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By Kamal Salibi

At the present time Lebanon is without doubt one of the world's such a lot divided international locations - if it is still a rustic in any respect. yet satirically the faction-ridden Lebanese, either Christians and Muslims, have by no means proven a keener recognition of universal id. How can this be? The Lebanese historian Kamal S. Salibi examines, within the mild of contemporary scholarship, the ancient myths on which his country's warring groups have dependent their conflicting visions of the Lebanese state. The Lebanese have continually lacked a typical imaginative and prescient in their prior. From the start Muslims and Christians have disagreed essentially over their country's historic legitimacy: Christians as a rule have affirmed it, Muslims have tended to stress Lebanon's position in a broader Arab historical past. either teams have used nationalist principles in a damaging video game, which at a deeper point includes archaic loyalties and tribal rivalries. yet Lebanon can't have enough money those conflicting visions whether it is to advance and preserve a feeling of political group. during his vigorous exposition, Salibi bargains a tremendous reinterpretation of Lebanese historical past and gives insights into the dynamic of Lebanon's fresh clash. He additionally supplies an account of ways the pictures of groups which underlie glossy nationalism are created.

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In these circumstances, there was no particular reason for the Muslim Arabs of the empire to THE CONFIDENCE GAME 47 begin thinking of themselves as a separate nationality, and the idea of Arab nationalism among them, to the extent that it did develop, remained a matter of individual idiosyncrasy. As a result of the Tanzimat, however, the Ottoman state had tightened its grip over its Arab provinces by its policy of centralization as at no time before; this came to be most felt in Syria and Iraq.

In Beirut and Damascus, Arab nationalist activists who were in sympathy with the revolt, and who were in secret contact with the Allies who backed it, were tried and executed as traitors by the Ottoman military authorities, giving the movement its first martyrs. Meanwhile, the revolt itself provided Sharif Husayn a s its focus, and his son Faysal as its first hero. By the time Faysal entered Damascus to establish his Arab government there, it was already understood by all that the Ottoman empire was gone, never to return, and it was pointless to remain loyal to something that no longer existed.

Outside Lebanon, except for Egypt, this kind of gloss a t the time, on the required scale, was not to be found elsewhere in the Arab world. It certainly existed in Palestine, even more so than in Lebanon; but there ik was provided largely by the European Jewish settlers rather than by the Palestinian Arabs, among whom development was limited to a small middle and upper class. What further helped to cover up the faults of Lebanon was the stunning natural beauty of the country, coupled with its pleasant Mediterranean climate.

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