Gay and Religious: Stuck Between Ashura and Pride.

This post was originally written by A.I. on his blog here and has been republished on Levant Chronicles with the writer’s permission.  You can follow the writer on Twitter. @Fairuzist 

(Feel free to listen to Shim El Yasmine while reading this, it’s what I did writing it)

I have a love-hate relationship with Shim El Yasmine by Mashrou’ Lelia. It’s one of my favourites but at the same time it’s often played at the start of my self-hating sessions at 2 am. As it plays I often imagine myself laying in bed with a guy my age, covered from the waist down with a white blanket. He’s got tan skin, a nice scruff and messy hair. It’s 10 am, on a weekend in an apartment over looking some part of Beirut. And I’m laying there my head against his bare chest listening to his soft heart beat while he runs his hand through my hair and down my back. It seems nice. I feel like there’s a sense of safety there. I imagine breathing him in, kissing his scruff, his neck, his bare torso and making it all the way down and taking him in. This is what Shim El Yismine brings up in me. Not sex. But a life with a guy I love. A happy life where I feel loved and wanted with him. Maybe adopt a kid with him. I feel like we’d name him Mahdi. After I’ve had the song on repeat, I decide there’s no point in agonizing myself with fantasies, I shut down Itunes and finish my assignments to get through, yet another day. After all, what is it they say? Don’t sacrifice heaven for this world? They want us to die everyday in this world for an ending that may not even be there. It’s a joke.

It took me several years to come to terms with the fact that I was gay. Those years were scattered with days where I would lay in my bed at night crying because I didn’t feel right. Days where i would pray to god to just make me feel something towards girls. Anything. But god never replied. So for the longest time, I felt alone. Even with all the gay scene going on in the West across the net. I was never able to find someone from home I could somewhat relate to. Recently, however, on twitter I came across a bunch of queer people from back home. While I don’t know any of them personally, after growing up feeling so alone, it was nice to find someone similar. Ironically, I also follow people who are somewhat religious. Though for the sake of my own sanity, they’re limited to 1 or 2. You find that religious and queer people are often distributed to either end of the spectrum in terms of religion.

You have the religious folk, who on a constant basis shame your existence, call you slurs, degrade you and proudly flaunt their homophobia. Even though I can almost guarantee their brother is gay or their cousin is a lesbian. But what do I know. And then to the other side of the spectrum, the LGBQT+ folk. Queer people, from what I’ve noticed at least, often either hold religion to a minimal value or have quit completely. I both understand and envy their courage. And I find myself unable to relate completely to either of them. I’m stuck in the middle. Between those who commemorate Ashura, an event remembering the sacrifice of the prophet’s family and those who celebrate their queerness with pride. I feel I should reinforce that I’m talking about religious or queer people from back home. Lebanon and the Arab world.

Being able to comfortably look in the mirror and tell yourself you’re gay is relieving. Finally feeling genuine support for the LGBQT+ community was freeing. How could you not when you know that those people have struggled the same way you did. However, my support for the queer community is limited. My support is there for everyone except myself. You don’t need to be a genius to guess why. Religion has always been restrictive. And people have often said ‘just leave’. And I wish I could. I really do.

During one of those crappy days during which I feel like dying, I often question god’s existence. Why would he reveal himself through the prophets and miracles to our ancestors but not us? Why could our ancestors get proof but we were supposed to have blind faith? I never found an answer. But as I was looking it up, I came across an answer which stated that proof of god differs between people. There are people who have blind faith. There are also those who reflect off of things to find proof of his existence. Growing up shia, I find god’s existence in Ashura. I have listened and cried over the sacrifice of the prophet’s family. And I see god in their actions. I see god in their faith. It reaffirms my belief in god because it raises a question that how could someone be so willing to die and send his family to a fatal fate if they weren’t certain of his existence and the path he supposedly drew for them.

