Friday, December 29, 2006

Ruler's Luck

What Luck for Rulers that Men do not think! - Adolf Hilter

Thursday, December 28, 2006

In praise of Lebanese Sectarianism

A bitter fact of life, a good article from Today's Daily Star.
---------
In praise of Lebanese Sectarianism

By Michael Young

Daily Star Staff

Praising Lebanon's sectarian system may seem odd this end of year, as sectarianism seems closer than ever before to devouring the society. But that's precisely what we should do, because political developments in recent weeks have shown that sectarianism, for all its demonstrable shortcomings, is the only system reflecting the true nature of social relations, imposing humility on all the parties, and offering the Lebanese a pluralism so abysmally lacking elsewhere in the Middle East.

Over the decades, eliminating sectarianism has come to be associated with the brisk air of modernism. There is some justice in the claim. A society cannot truly flourish if every aspect of life is reduced to one's religious affiliation. Promotion by sect usually means a state bureaucracy where merit is lacking. Confined to confessional boundaries, politics or public service means that the most ambitious must either tie their fate to sectarian political leaders to get somewhere, or emigrate. And the rigidities of sectarianism are such that Lebanon seems forever stranded in a never-never land of deal-making, profit-sharing and pie-slicing.

Perhaps. But sectarianism is also the one thing that has made Lebanon more or less democratic in a region stifled by despotism. Because the religious communities are more dominant than the state, power is diffused, so that no single political actor or alliance has ever been able to impose its writ on all of society. In the absence of absolute victory, the system has, of necessity, embraced perpetual compromise - or, when one of the sides, or both, has ignored the rules, collapsed into crisis. The dissatisfied have often looked for salvation in a strong state, leading to a longstanding rivalry between supporters of muscular state institutions and supporters of traditional sectarian leaders. Not surprisingly, the latter have usually won out because they better reflect the country's social disposition, which cannot long abide exclusive central authority.

If independent Lebanon were a morgue, it would be filled with aficionados of robust statehood. President Fouad Chehab was the first to use the army and intelligence services against the traditional leaders, and he got nowhere; nor did his successor, Charles Helou. Bashir Gemayel, president-elect for three weeks, had a similar antipathy for sectarianism, and hoped to use the state to tame and transcend it. He was murdered before he could do much, but his brother Amin applied a likeminded rationale, and within two years he had crashed. Emile Lahoud was elected in 1998 to break the sectarian leaders on behalf of the Syrian regime, but in 2000 he suffered a withering defeat at their hands in parliamentary elections. Now Lebanon must deal with two more dogged "statists," Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and Michel Aoun, and both are being reminded daily that they cannot wantonly bend Lebanon to their own advantage.

A few years ago, Nasrallah, in an Ashura speech, decried the Lebanese arrangement, saying it was characterized by "leaders of alleyways, of confessional groups, of districts." Instead of this, Hizbullah's leader declared, Lebanon needed "great men and great leaders." Unfortunately, he got it exactly wrong: The bane of Lebanon is not leaders of alleyways, but great men - or more precisely mediocre men who believe themselves to be great. Michel Aoun has, similarly, juggled contradictory sentiments: a contempt for sectarianism deployed alongside claims to be a paramount sectarian representative, all wrapped up in an audacious fancy that he is a man of destiny who, as the self-anointed embodiment of national salvation, can overcome Lebanon's untidy divisions.

In both Nasrallah's and Aoun's dislike of the system is a sometimes defensible loathing for wheeling and dealing - even though the two men are not lacking in that talent. However, they regard themselves as above the political fray, better than the riffraff maneuvering down below. Both consider an enhanced state, one they control, as the way around sectarian bargaining, even though they are fundamentally sectarian in their outlook and Nasrallah's ideal state looks very different than Aoun's. There is something deeply disturbing in their attitude: an intolerance for diversity, for making concessions to earn concessions, for the disorderliness of a system they would prefer to replace with something regimented.

Aoun and Nasrallah may be on a collision course when it comes to their totalistic visions for Lebanon, but in December it was as one that they hit a brick wall in trying to bring down the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. In the face of a unified and fuming Sunni backlash, both men were suddenly forced to acknowledge the red lines of sectarian conduct. The message they heard was a clear one: Either Hizbullah would have to limit its demands or Lebanon would enter a new civil war. When Nasrallah spoke two weeks ago to assembled opposition protestors, the virulence of his speech partly covered for the fact that he had seen the writing on the wall. He was sending word, probably to his Syrian allies, that fighting Sunnis was out of the question - before retreating under a compensatory hail of indictments directed against the majority.

Today, Hizbullah is in a quandary.

Siniora is here to stay and Nasrallah is absorbing the unforgiving dictates of sectarianism. Though the Hizbullah leader may have been dragged kicking and screaming into the alleyways of confessional politics, he now knows that he cannot ignore this. He is displaying modesty, in contrast to Aoun, who is beginning to sense that his plan to take over the state is slipping away. It is no coincidence that the Aounists have started a parliamentary petition condemning Siniora's alleged abuse of the Constitution. For weeks it has become double or nothing for the general's nervous followers, but by dismissing sectarian sensitivities they will almost certainly end up with nothing.

Every few years the Lebanese must cope with an individual, party or community that ignores, disastrously, sectarian conventions. When the Maronites, the Sunnis and the Druze couldn't get it right during the 1970s, the country descended into a 15-year war. Today, it is Hizbullah, as prime spokesman for the Shiite community, that is making a similar miscalculation. If conflict can be averted, then the party's learning a lesson will have been worthwhile: better a weak Lebanese state where communal alignments can counterbalance the hegemonic tendencies of one side to a strong, purportedly non-sectarian state that will consistently drift toward a disputed, therefore unstable, authoritarianism.

That said, permanent, rigid sectarianism is not ideal. For any truly democratic order to emerge, the Lebanese must ultimately think as citizens, not as members of religious tribes. But wishing that away will not work. The only solution is to modify sectarianism from within, to provisionally accept its institutions while making it more flexible and opening up space for non-sectarian practices. The Taif agreement outlines the means to reach this end, and just as soon as Lebanon can break free of Syrian and Iranian manipulation, just as soon as Hizbullah agrees to a process leading to its disarmament, no matter how lengthy, sectarian negotiations will become possible and the road to reform can be taken.

Michael Young is opinion editor of THE DAILY STAR.

Copyright (c) 2006 The Daily Star


Saturday, December 23, 2006

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Happy Holidays: Peace on Earth


Remember that thought? With all that's going on around the world, the wish for Peace is an old fashion term I guess!

3-Minute Management Lesson

I have read this a long time ago, but a friend of mine resent it to me. Never fails to make me laugh, so true.. I guess I have flunked that course repeatedly!

