The tribulations of West Beirut’s bourgeoisie

Something that makes me snap out very quickly is the outrage shown by people in Beirut to what “the jihadist” did in ‘west Beirut’, as if it was an isolated event, something popping out of nowhere, and as if this only happened to them. Nobody really understand that these types of armed threats were happening in other parts of Beirut and in other parts of Lebanon for the past couple of years by the militias that are connected to the government. Stop being shocked at SSNP’s signature around Hamra, it is simply pay back. Stop thinking that you’ve lived near death experiences when other parts of the country have been living similar states, when they were trying to demonstrate, or pressure the government to change course, and nobody talked about it, nobody nagged for hours when people got killed in Mar Mikhael or in other places. Nobody felt concerned.

Another double standard characteristic is those who say that Hizbullah has finally shown its true face when it turned its “arms towards the inside” thereby destroying their image of a resistant group that honorably defeated Israel. Not only is this a totally flawed reading of what happened, but also, since when anyone thought highly of Hizbullah’s practices of the past decades? I read journalists (and hear people) that always hated and despised Hizbullah now talking about their glorious lost past, warning Hizbullah that they are tarnishing this image. Shame.

This entry was posted in Cultural practices, Hizbullah, lebanese_society, Media. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to The tribulations of West Beirut’s bourgeoisie

  1. Nader says:

    Bech;

    I have 2 main comments.

    First concerning the “these types of armed threats were happening in other parts of Beirut and in other parts of Lebanon for the past couple of years by the militias that are connected to the government”

    Even though this is true, none of those militias did what Hezbollah armed men did in Beirut last week. None of the fired RPGs at civilian buildings, invaded homes and buildings, set up checkpoints around the city, closed public roads, paralyzed the airport and led to the death of up to 60 people with over 100 injured until this moment.

    Yes, the pro-government militias are dirty and need to be stopped, brought to justice and “cleaned” from where they are. But comparing them to what happened in Beirut in which the innocents mostly paid the price is not a fair comparison. What Hezbollah’s armed men have done has consequences that can be felt right among the masses: an obvious, announced, deep Sunni-Shiite divide, which is now fueled with more hatred and sectarian tension. A huge question mark and even rejection on Hezbollah’s weapons on all levels. Plus, the vast majority of ‘non affiliated’ Lebanese who previously stood neutral or unconcerned regarding the political crisis now dispise Hezbollah, accusing it of terrorising their lives, and invading the city.

    The pro-government militias have also had their own bad consequences on their surroundings, but they were not on that magnitude we are witnessing today.

    Second of all: “since when anyone thought highly of Hizbullah’s practices of the past decades?”

    It was never thought highly of by many and for a long time, but this time Hezbollah proved allllllllllll those journalists and people right.

    I believe we should not underestimate the magnitude of what happened at any moment.

  2. nona says:

    Beck,
    As a lower middle class beirutee (and hence by your defenition “bourgeoisie”), I won’t bother to comment on your immoral stance towards civilans being killed in their homes and while trying to escape the invasion.
    I just want to congratulate you on the fact that YOUR home, family, belongings, neighberhood, weren’t attacked by hizbiran, because apparently, that’s the only time you’d care about anyone being hurt.
    Us Beirutees of course do not deserve your sympathy, as “bourgeoise” we deserve all we got.

  3. Bech says:

    I never said you “deserved” anything. In the first place this victimization of the self whether in terms of deserving or not deserving is what I criticize.

    There is a political situation that imposed a specific status quo.

    You were not targeted in what happened. Strictly in terms of Hizbullah’s actions there was no targeting of civilians and no civilian deaths unless there was an abnormal event. Their movements were clear and directed. And as a matter of fact I was around when all of it happened and most of my friends were in the different most affected regions of ‘west’ Beirut, and agreed with what I was talking about.

    Hell, they were even polite. They went through certain neighborhood and asked people to go inside their home.

  4. Bech says:

    And Nader you are dishonest, because one of the biggest problem related to governments militia is that they were the ones erecting checkpoints in the first place. The only basic difference is that they did not have RPGs. And the “60 death” are not perpetrated by Hizbullah.

    also when you say “The pro-government militias have also had their own bad consequences on their surroundings, but they were not on that magnitude we are witnessing today.”
    Well that proves my argument that you are not at all aware of what other sections of population lived for the past years because you just don’t go there.

