President Macron and Fayrouz
By Melhem Salman
“You have your Lebanon and we have ours,” Gibran Kahlil Gibran wrote in his
attacks on corruption within in the church and on the isolationist dangers of
Like most Lebanese, we are agonizing over the outcome of the ongoing regional
and national crises on the viability of our pluralistic Lebanon, which is being
suffocated by the sectarian web of corruption and isolation.
Almost a century ago, the Voices of Kahlil Gibran and Amin Al Rihani sounded the
alarm about how the French cooked up “Greater Lebanon” before Antoun Saadeh,
and before Sate’ al Houssari,
Abdallah Al Alayi, and
Adel Arslan, who were followed by the Arab nationalist ideologies. Both wanted
Lebanon to be the example, the open, the catalyst in the Arab environment -- a
leader open to the region, not isolated from it and led by narrow-minded
A century later, with the web of regional and national crises, the French
president comes to rescue a system that is falling apart and unable to handle
the grassroots rejection of all that it represents.
The present French role in leading an international effort to try to save their
formula, after a century of the creation of “Greater Lebanon”, is symbolic. The
French president has been looking for an issue to unite all the Lebanese. He
figured out that nothing brings the Lebanese together like the voice of Fayrouz
and her spiritual love for “Our: Lebanon, for Jerusalem, and for “our just
When he was unable to identify “common denominators” among the political
leaders, our National Treasure, Fayrouz, came to the rescue. Beyond her
beautiful voice, she is the lady that sings of love -- for justice, for
Jerusalem, for the beauty of her Lebanon. She sang for Damascus, she sang for
the Lebanese army, and for the Palestinians’ right of return.
This great Lebanese treasure is an Assyrian Palestinian who blossomed in Lebanon
with her association within the surge of Rahbani's genius.
Her songs remain a soothing balm for all of us in our miseries. Why is this so?
Because she genuinely represents the true soul of our Lebanon -- a blessing of
pluralism, engagement in the joy and miseries of the region, and an
unquestionable love for the Lebanon we all dream of. As an artist, she genuinely
showed what Lebanon is – the message of love, justice, and engagement within the
spiritual garden of pluralism. She sang for a Lebanon bigger than its
boundaries, a Lebanon with a message for all of us.
I had the chance to meet Fayrouz a few times in my grandfather’s house in Broumana where
musicians and artists would gather with my uncle, the heart surgeon Ali
Maksad, who was also a musician. I will never forget a statement that
this timid, shy lady made when two guests started to argue about a local
political issue. She became
angry and overcame her timidity and said, “Leave him alone. Leave Lebanon
alone. Do not destroy this gift from heaven.” Everybody
left in silence.
I hope we understand, before it is too late, and dismantle the system that is
not only self-destructive but could destroy Lebanon. “Our”
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