Lesson One
An eagle was sitting on a tree resting, doing nothing. A small rabbit saw the eagle and asked him, "Can I also sit like you and do nothing?"
The eagle answered: "Sure, why not " So, the rabbit sat on the ground below the eagle and rested. All of a sudden, a fox appeared, jumped on the rabbit and ate it.
Management Lesson - To be sitting and doing nothing, you must be sitting very, high up.
____________________________________
Lesson Two
A turkey was chatting with a bull. "I would love to be able to get to the top of that tree," sighed the turkey, "but I haven't got the energy."
"Well, why don't you nibble on some of my droppings?" replied the bull.
"They're packed with nutrients." The turkey pecked at a lump of dung, and found it actually gave him enough strength to reach the lowest branch of the tree.
The next day, after eating some more dung, he reached the second branch.
Finally after a fourth night, the turkey was proudly perched at the top of the tree. He was promptly spotted by a farmer, who shot him out of the tree.
Management Lesson -Bull shit might get you to the top, but it won't keep you there.
___________________________________
Lesson Three
A little bird was flying south for the winter. It was so cold, the bird froze and fell to the ground into a large field. While he was lying there, a cow came by and dropped some dung on him. As the frozen bird lay there in the pile of cow dung, he began to realize how warm he was.
The dung was actually thawing him out!
He lay there all warm and happy, and soon began to sing for joy. A passing cat heard the bird singing and came to investigate.
Following the sound, the cat discovered the bird under the pile of cow dung, and promptly dug him out and ate him.

Management Lesson -
(1) Not everyone who shits on you is your enemy.
(2) Not everyone who gets you out of shit is your friend.
(3) And when you're in deep shit, it's best to keep your mouth shut!
This officially ends your three minute management course

Monday, December 18, 2006

Holiday Recipes: Batata Harra

I'm traumatized. I use Tracksy (tracksy.com) to monitor traffic to the blog. Great tool. Anyway, with all the politicizing and religious-izing on this blog, the highest hit was on Mjadra Hamra A La Sud Libanaise. Continuous hits over the last few months. Turns out people care less about politics and people's rights to exist, and pay more attention to what they will have for dinner.

I have to concede, they are perfectly right.

I am in a good mood for Christmas/New Year/Adha Holiday. Although this has been a sad year for Lebanon, we still set up the Christmas Tree, and decorated it (a bit more conservatively though). And for those of you who will have people over for Christmas (or Adha, or even Hanukah for our Jewish friends in Occupied Palestine, and the rest of the world), maybe you would want to cook something exotic for them over the holidays.


This comes from Mum's Notebook. She wrote tens of recipes for me when I moved house, and moved country. Recipes are made for complete cooking idiots (I am number one), but I can assure you they work just fine.

Happy Holidays.

Batata Harra بطاطا حرّة

(Lebanese Spicy Potatoes with Coriander/Pomme Frites au Coriandre a la Libanaise)

4- medium sized potatoes

4- garlic cloves

2 – tea spoons of Dry Coriander (or green chopped coriander)

Lemon Juice – half a Lemon

Salt

Oil (and why not, an tablespoon of virgin olive oil)

Chop potatoes into small cubes (not too small – preferably 1.5 cm cubes – 1/2 inch)

Fry in very hot oil (only half time). Remove from oil, let cool down, then refry until brownish and well done (that will get the potatoes crispy – same technique can be used for the Pomme Frites – French Fries).

Crush the garlic with some salt, and stir fry with some oil, then add the coriander and stir fry for a minute or so until the green coriander shrivels a bit (use your eyes, then nose, if you smell something good, stop after you count to 15).

Add the fried potatoes, then squeeze some lemon and lift. Serve Hot.

My favourite combination is Bata Harra, with Hindiba (Chicory - a green herb thing made into a salad like format: boiled quickly, then stir fried with onions/lemon, salt.. will check the recipe.. don’t have it in the notebook!! So, don’t cook anything until I get the right things to do).

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

GREENPEACE:


I've been a staunch supporter of GREENPEACE ever since the Rainbow Warrior docked in Beirut in 1994. The "greenpeace" warriors also have their blogs.

There is always more to be done, and those green warriors are a role-model to many of us.




Saturday, December 09, 2006

Quote on Democracy!

Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule - and both commonly succeed, and are right.
-
HL Mencken

Friday, December 08, 2006

STOP SECTARIANISM CAMPAIGN

Awareness campaign on sectarianism

Background:

Since 1920, Lebanese society has been structured according to religious confessions or sects. Within a country of 10,000 km², we have over 17 official religious sects.

Sectarianism is intertwined in our daily life, and has been so for years, officially and in society. Most official positions are based on religious denominations.

Sectarianism was one of the main factors leading to the civil war, but even today, everybody still thinks along religious lines and divides people into sectarian groups.

The topic was always a taboo subject, until the "Spring Revolution" of 2005. With this movement, the creation of civil society groups brought together people from every religion, and made it clear to many that civil society-led initiatives could effectively make a difference.





The campaign:

The campaign focuses on the ridiculous/harmful side of sectarianism/confessionalism and its excesses in our every day life.

Generously conceived for AMAM by a multi-confessional creative team of like-minded people from the H&C Leo Burnett agency, the campaign is bound to make you both laugh and think. The tone, which is innovative, provocative, funny and straight to the point, will most certainly generate debate and provoke much-needed thinking about the reality of how far confessionalism dictates our every day social behaviour.

Like us, you think confessionalism is a plague which has been eating away at this country for as long as one can remember. Like us, you also think this country, despite all its flaws and complexities, remains a place like no other, one we should cherish, support & believe in. Like us, you have surrendered to the Lebanese spell, and have vowed to always keep trying, in your own way, to make things better. Like us, you are a believer in the unique richness and potential found in the Lebanese pluri-confessional make-up. We hope you like this campaign. If you do, and wish to support us for other citizenship-building awareness campaigns of this kind, please get in touch. Thank you.

05amam
www.05amam.org

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Beirut: Open Demonstration, Open Heart


A very touching drawing my Pierre Sadek, the famous Lebanese Caricaturist – shown on Future TV (staunch government supporter) on the eve of the demonstrations!

It Reads: Open Protest on the upper right corner, Open Heart on the lower right.

Beirut the large red Arabic script, forming a heart and a bouquet of roses.

On the first day of the demonstrations, Fairuz, the Lebanese Diva, was parading on the BIEL Theatre, a few hundred meters from the demonstration site – Full house! On the third day, the Beirut Marathon was taking place (courtesty gettyimages.com & AFP). The prime minister beseiged in the Ministerial Serail announces that he bows his head in pride for every Lebanese who expresses his right to demonstrate. In a region where dictatorship prevails, in a country where hearing Nasrallah and Aoun talk gives me allergy - I remember that Voltaire (?) said: "I disapprove of what you say (as a matter of fact, I hate what they're saying), but I will defend to the death your right to say it." Deeper under the skin of pro-Syria, anti-America, anti-government, da..da..da.. Lies freedom, and the belief that the people have the right to impose change.

Beirut, Lady of Democracy, Lady of Madness, Lady of Change, City of Change.


If she's with them.. I'm Changing Sides



The finer side of anti-government pro-Hizbullah Demonstrations!
Apologies for Photographer - I got this by email - source unknown.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Gog, Magog & Demagog - The End of "Israel"

This posting comes after a long string of comments, replies on a posting called:David-Stone: Defensive Rolling Stone.

The argument started with a call to a 2 state solution between Palestine & "Israel" that will eventually grow into one state, and with demographics and wisdom, will integrate in the region. Otherwise, the results on the human level are catastrophic. In short, "Israel" should integrate (gradually), or disintegrate by force.

We finally agreed that we are enemies, and that there is no love lost between us.




Sunday, October 08, 2006

David-Stone: Defensive Rolling Stone

Had it not been for the burst of the military bubble of Israel, Egypt would not have got its land back. Lebanon now has the same options. Israel paralysed half of Lebanon and destroyed 10 billion dollars worth of Infrastructure, a bunch of Lebanese guys parlayed northern Israel & its economy, and their economic losses are comparable, and the cost of war is not cheap for them either - 2 billion dollars of weapons.