    And when I talk of these journalists I’m talking about stuff I read in the media these last days that says what I am saying.

  5. nona says:

    Bech,
    wethere or not the “holy fighters” were not targeting civilians, civilians died.

    I don’t think the civilians who died and their families care much wether they were being directly targeted or not. Dead is dead wether the “holy” intended it or not.
    What did hizballah think was going to happen when they attacked a city with their “resistance’ weapons, nobody was going to die? Are they really that naive? Nearly as naive as “not knowing” what Israels’s reaction was going to be if they kidnapped two of their soldiers? It seems the Hizballah leadership “doesn’t know” quite a lot about war, since this is their main excuse for everything they do.

    Hence HizbIran, with all their “holy” protestations,now have Lebanese Civilian blood on their hands.

    Stop making excuses for them, it is beneath you, stand up and say wrong is wrong, even if it is perpetrated by people whom you admire.

  6. Bech says:

    Sorry I’m not answering all of what you’re saying because this would take us in an endless discussion of what happened in the last couple of years.

    But I’m not talking about what is wrong or right. I am talking about situations people find themselves into because of their past mistakes, their ignorance, their intellectual laziness.

    And I don’t admire anyone. Far from it.

  7. MAZe says:

    The trouble is with Hiz, Bech you bastion of glorification and steadfastnes, is they will always be labelled as terrorists and animals. Their image is so antequated and tarnished that no marketing blitz will even fix it. They probably don’t care and it really shows.

    When did the civilians die? not how,who,where? They died when Hizbkhara brandished their arsenal. When did the world notice what’s going on? When HizbTeez wanted to cut arms and teach lessons.

    You can go on defending and providing logic till the cows home, actions speaks louder than words. On that front, Hizbfess is filling up buckets of blood. Take your logic and explain it to a widow, a family member who lost a member, I am sure they will become Hizbdarta supporters.

    BTW, I like your blog. I get to read a Hizbbatee’7 suppoter’s perspective.

  8. Nader says:

    Bech;

    I will not comment further as I believe the other two responders were expressive enough. Although I do not agree with their attitude I strongly agree with the fact that people died, women were widowed, families members were lost, people got terrorized and the country’s situation is at stake with both side taking responsibility. You can defend Hezbollah’s actions from now until 10000 years but nothing will change the fact that what they did was a very, very costly crime on all levels.

  9. Bech says:

    I am not defending Hizbullah, nowhere do I say this. Read my note to the reader.

    Also, Maze, it is of people like you that I continue writing. I hope I can break myths, dislodge pre-judgements, ideologies, alienating fixations. It will probably never work but I believe it is worth the try.

  10. Salem says:

    What happened in Beirut should be carefully studied with one’s head in the icebox for quite some time. It is kind of “lazy” as Bech puts it to quickly jump on the emotional bandwagon without clearly sorting things out. Of course that’s the role of the media and the mainstream intellectuals who have the opportunity (with which comes a great deal of responsibility) to be within the system of respectability and enjoy more time on the air than Maryam Nour if she had her own TV station. But who are we kidding.
    We are left, “unfortunately”, to dwell inside our own skulls for rational and objective conclusions.

    My guess is, the operation was quite simple, and was triggered my the irresponsible decrees of the government. It constituted of two consecutive goals; twist the arm of Hariri and jumblat’s military wings (please don’t deny there wasn’t any) in Beirut, the North, Jabal and Beqaa, before coordinating with the army to move in, arrest, take control and hopefully conduct an investigation.
    In this kind of tactical operations, people are coldly called “collateral damage” and they are always, ALWAYS the only victims in such scenarios, and that goes for all sides, whether they are Sunni Beirutis, Shiia Beirutis, Druze from the Shouf or scientologists from Jabal Mehsen.
    People just don’t fit in those kind of scenarios and worrying about them is a burden that any militia or resistance strategist prefers to ignore for practical reasons.

