I have yet to come to terms with my true self, and I believe this is because I’m Middle Eastern.
Many view the Middle East as a solid block, especially Arab Countries. Me? I am not Arab, I am from the Levant — Lebanon, to be more precise — a country north of Palestine/Israel and west of Syria. As a Lebanese, I have developed a deep schism in my personality, identity and understanding of the world around me. I have been to Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Kuwait, Oman, Turkey, Syria, Switzerland and Italy. I have travelled around quite a bit and throughout my life I have learned one thing: Arabs are not “Arabs.” Let’s take a look at Syria and Lebanon, for instance. Even though these countries are ethnically, racially and religiously diverse, the international world likes to lump them together with the Middle East. I have little to nothing in common with Iraq, Saudi Arabia, any other Gulf Country or North African country such as Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. Yet apparently, we are all “Arabs.” And this, despite the fact that these countries don’t share a culture or a religion with the Levant and speak a very different dialect from Lebanon and Syria.
Such assumptions have caused an identity crisis in the region. When we look at the ongoing conflict in Syria — which many, for some reason, describe as a Revolution — we notice that the factions of the Syrian society at war with each other are somewhat ethnically charged. The war in Syria took a digression towards race, religion, and ethnicity, and the effect has seeped into Lebanon, a country that has always been tied to Syria in terms of culture, politics and economy. There are diverse groups in Lebanon that are active in the Syrian conflict — namely, the Lebanese Muslim Sunni Extremist, and the Lebanese Shiite militia. In Syria, the conflict is clear. Many Muslim Extremists from diverse countries such as Iraq, Saudi Arabia, North Africa, Afghanistan, Pakistan and many other Stans are actively fighting in Syria under different Sunni Extremist Groups like the horrible and murderous Islamic Republic in Syria and Iraq, or Al Nusra and Al Qaeda. These are terrorists and nihilists and vicious groups who have actively harmed Christian and Shiite communities in Syria and Lebanon. And Hezbollah is their worst Enemy.
Over time, many in the international community have described Hezbollah as a terrorist organization haunting Lebanon and taking control of it. The truth is that this is all Rubbish. I highly Admire Hezbollah; they have given back to their community in many ways. For instance:
- They provide financial aid and education to many poor Lebanese and Palestinian families.
- They have on more than one occasion completely funded the rebuilding of many towns and villages as well as the destroyed suburbs of Beirut after Israeli attacks
- They do not intimidate or try to curtail freedom and individual thoughts outside their community.
They are not even as extreme as their strongest allies in Lebanon are Christians (albeit not the overwhelming majority, but a substantial group). They do not enforce ridiculous Muslim sharia laws on the country, or bomb clubs and places that serve alcohol. And they don’t always turn a blind eye to social issues in Lebanon that come to the attention of the public, such as homosexuality. They have proved to be more tolerant than other muslim groups like the Muslim Brotherhood or the Takfiris who call for the active annihilation of non muslims or muslims of different sects.
Yet they are being labeled as terrorists, and portrayed by the media in the same light as other, much more radical factions. True, religion is a key factor in Hezbollah’s doctrine, and the only reason they are on a terrorist list is because of their actions against Israel. But Israel has also caused much harm to the lives of the Lebanese and its economy.
Maybe the way the current international community identifies the area is the biggest mistake. Shiites muslims are not the same as Sunni Muslims; Lebanese are not like Saudis; and Syrians are not all the same. Many in Syria are in FACT pro Assad — the majority of Christians, in fact, as well as the majority of Shiites and a substantial number of Sunnis.
It is time to re-look at the way the borders in the middle east are made. Lebanon is suffering, and it is not from Hezbollah only; it is suffering because many “Muslim Arabs” who have infiltrated the area, mostly refuge kurds, Palestinian and ethnic Syrians, extremists who don’t share culturural or religious values with the rest of the community.