Israel has forever boasted it can destroy the whole country. It still can, but this country will not stand still. I have strong reserve on "who" fights the defensive war, but I have no doubt that we should be always ready to give our neighbour to the south a strong kick in the mid-section if it gets macho. I propose to call the defensive plan - the David-Stone, a small stone between the eyes of the military giant once that beast gets aggressive.

I do not believe in peace with Israel, I do believe in a truce - until such a time that Israel truly moves towards peace. I believe the same applies to all Arabs and Israel. I repeat, until proven otherwise, Israel should not be trusted. On the other hand, running an endless war is futile to us at least. War from our part is only a means to set the record straight. After peace, we should always be careful. Israel cannot be trusted.

A clarification, I do not believe in Israel's right to exist as a principle, but I am also pragmatic. Now that it's there, we have to find a way to live with it with a pinch of salt, or a squeeze of lemon. The interim solution: two states. Long term solution, one state for the two people (secular, non-ethnic). Final solution - one state, and one people. Those would be called the Palestinian people (or call them any name), a multiethnic people, and multi-denominational one as well. Jews, Christians, Muslims etc. Some of the new-Palestinian people would have been originally Arab, and the others would have come a long time ago from Poland, Germany, Yemen, and Morocco etc. Timeframe? Hopefully 60 years. Crusades have done that, they came as Fredrick and Wolfgang, now they are called Mohammed and Elias. Let's put it into testing: Motche Kassav is called Moussa Kassab. Actually, the earlier pronunciation of the name sound like a sneeze compared to the rhythmic Arabic.

Another interesting fact, part of the Crusades and their settlements moved back to Europe, those who stayed integrated with their surrounding. I know that Arab airlines are acquiring A380s en-mass, in short, they can move a million people a month if they need to. Possible destinations: Madagascar for Climate, Europe for Culture.

Friday, October 06, 2006

1973-2006: Myth Busters

Thirty-three years anniversary of the October 1973 war! The Egyptian Army crosses the Barlev Line. Many would come and say that it was not a victory, but that is not the point. The outcome is that Sinai is Egyptian and Arab today.
Thirty-three years ago, young Egyptian heroes crossed the Suez Canal to claim back what is rightfully theirs. [Check this website on Yom-Kippur]

Does the Canal qualify as part of the Red Sea? No matter what, the Egyptians did not need Moses to part the sea to get to the other side. They were not fleeing the Pharos; they took justice into their hands. They planned, they implemented, and they succeeded. They were the myth busters. Israel is not invincible, and contrary to what is believed, you do not need to destroy Israel, you just need to shake it hard enough to get what you want.

Back then, Arabs proved that Israel is not “invincible,” and that force, will, and good planning do pay back. This year, Lebanon proved the same.

Was Lebanon – through its resistance– victorious? One can debate this forever. I find it difficult to answer this question myself because HA was involved. Nonetheless, I still do believe our tiny little country should be proud that a bunch of its young men busted the myth again.

With one slight difference, the Egyptian Army undertook the assignment. Next time we need to defend our land and reclaim our rights, it should be the Lebanese Army supported by a government-controlled resistance, under a
National Defense Plan.

I bow in respect to all the young men who sacrificed their life in 1973 for Egyptian and Arab land and honor. I also bow to all the resistance men and women in Lebanon: those who died for their cause, and those who lived (and will live) for it: A 10452 km2 free, independent, and sovereign country – Liberated of all foreign occupation – whether Israeli or Syrian.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Five Cents Worth: Look who's Talking

Ever seen the movie Anger Management? If you keep driving someone mad, first unintentionally, then intentionally, on what grounds can you weigh sanity? I don’t like religious figures. (That's a full stop). I can respect them as people, but I don’t really grant them more. I'm angry. I'm getting angrier. Somone just hijacked a plane to pass on a message to Pope Benedictus. Hopefully, someone will pass along this message as well to Benedict. Fundamentalists and Radicals on all sides are HIJACKING our minds. They are absolving themselves and accusing others. Nice try, won't work.

Now what I don’t like is hypocrisy. The whole world went bizerk with the Pope's statements on Prophet Mohammed. What the pope said, could have said, should have said, meant, should have meant, and so on is his own business – or is it? Naaa… Being the head of the Vatican makes him more of a target for criticism than a source of one. My favourite.

Now Benedictus apologized (or did he indeed) - I will just say my five cents worth of what I think the Vatican should really apologize for (Long list below). It remains that things are getting out of hand quickly – as is the case with EVERY blunder the Vatican has done ever since the Crusades! I will not defend Islam or the Prophet Mohamed, it's futile. I will just draw a devil's advocate comparison of who is worse! I will play along the game of exchanging insults which I only state to draw a comparison (he said he was drawing a comparison, I'm using the same tactic). My purpose is not to insult Christianity as a religion, or any other religion for that matter – it is to slander a Hypocrite.

Muslims feel threatened - believe it or not. Is that an excuse for irrational retaliation. No. But if the monster was awaken by continuous blows on the head, how smart is it to keep driving it out of its mind?

The crusades in the 11th century were the source of the Islamic Xenophobia. Guess who's after that? Thank you Pope Urban II. Guess who were the "Christian Crusades" first victims - The Jews of Rhyne Area, and the Orthodox Christians of Constantinople. Now Gregory IX is the hero of the word heresy, and Innocent IV the champion or Inquisition. Those are not video games, and those Popes are certainly not angels. Below I have a list, courtesy of Sullivan: Victims of Christian Faith.

One thing is certain for those who do not like Islam, or who are critical of it. If you do not agree, the least you can do is to speak with respect – hence the term "respectfully disagree". Calling Prophet Mohamed - even within a well covered comparative statement - a criminal war monger or what have you - is not respectful. What is worse, the price of disrespect under a statue of insanity is not an article on a blog. Fundementalists are growing bloodier in retaliation. Tough luck for all of us guys! Freedom is great, but the price is hefty. My advise is as follows, if you cannot speak respectfully, keep quiet.

Back to Hypocricy. Of all who could refer to wars and crimes, the Vatican should back off a bit. Under Muslims and their "criminal prophet" - Christians and Jews continued to live in Islamic territory until today 1430 years! When Christians and Jews were thriving under Islamic rules, their European counterparts were slaves and serfs under the Church appointed rulers and kings in Europe. In turn, how many Muslims, Jews, or Orthodox Christians, were left in Spain, in Sicily, how many "pagans" were left in every land the "Christian European" conquerors occupied in America for example? Does the Massacre of Protestants at St. Bartholomew ring a bell? Let's look at the end result, and try to "judge" who is more merciful, and who is blood thirsty? Read some of the facts below. If one tenth were true, someone who is called.. Benedictus should keep quiet for a long time, and use the time to fix his dentures. I say that with full Medical respect and purely as an advise. I respectfully do not like him: Rumor says he is a self flogging Opeus Dei. Now I don’t care what he does with his free time as long as he flogs himself and not anyone else. I miss the Late Pope John Paul II as a person and a spiritual leader.

