Monday, March 20, 2006

Speaking my mind

On this blog, I have gone out on a limb. In doing so, I have exposed myself by being unequivocally critical of a political party not only because of its nature but because of its recent political stands. I know that in doing so, I also expose myself to criticisms of hypocricy (people ask why I do not criticize other political players in the Lebanese scene) but also of sectarianism (some others claim that I am merely disguising my "racism" and sectarianism in pseudo-academic discourse).
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In response to these criticisms, I say the following:
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I characterize myself as both secular and liberal. As a secular person, I find the recent ressurgence of religiousity in the Middle East as an appauling development that needs to be addressed and reversed if possible. As a liberal, all forms socia and politicall authoritarianism (be they traditional or religious) appaul me. As a Lebanese, I consider my country's internationally-recognized sovereignty to be among the highest political priorities. All my statements regarding politics launch from these foundations.
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In response to criticisms, I have also taken the time to list rebuttals against the most common arguments used against some of my assertions. I know I have shortcomings... but I strive to honestly and ruthlessly argue for a liberal, secular, economically prosperous and environmentally conscious Lebanon.
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THE REBUTTAL S:

Against the argument EQUATING HIZBALLAH WITH THE SHI'A POPULATION:

When 90% of the Shi'a support the Hizb and Amal...

In the current hyper-sectarian environment in Lebanon, if you are known to be a member of a Shi'a family, you are expected (by all Lebanese) to support Hizballah, and are not taken seriously if you do not. The same applies to members of all the different sects. Therefore, to make the ludicrous claim that Hizballah legitimately represents 90% or 80% or even 50% of the Shi'a population of Lebanon, is merely a manifestation of that innate sectarianism - it is evidence of your own sectarian outlook.
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Against the arguments COMPARING THE HIZB TO OTHER LEBANESE PARTIES

Clearly Hizballah's history puts them head over heals above Lebanon's other militias...

My priority is minimizing the damage hariri and jumblatt have done to the country these last 15 years, and I don't see hizballah doing that much damage...

The thing about Hizballah is that they know they have been more ethical than other militias, so when dealing with them one has to always be mindful and respectful of that...

I find these arguments to be some of the weakest in the current political discourse concerning Hizballah and the future of Lebanon. I find them especially hollow when articulated by liberal-minded individuals who do not enjoy being told how to live their lives by anyone and who generally prescribe to the norms and mores of secularism and modernity.
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Will those who articulate these arguments live under the absolute socio-political regime espoused by Hizballah because it is 'less corrupt' and 'more ethical' than its counterparts in Lebanon? I doubt it.
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In fact, allow me to go one step further and suggest that a considerable number of people in Lebanon "support" Hizballah not only because of their sectarian impulses BUT ALSO because they are very aware that no matter how powerful Hizballah becomes, it will not be able to impose its social and political agenda on them.
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Consequently, their sectarian impulse spurs them to support or 'defend' Hizballah's political positions; and Lebanon's fragmented/sectarian nature makes makes such a position affordable for them because it protects them from Hizballah local agenda.
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Against the argument TYING HIZBALLAH'S ARMS WITH SHEBA'A

after all Nasrallah's been transparent in his politics so far and the conditions of giving up his arms have been clearly and rightfully defined in his agreement with the tayyar.

I have heard of three famous monkeys. One of them is blind... the other is deaf... and the third is mute. Whoever makes these arguments is definitely not mute!
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Against the argument TYING HIZBALLAH'S ARMS WITH A COHERENT STRATEGY TOWARDS ISRAEL

Of course, this is not about Sheba'a, this is about keeping pressure on Israel.... Turning the solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict into a one-state solution is the duty of the Palestinians but we as Lebanese have a duty to keep the pressure on Israel through non-violent means and violent means where possible.... If we, the blacks of the Middle East, realize Israel is a racist apartheid state, then don't we have a duty not to leave it alone?

None of us will have a say in Hizballah's disarmament if we don't have a coherent and comprehensive strategy of dealing with Israel as Lebanese.