So here I am stuck. Because in the days where I would think of pressing my body against another guy or feeling his lips against mine, religion constantly nags at you and entraps you in a vicious cycle. Religious verses flow through your head reminding you of the fire and torture you’ll endure on judgment day for a fucking kiss. It’s a vicious cycle being gay and religious. He makes you gay, and isolates you. He reminds you that you’ll go to hell if you act on how he himself created you. And the build up of being depressed and isolated increases more and more. And when you get to a point where you just want to die, where you contemplate suicide on a daily basis. He comes back and tells you once more you’ll go to hell if you do it. You’ll go to hell for every fucking thing you do. It’s a fucking vicious cycle that I can’t escape. All because I have genuine faith. Faith that sometimes makes me sick. While Hamed sings Shim El Yasmine for an ex-partner, for me it represents someone I will never get to be with. Because I would have wished for there to be someone I can be with and keep close. For me to introduce him to my parents. To cook for him, and clean for him and raise his kids. But he’s somewhere off limits and so am I. And I hope someday, this isn’t the case anymore.

If you actually took the time to read this. Thank you.
If you’re queer and surpassed the point where you care about god and religion. I envy you. And I’m happy for you.
And in case you’re like me, I hope we find a way out of this crushing sensation.
If you’re homophobic then I hope this helps you understand our struggle.

80% of Lebanese find Homosexuality unacceptable but LGBT rights are slowly advancing.

The Pew Research Center has recently released an info-graphic called “Global Views on Morality” that include 40 countries. The studied issues are diverse, from notably homosexuality to divorce and alcohol use. It asks the simple question for every issue, for example: Do you personally believe that homosexuality is morally acceptable, morally unacceptable, or is it not a moral issue?

For homosexuality, Lebanese have answered 80% morally unacceptable, 7% acceptable and 11% not a moral issue. They also consider premarital sex and extramarital affairs as less morally acceptable, with 81% and 92%. 0% find extramarital affairs as acceptable.

Contraception use and divorce are the most accepted issues of Lebanon, Lebanese answered it was accepted with a percentage of 34% and 48%.

Source:  Pew Research Center.
Source: Pew Research Center.

The global median for Homosexuality is 59% unacceptable, 20% acceptable and 13% not a moral issue. Lebanon is quite far from the median, and yet it is close for the “not a moral issue” one.

While it can be easy and reasonable to think homosexuality unacceptability is because of a specific religion, especially the Middle East and Islam, it is an erroneous theory. For example, Ghana find homosexuality unacceptable with 98% (and ranks first for unaccepting homosexuality) and Uganda with 93%, both have an absolute majority of Christians.

Homosexuality and all the other issues that are unaccepted are not to be tied to a specific religion.

As for the Middle East, Lebanon is the Arab country that accept the most homosexuality with only 7%, Israel being the first country in the Middle East with 27%.

Lebanon, while behind on the homosexuality score, is slowly advancing towards better rights for LGBT people. In January 2014,  a judge ruled out article 534, the law that condemn people who have sexual acts “that contradict the laws of nature”. An advancement for equal rights in Lebanon and the region.

Orientalism: Le Point cover depicts exotic Arabs in a colonialist painting.

2229

Take a good look at the picture and at the title, saying: “The Arabs. The little known story of a civilisation. To the Origins of today’s tragedy.” See something wrong?

Le Point, A french magazine, depicts the Arabs here with an “Orientalist” perspective. What is Orientalism?

“Orientalism” is a way of seeing that imagines, emphasizes, exaggerates and distorts differences of Arab peoples and cultures as compared to that of Europe and the U.S. It often involves seeing Arab culture as exotic, backward, uncivilized, and at times dangerous. Edward W. Said, in his groundbreaking book, Orientalism, defined it as the acceptance in the West of “the basic distinction between East and West as the starting point for elaborate theories, epics, novels, social descriptions, and political accounts concerning the Orient, its people, customs, ‘mind,’ destiny and so on.”