Hitler was born Christian, so was Mussolini - does that make Jesus a war monger? Why do some use the same allegations against Fundamentalist Islamic terrorists who are killing more muslims than anyone else, and then draw a "sharp" connection against the Prophet? Why not dig out the skeletons in the Vatican's closet?!

If you wish, then I say with reserve: Islamic "brutality" is - say 1000 years old? Fine. Vatican Lead Brutality is 2 millenia old from the Inquisition to the Protestant Cleansing to the Crusades and finally to the Holocaust, Sack of Constantinople (The Byzantine one), Real Estate business selling plots of land in heaven (yeah right!), slavery – and more. You know what, it hasn't stopped.


In the name of God they speak, in the name of God, may they all SHUT up. If Mohammed conquered with the sword, and his followers followed him, they are less hypocrites than the masters of the Vatican, whose Jesus called for love and Mercy, and his weapon was multiplying bread and fish and raising the dead. They shed blood and hatred in his name. How do they answer to that?

Shame.

VICTIMS OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH


"WONDERFUL EVENTS THAT TESTIFY TO GOD'S DIVINE GLORY"


Listed are only events that solely occurred on command or participation of church authorities or were committed in the name of Christianity. (List incomplete)

Ancient Pagans


  • As soon as Christianity became legal in the Roman Empire by imperial edict (315), more and more pagan temples were destroyed by Christian mob. Pagan priests were killed.
  • Between 315 and 6th century thousands of pagan believers were slain.
  • Examples of destroyed Temples: the Sanctuary of Aesculap in Aegaea, the Temple of Aphrodite in Golgatha, Aphaka in Lebanon, the Heliopolis.
  • Christian priests such as Mark of Arethusa or Cyrill of Heliopolis were famous as "temple destroyer." [DA468]
  • Pagan services became punishable by death in 356. [DA468]
  • Christian Emperor Theodosius (408-450) even had children executed, because they had been playing with remains of pagan statues. [DA469]
    According to Christian chroniclers he "followed meticulously all Christian teachings..."
  • In 6th century pagans were declared void of all rights.
  • In the early fourth century the philosopher Sopatros was executed on demand of Christian authorities. [DA466]
  • The world famous female philosopher Hypatia of Alexandria was torn to pieces with glass fragments by a hysterical Christian mob led by a Christian minister named Peter, in a church, in 415.
    [DO19-25]

Mission


  • Emperor Karl (Charlemagne) in 782 had 4500 Saxons, unwilling to convert to Christianity, beheaded. [DO30]
  • Peasants of Steding (Germany) unwilling to pay suffocating church taxes: between 5,000 and 11,000 men, women and children slain 5/27/1234 near Altenesch/Germany. [WW223]
  • Battle of Belgrad 1456: 80,000 Turks slaughtered. [DO235]
  • 15th century Poland: 1019 churches and 17987 villages plundered by Knights of the Order. Number of victims unknown. [DO30]
  • 16th and 17th century Ireland. English troops "pacified and civilized" Ireland, where only Gaelic "wild Irish", "unreasonable beasts lived without any knowledge of God or good manners, in common of their goods, cattle, women, children and every other thing." One of the more successful soldiers, a certain Humphrey Gilbert, half-brother of Sir Walter Raleigh, ordered that "the heddes of all those (of what sort soever thei were) which were killed in the daie, should be cutte off from their bodies... and should bee laied on the ground by eche side of the waie", which effort to civilize the Irish indeed caused "greate terrour to the people when thei sawe the heddes of their dedde fathers, brothers, children, kinsfolke, and freinds on the grounde".
    Tens of thousands of Gaelic Irish fell victim to the carnage. [SH99, 225]

Crusades (1095-1291)


  • First Crusade: 1095 on command of pope Urban II. [WW11-41]
  • Semlin/Hungary 6/24/96 thousands slain. Wieselburg/Hungary 6/12/96 thousands. [WW23]
  • 9/9/96-9/26/96 Nikaia, Xerigordon (then Turkish), thousands respectively. [WW25-27]
  • Until January 1098 a total of 40 capital cities and 200 castles conquered (number of slain unknown) [WW30]
  • After 6/3/98 Antiochia (then Turkish) conquered, between 10,000 and 60,000 slain. 6/28/98 100,000 Turks (incl. women and children) killed. [WW32-35]
    Here the Christians "did no other harm to the women found in [the enemy's] tents - save that they ran their lances through their bellies," according to Christian chronicler Fulcher of Chartres. [EC60]
  • Marra (Maraat an-numan) 12/11/1098 thousands killed. Because of the subsequent famine "the already stinking corpses of the enemies were eaten by the Christians" said chronicler Albert Aquensis. [WW36]
  • Jerusalem conquered 7/15/1099 more than 60,000 victims (Jewish, Muslim, men, women, children). [WW37-40]
    In the words of one witness: "there [in front of Solomon's temple] was such a carnage that our people were wading ankle-deep in the blood of our foes", and after that "happily and crying for joy our people marched to our Saviour's tomb, to honour it and to pay off our debt of gratitude."
  • The Archbishop of Tyre, eye-witness, wrote: "It was impossible to look upon the vast numbers of the slain without horror; everywhere lay fragments of human bodies, and the very ground was covered with the blood of the slain. It was not alone the spectacle of headless bodies and mutilated limbs strewn in all directions that roused the horror of all who looked upon them. Still more dreadful was it to gaze upon the victors themselves, dripping with blood from head to foot, an ominous sight which brought terror to all who met them. It is reported that within the Temple enclosure alone about ten thousand infidels perished." [TG79]
  • Christian chronicler Eckehard of Aura noted that "even the following summer in all of Palestine the air was polluted by the stench of decomposition". One million victims of the first crusade alone. [WW41]
  • Battle of Askalon, 8/12/1099. 200,000 heathens slaughtered "in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ". [WW45]
  • Fourth crusade: 4/12/1204 Constantinople sacked, number of victims unknown, numerous thousands, many of them Christian. [WW141-148]
  • Rest of Crusades in less detail: until the fall of Akkon 1291 probably 20 million victims (in the Holy land and Arab/Turkish areas alone). [WW224]

Note: All figures according to contemporary (Christian) chroniclers.

Heretics and Atheists


  • Already in 385 C.E. the first Christians, the Spanish Priscillianus and six followers, were beheaded for heresy in Trier/Germany [DO26]
  • Manichaean heresy: a crypto-Christian sect decent enough to practice birth control (and thus not as irresponsible as faithful Catholics) was exterminated in huge campaigns all over the Roman empire between 372 C.E. and 444 C.E. Numerous thousands of victims. [NC]
  • Albigensians: the first Crusade intended to slay other Christians. [DO29]
    The Albigensians (Cathars) viewed themselves as good Christians, but would not accept Roman Catholic rule, and taxes, and prohibition of birth control. [NC]
    Begin of violence: on command of pope Innocent III (the greatest single mass murderer prior to the Nazi era) in 1209. Beziérs (today France) 7/22/1209 destroyed, all the inhabitants were slaughtered. Number of victims (including Catholics refusing to turn over their heretic neighbors and friends) estimated between 20,000-70,000. [WW179-181]
  • Carcassonne 8/15/1209, thousands slain. Other cities followed. [WW181]
  • Subsequent 20 years of war until nearly all Cathars (probably half the population of the Languedoc, today southern France) were exterminated. [WW183]
  • After the war ended (1229) the Inquisition was founded 1232 to search and destroy surviving/hiding heretics. Last Cathars burned at the stake 1324. [WW183]
  • Estimated one million victims (Cathar heresy alone), [WW183]
  • Other heresies: Waldensians, Paulikians, Runcarians, Josephites, and many others. Most of these sects exterminated, (I believe some Waldensians live today, yet they had to endure 600 years of persecution) I estimate at least hundred thousand victims (including the Spanish inquisition but excluding victims in the New World).
  • Spanish Inquisitor Torquemada, a former Dominican friar, allegedly was responsible for 10,220 burnings. [DO28]
  • John Huss, a critic of papal infallibility and indulgences, was burned at the stake in 1415. [LI475-522]
  • Michael Sattler, leader of a baptist community, was burned at the stake in Rottenburg, Germany, May 20, 1527. Several days later his wife and other follwers were also executed. [KM]
  • University professor B.Hubmaier burned at the stake 1538 in Vienna. [DO59]
  • Giordano Bruno, Dominican monk, after having been incarcerated for seven years, was burned at the stake for heresy on the Campo dei Fiori (Rome) on 2/17/1600.
  • Thomas Aikenhead, a twenty-year-old scottish student of Edinburgh University, was hanged for atheism and blasphemy.

