Independence, Identity, & Resistance
By: Elias Bejjani
Celebrating Lebanon's Independence Day, is not due yet, because the independence remains confiscated and stolen by the Baathist Syrian occupation and its local puppet Lebanese officials, politicians and clergy. Remembering Lebanon's Independence Day necessitates a serious focus on the roots of all the hardships that were and still being encountered by the peace loving Lebanese people through 1500 years in forms of savage wars, brutal oppression, ruthless persecution and merciless impoverishment. All these wars were and still being waged by neighboring countries and numerous religious armed organized fanatic groups against Lebanon's distinctive identity and its multi cultural, mosaic civilization.
There were many reasons behind the "Wars of the Others" against Lebanon and the Lebanese people.These reasons varied with the changing instruments of fighting, its circumstances, financiers, and profiteers. However the targeting of the privileged, deeply rooted and distinctive Lebanese identity was, and still remains the clearest aspect and the main aim of those dirty and vicious wars.
We thank God for the exposure and failure of these barbaric, ruthless and savage wars. The free Lebanese people equipped with courage and hope shattered them all with solid faith and heroic stubbornness. They remained earthed in faith, attached to their distinctive identity and steadfast against venomous on going conspiracies.
The distinction of Lebanon is that it is a nation of diverse religious societies and civilizations living together in an agreeable coexistence, without coercion, ethnic melting or oppression despite transient bloody confrontations at certain periods of history always planned, triggered, instigated and orchestrated by external forces, Ottmons, Arabs, fundamentalists, Syrian Baathists, Ideological groups, leftists etc. Lebanons air of liberty and tolerance enjoyed by all its mosaic communities helped them preserve, cultivate and maintain equally their cultural, heritage and religious particularities.
These distinctions gave Lebanon its pluralist flavor and made its people in their majority a homogeneous society attached heart and spirit to the one Lebanese identity that personifies their roots, cultures, identities and civilizations.
The Lebanese confessional diversity permits to each one of Lebanon many ethnic communities to express its original goodness within its core and the sanctity of its faith. Even though the Lebanese communities perspective towards God may be different, they do not defer on the truth of Gods essence, and He remains the All Mighty Creator and the source of all good to all of them. So no one Lebanese community presumes to monopolize Gods relationship to mankind through itself, and non of them seeks to acquire all Gods graces by eliminating the others, because the "others" were also made by God and are also Gods children, and he is the ultimate judge.
All religions in Lebanon worship the same God, and definitely He accepts them all according to their sincerity and trust. The free Lebanese strongly believe that God knows the content of hearts and intents, and He is not fooled by those fundamentalists, and fanatics who practice false rituals and styles of worship. The majority of the peace loving Lebanese people strongly believe that no one Lebanese community should claim that it is the best, or the closest, or the only path to God. They all trust the fact that God knows all wants, and uncovers all intents. These basic foundations are the cornerstone for the success of coexistence in Lebanon, the Land of the Holy Cedars.
Despite the on going Lebanese success of coexistence and diversity of civilizations within the scope of the Lebanese identify, and despite the good and civilized relationship that the Lebanon people seek with their neighboring countries, societies and groups, still some local and regional forces and fundamental groups like the Syrian Baathists, Wahabists, Khominiests, Ben Laden's AlQaeda, Progressive Syrian Nationalist party, Muslim Brother Hood Party, and many others continue to try to impose on Lebanon alternative identifies using language, falsified history, foreign ideologies, communism, Geographical fantasies and"Arabism" as excuses, forgetting that Lebanon has been known since the ancient through the modern time, as a crossroad of civilizations, languages, cultures and people.
Since 4000 BC, waves of people settled and fought on the Lebanese land including Kananites, Phoenicians, Aramites, Egyptians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzintians, Arabs, Crusaders, Europeans, and Syrians.
