A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Lebanon: At Least, a Maronite-Maronite Rapprochement

All the talk of moving beyond political sectarianism in Lebanon notwithstanding, there has at least been some progress towards reconciliation: Maronites are talking to Maronites.

General Michel ‘Aoun, who having been driven into 15 years of exile from Lebanon under severe military attack by Syria and its Hizbullah allies in 1990 is now, of course, in the logic of Lebanese politics, an ally of Syria and Hizbullah, after years of alienation from many of his own Maronite brethren (especially the very conservative church hierarchy) has met with the Maronite Council of bishops. That's him with Cardinal Sfeir at left.

It is hard for me to understand why people have trouble understanding Lebanon. Lewis Carroll had it figured out a long time ago (and I think I've used this before, but forgive the repetition):

They were, indeed, a queer-looking party that assembled on the bank—the birds with draggled feathers, the animals with their fur clinging close to them, and all dripping wet, cross, and uncomfortable . . .

What IS a Caucus-race? said Alice; not that she wanted much to know, but the Dodo had paused as if it thought that SOMEBODY ought to speak, and no one else seemed inclined to say anything.

Why, said the Dodo, the best way to explain it is to do it. (And, as you might like to try the thing yourself, some winter day, I will tell you how the Dodo managed it.)

First it marked out a race-course, in a sort of circle, (the exact shape doesn't matter, it said,) and then all the party were placed along the course, here and there. There was no One, two, three, and away, but they began running when they liked, and left off when they liked, so that it was not easy to know when the race was over. However, when they had been running half an hour or so, and were quite dry again, the Dodo suddenly called out The race is over! and they all crowded round it, panting, and asking, But who has won?

This question the Dodo could not answer without a great deal of thought, and it sat for a long time with one finger pressed upon its forehead (the position in which you usually see Shakespeare, in the pictures of him), while the rest waited in silence. At last the Dodo said, EVERYBODY has won, and all must have prizes.

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