Where the Green Ends – That’s Lebanon
Yesterday, August 27, our family was standing at the top of Mount Meron, overlooking the Lebanese and Syrian borders. We were just 20 km. from the site of yet another ‘disturbance’ between Lebanese forces (Hezbollah and the IDF – Israeli Defense Forces. The missiles etc. had kept us awake that night).
Dani, our brother-in-law, gave his usual, knowledgeable explanation of what we could see. Towns, villages, kibbutzim (commy), moshavim(co-op), Christian, Jewish, Muslim, military installations, reservoirs, orchards, farms… and nature.
Then he said: “..and where the green ends, that’s Lebanon”.
I’ve seen versions of that traumatic difference in several places. I’ve mentioned that on the way to Haifa, at the beginning of the Carmel Mountains. there are the towns of Fureidis (Paradise) and Zichron Yaakov.
Like night and day, one is not necessarily better than the other, but they are so blatantly different in style. And the main difference is the lack of nature: the lack of trees, bushes, flowers and hedges in the Arab town. The obvious reason is a great difference in culture. and this does partly answer the constant questions why integration takes so long or, in many areas, is non-existent.
One can certainly be happy intelligent and educated without green in your life. But for me it is a blatant cultural difference that explains so much.
(See my book ‘ Green’ on ourboox.com – https://www.ourboox.com/books/green/
On September 1, Greater Lebanon will celebrate its centenary. This letter will not now summarise the details of those hundred years. Suffice to say that there were many attempts to create a ‘civilised’ country, tolerantly mixing the Christian and Muslim peoples, with a dab of Druze on the side.
London was not the only world city known for the swinging 60s. Beirut became the Paris of the east. My father was on location there in the mid-60’s (making the film ‘Where the Spies Are’, starring David Niven). I remember clearly his superlatives for the Arab version of a ‘relaxed European city/resort’.
The ’new politicians’ tried to rebuild the country. A general amnesty was declared, that wiped out all ‘political crimes’ perpetrated before 1991.
But it seems that yet another experiment to ‘civilise society’ in the Middle East has failed. Even the Muslim majority then split clearly into Sunni and Shiite identities, and more conflict appeared.
Over 100,000 Palestinian refugees from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict did not help, for not only did they not integrate, they continued their feud with Israel from within ‘their new home’. And when they failed, the Shia Hezbollah took on that mantle, with the help from Iran.
Then a member of Hezbollah was found guilty of assassinating Rafik Hariri, a Saudi billionaire. He was one of the only post-war Lebanese leaders NOT to have fought in the conflicts. Another opportunity squandered.
So the border between Lebanon Israel is viewed differently by the 2 countries. One is a place to grow olives and grapes and store water. The other is for digging tunnels in preparation for future aggression, and not much else.
Without the spreading of green, what chance peace?