April 30, 2012

Why Lebanon will never be Egypt

I came across the summer 2011 issue of Bidoun and it opened a chapter. Rarely do I keep last year's publications, but this one was still around as obstinate as the Arab Spring. Flipping through it, the content unfolds in a series of articles, with small headers in bold print: “Egypt is not Libya, Egypt is not Tunisia, Libya is not Egypt, Egypt is not Gaza, Egypt is not Iran, Iran is not Egypt (yet), Jordan is not Tunisia, Libya is not Iraq, why Algeria is not Egypt, Syria is not Egypt or Libya, etc.”

And Lebanon is Lebanon. Do we answer the ancestry question as being Lebanese, Arabs, Middle Eastern, Phoenicians? I ask. Is the latter even an ethnicity to associate our cultural identity with? The closest we are to a population census is a wavering figure between 3.6 and 4 million. If we are indeed 4 million, then there are 4 million ways to being Lebanese. That is why Lebanon will always be Lebanon.