By Kamal Salibi
This present day Lebanon is likely 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 cognizance of universal id. How can this be? The Lebanese historian Kamal S. Salibi examines, within the mild of recent scholarship, the ancient myths on which his country's warring groups have established their conflicting visions of the Lebanese kingdom. 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 most of the time have affirmed it, Muslims have tended to stress Lebanon's position in a broader Arab heritage. either teams have used nationalist principles in a harmful video game, which at a deeper point consists of archaic loyalties and tribal rivalries. yet Lebanon can't come up with the money for those conflicting visions whether it is to advance and continue a feeling of political neighborhood. during his full of life exposition, Salibi deals an enormous reinterpretation of Lebanese heritage and offers insights into the dynamic of Lebanon's contemporary clash. He additionally offers an account of the way the pictures of groups which underlie smooth nationalism are created
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Additional resources for A House of Many Mansions: History of Lebanon Reconsidered
Second, the prevalent nationalist mood in the Arab world, especially in Syria, was against Lebanon achieving political success; and within the country, the Muslim sector of the population could easily be swayed by external Arab nationalist influence, and could be used by other Arab countries as political leverage to keep the Lebanese state perennially unstable. For the duration of the French mandate in the Levant, Lebanon was adequately protected against such destabilizing Arab interventions in HOW IT ALL BEGAN 37 its affairs, The real problems of the country, however, were to come blatantly into the open as soon as the French mandate came to an end, leaving an independent Lebanon a t the mercy of external and internal forces acting in the name of Arab nationalism with which the Lebanese state, in the long run, was unable to come to reasonable terms.
Of all the Arabs, barring only individuals or politically experienced princely dynasties, they appeared to be the only people who knew precisely what they wanted: in their case, as they put it, a 'Greater Lebanon' under their paramount control, separate, distinct and independent from the rest of Syria. Behind them, the Maronites had a rich and eventful past which will be reviewed as a separate story in due course. In 1861, with the help of France, they had already secured a special political status for their historical homeland of Mount Lebanon as a mutesarrifate, or privileged sanjak (administrative region), within the Ottoman system, under an international guaranty.
This forced them to obstruct repeated attempts by the British mandatory authorities to provide the country with a political government, because 34 A HOUSE OF MANY MANSIONS in any such government the Jews, with the international influence they wielded, were bound to be greatly overrepresented. Thus, the politically ambitious among the Palestinian Arabs had to compete for the leadership of the nationalist opposition, not for power and position in an actual ruling establishment. In Lebanon, while the Christian political establishment dominated by the Maronites was fully determined to make a success of the state, there was a Muslim opposition which was equally determined to make of it a failure.
A House of Many Mansions: History of Lebanon Reconsidered by Kamal Salibi