Orientalist artists depicts the “Arabian land” as an exotic and mysterious place, a place of high gardens, guards, inactive nobles in white robes. The guard here, has been identified as an ottoman janissary.
The picture couldn’t have existed because Janissaries weren’t present in Moroccan lands. Another mythification and historical misrepresentation of the painter.

Jean-Joseph Constant, known as Benjamin constant, is the painter. He lived from 1845 to 1902.

Le Figaro, last year, wrote an analysis on an exposition dedicated to him.

Personal translation: “They[the paintings] signal well the mirage. But they don’t remind of its dangerousness. With Benjamin-Constant, we are not anymore in the dreamed antiquity of Delacroix nor in the forbidden Hammam of the voyeur Ingres. The very big formats invite us to remove our shoes in private interiors. Or in exploring horizons considered virgin territories, fertile, savage, and therefore good to civilise.

“Therefore good to civilise”. This is here the main problem of orientalism. Not only it depicts the Arab world in a fantasy. It leads the viewers of this art to believe the Arab world is uncivilized, and therefore “civilizable”. No wonder Orientalism was very popular in the second half of the 19th century, the years of colonialism fast expansion.

Le Figaro continues.

Such is the talent, remaining active, of this propagandist painter before even being an artist. […]. this painting[or work] calls for conquest. Benjamin-Constant is one of the best falcons of the [French] Third Republic. 

The fact that such depictions of Arabs continue until today is alarming, it shows perceptions of some citizens in the Western World regarding the Arab world. This bigoted misperception is dangerous and is often the first step, I believe, towards racism.

“Arrêt sur Image”, a French website that analyses pictures, criticizes Le Point because it is unconsciously tying the Terrorist problem with Arabs. Le Point not only miscarry the wide, complex and rich image of Arabs, it also writes a dangerous title.

If we read the two sentences (of the title) as one sentence, it gives. “The unknown history of a civilisation inherent of today’s tragedy”. Perceived like that, the two sentences implies that the Arab civilisations carry in its genes, in its essence, the actual tragedy. The tragedy of Jihadist salafism, carrying the name of the Islamic state, Daesh. It is therefore enough to read a bit quickly [both sentences] to understand that the Arabs, are by definition, terrorists.

Le Point carries the bigotry of millions, that terrorism is uniquely found in the Arab world. 

Le Point has already done worse covers, often directly racist. (See right)

“This Islam without shame” depicts a woman wearing the Burqa, an illegal Hijab in France. In this country, only a very small minority of Muslim women wears the Burqa. This title is openly islamophobe, it describes Islam as invasive, an eater of French culture.

To conclude, imagine for a second if an Arab magazine studied today’s Frenchmen with a picture of Clovis, first French king, or a picture of a Frenchman holding French bread and a croissant. Imagine if an Arab magazine studied the American people with a picture of Cow boys. It would be insulting, bigoted, and not very bright.

Chapel Hill Shooting : An atheist terrorist murders three innocent Muslims.

Hours ago, three Muslims college Student have been shot dead “execution-style” by a man in the USA. The newspapers in US didn’t give any attention to this or very little. I learned the story like many, on Twitter. Here is a picture of them.

A lot of people on Twitter like the profile @WeTeachlifeSir_ have condemned the US newspapers of no coverage, not outrage about this hate murder.

As you can see on those pictures, no story about the victims, no words. It seems the “People” news are more important than this.

Is this a double-standard from those newspapers ?

Let’s imagine another scenario ; one when a so-called Muslim extremist kills three young innocent white persons. Do you really imagine that no news will break out the minute it happens ? Do you really think that all of the media outlets will shut up about this for so long ? I condemn those who think and show that the blood of three innocent Muslims killed cowardly is lighter than the blood of three innocent Christians killed by a so called “Islamists”. I’m not making this about religion, but there is a clear fact out here : those murders are not BREAKING newsworthy because the killer is not a “terrorist”.