Witches


  • From the beginning of Christianity to 1484 probably more than several thousand.
  • In the era of witch hunting (1484-1750) according to modern scholars several hundred thousand (about 80% female) burned at the stake or hanged. [WV]

Religious Wars


  • 15th century: Crusades against Hussites, thousands slain. [DO30]
  • 1538 pope Paul III declared Crusade against apostate England and all English as slaves of Church (fortunately had not power to go into action). [DO31]
  • 1568 Spanish Inquisition Tribunal ordered extermination of 3 million rebels in (then Spanish) Netherlands. [DO31]
    Between 5000 and 6000 Protestants were drowned by Spanish Catholic Troops, "a disaster the burghers of Emden first realized when several thousand broad-brimmed Dutch hats floated by." [SH216]
  • 1572 In France about 20,000 Huguenots were killed on command of pope Pius V. Until 17th century 200,000 flee. [DO31]
  • 17th century: Catholics slay Gaspard de Coligny, a Protestant leader. After murdering him, the Catholic mob mutilated his body, "cutting off his head, his hands, and his genitals... and then dumped him into the river [...but] then, deciding that it was not worthy of being food for the fish, they hauled it out again [... and] dragged what was left ... to the gallows of Montfaulcon, 'to be meat and carrion for maggots and crows'." [SH191]
  • 17th century: Catholics sack the city of Magdeburg/Germany: roughly 30,000 Protestants were slain. "In a single church fifty women were found beheaded," reported poet Friedrich Schiller, "and infants still sucking the breasts of their lifeless mothers." [SH191]
  • 17th century 30 years' war (Catholic vs. Protestant): at least 40% of population decimated, mostly in Germany. [DO31-32]

Jews


  • Already in the 4th and 5th centuries synagogues were burned by Christians. Number of Jews slain unknown.
  • In the middle of the fourth century the first synagogue was destroyed on command of bishop Innocentius of Dertona in Northern Italy. The first synagogue known to have been burned down was near the river Euphrat, on command of the bishop of Kallinikon in the year 388. [DA450]
  • 694 17. Council of Toledo: Jews were enslaved, their property confiscated, and their children forcibly baptized. [DA454]
  • 1010 The Bishop of Limoges (France) had the cities' Jews, who would not convert to Christianity, expelled or killed. [DA453]
  • 1096 First Crusade: Thousands of Jews slaughtered, maybe 12.000 total. Places: Worms 5/18/1096, Mainz 5/27/1096 (1100 persons), Cologne, Neuss, Altenahr, Wevelinghoven, Xanten, Moers, Dortmund, Kerpen, Trier, Metz, Regensburg, Prag and others (All locations Germany except Metz/France, Prag/Czech) [EJ]
  • 1147 Second Crusade: Several hundred Jews were slain in Ham, Sully, Carentan, and Rameru (all locations in France). [WW57]
  • 1189/90 Third Crusade: English Jewish communities sacked. [DO40]
  • 1235, Fulda/Germany: 34 Jewish men and women slain. [DO41]
  • 1257, 1267: Jewish communities of London, Canterbury, Northampton, Lincoln, Cambridge, and others exterminated. [DO41]
  • 1290 Bohemia (Poland) allegedly 10,000 Jews killed. [DO41]
  • 1337 Starting in Deggendorf/Germany a Jew-killing craze reaches 51 towns in Bavaria, Austria, Poland. [DO41]
  • 1348 All Jews of Basel/Switzerland and Strasbourg/France (two thousand) burned. [DO41]
  • 1349 In more than 350 towns in Germany all Jews murdered, mostly burned alive (in this one year more Jews were killed than Christians in 200 years of ancient Roman persecution of Christians). [DO42]
  • 1389 In Prag 3,000 Jews were slaughtered. [DO42]
  • 1391 Seville's Jews killed (Archbishop Martinez leading). 4,000 were slain, 25,000 sold as slaves. [DA454] Their identification was made easy by the brightly colored "badges of shame" that all Jews above the age of ten had been forced to wear.
  • 1492 In the year Columbus set sail to conquer a New World, more than 150,000 Jews were expelled from Spain, many died on their way: 6/30/1492. [MM470-476]
  • 1648 Chmielnitzki massacres: In Poland about 200,000 Jews were slain. [DO43]

(I feel sick ...) this goes on and on, century after century, right into the kilns of Auschwitz.

Native Peoples


  • Beginning with Columbus (a former slave trader and would-be Holy Crusader) the conquest of the New World began, as usual understood as a means to propagate Christianity.
  • Within hours of landfall on the first inhabited island he encountered in the Caribbean, Columbus seized and carried off six native people who, he said, "ought to be good servants ... [and] would easily be made Christians, because it seemed to me that they belonged to no religion." [SH200]
    While Columbus described the Indians as "idolators" and "slaves, as many as [the Crown] shall order," his pal Michele de Cuneo, Italian nobleman, referred to the natives as "beasts" because "they eat when they are hungry," and made love "openly whenever they feel like it." [SH204-205]
  • On every island he set foot on, Columbus planted a cross, "making the declarations that are required" - the requerimiento - to claim the ownership for his Catholic patrons in Spain. And "nobody objected." If the Indians refused or delayed their acceptance (or understanding), the requerimiento continued:

"I certify to you that, with the help of God, we shall powerfully enter in your country and shall make war against you ... and shall subject you to the yoke and obedience of the Church ... and shall do you all mischief that we can, as to vassals who do not obey and refuse to receive their lord and resist and contradict him." [SH66]

