Tuesday, September 26, 2006

A Tale of Four Arabs

The Arab world is bleeding its best brains. Historically, this is caused by interactions among three types of Arabs:

Arab El-3ezz

عرب العزّ

Gone are the days of Antar bin Abs, Tarek Bin Ziad, Salah Al-Din El-Ayubi… Those truly great men did great deeds, much of it sung in great poetry and prose.

Today, we are left with great wannabes, those Arab El-3ezz whose words are far grander than their deeds. Thanks to the majesty of the Arab language, they can camouflage their shortcomings and the inequities visited upon their people.

They are wasting precious resources in their pursuit of their dreams of grandeur. Or in pursuing other's dreams...

As the defeats pile up, more resources are wasted. Yet the leaders remain and endure; “Thank God! We may have lost the war, and the territory, but we have kept the regime in place”.

To which Kamal Joumblat once replied; “I wish we lost the regime and kept the territory”… He did not live long.


Arab El-Hezz

عرب الهِزّ

Ah, joie de vivre!

The French may have invented the word, but the Arabs invented the concept.

Thanks to oil, they are giving it new meaning. To give themselves a good conscience, they placate Arab El-3Ezz, and build grandiose mosques and stuff…

Of course, that leaves little money for the rest.

Arab El-Rezz

عرب الرزّ

Most of the “Arab Masses” basically worry little about their future. They have enough trouble getting over the day; The United Nations' "Arab Human Development Report 2004" points out that:

"The modern Arab state, in the political sense, runs close to this astronomical model, whereby the executive apparatus resembles a ‘black hole,’ which converts its surrounding social environment into a setting in which nothing moves and from which nothing escapes".

The people struggle to survive in the face of institutionalized corruption and pervasive “clannism”, which reinforce the black hole phenomenon.

The Palestinians are the most glaring example; the United Nation's report describes how the occupation "continues to violate the individual and collective freedoms of Palestinians". As they find themselves caught between Israeli maximalism and the corruption of own "leaders", many have little choice but to accept handouts from who ever has the dough.

Historically, Lebanon's Shiites find themselves in a similar position. They have moved on since; but the mentality apparently remains, and finds itself reinforced by current events.

In Iraq, the ranks of the poor are also growing; "After dismantling the old state, the US-led authorities made little progress in building a new one".

While Arab el-Hezz are too busy dancing the night away, Arab El-3Ezz are willing to feed and support the masses... And they ask so little in return. Only the odd suicide attack or human shield. Arab El-Rezz are no fools, but they have little choice...

Many of Arab El-Rezz got fed up with the failed dreams of grandeur, or became tired of watching others dance while they go hungry. The people are basically smart, and a little education did wonders. With little chance to use their brains, they had no other option but to leave.

As they escaped from misery, a new group has emerged from “Arab El-Rezz”, a Fourth Type of Arab...

Arab El-Toz

عرب الطُّزّ

Any “Arab El-RezzChildren that survived famines and wars learned and grew. They were mostly educated to start with, and over the years, many easily left the decrepit nest that would not welcome them anymore. They all left with a global sigh of “Toz”… When it comes to expressions of disdain, few languages are as eloquent as Arabic.

The latest census undercounts them. In the United States, the 2000 Census only shows 860,354 Arab Americans, with the largest contingent being Lebanese (394,180), Syrian (129,606), Egyptian (78,574), and Palestinian/Jordanian (68,688). This is a huge undercount, the Lebanese are estimated to be at least 1.5 Million.

Those immigrants form a complex group. Note that many of those who list themselves as “Syrian” actually emigrated from the Syrian Ottoman province of Mount Lebanon. There is a difference between Syria as a geographic name and Syria as a country; note a similar confusion between North America as a country (The United States), and North America as a Continent (The United States and Canada).

The Lebanese are the largest contingent within Arab immigrants and the most undercounted; Lebanon may have up to 15 Million outside the country who cold theoretically claim citizenship.

Most of this population earns a decent living from its hard work, without the need for stipends from either Arab el-Hezz or Arab El-3Ezz, and contributes much to its new home country. Thanks to their skills, many have risen to positions of power, and are key players in today's world.

Back to my point; all those people will be sorely missed, as the Arab world sinks deeper into morass...

Toz” on the "leaders, indeed, and move on...

Before the West changes its Visa policies.

A short Follow-up:

The anger behind some comments and emails is quite understandable. However, the basic facts that I see, and the saddness that I feel remain valid. In the middle of all the destruction, we talk AT one another via demonstrations and counter-demonstrations. Those of us who would rather we resolved the differences by talking TO one another from an EQUAL footing are fed up and are just leaving. The Arab world is loosing its best and brightest...