    That said, i totally agree with Bech in terms of how selective people tend to be when trying to pick up what happened after a storm and especially so when the ones who should be rational enough during such times are busy montaging Orwellian fear-hate clips.

    Acts of aggression comes in many forms, and the most deadly ones are usually aggressions on the mind. When people are bombarded day and night with propagandist messages, guests, clips, anchors, conspiracy theories, spinned news, doctored images, insinuations, holier-than-thou attitude and media amplification of empty rhetorics all in an unstable climate of uncertain perspective, well, it’s also an act of aggression and not an insignificant one. For people to blame other people for any kind of violence these days in Lebanon is just wrong.

    Lebanese should be aware today that if they succumb to emotional charges that are being detonated everyday, what happened in Beirut is a perpetual scenario that will be happening again.

    One more thing though, and on Beirut.
    I have been giving some of my Beiruti friends a wakeup shake from the hypocrisy that got hold on them for the past couple of years when they both the goatee who spoke of state-building rhetorics while equally his armed men who “protected” the streets right under their building’s noses, ears, and eyes.

  11. MAZe says:

    Yaddi yaddi yaddi .. you telling me, Mr Moral and logical high ground, that you are writing to enlighten people like me?

    hmmm: well let’s see – if you had an unbiased approach I’d say I am willing to learn. But you sound like Hizbatee’7 sophisticated mouthpiece wannabe. I did support Hizbullah during their 2006 war, I have a few entries on pro government blogs supporting them as evidence. Unfortunately, when the gun gets used, in my humble opinion, Hizbatee’7’s political capital withered away. You see the trouble is the government is just as guilty; if you’re going to threaten someone then you need to have the upper hand. Unfortunately, in our cradle of civilisation, usually force is the upper hand and to some extent there’s no solution. All players in this theatre are meagre hand puppets: no one cares about Lobnan but they do care about being in power in enriching their pockets by using religious roots as fuel. Mafia really with religious connotations!

    This is a new civil war and history will say that Hizbatee’7 started it, I am just glad I left this god forsaken country. You should see where I live now: when the government passes a bill, it gets debated in a parliament and then if it fails then that’s it: the only violence are the heated debates – the majority wins. oooh and the government of my new country supports the US and Israel (which I don’t and many millions of citizens don’t), we have state of the art technology, thriving arts, mosques, security, freedom of speech, free schools and a future. I can keep going on but probably you know all the benefits of having a true democracy.

    Keep writing.. seriously, I am truly fascinated.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Maze,
    living in a new country and gaining a new citizenship does not necessarily make you a more mature person. This comes with the ability to self criticize and think outside the confines of one’s emotions. I suggest you revisit this blog in a week or so, when your temper has calmed, and read again.
    One of our biggest problems in Lebanon is that many people and officials are reactive rather than proactive.
    There are realities on the ground that the goverment has deliberitaly ignored over the last three years, and there is the reality that the goverment has failed to protect its own citizens (regardless of which side they stand)
    In the democratic countries you are talking about, goverments are responsible, and do defend their people, goverments do not have private militia, goverment officials do not use blatant sectarian instigations, and if they talk from both sides of their mouth they are held accountable for their lies..(btw I am not saying mo3arada is better, but in my dicitionary the goverment is the official party and should take resposibility to include everyone)
    What Salem said in his comment is very true, what happened needs to be studied with one’s head in an icebox.
    The mad spinning of the news has to stop..in fact i wish all news outlets in Lebanon could be shut down, may be people would not be attacked by the daily dose of fear tactics, hatred, contempt of the other, and the never ending race of who is the true Lebanese..may be people can look at each other and realize that poverty, insecurity, struggle to secure a future while maitaining one’s integrity has no sect and no religion and no hizib..

    and Bech please do not stop writing, we need people who think and analyse

  13. Anonymous says:

    This is a belated response but it takes me time to read through remarkz as carefully as i usually wish to.

    It will probably elicit no response but i feel the need to write, anyway.

    Firstly, Bech, i am always drawn back to this blog because i think you do hezbollah a lot of justice in your analysis.
    i am saddened though, that in most of what you write, there is a defensive nature in you. almost as if you attempt, like so many of those intellectual enough to be of the opposition but

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