Some observers are a little more honest, and say that "Shebaa is not the issue," but rather it is all about Palestine. They say that Hizballah will not disarm unless we come up with a strategy for placing pressure on Israel so that it eventually may accept (according to at least one person) the "one-state solution."
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Well, at least these people are honest - to a certain degree. They claim that Sheba'a is not the issue, but rather, it is Palestine (so much for Hizballah’s transparency/honesty).
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In response, I say that Palestine is as useful to Hizballah as Sheba'a is - and I dare anyone who knows anything about Hizballah to challenge that claim. A peaceful Palestine is not in Hizballah/Iran's interest because the Iranians have not gotten what they want from the Americans and Europeans yet. Palestine is a "field" just like Iraq and Lebanon....
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As I said in a previous post, if the Palestinians decided that they wanted to come to a settlement with the Israelis tomorrow (i.e. act selfishly), they would not be able to. Too many powers (including the Iranians) are happy to keep the Palestinian field burning because it gives them leverage with the West.
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It is here where the humanitarian community plays right into the hands of the most brutal and cruel regimes of this Earth. They ruthlessly attack the Israelis, but completely ignore the Arab and Persian regimes that are doing their best to perpetuate the conflict (whatever the cost to the poor and suffering Palestinians).

18 comments:

Sami said...

I have no idea what you have been smoking lately but this post is full of utter nonsense.It sounds as if it is a cry for help by someone who has a need to be heard.

Anonymous said...

"When 90% of the Shi'a support the Hizb and Amal..."

This is more or less a statement of fact. It has nothing to do with personal sentiment but 'you are free to interpret it as you like habibi!'

"Clearly Hizballah's history puts them head over heals above Lebanon's other militias...

My priority is minimizing the damage hariri and jumblatt have done to the country these last 15 years, and I don't see hizballah doing that much damage...

The thing about Hizballah is that they know they have been more ethical than other militias, so when dealing with them one has to always be mindful and respectful of that..."

I didn't make the middle statement that was another anonymous.

These statements were made regarding to Lebanon's militia history and more or less they are statements of fact, when we compare the Hizb to the militia history of the Phalangists, the Quwat, the PSP, Amal who have caused much civilian damage. Out of all of them only Hizballah had a positive military contribution in liberating the South. You can't deny both issues.

Your statement:
"In fact, allow me to go one step further and suggest that a considerable number of people in Lebanon "support" Hizballah not only because of their sectarian impulses BUT ALSO because they are very aware that no matter how powerful Hizballah becomes, it will not be able to impose its social and political agenda on them."

Amongst all this rambling this is probably your strongest argument.

Apparently this all boils down to pubbing and clubbing rights. But you know Amal and their fighters care a lot about their beer drinking and pot rights.

People support Hizballah because since the Taif accords they have done well against Israel while wisely not imposing their will on the people not because Hizballah can't no matter how powerful - thats a recipe for losing support in the South as the secular PLO did in different ways.

"In response, I say that Palestine is as useful to Hizballah as Sheba'a is"

To compare Shebaa to Palestine is one of the most ridiculous historical statements I've heard and reflective of your pathetic perceptions.

Palestine is a "field" just like Iraq and Lebanon....

Lebanon may be a field. Palestine was imposed as a 'field' upon us by the Zionists and Iraq by the American Neo-Conservative Invasion of the country.

"Too many powers (including the Iranians) are happy to keep the Palestinian field burning because it gives them leverage with the West."

Dont' give the Iranians that much credit. Do you remember who the Palestinians elected?

"It is here where the humanitarian community plays right into the hands of the most brutal and cruel regimes of this Earth."

The difference between you and me is that in your mind you are not including Israel.

"They ruthlessly attack the Israelis, but completely ignore the Arab and Persian regimes that are doing their best to perpetuate the conflict (whatever the cost to the poor and suffering Palestinians)."

The Palestinians recently had a say in the cost of corruption, poverty and suffering by electing Hamas. The only regional state with the strength to perpetuate the conflict because it does not want to cede anything is Israel...do you remember the Beirut initiative and the Israeli military reaction of invading the territories?

Personally I find todays blog entry and in consideration of the time entries of blog entries, a pathetic attempt to heal some sore wounds caused by the disgusting if not racist comments of the bloggers friend a few days ago and possibly to inject some life into a losers blogsite.

I would like to congratulate the blogger for bringing some life to his site by using my comments. I would like to speak my mind as well...7il 3ani Airi bi Hayatak.

Raja said...