  • Likewise in the words of John Winthrop, first governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony: "justifieinge the undertakeres of the intended Plantation in New England ... to carry the Gospell into those parts of the world, ... and to raise a Bulworke against the kingdome of the Ante-Christ." [SH235]
  • In average two thirds of the native population were killed by colonist-imported smallpox before violence began. This was a great sign of "the marvelous goodness and providence of God" to the Christians of course, e.g. the Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony wrote in 1634, as "for the natives, they are near all dead of the smallpox, so as the Lord hath cleared our title to what we possess." [SH109,238]
  • On Hispaniola alone, on Columbus visits, the native population (Arawak), a rather harmless and happy people living on an island of abundant natural resources, a literal paradise, soon mourned 50,000 dead. [SH204]
  • The surviving Indians fell victim to rape, murder, enslavement and Spanish raids.
  • As one of the culprits wrote: "So many Indians died that they could not be counted, all through the land the Indians lay dead everywhere. The stench was very great and pestiferous." [SH69]
  • The Indian chief Hatuey fled with his people but was captured and burned alive. As "they were tying him to the stake a Franciscan friar urged him to take Jesus to his heart so that his soul might go to heaven, rather than descend into hell. Hatuey replied that if heaven was where the Christians went, he would rather go to hell." [SH70]
  • What happened to his people was described by an eyewitness:
    "The Spaniards found pleasure in inventing all kinds of odd cruelties ... They built a long gibbet, long enough for the toes to touch the ground to prevent strangling, and hanged thirteen [natives] at a time in honor of Christ Our Saviour and the twelve Apostles... then, straw was wrapped around their torn bodies and they were burned alive." [SH72]
    Or, on another occasion:
    "The Spaniards cut off the arm of one, the leg or hip of another, and from some their heads at one stroke, like butchers cutting up beef and mutton for market. Six hundred, including the cacique, were thus slain like brute beasts...Vasco [de Balboa] ordered forty of them to be torn to pieces by dogs." [SH83]
  • The "island's population of about eight million people at the time of Columbus's arrival in 1492 already had declined by a third to a half before the year 1496 was out." Eventually all the island's natives were exterminated, so the Spaniards were "forced" to import slaves from other caribbean islands, who soon suffered the same fate. Thus "the Caribbean's millions of native people [were] thereby effectively liquidated in barely a quarter of a century". [SH72-73] "In less than the normal lifetime of a single human being, an entire culture of millions of people, thousands of years resident in their homeland, had been exterminated." [SH75]
  • "And then the Spanish turned their attention to the mainland of Mexico and Central America. The slaughter had barely begun. The exquisite city of Tenochtitlán [Mexico city] was next." [SH75]
  • Cortez, Pizarro, De Soto and hundreds of other Spanish conquistadors likewise sacked southern and mesoamerican civilizations in the name of Christ (De Soto also sacked Florida).
  • "When the 16th century ended, some 200,000 Spaniards had moved to the Americas. By that time probably more than 60,000,000 natives were dead." [SH95]

Of course no different were the founders of what today is the US of America.

  • Although none of the settlers would have survived winter without native help, they soon set out to expel and exterminate the Indians. Warfare among (north American) Indians was rather harmless, in comparison to European standards, and was meant to avenge insults rather than conquer land. In the words of some of the pilgrim fathers: "Their Warres are farre less bloudy...", so that there usually was "no great slawter of nether side". Indeed, "they might fight seven yeares and not kill seven men." What is more, the Indians usually spared women and children. [SH111]
  • In the spring of 1612 some English colonists found life among the (generally friendly and generous) natives attractive enough to leave Jamestown - "being idell ... did runne away unto the Indyans," - to live among them (that probably solved a sex problem).
    "Governor Thomas Dale had them hunted down and executed: 'Some he apointed (sic) to be hanged Some burned Some to be broken upon wheles, others to be staked and some shott to deathe'." [SH105] Of course these elegant measures were restricted for fellow Englishmen: "This was the treatment for those who wished to act like Indians. For those who had no choice in the matter, because they were the native people of Virginia" methods were different: "when an Indian was accused by an Englishman of stealing a cup and failing to return it, the English response was to attack the natives in force, burning the entire community" down. [SH105]
  • On the territory that is now Massachusetts the founding fathers of the colonies were committing genocide, in what has become known as the "Peqout War." The killers were New England Puritan Christians, refugees from persecution in their own home country England.
  • When however, a dead colonist was found, apparently killed by Narragansett Indians, the Puritan colonists wanted revenge. Despite the Indian chief's pledge they attacked.
    Somehow they seem to have lost the idea of what they were after, because when they were greeted by Pequot Indians (long-time foes of the Narragansetts) the troops nevertheless made war on the Pequots and burned their villages.
    The puritan commander-in-charge John Mason after one massacre wrote: "And indeed such a dreadful Terror did the Almighty let fall upon their Spirits, that they would fly from us and run into the very Flames, where many of them perished ... God was above them, who laughed his Enemies and the Enemies of his People to Scorn, making them as a fiery Oven ... Thus did the Lord judge among the Heathen, filling the Place with dead Bodies": men, women, children. [SH113-114]
  • So "the Lord was pleased to smite our Enemies in the hinder Parts, and to give us their land for an inheritance". [SH111].
  • Because of his readers' assumed knowledge of Deuteronomy, there was no need for Mason to quote the words that immediately follow:
    "Thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth. But thou shalt utterly destroy them..." (Deut 20)
  • Mason's comrade Underhill recalled how "great and doleful was the bloody sight to the view of the young soldiers" yet reassured his readers that "sometimes the Scripture declareth women and children must perish with their parents". [SH114]
  • Other Indians were killed in successful plots of poisoning. The colonists even had dogs especially trained to kill Indians and to devour children from their mothers breasts, in the colonists' own words: "blood Hounds to draw after them, and Mastives to seaze them." (This was inspired by Spanish methods of the time)
    In this way they continued until the extermination of the Pequots was near. [SH107-119]
  • The surviving handful of Indians "were parceled out to live in servitude. John Endicott and his pastor wrote to the governor asking for 'a share' of the captives, specifically 'a young woman or girle and a boy if you thinke good'." [SH115]
  • Other tribes were to follow the same path.
  • Comment the Christian exterminators: "God's Will, which will at last give us cause to say: How Great is His Goodness! and How Great is his Beauty!"
    "Thus doth the Lord Jesus make them to bow before him, and to lick the Dust!" [TA]
  • Like today, lying was morally acceptable to Christians then. "Peace treaties were signed with every intention to violate them: when the Indians 'grow secure uppon (sic) the treatie', advised the Council of State in Virginia, 'we shall have the better Advantage both to surprise them, & cutt downe theire Corne'." [SH106]
  • In 1624 sixty heavily armed Englishmen cut down 800 defenseless Indian men, women and children. [SH107]
  • In a single massacre in "King Philip's War" of 1675 and 1676 some "600 Indians were destroyed. A delighted Cotton Mather, revered pastor of the Second Church in Boston, later referred to the slaughter as a 'barbeque'." [SH115]
  • To summarize: Before the arrival of the English, the western Abenaki people in New Hampshire and Vermont had numbered 12,000. Less than half a century later about 250 remained alive - a destruction rate of 98%. The Pocumtuck people had numbered more than 18,000, fifty years later they were down to 920 - 95% destroyed. The Quiripi-Unquachog people had numbered about 30,000, fifty years later they were down to 1500 - 95% destroyed. The Massachusetts people had numbered at least 44,000, fifty years later barely 6000 were alive - 81% destroyed. [SH118] These are only a few examples of the multitude of tribes living before Christian colonists set their foot on the New World. All this was before the smallpox epidemics of 1677 and 1678 had occurred. And the carnage was not over then.
  • All the above was only the beginning of the European colonization, it was before the frontier age actually had begun.
  • A total of maybe more than 150 million Indians (of both Americas) were destroyed in the period of 1500 to 1900, as an average two thirds by smallpox and other epidemics, that leaves some 50 million killed directly by violence, bad treatment and slavery.
  • In many countries, such as Brazil, and Guatemala, this continues even today.

