products distributed in the market, and imprinted in everyone’s personal life, that are also related in one way or another to Israel, but BDS’ dependency on such products will never have them call for bans.

The lines that movies can’t cross in this country are increasing by the day. “Call Me By Your Name,” the year’s best movie, won’t be released because of its LGBT theme. Movies are banned because Israel. Movies are banned because they upset Christian or Muslim clergy. At this rate, there’s no point in cinema in this country anymore.

Until then, enjoy streaming the movie online or buying it for $2 at your local bootleg DVD store. The biggest loser in all of this bullshit is that Lebanese distributor, in this case Italia Films, that already bought the rights for the movie and will be losing hundreds of thousands of dollars, as did Joseph Chacra with Wonder Woman, just because we have easily-influenced entities in offices of power, without any ounce of backbone whatsoever.

Stray Dogs Ruthlessly Poisoned and Killed in Broad Daylight in Lebanese City of Ghobeiry

In the country where some people kick cats for fun, and where human rights are borderline existent, killing dogs in broad daylight is the next new thing.

In the town of Ghobeiry, in Baabda, Mt Lebanon, a bunch of stray dogs were ruthlessly poisoned and left to die on the tarmac before being picked up by a pickup truck owned by they town’s municipality and disposed of.

You can see the entire horrific instance in this FaceBook video:

I can’t wait before people come in and start going off about how we would not be this angry and outraged at such videos showing human torment in country this or country that. It’s none of your business what can get me or others horrified. This – in its entirety – is too abhorrent of an event for anyone in Lebanon to remain silent about.

Ghobeiry’s Municipality itself is denying that they ordered this mass Murder to occur, in a statement released today:

Frankly though, this statement is pure bullshit. Not only was this massacre carried out using equipment of the municipality as is evident by the writing on the truck, but I’m willing to bet that those are employees, in one way or another, of that municipality.

It’s even worse for a municipality to feign ignorance about something so horrific happening in its jurisdiction in broad daylight. We’re not stupid – this was definitely pre-authorized, whether there was a written decision about it or not.

It takes a whole other level of psychopath for a human being to do what that filth did to those poor dogs, film it, and probably go back home and gloat about their achievement. They probably gather together and make fun of how those poor creatures were whimpering away as they drew their last breaths, raving on the testosterone high they get from exhuming that toxic masculinity they so desperately seek to validate.

Those men are exactly the root of the problem in this country: vomit for air who have no regard of rules, regulations, humane behavior, and the need for compassion in a world where there is none of that.

Ghayd Chammas’ take on the issue is also worth noting:

It’s not a long stretch to imagine that someone who can do this to a dog would do this to any other living creature. Those people who did that are abominations to our society.

To end this, I quote the statement by BETA on the issue:

Numerous dogs were filmed lying on the ground, crying, shaking, and foaming at the mouth. The municipality fully admits to luring them with poisoned meat only to kill them.

This sickening level of abuse, torture, suffering and complete disregard for life and law is absolutely shocking.

They had not even died before they were thrown into the back of a municipal vehicle.

All of this suffering did not bring any benefit to people or animals; In fact, it harms national efforts to manage homeless dogs.

We reached out to the municipality and were told they did this as the dogs are ‘aggressive and attacked many people’. Even if that were true, this is still not an acceptable way to deal with the dogs. The video shows friendly dogs, dogs checking on the ones who were dying, dogs not attacking or acting aggressively even in such a stressful situation. We also doubt the claims that these dogs attacked many people and request to see a compilation of all the reported incidents over the last months.

There is no question that this is unethical and immoral, and now with the Animal Protection and Welfare law, we believe it is also illegal and cannot pass –

1) We are communicating now with the Minister of Interior to condemn such action and officially notify all municipalities that this is illegal and unacceptable

2) We are appealing to the courts with Animals Lebanon so that the justice system can officially state this is illegal and act according to the law

3) We are continuing to work with the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure all of the aspects of the law are issued quickly, while this is the most horrific we have seen but it is not an isolated event, and we must protect homeless dogs nationwide

What you can do –

– Contact the Ministry of Interior and urge this be stopped by all municipalities

– Contact the general prosecutor and urge them to act

http://www.animalslebanon.org/law

تحذير: يحتوي هذا الفيديو على مشاهد عنيفة، تسميم كلاب شاردة ودية من قِبل بلدية الغبيري

إنّ هذا المستوى المروع من الإساءة والتعسف والتعذيب والمعاناة والاستهتار التام بالحياة والقانون أمر مروع تماما.

تم تصوير العديد من الكلاب مستلقية على الأرض، تعوي وترجف فيما والرغوة تخرج من افمامها وقد اعترفت البلدية بإغرائها باللحوم المسمومة لقتلها.

