The way of life was one of the factors that brought the Lebanese together. This was the case before the 1975 war. Alongside the state’s spread through the expansion of services and infrastructure projects, the majority was brought together by songs, the press, cousins, customs and an education which, not short on mediocrity, taught them history and gave a certain meaning to places.
This way of life, its values and ideals, seemed optimistic, though with some levity, it nonetheless merged and brought together those who came from Mount Lebanon’s “Mutasarrifate” and those who came from the peripheries. Between Muslims in their plurality and Christians in all their plurality. On the rise at the time, Beirut played the role of a bridge, sometimes that of a factory.
Before that, and in their gifting the Lebanese with a state, the French rendered a sublime service: the French model, that is, the state’s precedence over the nation. This contradicted the German model that those who despised the Lebanese state adopted, and which grants the nation precedence over the state. The latter said: let us destroy the state in place to build the promised nation. Blood loomed on the horizon. The former said: let us develop the country such that it becomes a nation itself.
In this development, which was not without its flaws and deficiencies, the optimistic way of life held a central position. But with the collaboration between the naivety of optimism, and the wickedness of its enemies, those who wanted to destroy it, that way of life began to break down. The disruption passed through several seemingly fleeting phases, but last month’s development was something else: a completely different way of life came about.
The horrific explosion at the port put us face to face with chemical death. Our lives and conversations now revolve around: ammonium nitrate, glass, steal, smoke... We also discussed the blast’s intensity and the extent to which our vision had been blurred and breathing had become difficult. Instead of the old optimism, hell has become our metaphor.
Here, let’s remember that we discovered, for the first time, this “policy” and its dictionary with the Iranian phrase: “uranium enrichment”. This is not a coincidence. The fact that Lebanon is located between Iran and Israel, and is in Hezbollah’s company, means that the raw materials of our lives will become iron, glass, uranium and ammonium.
However, what started with the explosion found its sequel in last week’s massive fire, which some claim was deliberate. They wondered whether the fire was meant to erase evidence of the original explosion, especially given the disregard for calls for an international investigation.
Between the explosion and the fire, as the banks were confiscating the Lebanese people’s savings, we watched the battle between two sects in Khaldeh and an intra-sectarian and family battle in the Tariq al-Jadida neighborhood. Death, then, lurks everywhere and in every moment, so long as the state is this degenerate and society is this fragmented. Meanwhile, the sluggishness with which the rubble was lifted from over the victims of the port explosion pervaded the scene. Death, as a concept, has come to be counted with corpses.
The concept of safety came to occupy the heart of daily life for individuals and groups. It is a raw relationship with the nature that primitives worshiped for fear of its evil. The gods of death attack from everywhere: from the port that overlooks the world, but also the inside that is receding into itself. Israeli drones control the air.
Emigrants are increasing. Immigration seekers are increasing. The talk about emigration and the suffering of leaving also raises, again and again, some basic, almost natural, questions: being uprooted, starting from zero, risks, suffering ... “Death boats” appear for the first time in modern Lebanese history.
Amid this turmoil, we received a visitor whose visit is indispensable: Mr. Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas movement’s political bureau.
Many Lebanese had given up on waiting for investors and tourists to arrive, but still, on the other hand, their imagination did not take them this far: the honorable visitor waved rockets - missiles without which the ammonium, uranium and “death boats” equation would be incomplete.
Haniyeh entered a country where Palestinian intellectuals and artists are denied entry under the pretext of “resisting normalization with the Zionist enemy,” and its Palestinians suffer more than the Lebanese at the hands of a “resisting regime.” This is not important per the Hamas leader’s norms, who rules Gaza in a way one wouldn’t wish on his enemy. What Haniyeh knows is that the new Lebanese way of life changed the name of the country from that of Lebanon to a mere plot to fight Israel. He must have been certain of that when consulting his host, the secretary-general of Hezbollah.
And the two, backed by the power of death, with ammonium, uranium and “death boats”, and with missiles, of course, are right. This is how things appear until further notice.