More Glorious Events in U.S. History

  • Reverend Solomon Stoddard, one of New England's most esteemed religious leaders, in "1703 formally proposed to the Massachusetts Governor that the colonists be given the financial wherewithal to purchase and train large packs of dogs 'to hunt Indians as they do bears'." [SH241]
  • Massacre of Sand Creek, Colorado 11/29/1864. Colonel John Chivington, a former Methodist minister and still elder in the church ("I long to be wading in gore") had a Cheyenne village of about 600, mostly women and children, gunned down despite the chiefs' waving with a white flag: 400-500 killed.
    From an eye-witness account: "There were some thirty or forty squaws collected in a hole for protection; they sent out a little girl about six years old with a white flag on a stick; she had not proceeded but a few steps when she was shot and killed. All the squaws in that hole were afterwards killed ..." [SH131]
  • By the 1860s, "in Hawai'i the Reverend Rufus Anderson surveyed the carnage that by then had reduced those islands' native population by 90 percent or more, and he declined to see it as tragedy; the expected total die-off of the Hawaiian population was only natural, this missionary said, somewhat equivalent to 'the amputation of diseased members of the body'." [SH244]

Book Reviewed: A House of Many Mansions

Come with Me from Lebanon, My spouse; with Me from Lebanon. 8
Look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon,
from the lions' dens, from the mountains of the leopards.
….
Your lips, My spouse, drip like the honeycomb;
honey and milk are under your tongue.
And the scent of your garments is like the scent of Lebanon.

Your plants are an orchard of pomegranates with excellent fruits,
with henna and spikenard;
spikenard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon;
with all trees of frankincense, myrrh and aloes;
with all the chief balsam spices;
a fountain of gardens, a well of living waters;
even flowings from Lebanon. 15

Song of Solomon 4; 8-15

Book Reviewed: A House of Many Mansions - The History of Lebanon Reconsidered,
By Kamal Salibi.

Between February 14, 2005 and March 14, 2005, following the assassination of Lebanon’s beloved Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, an estimated 1.5 million people had marched in downtown Beirut. Eighty-five years after the formation of Le Grand Liban in 1920, and on the 30th anniversary of the outbreak of the civil war in April 1975, something new, amazing, and precious was born in Lebanon: an indigenous, responsive, truly plural form of common purpose that was not fabricated, but forged out of a long and difficult experience. The demonstrations were manifestation of the Lebanese people’s power and will, and a pledge of allegiance. Regardless of their roots, the demonstrators were all Lebanese, not Arab, not Phoenician, not Christians, and not Muslim.

Lebanon’s own Khalil Gibran wrote, "Your pain is nothing but the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding”. It is the understanding of Lebanon that broke the shell, and it is the pain and suffering of a nation that drove Professor Kamal Salibi to write, in 1998, “not a history of Lebanon, but a critical study of different views of Lebanese history” (Salibi 3). The significance of this book is that it was written when Lebanon “in all but name, [was] a non-country” (2). At the worst period of modern Lebanese history, when the country was at the brink of collapse, Professor Salibi , to the astonishment of many, remarked that “the Lebanese are finally beginning to discover themselves […] sharing the same national identity, regardless of other loyalties” (3).

Salibi (1929- ), a Professor Emeritus of History at the American University of Beirut, is no doubt Lebanon’s foremost living historian. He has written several books that caused an outcry, namely his theory that the pre-exilic Jews never lived in Palestine, in his books The Bible Came from Arabia, and The Secrets of the Bible People. He also wrote Who was Jesus? A Conspiracy in Jerusalem. Salibi’s historic specialization, in my opinion, is the “debunking of deeply rooted myths” (Fawaz). Salibi’s role as a historian is not to discover the past, but mainly to uncover its underlying truth, and this elicits angry “responses and indignant condemnations” (4): Those were his own words in one of his more radical books, Who was Jesus? A Conspiracy in Jerusalem. In the last paragraph of that book, he outlines his line of thinking: unless the historians “manage to provide convincing answers to all the questions which mankind has asked since the beginning of human existence, they cannot justly claim that nothing truly meaningful lies beyond the jigsaw pieces of factual reality, which is the most that the historian – even with the mind’s thousand eyes- can ever hope to see” (193). A previous Director of the Department of History at the American University of Beirut, he was the founding Director of Royal Institute of Interfaith Studies based in Jordan (retired December 2003). The institute focuses on the interdisciplinary study of religion and religious issues, particularly as they relate to Arab and Islamic society, with special concentration on Christianity in the Arab world. Professor Salibi lives near the American University of Beirut; he is described as “a committed Presbyterian Christian.”

Salibi examines the historical myths on which Lebanon’s warring communities have based their conflicting visions of the Lebanese nation and its historical legitimacy, and seeks the “meaningful” truths that lie beyond the jigsaw pieces of factual reality. The book explores the roots of the [then ongoing] struggle between what Salibi calls “Arabism” and “Lebanism,” at whose heart “are different views of Lebanese history which, as it happens, are mostly quite unhistorical” (Gilmour). Although “differences of interpretation are also signs of growth” (Gustavson 173), they were signs of severe disruption.

“Arabism” claims that Lebanon is an Arab country. The author discounts “erroneous Arab nationalist view of this history […] as parochial history” (231). “There had never been such a thing as historical Arabism” (215), which “was little more than another name for Islam” (50). The nationalist view of the Arab identity was a reaction against attempts to force Turkish nationalism on the Ottoman ruled regions, in 1908, which “alienate[d] Muslim Arabs and force[d] them to develop a nationalism of their own” (47).

“Lebanism” did not stand a better fate than “Arabism.” Not only did “Lebanism” fail to rally the different composites of a Lebanese nation, it seriously failed to stand up to scrutiny. Henri Lammens’ 1921 book, La Syrie: precis historique imagined Lebanon as a Phoenician refuge, invoking a pre-Islamic and pre-Arab history. To Salibi, the claims of Lebanon as a “long existing political entity,” “Phoenician,” or “mountain refuge,” are not historically founded. Salibi maintains that Lebanon as a territorial state did not come into political existence until 1920, contrary to the claims of a previously existing unified Lebanese nation-state. Salibi rejects the Lammens view of Lebanon as the historical refuge of persecuted minorities fleeing from Muslim rule; most people did not come to Lebanon as refugees, but those who did, namely the Christian Maronites, around 1000 A.D., having lived in the Orontes valley under Islamic rule for more than three centuries, came seeking sanctuary from Christian Byzantine persecution than to escape Muslim authority, especially that Lebanon has been under Muslim control since 638 A.D. On the other hand, little is known of the Phoenicians, “between ancient Phoenicia and the Lebanon of medieval and modern times, there is no demonstrable historical connection” (177). However, “what makes the Lebanese so much like the Phoenicians of old is geography, not history […] Geography in some respects can be as important as history” (178). Salibi adopts a Braudelien perspective, the longue durée explains how the peoples that inhabited Lebanon, and their mentality, were molded into the likes of Phoenicians. In view of that, “in Lebanon alone [in the Arab world] the impact of the modern world arrives with grace, stage by stage, and often upon local invitation; and the accommodations to it also came gradually and with equal grace” (165). In my opinion, Salibi missed, or saw as irrelevant, an important fact. A people, let us call them the “indigenous Lebanese,” inhabited Mount Lebanon and the fertile coastal strips in the ancient times. Throughout history, there has not been a recorded mass immigration of a single group out of Lebanon. Therefore, it is safe to assume that the “indigenous Lebanese” mixed with the “new comers.” Moreover, for a small territory to take-in 17 religious denominations and ethnicities, there must have been a good reason: Lebanon might not have been the historic stronghold, but it was certainly a natural and social safe haven for this variety to live unthreatened and somehow preserve the groups’ particularities.