Arguing with you is useless. When two people cannot convince each other, then it is best that they go their seperate ways and seek to convince others or deliberate with others who are at least willing to concede on certain matters. Do not forget that you are a commenting on the Lebanese Bloggers - YOU are the guest here. And if any body needs to "7il," it is YOU. I will continue to entertain your presense for the time being. If, however, you continue with profanities and with unecesarily aggressive discourse, I will be forced to eliminate your comments.

MY RESPONSES TO YOUR ARGUMENTS:

"This is more or less a statement of fact. It has nothing to do with personal sentiment..."

RESPONSE: So ask yourself: why do they support Amal and Hizballah?

"People support Hizballah because since the Taif accords they have done well against Israel while wisely not imposing their will on the people"

RESPONSE: How simplistic! The overwhelming majority of Lebanese supported Hizballah for those reasons... do they support Hizballah today? No. The Shi'a in Lebanon support Hizballah today for the same reason the Druze support Jumblatt. Irrational sectarian impulse. It is their DUTY to support each other and their strongest political "representative" IRRESPECTIVE of what they think or how they feel.

"pubbing and clubbing rights ... drinking and pot rights."

RESPONSE: This is how you define liberalism? Bravo! But you know what? I don't blame you. The majority of Lebanese think just like you.

"To compare Shebaa to Palestine is one of the most ridiculous historical statements I've heard and reflective of your pathetic perceptions."

RESPONSE: My statement was not meant to compare Shebaa and Palestine in a historical sense. How can they be? They are both similar in the sense that they serve the same purpose for certain regional powers.

"Lebanon may be a field. Palestine was imposed as a 'field' upon us by the Zionists and Iraq by the American Neo-Conservative Invasion of the country."

RESPONSE: I don't see how we disagree here.

Dont' give the Iranians that much credit. Do you remember who the Palestinians elected?

RESPONSE: The Hamas electoral campaign was overwhelmingly local. They focused on "corruption, poverty and suffering." The Palestinians wanted a more effective government. They proved it with their election of a political party that campaigned on the promise to give them that government.

"The only regional state with the strength to perpetuate the conflict because it does not want to cede anything is Israel...do you remember the Beirut initiative and the Israeli military reaction of invading the territories?"

RESPONSE: Ya. Now if that is not a slap in the face of reality, I wonder what is? How many suicide bombings have you witnessed in the midst of negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis in your lifetime? You think the Israelis are the only "regional state with the strength to perpetuate the conflict"??? Utter nonesense!

"Airi bi Hayatak"

RESPONSE: I'm flattered.

Anonymous said...

Bravo Raja - I totally agree with you. Keep up the good work my friend.

Dr Victorino de la Vega said...

“They ruthlessly attack the Israelis, but completely ignore the Arab and Persian regimes that are doing their best to perpetuate the conflict whatever the cost to the poor and suffering Palestinians”

Yeah sure dude: poor Israeli peaceniks persecuted by bloodthirsty Bedouins from surrounding Ayyrabz lands…
Why do we say “Ayyrabz” anyway? Human locusts would be a more fitting appellation…or “terrists wearing diapers on their heads”…
And since you’re at it, you could have added that, during his latest interview on Al-Jazeera TV, president Asad kept on caressing nervously his white Persian cat…yes I know “Persia”, Hizbullah, Dr No: of course…it all makes sense now… Thanks Raja: the scales are falling off my eyes!

In the twisted bizarre world in which you dwell, the victim becomes the oppressor…I guess it all makes sense from a Trotskyite Pharisaic perspective: must be what they call “dialectical inversion” in Neocon parlance…

Anonymous said...

You can always rely on Vic to utter the same crap as he usually does.

Raja, your post is both honest and logical. What bothers me, though, is that most of the blogosphere's agreeing audience are emigrants living abroad (I believe you addressed this in one of your posts). No doubt, Vic is an exception - I don't believe he'd change his mind no matter what view of Lebanon's situation is presented (and this isn't in defence of Saudi Arabia).

Keep up the good work.

SS

hummbumm said...

Unfortunately most who agree with Raja and want what Raja wants, have no hope in it being achieved in Lebanon, or are too cynical/scared to try and make it happen. So we emigrate, myself included, and follow the news. It is clearly the rational thing to do on the individual level, but pretty much leaves Lebanon in the lurch. There are two ways of looking at things. Either we (Young professional emigrants, believing in a liberal, secular and free market oriented state) are jerks and cowards for leaving lebanon when our skills and points of view are needed to help the country forward, OR that Lebanon does not want us, because the views we espouse are only embraced by a small minority, the rest think we are crazy or a threat so we leave. I don't fit in lebanon, is it my job to change lebanon, or should i just move on.