But is he not a terrorist ?

Twitter (again) showed who really was this killer, the images he posted on Facebook before the executions or even his wish list on Amazon that contained scopes of snipers and camouflage outfits. His name is Craig Hist and he will be of course in the eyes of the “good” Media : a single lone wolf or a “deranged person”. He will never be called out a terrorist… because he’s white.

Here are some of his views exposed on his Facebook Personal Page.

It is clear that Craig Hist is full of prejudice and hate, he is an atheist who believe he has the right to retaliate and insult religion it if he’s been insulted. Of course he means by religion here Islam.
I wonder how Craig Hist was insulted from those three Muslims. Was it the Hijab ? Was it the fact that they were peaceful Muslims and he didn’t like it ? Here’s the twitter profile of one of the victims, Deah Barakat. Did Craig Hist take a look at this? Did he see the multiple retweets of funny vines ? The posts about his passion for American football ? Maybe he got insulted because of Barakat cover picture showing al Quds Mosque? Or did he even see that Barakat called for donation for Syrian refugees ? How dangerous and insulting is Barakat !

Remember Bill Maher lame claim that Islam is a violent religion ? Should we say that Atheism is a violent non-religion ? No we will not. Why ? First, violence has no religion (the irony) and two, we actually have brains.

What’s terrorism ?

It’s “the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.” I don’t see where in this definition a terrorist must be an Arab or a Muslim. Answer is, he must not. Terrorism can be applied to everybody. It is not limited to organisations, even “lone wolves” can be called terrorists. So let’s call Craig Hist what he really is : a terrorist.

When you kill innocent Muslims because you are an Islamophobe. It is terrorism. 

France crackdowns on Free Speech following Charlie Hebdo attacks.

Earlier this month, the world were shocked because  of the attack on Charlie Hebdo cartoonists. The succeeding days were terrifying for French citizens, as two hostages operations were happening at the same time. One resulted with the death of four French Jews in a Kosher market.

The following Sunday, Millions of Frenchmen took the street to show solidarity with Charlie Hebdo and with Freedom of expression. But of course there were debates about the limits of it.

And in France, there is a limit, you do not touch or mock the Jews. Manuel Valls said it : “You do not confound Freedom of speech with Antisemitism”. Few years ago, a cartoonist from…Charlie Hebdo were fired because he mocked the marriage of Jean Sarkozy (son of then French President) with a Jew.

But that’s to sum it up.

I didn’t mention the very shallow “pens vs guns”, rendering the whole attack an attack on freedom of speech, omitting the context, the American invasion, the French bombings on Iraq. I didn’t mention “The West civilisation loving freedom and the backward Middle East civilisation that could not understand what it is” the shameless debates that happened after the attack. A journalist with too much boldness asked the family of Ahmed, the French Muslim policemen killed cowardly by the extremists. “What did you think about Charlie Hebdo cartoons on Prophet Muhamad ?” Silence were the answer.

I didn’t mention a French speaker that shamelessly blamed Islam on the attack, saying that the Muslims installed “shit” in France. I didn’t mention the dozens of Islamophobic attacks that were barely mentioned in the French Media.

But what happened next is the most interesting, the French government responded to the attack with more surveillance, more “vigilance”, to conclude, less freedom. It arrested dozens of persons following the attack, blaming them for “apologie du terrorisme”, terrorism apologia or justification. Seems great on paper, but it isn’t when the French police questions a 8 years old child.

It consequently jailed dozens of people because of ironic comments on Terrorism and Charlie Hebdo, one notably for France begins jailing people for ironic comments  online.

A 16-year-old high school student was taken into police custody on Thursday and indicted for “defending terrorism,” national broadcaster France 3 reports.

His alleged crime? He posted on Facebook a cartoon “representing a person holding the magazine Charlie Hebdo, being hit by bullets, and accompanied by an ‘ironic’ comment,” France 3 states.