ولم تكن قد نفقت قبل أن يتم رميها في سيارة للبلدية.

كانت كل هذه المعاناة غير ضرورية وكان من الممكن تجنبها، فهي لم تجلب أي فائدة للناس أو للحيوانات، بل أساءت بالجهود الوطنية للسيطرة على الكلاب الشاردة

تواصلنا مع البلدية وقيل لنا إنهم قاموا بهذا العمل لأن الكلاب “عدوانية هاجمت العديد من الناس”. حتى ولو كان هذا صحيحا، لا تزال هذه الطريقة غير مقبولة للتعامل مع الكلاب. يظهر الفيديو كلابا ودية وكلابا تتفقد تلك التي تنفق، وكانت الكلاب لا تهاجم أو تظهر أي عدوانية حتى في مثل هذا الوضع المتوتر. كما أننا نشك في الادعاءات بأن هذه الكلاب هاجمت العديد من الناس ونطلب أن نرى جميع الحوادث المبلغ عنها خلال الأشهر الماضية.

ليس هناك شك في أن هذا أمر غير أخلاقي، والآن مع قانون حماية الحيوانات والرفق بها أنها غير قانونية أيضا –

1) اننا نتواصل الآن مع وزير الداخلية لإدانة هذا الإجراء وإخطار جميع البلديات رسميا بأن هذا غير قانوني وغير مقبول

2) بالتعاون مع جمعية “حيوانات لبنان”، نتوجه نحو القضاء إلى المحاكم بحيث يمكن النظام القضائي أن يذكر رسميا أن هذا غير قانوني

3) نواصل العمل مع وزارة الزراعة لضمان صدور جميع جوانب القانون بسرعة – في حين أن هذا العمل الأكثر رعبا الذي رأيناه حتى الآن ولكنه ليس حدثا معزولا، فيجب حماية الكلاب الشاردة على الصعيد الوطني

ما تستطيع فعله –

– الاتصال بوزارة الداخلية وحثها على ردع جميع البلديات عن هذا العمل

– اتصل بالمدعي العام وحثه على التصرف

http://www.animalslebanon.org/law

Justice League Is Banned In Lebanon Because Of Gal Gadot (Again)

Surprise, surprise, but the second DC Comics movie released this year will also be banned in our wonderful homeland because Gal Gadot is in it. Again.

Following the mini-national crisis that spilled over internationally with Lebanon becoming the first country in the world to ban Wonder Woman earlier in June because of Gal Gadot’s Israeli background, our censorship bureau is doing the same thing with Justice League, the movie in which Gal Gadot’s character is not front and center.

It seems that after being dormant for many years on Gal Gadot, Lebanon’s censorship bureau is up in full swing, banning anything related to her from being commercially available in the country. After allowing all the Fast & Furious movies she was in, and Batman v Superman (horrible as it was), she has become a persona non grata.

Someone needs to tell them that in the age of the internet, her movies are available to stream/rent/download everywhere. I’m willing to bet the same people who were calling to ban Wonder Woman months ago were the first to buy the cheap bootleg DVD when it became available at their nearest pirated DVD store.

Gal Gadot will not pop up from that movie screen, strut an Israeli flag, tell you about her country, and then sing their national anthem. Gal Gadot’s existence in a movie is not a propaganda to her state. She has already gotten paid for the movie, has already made millions off of it, and will be making millions more with the sequel to Wonder Woman, the sequel to Justice League, and other movies that feature her, which will also be banned in Lebanon, of course. This ban is not an opposition to Israel. Israel doesn’t give a rat’s ass about a movie featuring one of its citizens being banned in a small market in a country it’s at war with.

Censorship is not okay in any form. It removes our semblance of a choice because someone decided something is not good for us. It hasn’t been a year since Annabelle was banned because a priest didn’t like something about Christianity in it. Call Me By Your Name, a masterpiece of a movie about a queer boy’s first love, is also banned (of course) from being released in cinemas in Lebanon, and the list goes on. By the looks of it, we will never reach a time when a slice of our population won’t be triggered enough by some form of media not to call for it to be banned for everyone else.

It’s ridiculous that an actor’s background, regardless of what that background is, is grounds enough to ban a movie for everyone in the country. You are horrified by Gal Gadot’s existence? You have the choice to boycott whatever she’s in, and leave others the choice to do so or not. We should not be minions, under the auspices of governmental organizations who dictate what we should be exposed to or not, just because some groups in this country’s defiance struts the hypocritical lines of principles more frequently than the amount of times I’ll be called a traitor after publishing this.