Chief said...

Against the argument EQUATING HIZBALLAH WITH THE SHI'A POPULATION:
When 90% of the Shi'a support the Hizb and Amal...


I think your arguments are too far fetched. What do you expect when 90% of the Shi'a live under the authority of Hezbollah weapons. When they go to school for free thanks to iranian money. When they are treated for free in hospital thanks to iranian money. When they don't pay electricity thanks to hezbollah weapons... and the lists goes on.

In a regular country that would be called corruption and blackmailing. Can you relly immagine someone living thanks to hezbollah under the menace of their weapons and say out loud their disagreement with them?

As long as there will be no Lebanese states in Hezbollah territory, people will have to vote for them.

Comte Almaviva said...

Yes Raja, your constant critiquing of Saudi Arabia is awe-inspiring. Obviously the rise of religious regimes pains you, under certain circumstances, doesn't it?

You're a typical arab neo-liberal. Enjoy! I hear you guys will play a very important role in the near future.

And your use of 'Persian' says it all. Do you know that Saddam, and the gulf monarchies, were the one to popularize the use of the word, to create the dichotomoy of self-righteous arabs/muslims against the evil Saracans/Safavids of Persia?

Anonymous said...

Raja why do you go on blogging when you have nothing important to say. whenevr you open your mouth you put your big foot in it. Your ideas are not clear, your analysis is superficial and you come across as if you are Gods gift to humanity. Does the word humility mean anything to you. You go on as if you have a following of tens of thousands by making such stupid remarks as "My duty is to minimize the damage inflicted by Hariri" Come on give us a break. Be realistic guy. You blog in your spare time, your ideas are full of confusion and your blog is read by ten people. Yet you want to minimize the damage done by Hariri. The arrogance...

ms

A.Kais.W. said...

ms: If you don't like the Lebanese Bloggers, then please spare those of us who enjoy reading it your vile comments. And FYI, Raja was quoting someone else there. He didn't say he wanted to "minimize the damage done by Hariri."

Compte almaviva, before you spew out additional anachronistic sarcasm, you may want to LEARN that "Saracen" is a derogatory term used to describe ARABS, not "Persians" or the "Safavids".

As for the person who believes Hibullah has "ethics", what is ethical about obstructing economic development and holding the country hostage to Iran and Syria? No answer required.

Anonymous said...

a.kais.w: how can you regard confusion, superficiality, humility and arrogance as vile.

Tally Almaviva said...

I meant Sassanians, Saracens was a typo. The sassanians were the dynasty toppled by the earlier islamic conquest at the end of the khilafa al-rashidiyya. Saracens was used by crusader historians.

Golly G batman! I made a mistake, not that I stand corrected in front of the person who can't distinguish a count (= Comte) from tally (=compte).

Anonymous said...

You're right "Tally" Almaviva--

Kais' mistake of your name is pretty severe...your mistake was just tiny. I mean, anyone can confuse Sassanians and Saracens...

When you're that much of a rude smartass, who gives a shit who messes up your name.

It's amazing how much nastisness is directed toward Raja for his post--why not read another blog and waste your time elsewhere?

Anonymous said...

Hizb-o-lala is as patriotic to the Lebanese cause as Victorino is to the Hariri family, and as useful to our welfare as Emile Lahoud is in Baabda.

FGA

il Trovatore (comte almaviva) said...

Anon 5:58,

It's not even my name,

From now on, I shall be named 'il Trovatore', and unlike Almaviva, I do not survive the final act... Maybe that will put a smile on your face.

enjoy

Dr Victorino de la Vega said...

"Golly G batman! I made a mistake, not that I stand corrected in front of the person who can't distinguish a count (= Comte) from tally (=compte)"

Earl Rûh you're my hero!
Qays is just a poseur with a BA in PoliSci from some obscure Saudi college
:))

Lazarus said...

fascinating stuff ... seriously.

raja posts something, the contents of which some readers dislike, and instead of creating a semblance of legitimate counterarguments, they end up insulting Raja, and the entire blog ... (comments which directly insult the commentators themselves) ... in ways that psychologists would have a field day with.

it's all pretty simple really. don't forget, you do have the option of not coming back ... unless ...