It Is the Centenary, but No One Is Celebrating!

By Elias Ghazal

One hundred years ago, on November 2nd, the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom, Lord Balfour, issued a letter on behalf of his government that favors the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine. Perceived as a fair resolution to Jewish persecution in Europe, the letter, known as the Balfour Declaration, ignored the impact of such a decision on the welfare and rights of the indigenous population of Palestine. Plus, it broke British promises of independence previously made to Arab leaders. The declaration paved the way for the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians by Jewish armed groups and the establishment of the State of Israel – what Israeli historian Ilan Pappe calls the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

Three weeks later, on November 23, 1917, the Soviet Bolsheviks exposed a secret agreement between Britain, France and the ousted Russian Empire. The agreement was negotiated between Sir Mark Sykes of Britain and François Georges-Picot of France, Continue reading

When Will It All End?

by Elias Ghazal

After a year of fruitless negotiations, empty promises, and shady contracts, the garbage crisis is back in Lebanon! Piles of toxic waste have lined streets of towns and villages, emitting harmful gases, contaminating underground water streams, and causing an environmental disaster at a national level. The solution to this problem is not unknown. In fact, multiple eco-friendly solutions have been proposed and discussed by environmental experts in the field. Yet, one year later and hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on makeshift solutions, we are back where we started, and perhaps in a worse situation, now that we have additional tons of untreated waste.

Just as the solution to the garbage crisis in Lebanon is not unknown, the reason behind the failed solution is not that mysterious either. Continue reading

The Problem is Not the Problem

by Elias Ghazal

Last week, my brother and his family travelled from Canada to Lebanon for a visit. My brother is no stranger to life in Lebanon. Although he never lived in Lebanon for an extended period, he grew up in the Middle East and he is very familiar with its regimes. He witnessed the fragility of the Lebanese system when he was visiting in 2006 and the Israel-Hezbollah war broke out. To his dismay, he was visiting Lebanon again in 2008 when the conflict of May 7 erupted, which nearly drove the country into a second civil war. He has probably seen the worst of Lebanon in recent history, but is there any good?  Continue reading

The Middle East: The Place You Love to Hate

By Elias Ghazal

By now there’s little doubt in anyone’s mind that the Middle East[1] is behind a lot of the problems that impact the world. Consider the following issues: the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and regional instability, the cultivation and exportation of Islamic radicalism, petrodollar recycling and fluctuations in the world’s economy, enduring military authoritarianism and fledgling democracies, and most recently the Syrian war and the massive refugee crisis. This is not to mention the local problems that trouble the region: civil wars, political corruption, crumbling infrastructures, skewed distribution of wealth, rising unemployment, diminished freedoms and the lack social justice, and the list goes on and on.

Indeed, the future of the Middle East looks dim and to some it is hopeless, which has urged countless people to abandon their home countries in search of a safer and more promising future for them and for their loved ones. Continue reading

What Could Christians Learn from the ‘Party of God’?

by Elias Ghazal

If you are familiar with the politics of the Middle East, you might be disturbed by the title of this blogpost.  That’s because the Party of God is not some right wing pro-Christian party that serves a Christian cause in the Middle East.  The Party of God is none other than Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which is classified as a terrorist organization in the US, Canada, Israel, and a number of Arab countries.  So is there anything to learn from a “terrorist” organization?

Hezbollah is an exclusively Shiite political party with a military wing, invariably promoted as the Islamic Resistance.  The story of Hezbollah is peculiar once you consider the history and context of Shiites in Lebanon.   Continue reading