The Merchants at the Temple and the Land of Lebanon
By: Elias Bejjani
August 18.8.04

Lebanon’s neighbors have always coveted the nature, beauty and resources of the Land of the Cedars. They forever envied its people for what the Lord had given them. As the saying goes, “Blessed he who has a goat’s pasture in the Lebanon”, it expresses in prose a tangible reality that, unfortunately, is no longer valued by our public figures among the politicians and the clergy, nor do they realize the dire consequences of wasting it.

It therefore makes sense that the occupation and its “boys” – the rulers, politicians, brokers, money whales, fundamentalists, and other collaborators – are working hard to rob this “pasture” from its true owners, the Lebanese people, and auction it off to foreigners from the Gulf and others whose bank accounts are stuffed to the hilt with money they know not what to do with.

A mere glance at reports and statistics about recent real estate transactions in Lebanon, especially in the central district of Mount Lebanon, involving Gulf States millionaire buyers, one cannot help but feel nauseated at the thought of losing our land at the hands of the brokers in the Lebanese puppet regime. For these dealers, by theft and by trickery, with much cheating and bribes, have cinched suspicious deals in which vast stretches of land in Mount Lebanon and the seacoast were sold off to Gulf State owners, breaking the law in the process and making the Lebanese themselves feel like strangers in their own country.

There is no hiding the fact that Rafiq Hariri and his entourage of fundamentalist Wahhabi money financiers are spearheading a program to alter the demographics of Lebanon. Hariri himself is documented to own no less than 75 real estate brokerage houses registered under fake names and specializing in buying lands and distributing their deeds to hypothetical owners in order to camouflage the entire operation. Their mode of operation is to buy land from Lebanese owners in all the regions of Mount Lebanon, then sell it to Gulf Arabs.

Nor is it a secret anymore that the Hariri-Arab assault is specifically targeting the Northern Metn district – the heartland of Lebanon, and the Sannine tourism project should be seen with great suspicion under that light. Indeed, Hariri’s Solidere Company in Beirut is a model of grand theft and illegal appropriation of land in Downtown Beirut that ended up netting Hariri himself billions of dollars that are owed to him by the Lebanese people. All in the name of “reconstructing” Lebanon.

When taken together with the gradual impoverishment of the Lebanese under a defunct economy managed for more than a decade now by none other than Hariri himself, the buying by his wealthy Arab bullies and friends of land owned by economically-strapped Lebanese becomes part of a deliberate program aiming at pushing the land’s rightful owners further into poverty and emigration. Not unlike the story of land transfer in Palestine earlier in the 20th century, this program of de-Lebanonization of Lebanon is ethnic-cleansing camouflaged under business suits and behind the limousines of wealthy oil Arabs, after it failed by massacres and pogroms, shelling and bombing, kidnapping and sniping, and other less refined, but no less Arab, methods of “Arabicizing” the Lebanese people.

This shameless assault on Lebanese land has only one objective: To cut off the basic livelihood of the Lebanese and impoverish them by destroying the economy. Then offer them money to sell their lands. Finally, drive them into emigration with a police state that represses all freedoms. It becomes the responsibility of the victim, the Lebanese people themselves, to realize what is going on, to rise up against its rulers and loudly speak up before they become strangers in their own land.

Those who do not learn from their own experiences and the experiences of others do not deserve life. To lose one’s land is to lose one’s country and to betray the blood of the martyrs that was spilled on that very land that is being sold. The Lebanese people were never alone, nor were they reticent to ward off attacks against them in the past. They should take action, and take it now before it is too late. They should deny the merchants and temple peddlers the ability to sell our land to foreigners and stuff their pockets with Judas’s silvers.

We are sounding the alarm, so that the Lebanese people take heart and know that the Lord eases one’s path and does not ignore their pleas. And those who mock the holy land of Lebanon and take its people for fools should know that they will pay a price in the end for what they are doing.

Elias Bejjani
*Human Rights activist, journalist & political commentator.
*Spokesman for the Canadian Lebanese Human Rights Federation (CLHRF)
*Media Chairman for the Canadian Lebanese Coordinating Council (LCCC)