Thursday, January 3, 2013

Response to Nayla Toueni

Dear Nayla Toueni,

Lacking in analysis or journalistic integrity, your article, العبء الفلسطيني مجددا, merely regurgitates a xenophobic Lebanese discourse that tirelessly uses Palestinians to cover up the failings of a sectarian Lebanese political system run by a band of war lords and children from political dynasties.  Your article echoes another recent incoherent diatribe by Lebanese Minister of Energy, Gebran Bassile, who advocated closing the Lebanese border in the face of all refugees, and who singled out Palestinian refugees as more dangerous and unwanted.  In a typically opportunistic move, he miraculously managed to blame Palestinians for the chronic electricity shortage in Lebanon!  

Whereas the two of you (Toueni and Bassille) belong to two vying political camps, what brings you so intimately close (and keeps you afloat) is the bankrupt logic of مزايدات at the expense of Palestinians.  

Perhaps there was no purpose for drafting the short rant you drafted on the last day of 2012 other than to outbid Bassille’s racism, lest the Lebanese start to think that the Christian right in the March 8 camp and their Shia allies can be more anti-Palestinian than the Christian right in the March 14 camp and their Sunni allies.  Palestinians, and I am sure an increasing number of Lebanese citizens who are sick and tired of their political system, realize that political competition over who is more anti-Palestinian is a smokescreen meant to cover inefficiency, ineptness, and corruption.

In your reference to Palestinians as مستوطنين, a term used to describe colonial settlers such as Whites in South Africa or European Jews in Palestine, you either made a linguistic mistake (in which case you need to hire a language editor) or you intentionally used the term to misconstrue reality.  Had you read a basic history book on the Arab region, you would have realized that Palestinians arrived to Lebanon as refugees fleeing ethnic cleansing in 1948; they continue to insist on their right to return to Palestine.  The Palestinians who have been arriving to Lebanon from Syria in recent months are also refugees fleeing the same violence perpetrated against Syrian citizens by the Syrian regime.  Based on what logic, other than prejudiced presumptions, do you suggest that these refugees (who are granted the right to work and other civil rights in Syria and denied the same rights in Lebanon) dream of staying in Lebanon in squalor conditions?  Based on what logic, other than racist stereotyping of Palestinians as criminals, do you suggest that the refugees are plotting to hide in camps in Lebanon when in reality they are impatiently waiting to return to the jobs and lives they tried to build in Syria until they return to Palestine?  

As you warn us of a “new Palestinian nightmare”, I assure you that there are many Lebanese who view the sectarian system in which you are an active participant as the “Lebanese nightmare.”  Since you (and Bassille) are so concerned about Lebanon’s limited resources, it is only fair that you yourselves leave these resources to the Lebanese people and stop blaming Palestinians for all the social ills caused by the corruption of the political elite which you exemplify.  Had the sad excuse for an article you published in Annahar been written by an American or French journalist about Lebanese immigrants abroad, she would have surely been asked to resign to save the newspaper from accusations of racism and even lawsuits.  

Dr. Sawsan Abdulrahim

1 comment:

  1. Excellent and well placed comment on the article. Although i am against the settlement of palestinians on Lebanon, they should not be blamed for the corrupt decayed political system and social situation in Lebanon.