My tone in this post may seem "harsh" to some, and I made some adjustments to clarify the main message. However, I make no apologies; as Prof. Chibli Mallat put it, Freedom is never having to say 'sorry' for one's words; it is only deeds that count. I personally feel it is time the silent majority raised its voice; there is much need for reflection in our "logocratic" word. While it is true that "fewer words mean fewer Lawsuits", we can ill afford to be silent in this day and age, as the Arab soul withers.

Some may view a dignified/honourable peace as the only sustainable option for all, and that does not make them traitors. Some want war as the only honourable path. To both I point out the need for a plan, or some sort of focus, in either case.

In case of war, we are not equipped for it; Hafez El-Assad once stated that "strategic parity" with Israel in the fields of education, economy, and military; we are far from the count on all. The latest "victory", as it were, was a Phyrric one at best.

In case of peace, our fossilized state-run, ressource-centered economies are ill-equipped to compete with Israel and its diverse economic base. The recovery is made harder over time, as we are losing our best and brightest, who walk away from it all in search for a better future.

The Arab brain is withering away...


allin said...

You disgust me,, with your zionist slave mentality, you disgrace true Lebanonese with your dog coward jew licking.
sickening you are

Jeha said...

Thanks for the insults.

That would place you in the first category. I would use the fourth category's onomatopoeic reply.

DR said...

perfect... but very sad
(geez, i need to learn Arabic %)

contrary to the first comment, you imbue me.

Free Cedar said...

"The Arab world is loosing its best and brightest..."

Couldn't agree more and that is very frustrating.

"In case we favour peace, our fossilized state-run, ressource-centered economies are ill-equipped to compete with Israel and its diverse economic base."

Though I agree with you to a certain extent, how do you consider prosperity and a better economy if the country stalls in a struggle that isn't getting anywhere and is keeping away potential investors?

Jeha said...

Free Cedar,

You're right, you cannot.

However, I feel that the real problem is not that it is the "struggle that isn't getting anywhere", but rather the entire country that lacks focus.

The Lebanese are smart; we can adapt to anything, be it war or peace. We cannot adapt to a lack of focus, and to aimless political wandering.

programmer craig said...


The Lebanese are smart

Are they?

note a similar confusion between North America as a country (The United States), and North America as a Continent (The United States and Canada).

There are two obvious mistakes in the example you used.

1) Nobody says "North America" to Describe the US. They say "America" - and they get that from the last word of the official name of the country, which is "The United States of America" not from the name of the continent.

2) The continent of North America is not the United States and Canada. It is the Unites States, Canada and MEXICO.

I'm not going to comment about how smart the things you said about Lebanon and the arab world are. But I hope you know more about the arab world than you do about the western world.

Jeha said...

programmer craig;

You make a good point on geography; most modern references include Mexico in North America. My idea is to draw a link for Europeans and Arabs, where many use "America", as you point out. Many others say "North America".

The example may be weak, but the main point is that much of the "identity" debate with "Syrian National-Socialists" and "Arab Nationalists" rests of Antique geographic terminology, like "Syria" and "Arabia Felix".

In fact, "Syria was always a fluid cluster of places and peoples that meant very little", same as "Arabia Felix". My point is that using antique names does not give a region identity; The United States and Canada share a lot, yet each has its unique identity.

Back to you first question, Yes, the Lebanese are smart. I am always amazed at our powers of adaptabilty and our resiliency. This may be immodest on my part, but it is a fact.

1- Hezb could not have done what it did with Iranian backing alone.

2- To use a more positive example, look at all those who left, and succeeded in the West. In proportion with other immigrant groups, we tend to do quite well, after Jews and Armenians.

But you have a point, nonetheless; we may be tactically smart, but strategically stupid. Other groups were exiled by external forces; we often exiled ourselves... So you may prefer to subsitute "shrewd" for "smart"; it is a more "short term" kinda smart.

MechanicalCrowds said...

Israel is not the enemy. The enemy is extremism and hate. If we learn to befriend Israel, we will all benefit.

Jeha said...

Let me put it this way; I feel that Lebanon nicest neighbour is the meditteranean.

Wabano said...

From the tiny lumber town of my youth, in Quebec, Canada,
there was a "Syrian" woman who
ran her own business bucking
all the monopolies and local mafias.

But her birthplace was somewhere
in Lebanon and she was Christian...

She figured as you say, that "Syria"
meant a larger entity, as we
say today, maybe "Middle Eastern".