The picture is heartless, but it’s an answer to Charlie Hebdo front page following the massacre of Muslims brothers after Sisi’s coup.

The government crackdown on freedom of speech is very hypocrite, especially for a nation that was proudly celebrating freedom of speech. It is dangerous because it antagonises the Muslims in France, already blamed by the very well-listened Eric Zemmour, that suggested that the Muslim people of France could be very well deported from the country. The crackdown were criticised by Amnesty.

More dangerously, it calls for normal citizens to be vigilant, to observe any “weird” behaviour and report it. The behaviour that could lead to the “Jihadist radicalisation” are on the following picture.

How bad can it get ?

What if a Muslim wanted to have a diet, so he changes “radically” his way of eating, but he also like the traditional clothing of his own country, so he wears it from time to time, what if he stops listening to music because he thinks it’s better off?

After the damage is done it adds. “It doesn’t necessarily mean that a radicalisation is happening, but if you have doubts, call this number ! The official website claims that the extremists comes out from every culture, religion, poor or rich, etc, it washes its hands off the amalgam, stereotype it’s already creating and already creates in the media.

Les jeunes qui ont été endoctrinés et convaincus de partir sont issus de tous les départements, de tous les milieux, favorisés comme défavorisés, urbains comme ruraux, des centres-villes comme des banlieues.

My translation : The youths that are indoctrinated and convinced of going [to Jihad] are from all departments, from all environments [classes], favoured as unfavored, urban as rural, from downtowns as suburbs.

So much for calming down the country’s situation. So much from freedom of speech.

France is transforming into a country where vigilance, the fear of the other, the suspicions, the crackdowns will likely become common language.

Enough with the Shaming of Miss Lebanon : How Israel uses Miss Israel for propaganda.

DISCLAIMER : I do not believe Sally Greige is a spy or a traitor to the nation. I do not also believe that every Lebanese that have relations with an Israeli must be considered as so. 

Miss Lebanon Sally Greige.

There are more important subject than a selfie, even if it does symbolise a lot. Let’s admit that Sally Greige said the truth, that the Israeli miss was trying to take pictures with her but she didn’t agree, so at the end, she “photobombed” herself in and boom. The controversial picture was taken.

“The truth behind the photo [is that] since the first day of my arrival to participate to Miss Universe, I was very cautious to avoid being in any photo or communication with Miss Israel, who tried several times to take a photo with me,” Greige, 25, wrote on Instagram Saturday with a cropped version of the photo that Matalon had posted on Jan. 11. “I was having a photo with Miss Japan [and] Miss Slovenia [when] suddenly Miss Israel jumped in and took a selfie, and uploaded it on her social media.”

I wouldn’t mind if Sally Greige took a picture with every innocent Israeli woman. But the Israeli Miss represents much more for Israel than ours. I personally believe that the Israeli miss is a tool in the hands of Israel Propaganda. Or famous Hasbara.

Israel always tries to represent itself as a peace-loving country, a welcoming country where all people and “races” are equal in it. But the reality is very far from it. They have multiple “tools” for Hasbara, per example, greenwashing, appearing as a green eco-friendly country to all the people from the world when they contaminate Gaza’s water. Or “Pink-washing”, using the LGBT rights as a propaganda tool to appear very open-minded and welcome all gays (and counter all these backward Middle East countries (sarcasm).

Is Miss Israel a tool in the hands of Israel ? 

I’d like first to introduce you to the ex Israeli Miss. Famously Black. Here’s what David Sheen, an Israeli independent journalist and filmmaker said about her in online newspaper Electronic Intifada.

In February 2014, Aynaw was ferried around the United States in an attempt to improve Israel’s image. She allowed herself, and her dark skin and Ethiopian origins, to be held up as supposed proof that Israel is a post-racial society. But she was not content to “black-wash” Israel’s image with her token success story; she also used her newfound fame to specifically smear non-Jewish Africans in Israel.

