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 Greater Lebanon.

 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, Constantine Zouraik, 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 isolationist ideologies.

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 causes”.

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” Lebanon. 

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