Preserving particularity when integration is required represent a challenge for multi-ethnic countries. “For any people to develop and maintain a sense of political community it is necessary that they share a common vision of their past” (216). Sharing vision of the past is a completely different lot from sharing the same past. Although Salibi seems to agree with Tosh’s statement on the political objective of history (Tosh 6), he warns of indulgence in nationalistic “historical self deception” which some nations could not afford (217). Salibi deduces that “administrative bureaucracies, flags and national anthems [are not] sufficient to make a true nation-state out of a given territory and the people who inhabit it” (27).

History is a discipline that claims to recount the past, create national pride, and pass on collective memory through the ages. Contrary to administrative bureaucracies, ideas and ideologies, such “Arabism,” and “Lebanism,” “are threads which bind the minds of men together sufficiently for joint action to occur” (Gustavson 153). On the other end of the thread, those ideas can be remolded and amplified to serve certain political purposes or structures, “with devastating consequences” (154).

Arab nationalists claimed that Lebanon was essentially and indistinguishably part of the Arab world, they refused to be detached, not realizing that “Arabism” was itself an invention as much as “Lebanism” was, and that Lebanon had indeed a special character. In contrast, “Lebanism” was an attempt to create a non-Arab past to justify the country’s enrooted distinctiveness and right of existence, by going to an opposite but shaky extreme. Both parties unwittingly fell prey to their own historical myths. However, historical perspectives change because of “different political agendas, different cultural assumptions, and different historical methodology with new focuses and new accepted wisdom” (Wilson 3).

For history to be socially meaningful and useful “it has to be given all the relevant dimensions” (234), otherwise, it is better forgotten. History is “a search for understanding; and the house of understanding has many mansions” (234). Therefore, Salibi’s “new wisdom” was that the Lebanese should subscribe to “clean slate” of history (219); Lebanon’s history before 1920 is best forgotten. What could have developed during the war that leads to this seemingly unusual recommendation from a renowned historian?

In 1987, Salibi drew attention to a radical social change: a free and deliberate political choice of belonging to the Lebanese state, to an adopted country.

The people or peoples of any society are what are relevant for the validation of any idea. Conflicting ideological wars and not carried out in abstract political, economic, or social systems, but in the minds and lives of people. People in the society are the perpetrators and the victims. Ideas drive people, but it is in their suffering that the pending questions finally find their answers. If gradual development and evolution of England had “long continued without foreign invasions and consequent disruption of native institutions” (Gustavson 71), the development of Lebanon was the exact opposite. A large part of the people, namely the Sunnite Muslims, were “dragged into” a political entity they disclaimed, but of which they were an integral constituent. Another part of the people, the Christian Maronites, denied their broader cultural and ethnic background, and instead, in the minds of the opposed camp, aggravated the notion that this country was fake. The other groups, the Druze and the Shiites, for religious reasons, do not recognize the Islamic history as a true history (206), and did not wish “to be dominated by a Sunnite ruling class in the name of Arabism than Christians did” (53) , but they could not see themselves in the picture the Maronites were drawing either. In this aspect, Salibi “provides a lasting contribution to the understanding of how in all periods and places history is used and abused” (Fawaz).

Fortunately, “thinkers are the sensitive antennae of society, the first to sense keenly that attitude of the emerging age […] when a changing society finds the hitherto predominant sentiments , formerly satisfactory, becoming less convincing” (Gustavson 155). A historian’s role is not confined to the description of events. In that aspect, Salibi did not only give account of a failed attempt to create a national history for a modern state, “he keenly sensed the attitudes”: After 13 years of war, many things have changed in the society- in Wilson’s words- the “political agendas and cultural assumptions.” Salibi saw indications of a more constructive attitude among the Lebanese; he saw a homogenization of society through common grief and common experience; on the political level, the recognition, after 13 years of war, that no party could eliminate the other; that if living together was difficult, separation was even harder. On the ideological side, there was a “social” questioning of the various ideologies that the conflicting parties used to justify the war. Looking back, the factions were no longer fighting over the same ideologies.

In his book, Salibi wanted to explore the causes of the Lebanese civil war. A country that has been the center of events for such a long time is not an easy topic for any historian to explore, let alone explain! It requires the understanding of the cultural sequence of the region, its surrounding, and the peoples that inhabited it, its rulers, and geography over the period of 25 centuries. Nevertheless, Salibi was not writing the history of the country. Salibi ambitiously and courageously called for the creation of a “collective memory that does not overburden” the country (Wilson 5). He was setting the record straight from a historical perspective, purging the creeds of the [then existing] conflict as worthless and wrong. His book “signals a new era in Lebanese history” (Shehadi). An era of national awakening, followed by national maturity: the history of a nation that was established in 1920, and matured in 1987.

Salibi was also “rewriting both the history and the historiography of the country” (Fawaz). Lebanon may be, as Kamal Salibi wrote, a "house of many mansions," but it is trying to be one state, sovereign and free again. He offers a reinterpretation of Lebanese history, and the strengths that kept the country together. Lebanon has yet to over come many challenges, but it does not have to defend its raison d’etre any longer. The study of history of Lebanon should consider those. It is a country "as fake as" any of the surrounding countries that did not exist before the 1916 Sykes-Picot agreement (20). Salibi attested the legitimacy and historic right of Lebanon to politically exits. The biggest seal of recognition is that Lebanon exists because its people want it to exist, and at this point this small country’s past “ceases to be a question of political rights and wrongs, […] and acquires more meaning with respect to the present – and even more, with respect to the future” (234).



Works Cited

Fawaz, Leila . Rev. of A House of Many Mansions - The History of Lebanon Reconsidered, by Kamal Salibi. Journal of Interdisciplinary History Vol. 22, No. 1 (Summer 1991) : 165-167.
Gilmour, David. “Split Levels.” Rev. of A House of Many Mansions - The History of Lebanon Reconsidered, by Kamal Salibi. History Today Jan. 1989.
Gustavson, Carl. A Preface to History. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1955.
Salibi, Kamal, A House of Many Mansions - The History of Lebanon Reconsidered, I.B. Tauris & Co, 1988. Reprinted 1989, 2002, 2003.
Salibi, Kamal, Secrets of the Bible People, Brooklyn, N.Y., Interlink Books, 1988.
Salibi, Kamal, The Bible Came from Arabia, London, Jonathan Cape, Ltd., 1985.
Salibi, Kamal, Who was Jesus? A Conspiracy in Jerusalem, I.B. Tauris & Co, 1988. Reprinted 1989.
Shehadi, Nadim. Observation on A House of Many Mansions - The History of Lebanon Reconsidered, by Kamal Salibi. Centre for Lebanese Studies, Oxford. 1989.
Tosh, John. Historians on History. London: Pearson Education, 2000.
Wilson, Norman. History in Crisis?. London: Prentice Hall, 1999.