The Second Time as Farce

Stories of Another Lebanese Reconstruction

by Jim Quilty , Lysandra Ohrstrom
published in MER243

Following Israel’s intense bombardment in the summer of 2006, Lebanon had to undertake a new reconstruction effort before it had made a dent in paying for rebuilding damage done by the 1975-1990 civil war. The government swore to pursue reconstruction policies that would strengthen the state—an open swipe at the “state within a state” led by Hizballah. Yet Hizballah is carrying out its own rebuilding, and consolidating its political strength as a result.

Cosmetic Surgery and the Beauty Regime in Lebanon

by Sandra Beth Doherty
published in MER249

In May 2007, the First National Bank of Lebanon embarked on a unique media campaign. Some 900 billboards in Arabic and English sprouted up offering loans, not to buy a home or to pay tuition, but to “get the makeover of your dreams.” The corresponding magazine advertisement featured a blond-haired, blue-eyed woman beckoning readers to “have the life you’ve always wanted.” Why would the bank think it would find takers? Answers marketing director George Nasr, “Plastic surgery is a cultural issue. We have been raised on always looking our best.”

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Everyday Orientalism

by Laleh Khalili
published in MER244

Bernard Rougier, Everyday Jihad: The Rise of Militant Islam Among Palestinians in Lebanon (translated by Pascale Ghazaleh) (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007).

The Road to Nahr al-Barid

Lebanese Political Discourse and Palestinian Civil Rights

by Muhammad Ali Khalidi , Diane Riskedahl
published in MER244

How long will the state erect military checkpoints in residential areas, treating them as though they were camps sheltering wanted people and gunmen, while all the Palestinian camps, which shelter criminals and wanted people, enjoy freedom of movement, politically, militarily and in terms of security, as though they were security islands independent of Lebanon politically, militarily and in terms of security?

'Ajamis in Lebanon

The Non-Arab Arabs?

by Roschanack Shaery
published in MER237

It is Muharram, the month of the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, and the female-run husseiniyya in West Beirut is packed with women dressed in black. As the sounds of Lebanese and Iraqi Arabic dialects, as well as Persian, fill the hallways of this Shi‘i community center, the female religious performer (qari’a) signals that the ritual program (majlis) will begin shortly. She is an Iraqi, and while she reads from her thick notebook, a woman standing next to her reads the same text in Persian for those in the audience who do not understand Arabic. Some of these women are Iranians who have married into Iraqi Shi‘i families of Persian descent who settled in Lebanon after being expelled from Iraq by the deposed Baathist regime.

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Hizballah After the Syrian Withdrawal

by Joseph Alagha
published in MER237

Since the passage of UN Security Council Resolution 1559 in September 2004, Hizballah has been in the international spotlight. In addition to demanding the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon, the resolution calls for the “disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias,” primarily a reference to the Islamic Resistance that is Hizballah’s armed wing. Following the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri, the resulting “Independence Uprising” in Lebanon and the hasty withdrawal of the Syrian army in the spring of 2005, some thought Hizballah would have to bow to pressure and dissolve the only Lebanese militia remaining after the Ta’if agreement that helped to end the 1975–1990 civil war.

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Of Reactivism and Relief

by Mayssun Sukarieh
published in MER244

As with every crisis that befalls the Palestinians in Lebanon, the Lebanese army’s siege of the Nahr al-Barid refugee camp impelled hundreds of people to pitch in with the relief effort. After fighting broke out in late May, and over 30,000 Nahr al-Barid residents fled to the nearby Baddawi camp, volunteers ferried food, blankets and medicine to the displaced. Such “humanitarian assistance,” along with petitions and open letters calling for protecting civilians, was all that pro-Palestinian Lebanese and international activists could think of to do as the army lobbed shells into the camp outside Tripoli. The needs of the displaced are indeed great, but many Palestinians wish their supporters would focus their energies elsewhere.

Documents

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published in MER240

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Sanctioned Pleasures

Youth, Piety and Leisure in Beirut

by Mona Harb , Lara Deeb
published in MER245

Beirut is known internationally for a youthful jet set that likes to be identified with the world clubbing circuit, including such stops as B018, an underground nocturnal haunt reminiscent of a coffin built by Lebanese architect Bernard Khoury upon the remains of a war crime.

The Lebanese Impasse

by Fawwaz Traboulsi , Elias Khoury
published in MER242

On November 11, 2006, the six Shi‘i ministers in the Lebanese government, affiliates of Hizballah and the Amal movement, left the cabinet in protest of their colleagues’ rejection of their demand for a government of “national unity.” Such a government would give the Shi‘i parties and their Christian ally, the Free Patriotic Movement of Gen. Michel Aoun, greater representation in the cabinet. The majority in the cabinet argued that Lebanese had elected their government, in the May–June 2005 parliamentary contests that came on the heels of the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri and the departure of Syrian troops from Lebanon.

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