Wednesday, 9 August 2006

Pray for the Land of the Cedars

While most of my BLOG commentary deals with sacred music and the state of the liturgy, at times like this it seems that even these important matters becomes trivial.

Over 120 years ago in 1886, my maternal grandfather, Domenic Haykel left the beauty of Mount Lebanon for an unknown future in Canada. Leaving Halifax his port of entry, Domenic made it as far as Fredericton, New Brunswick, became a British Subject and a few years later returned to find the love of his life, Naza (Elizabeth Deeb). They had one child in Lebanon and then returned to Canada's Maritimes and had 9 more. They were active at St. Anthony's Church in Fredericton. 

In 1910, Wadea Doumit (the family name means "Dominic") and his bride, Farida Francis (a first cousin) came to Toronto and lived in a walk-up tenement building on York Street where the new Toronto Stock Exchange now stands. For a short time they were members of St. Anne's Parish but eventually became part of St. Patrick's.

Both grandfathers became merchants. Three of Domenic and Elizabeth’s sons became millionaires and their Alma Mater was the school of hard knocks. Wadea and Farida never owned their own house but during the Great Depression Wadea fed the locals from the back door of his store at Queen and St. Patrick Streets and he later bought two houses for his young married sons one of which I now own.

My maternal grandfather must have been one of the first Lebanese to leave that beautiful land to come to Canada. At that time Lebanon was a province within the Ottoman Turkish Empire and not too many from Mount Lebanon were happy about that. The Maronite Catholics on Mount Lebanon were a faithful and brave lot. They kept their faith in Jesus Christ despite the Mohammedans and their ultimate victories against the Crusaders. But then like now their persecution was sometimes too much to bear. For almost 100 years it was the Druze that murdered thousands.

Yet, they prospered and like their Phoenician ancestors they explored the world. Originally they spoke Aramaic, the language of Our Lord, the same Jesus who walked in their cities of Tyre, Sidon and Cana, site of His first miracle. Eventually they became part of the Arab world but never Arab. That is why they are so resented; for keeping a focus outward to Europe and the Americas and Oceana unlike the Bedouin and Mohammedans.

After the Ottoman Turks crumbled came the French who rescued the Christians from the Druze and who helped to prepare the land for its independence in 1946, two years before another new land, the State of Israel.

So ironic today that Lebanon which other than participating in the initial 1948 conflict never, ever attacked Israel or joined in any of the middle-east wars since 1948 should be so brutalized.

But is this brutality solely the fault of Israel?

The Palestinian terrorists, even the name Palestinian has become synonymous with the “t” word, who first came on the scene in 1972 in Munich took the name “Black September.” Eleven innocent Israeli Jewish athletes were brutally murdered during the Olympic Games. The next few years would see more hatred and turmoil and loss of innocent life at the hand of Black September, Fattah and the PLO. Allied with other Marxist terrorist groups of the cold war period including the Beider-Meinhoff, IRA, Basque Separatists and the Red Brigade in Italy, terror reigned supreme.

A few years before Munich, Black September took place in Jordan. Trans-Jordan, the nation of the Hashemite Kingdom was under a British Mandate along with Palestine after the Ottoman Turkish Empire collapsed at the end of World War I. The new Kingdom of Jordon became home for thousands of Palestinians, most of whom got on with life and have become part of broader Jordanian society. Yasser Arafat, born in Egypt of Palestinian parents was the leader of the Fattah movement. With his followers they attempted to subvert the government of King Hussein in Jordan until in September 1970 they were attacked and deported for the treason they committed on a welcoming land. A treason that they repeated in Lebanon and Kuwait later.

The goal of the PLO has never changed. Israel must be wiped from the face of the earth. Not necessarily every Jew killed but every Jew killed if necessary.

And then they went to Beirut.

More preoccupied with developing a pluralistic, dynamic, prosperous society, the Lebanese then as today had not much of an army.

With thousands of Palestinian refugees in south Beirut, in Tyre and throughout the south, often in camps, Arafat exploited their poverty and suffering and upset a finely balanced government plunging Lebanon into chaos. He subverted the government, betrayed the Lebanese people and invoked the wrath of Israel and the disdain of the civilised world (well most of it, anyway).

All those years of suffering amongst the Lebanese people has begun again. Why?

Is it as simple as the Palestinians who can’t have their own land right now have to destroy the only pluralistic land in an otherwise intolerant region?

The Palestinians are suffering, no doubt; and tragically they have been deceived by their leadership and the Arab world and from the suckling at their mothers’ breasts have learnt nothing but hate.

They must reject Mohammad, join their few brethren who belong to the Melkite Rite and accept Jesus Christ as their LORD and Saviour. Then, they will have the peace they so long for.


Unknown said...

Very interesting. My paternal grandfather also left the village of Hardine ( birthplace of St. Nimatullah Kassab ) in Mount Lebanon. Arriving in the USA sometime in the 1890's he settled in Wilkes-Barre, PA. Like many Lebanese my grandfather became a peddler/merchant of dry goods. He was the proud father of eleven children. Six of the seven sons served in WWII.

I also found interesting the Lebanese names you mentioned and their Anglicized versions. The same occurred with my father's family.

I have nothing against Israel but I would like to see the same countries that support Israel also support Lebanon.

Vox Cantoris said...

Well this was a surprise comment Richard. I wrote this post nearly a decade ago. If your name is Joseph, we have that in common. We have "Josephs" here too that were loosely related.

You might find this story interesting.