Lebanon's language also varied with the times. Originally Phoenician was the mother language (Phoenician is a Kannaite "adjective" and Kanaites are the original inhabitants of Lebanon), followed by the Egytian and Bailonian languages for commerce. During the Persian rule (539-332 BC) Aramean was the official language of the empire in addition to the Pheonician in Lebanon. During the Greek rule(322-63) Greek became the official language equivalent to the Arameic the mother language. And with the Roman rule, Latin became the language of law and administration in addition to Greek as the language of culture next to Arameic which remained the mother language. And with the Arab Conquest (625 AD), Arabic imposed by the Amawites rulers started to compete with the Aramaic/Syriac variations and replaced them. Then the Ottoman Turks taught Turkish, while schools of the era taught and continue to teach today French, English, Armenian and many other languages.
Union with diversity within the distinct Lebanese identity is Lebanons
civilization and the choice of its multi-ethnic/religious people. This diversity is known
as the "Lebanese Particularity" and as Lebanons Humanistic message to its
neighbors, as well as to the whole world, and if they are lost, God forbidding, Lebanon
loses the purpose of its existence (Raison Detre).
Lebanons "Particularity" yielded its national covenant and its political system. The covenant is coexistence amongst Christians and Moslems. The Christian Lebanese adheres to the Lebanese nation by abandoning any tendency for western style secularism and by renouncing the protection of any western nation. Meanwhile the Lebanese Moslems in turn abandon their eagerness, tendency and dream for n Islamic Theocracy and ceases their quest for protection under any Arabic or Islamic nation.
The National Lebanese Covenant specifies the principles of "Coexistence" from
(Independence) President Becaharra Khoury speech on the day of his election on September
20, 1943, as well as the first Governmental Communiqué issued by Prime Minister Riad Solh
on October 7, 1943.The most important clauses of the Covenant are:
Lebanon is an independent republic, with complete independence, and a final homeland for all its children, Sovereign Free Independent, in its internationally recognized borders.
Lebanon is a founding active member of the Arab League and is committed to its principles. Lebanon is also a founding and active member of the United Nations and committed to its principles and to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
There would be no hegemony requested, no protection sought, and no special privileges granted to any other nation, and no union nor unification with any other nation.
Maximum cooperation with the Arab countries, by maintaining equilibrium with all of them, and maintaining friendship will all foreign nations that recognize Lebanons total independence and respects it.
There will be no legitimacy to any authority that contradicts the covenant of national coexistence.
It was on the basis of this Covenant, that the political system in Lebanon was erected distinctively from all other political systems in the Arab and western nations, and it is on this same basis that all Lebanese ethnicities agreed to unite within the scope of the Lebanese Identity.
This political system produced special attributes that distinguished Lebanon from its neighbors and they are:
The democratic parliamentary system
The National Accord
The Public Liberties and most significantly the freedom of Opinion, religion, and Free Enterprise
The system also yielded a dialog without duress (Conciliatory Dialog) about the affairs and politics of the nation as specified in the constitution such as the Modification of the constitution, War and peace, and Treaties with other nations.
This Lebanese Civilization, which constitutes the Heritage of Lebanon, and which as the result of an existential living and political dialog among all successive cultures and civilizations on its land, has allowed the Lebanese, and still doe, to remain steadfast in the face of conspiracies of partition and settlement and regime change, and to survive its most critical stages during years of ferocious war.
The Lebanese Identity which distinguishes Lebanon, has held steadfast in the past and
will be victorious, it will also hold firm endure in protection of our forefathers
inheritance, God willing. And all the forces of Hate and Evil shall fail to marginalize it
or replace it with another identity. Let us all preserve this graceful identity and
solidify its implantation in our conscience and root it in our awareness as well as in
Lebanon Sacred soil.
*Human Rights activist, journalist & political commentator.
*Spokesman for the Canadian Lebanese Human Rights Federation (CLHRF)
*Media Chairman for the Canadian Lebanese Coordinating Council (LCCC)