Israel is everything but a post-racial society, it is a racist one where asylum seekers that fled war-torn countries are considered as “infiltrators”, where they are rounded up and enclosed in what it is a modern concentration camp. Please watch this video about Israel racism and their persecution of black migrants.

Ex-Miss Israel also played with Israel stereotypes and added.

Even worse, she went on to echo the rhetoric of Israel’s most racist political agitators, characterizing non-Jewish Africans as savage sexual predators: “There’s actually places in Tel Aviv where you can’t walk around because there’s rape and violence,” Aynaw said.

Israeli police statistics show that the crime rate for Africans is considerably lower than that of the Israeli general public.

Aynaw’s tenure as Israeli beauty queen has since elapsed, but her face — and body — continue to be featured prominently in pro-Israel propaganda.

Let’s get back to Matalon.

What if Israeli Hasbara used her to promote itself as a peace-loving country and oppose itself to all these Arab countries that literally try to run away from Israel.

By reading Matalon wikipedia page, something interesting came out.

In December 2011, Matalon gained national publicity after a sex segregation incident on a Jerusalem bus. She said a 45-year-old Haredi man demanded she move to the back of the bus, threatening her and calling her a prostitute, but she refused. The incident was covered extensively by the Israeli media, and she became a symbol of women’s empowerment.[2][3] Matalon pressed charges and the man was later convicted of sexually harassing her.[4]

Matalon may have moved hearts with this story. But isn’t the occasion so beautiful ? Now Israel can use the Miss to make itself appear as against all forms of segregations, including Jewish one. This Rosa Parks-like story I believe is widely used to promote Israel as a feminist country.

Matalon has also served for Israel’s “Defence” Army, you know, the “Army” that killed mostly civilians months ago and removed entire generations of the same families ?

Let’s admit that Sally Greige story is true, Israel photo(bombing) her, (see the irony) wouldn’t be a surprise. Matalon did try multiple times to include herself according to Miss Lebanon. And Matalon picture with Miss Lebanon is a win win situation. Win to make Israel appear as a country of peace and pardon. And win over Lebanon to make Lebanese appear as backward and a peace-hating country. It’s always a great public relation win. Matalon responded to Miss Lebanon with a revealing commentary.

Matalon, 21, responded Sunday, writing on Instagram, “It doesn’t surprise me, but it still makes me sad. Too bad you cannot put the hostility out of the game, [in which] only for three weeks of an experience of a lifetime [it is] that we can meet girls from around the world and also from the neighboring country.”

Reading those words it’s exactly what I tried to explain earlier in the win-win situation. The Peace loving country Israel trying to make peace with the unsurprising Lebanon that loves War.

If Sally Greige did take that picture, and I stress on my following words : We must NOT denounce her as some kind of spy or traitor to the nation. Enough with the shaming.  I am sure that if she did take the selfie, it was innocent. And we do not want to patronise her or “teach” a lesson about what’s right or wrong. Let’s support her by admitting she is a victim in this awful story, and let’s share how Israel Hasbara use their Israeli misses to lie about their true nature.

#JusticeForYves : No more guns in criminal hands.

I read up the story of Yves Nawfal on Elie Fare’s blog. What an awful way to die. To sum the story up, Yves Nawfal and another man, Charbel Khalil, got in a fight for a woman. Now, this happens all the time, even in what you may call “civilised” countries, the difference here is that Khalil had a gun.

The fight, supposedly resolved, continued outside the pub ‘Powder’ in Faraya. Khalil managed to block the road, but it was reopened. Soon after, Charbel, his “pride” hurt, fired on Nawfal’s car with a semi-automatic gun, killing him with 4 bullets.

Charbel isn’t caught, he hid under the wing of a “very influential” figure in Keserwan, a politician. Police searched in Charbel homes, but will they search for the politician that hid him ? I believe the Police already knows who this godfather is and won’t stop this man above the law. Soon, Charbel will probably be out in his jungle playing with his guns. Worse, Charbel already acted the same year last year.

