MARCH 19, 1990


page 43


ANOTHER COUNTRY THAT ISN'T enjoying the springtime of nations is Lebanon, and that's because it is a nation in name only. The recent fratricide among the Maronites should, however, alter our facile images of Lebanon. It's hardly that the nearly 700 killed and 3,000 injured in a few days by two warring armies from the same armed camp constitute especially high numbers, certainly not in the context of this bloodied country's recent history. But we'd been accustomed to seeing the strife in Lebanon as interreligious, primarily between Muslims and Christians. We had also noticed that Muslims fought other Muslims, but that could have been because they were Sunnis at war with Shiites, or Shiites at war with Druze. This still fits the denominational paradigm, or the ethnic one. There were also the ongoing episodic battles of the Palestinians with all the sects and sectlets native to Lebanon. But the Palestinians are foreigners. So, in a way, these killings needn't be explained or explained away.

We don't yet understand why Shiite militias war on one another. But we have the ex cathedra characterization of Shiites as Muslim fundamentalists. This substitutes for an explanation: from fundamentalists we expect nothing ...... or we expect anything, which amounts to the same thing.

In the meantime the Christians of East Beirut and Mont Liban were seen as the carriers of civilization among the barbarians - at least that's how the French saw them, and, if truth be told, so did many Israelis.

Pope Leo X called the Maronites "a rose among the thorns," and they believed it for centuries and believe it still. It was all nonsense, of course, and now these same Christians have given the lie to this myth themselves.

There is no rational explanation for why General Aoun and "Doctor" Geagea (with their usual care for details, some in the American press call him "doctor," although he never finished medical school) have been raining death on their own people except that these are two different men in command of two different armed gangs.

They fight simply because they live. And the culture from which they come scarcely thinks this odd. Their men fight on and on, and the women and children bleed.


If Mr. Peretz (and the rest of the mass-media) would take a few minutes and study the New Testament,.. then they would realize that neither of the two gangs rated being labeled "CHRISTIAN".

Actually, the mass media knows that the armed gangs of Lebanon aren't really "CHRISTIAN", however, they repeatedly call them "CHRISTIAN" for two major reasons:

1] If the armed gangs were refered to as "MARONITE CATHOLIC",.. AND IF IT WERE NOTED THAT MARONITE CATHOLICISM IS A BRANCH OF ROMAN CATHOLICISM, then the killing of Lebanon would reflect badly on Roman Catholicism and the pope.

2] The mass media is happy to falsly slander Christianity,