When I wrote about Wonder Woman and some of their people wanted to hang me for treason, I wondered why Gal Gadot is so easy for them to ban, while getting rid of other Israel-affiliated items in their lives is not. The answer was: we boycott what we can. A movie won’t matter. Something with components researched and developed in Israel being banned is a nuisance – such as their iPhone. Let’s stop pretending this is about priorities or principles. This is about PR. With Gal Gadot, Lebanon’s BDS have found an easy target to score small “victories” and call themselves triumphant.

Where do we draw the line at what should be banned in this country because of its association with Israel? Or are we going to keep on cherry picking at battles without knowing the relevance of said battle? How the hell is a movie normalization? It’s because it’s so simple to ban and fight.

Priests, homophobes, backward religious laws, BDS, sheikhs, annoyed politicians, etc… the list of lines any entity in this country has to maneuver to exist is becoming ridiculous, with banning decisions that are always made on the week of a movie (or some other entity) being released. Justice League was supposed to be screened this week. Wonder Woman was banned on the day it was released, dealing huge losses to its distributor in the country, a Lebanese company who was counting on the blockbuster to make a summer profit.

Resist what? At this point, nobody really knows what these bans are resisting exactly. Justice League is a fun movie – it’s sad the Lebanese populace will be missing out, until it’s available for a 1,000LL pirated DVD.

Lebanese-American Alex Azar Nominated By Donald Trump To Become Next U.S. Secretary of Healthy and Human Services

The Lebanese diaspora’s affinity to the Trump regime strikes again with Alex Azar, of Lebanese origins, being nominated by American president Donald Trump to head the U.S. Health and Human Services department, which is essentially the equivalent of health ministries elsewhere around the world.

The healthcare sector in the United States corresponds to one of the top expenditures of the American economy, and of citizens. When I first came here, having the way insurance works here be explained to me was more complicated than some of the things I studied during medical school. And, after practicing medicine here for the last several months, I’ve come to realize how much their healthcare system, Obamacare or not, needs fixing in order to further better the health of their people. For being the world’s top superpower, their indices as well as the overall health of their people is nowhere near where it could be because of how the system has been built for years, to put Americans at a disadvantage when it comes to access and affordability.

Up until recently, the U.S. HHS secretary was Tom Price. He resigned after a scandal of him using taxpayer money to fund private travels. At more than $1 million, and multiple Politico articles exposing him, Price had the shortest tenure as HHS secretary. The department, with everything that the Republicans are doing to change healthcare to what suits them, is still dealing with his resignation.

Enter Alex Azar.

A descendant of Lebanese immigrants, Alex Azar was born in 1967 in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. His father, also named Alex Azar, was an ophthalmologist and teacher at John Hopkins. He holds a law degree from  Yale Law School, and was a clerk for  Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court in the early 1990s. He also worked for Kenneth W. Starr, the counsel who investigated Bill Clinton leading up to his impeachment in the 1990s as well.

Apart from his law background, Azar is also a health care expert being a former president of the American division of Eli Lilly and a health official in the George W. Bush administration, as per the New York Times. His allies, as does Trump, believe that Azar will be using his legal and health expertise to advance the Republican agenda of reforming Obamacare, which Azar believes to be a broken system, as well as to lead to lower price of drugs.

As a comparison to Lebanese readers, medications in the U.S. – even though they are mostly created and often produced here – are exorbitantly expensive. An antibiotic that you can get for $7 at a pharmacy in Lebanon would cost you north of $200 here, unless you have a good insurance plan. I’ve had patients come to the hospital nearing death because they can’t afford the medications they were prescribed.

The irony of asking someone who was the head of a pharmaceutical company to contribute to cheaper prices of drugs should not escape you. Democrats will probably grill Azar about his background in the pharmaceutical business, as well as his record in his role at the HHS previously, as they should. For a president, like Donald Trump, who wants to “drain the swamp,” he sure keeps finding a way to bring lobbyists and people of that swamp right into the heart of power. He’s also extremely conservative – as are the majority of Lebanese Americans by the looks of it.

Nonetheless, Azar’s expertise should come in handy for a Trump administration scrambling for legislative victories in the American political scene. What those victories mean to Americans and those living here (raises hand) remain to be seen.

On the Lebanese side of things, I hope that this appointment adds to Lebanon’s lobbying powers with the Americans, further tilting the Trump administration from negative actions towards my home country, and – maybe – guiding the quagmire of the Middle East, and the Saudi Arabian debacle – to a healthy conclusion.

Good luck to Mr. Azar in his confirmation hearing. He will need it. I just hope he’s more reasonable than Waleed Phares (I still don’t know why he spells his last name that way).