Charbel Khalil did a similar thing to another victim last year and was not arrested for it. He was not thrown in jail, in which case Yves would have still been alive and his mother wouldn’t be grieving now, and social media wouldn’t be seething over such a heinous crime taking place just because the murderer is so influential he could get away with murder.

Also, if there were no guns in these irresponsible hands, I believe Nawfal chance of survival would have been much higher, and both of them, Khalil and Nawfal, would have gone home with few bruises. I want to believe that.

Charbel Khalil is just a sample from politician’s young proteges, I am sure Khalil is just one of the hundreds young adults protected by the political parties above the law, left or right. A protege will always get “cleared” with a very powerful entourage.

Politicians that allow such things, and believe they are above the law, must be stopped by the police. And if the police won’t do it, it is time to reform such forces. “Hey Maybe with new respectable parties!”

Guns must not be allowed in civilians hands, warrant or not. Too much guns are on the hands of people without any valable reason.

I also believe that Justice must be done by the responsible forces, no “manhunt” should be conducted by civilians for the killing of Nawfal.

It is time all those killers and murderers to get in prison.

Yves Nawfal, Rest in Peace, we will remember you.

Your next #BDS target : American Eagle.

This week, it has been reported that Netanyahu received 90% of his last 3 campaign money from US donors,  Buzzfeed, the first publisher of these facts, linked the families with their businesses.

Here’s an excerpt.

Closely following them were the Book family of New Jersey, owners of Jet Support Systems, with four members each contributing $11,000 each, and the Schottenstein family, owners of the American Eagle fashion chain, whose four members donated $10,000 each.

American Eagle is present worldwide and in Lebanon.

It means that our Lebanese pounds directly go to the Shottenstein family pockets. (or through royalties) This money goes back to Netanyahu campaigns, and he doesn’t even have to ask !

“He doesn’t even have to ask and they give,” said one Likud Party campaign adviser, who asked not be named as he was not approved to speak to the media. “Their pocketbooks are always open for Netanyahu.”

For those who don’t know, Netanyahu, prime minister of Israel, has in less than 3 years, launched two wars against the already blockaded Gaza. By War I mean indiscriminate areal bombings against civilians, notably during his last war “Protective Edge” where his “brave” democratic army managed to slaughter 500 children.

Should we wait for Netanyahu to launch a war against Lebanon to start boycotting those brands ? Or should we, as citizens of conscience and ethics, fight peacefully against the Israel apartheid ?

I have seen a reaction on Twitter : the person claimed that we should not care about American Eagle, their income wouldn’t shrink considering their worldwide presence, and oh, we should first elect a president ! I don’t know if he has a list of “to-do’s” where he must first checked off the election of a Lebanese president and after that, stand against the vile Netanyahu ?

BDS arms destroying the chains of Apartheid, represented by the West Bank Wall. Courtesy of Latuff.

I guess he thinks that the boycott and BDS mouvement don’t work, but he is very wrong. He must read this list that show explicit advances against Apartheid in Israel for 2014. Here’s the link.

I have also written a call for the boycott of three other active firms in Lebanon, HP, Caterpillar, and Re/Max, the latter is a world-wide real estate company that sell exclusively for Jews in East Jerusalem, illegally occupied since 1967.

I hope American Eagle will at least lose revenues in Lebanon.

Why should Lebanon boycott HP, Caterpillar and Re/Max.

How do you combat Israeli Apartheid peacefully ? How can you help Palestinians inside and outside of Palestine grasp a bit of hope for their future ? Boycott. Divest. Sanction. BDS.

I won’t speak about Starbucks, McDonald’s, Pepsi, this rock band that will probably go to Israel. I will speak about brands that directly helps the illegal occupation of the West Bank.

It is important that citizens of conscience, before boycotting a product or a brand they have a doubt about, search for themselves the true reason and repercussion of buying this product. And I don’t mean follow untrusted or doubtful links on the internet. There are NGO’s who could advice you whether you should boycott a product and reveal its true and direct repercussion on the lives of millions of Palestinians.
The Most prominent of them is of course is the BDS movement. There is also whoprofits.org

Who Profits from the Occupation is a research center dedicated to exposing the commercial involvement of Israeli and international companies in the continued Israeli control over Palestinian and Syrian land.

It is important to not just follow rumours or conspiracy theories before boycotting something. If something caught our attention, we should research it, and in the era of fast information, research was never easier to do.

The Lebanese government tries its best to ban products that are Israeli or related to Zionism. But these products that seem acceptable should also catch their attention and the attention of every conscious Lebanese.

HP.

HP helps directly with the racist Israeli Apartheid.

Through its subsidiary EDS Israel, HP is the prime contractor of the Basel System, an automated biometric access control system installed and maintained by HP in checkpoints throughout the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt).

HP additionally helps manufacture ID cards with the Israel government that enforces the separation. HP also provides services and technologies to the Israeli Army.
I believe that the common buyer and consumer could totally boycott HP, their computers and printers are totally replaceable.

Caterpillar.

Caterpillar is the world largest manufacturer of mining and construction equipment.

Here’s an excerpt from whoprofits.org

The company’s machines were used for the demolition of Palestinian houses in the occupied Palestinian territories, the construction of settlements, the Separation Wall and settlement infrastructure on Palestinian land, for creating roadblocks, dispersing demonstrations and as weapons.

An extensive report on their involvement with Israeli racist and unjust system is available here.

A 50-ton Caterpillar D9T bulldozer, the type that crushed Rachel Corrie. This and similar Caterpillar models, sold to the Israeli government and used to demolish Palestinian homes, are the target of increasing protests.

If you happen to be in the construction business, boycott Caterpillar and try to disseminate this information.
The Lebanese exclusive provider of Caterpillar products is the Jallad Group. Jallad Group should immediatly stop their business with Caterpillar or the Lebanese government should put pressure on them. How do we Lebanese, victims of Israel harsh wars and massacres, can accept this ?

Re/Max Lebanon.

Re/Max is a Colorado-based real estate firm. It is present in Lebanon and in Israel. In Israel, it has been reported by the Electronic Intifada that it only sells home to Jews in East Jerusalem. East Jerusalem is illegally occupied by Israel since 1967.

Active in the Israeli market since 1995, RE/MAX sells and rents houses and apartments in colonies reserved exclusively for Jews in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Much of that work is coordinated in an office that the Israeli subsidiary of RE/MAX runs in Maale Adumim, a major settlement in the West Bank.

I don’t know how Re/Max got past this in Lebanon, but the  revelations are still new. If you plan to buy,sell, or rent a home, use another real estate firm.

I am happy the Lebanese government bans products that come from Israel. But it has to act more vigilantly as firms like HP Caterpillar and Re/Max get easily past their guard.

Lebanon still corrupted.

Transparency International is an NGO that fights the corruption worldwide, and they even have here, in Lebanon, a “chapter” related to them.

Lebanon is the 136th most corrupted country in a list that contains 175, it has a score of 27 i.e, the lower the score the more corrupt. This score is actually worsening ; in 2012 the score was of 30 and for 2013 the score was 28.

And some wonder why we don’t trust our government.

I don’t know who is bringing who. What I know is that the corruption is born within the state and develop outside. If a government act responsibly and punish those corrupted politicians, the country will follow.

We can fight for a better score.

1) Don’t bribe. This rule is simple. And even if “it’s the way of things” in Lebanon, if you want it to stop, you have to begin by yourself.

2) Report it, you could do it here or here.(international website)

Let’s hope Lebanon’s score will get better with time.