Cancer Of Arabism, Breeder of Terrorism, And Radical Islam Harborer Saudi Arabia Is Walking All Over Lebanon’s Reputation & Sovereignty Because We Allow It

It’s the epitome of irony when the country that gave the world the masterminds and executioners of 9/11, whose soil gave birth to Bin Laden and other infamous terrorists that have killed innocents the world over, whose money has funded terrorism in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Europe and America, whose entire existence is about destabilizing as much as possible accuses Lebanon of terrorism – and detains its own prime minister as a result.

Saudi Arabia, the country that made a robot a citizen before its own women can have equal rights, summoned our prime minister to their country one week ago to this day, forced him to resign, and is now holding him at an unknown location in their country, not permitting him to return to his country that he is still technically in charge in. You see, Lebanese Prime Ministers cannot resign from abroad and consider that resignation valid, it has to be presented to the Lebanese president. Saudi Arabia is holding our head of state for ransom – as one of Marcel Ghanem’s Saudi guests put it: “you’ll get him back once you’ve gotten rid of Hezbollah.”

I wonder, how would the Saudis feel had some foreign power decided to hold their crown prince hostage, say, in their territorial waters one day, on his fancy ass boat just because they can? Nay, Saudi Arabia doesn’t reason. It’s a country synonymous with oppression, cutting off hands as forms of punishment and spreading hate whenever they can.

A country that’s made Arabism more cancerous than actual cancer, who has bred terrorism and harbored all the facets of Radical Islam is currently tramping all over our reputation as sovereign state. They hold our economy in their hands – 22% of remittances come from there. They hold our politics in their fingers. They are literally holding our prime minister in their midst. They send their henchmen on TV shows run by Lebanese journalists and reporters, and have them insult the country to those reporters’ faces, only to be stared at blankly.

You see, for a country that’s 50 shades of demented like Saudi Arabia to have so much power over our own home, the answer is simple: we’ve allowed it to foster over the years, putting our own dignity as a country second to the well-being and pride of the Saudis, and their friends.

When they send their tourists in, we treat them like royalty. They’re not just another tourist visiting the country for the summer – they’re the Saudis who are back for this season. We offer them specials in our restaurants, we kiss their asses like no other touristic ass has ever been kissed in the country. We inflame the sense in them that we need them more than they need us.

When they tell us we have to be thankful they ended our civil war, we shrug and nod. We don’t rise up to say that they had as much a hand in the civil war in the first place. We don’t tell them that one cannot claim credit for ending a disaster that one was part of. Instead, we take the hit and change the topic. It’s Saudi Arabia, the mighty heart of Mecca. One does not simply oppose their rhetoric easily.

When they call on their citizens to leave the country, we fall on our knees and beg them to change their minds. They pull that card faster than Gebran Bassil spews racism, and yet, we fall to their tricks every time. No, please don’t have your people go. No, please let them stay. Sam Smith was not that desperate in any of his songs. Do we need their money? Sure. But some things are more important than money in this country, and sometimes telling someone who’s bluffing to your face to fuck off is what’s needed.

When they threaten the well-being of Lebanon’s families in their country, and consequently our economy, we crumble in fear of what could happen if they execute their threats, not knowing that their economy is as much reliant as Lebanese workers who are there. It’s beyond egotistical for them to remotely believe they can even replace our diaspora that is there, but they threaten it anyway, and we fall for it every time.

Their hands – as are Iran’s – play with our country like legos. Our borders, whether closed or not, are always open for their interference to come in and do whatever it wants, no questions asked. Our relationship with them has been parasitic for a very long time, but today it is becoming cancerous. Today, Saudi Arabia is trying to, as it has been doing for years now, squash the little country it thinks it can take on, except it’s no longer in the woodworks and out in the open.

And we let it. We’ve let our politicians, be it Saad or his dad or other figures, convince us that we must be eternally grateful to the Kingdom for our well-being as a country, no questions asked, no criticism raised. They can kill our political cycle by not letting us have the president we want, the prime minister we want, the elections we wanted, the security we deserve, the stability we seek. And we are supposed to sit in a corner, bow our heads and be eternally silent.

Our country has lived without a president, prime minister, functioning governments, functioning infrastructure, a garbage disposal system, terrorist attacks (funded by Saudi Arabia and friends, sometimes), democracy and elections, and we’ve survived. What have the Saudis been through exactly in their lifetime? Oil prices dropping? Cry me a river.

They have a way of making even the staunchest anti-Hezbollah Lebanese rise up against the disgusting rhetoric they’re throwing at us, the insults they’re hurling our way, and the utter disregard to the sanctity of Lebanon as a country in everything they do. It is high time we stand up as a country to being bullied and say that will happen no more. Give us back our prime minister, fight your proxy wars elsewhere, and leave us the fuck alone. We’re a country of 4 million strong who have been through hell and back, whose skin is thicker than yours will ever be, and who are sick of your bullshit in their daily lives for the past 30 years.