By Kamal Salibi

This day Lebanon is likely one of the world's so much divided nations - if it is still a rustic in any respect. yet ironically the faction-ridden Lebanese, either Christians and Muslims, have by no means proven a keener attention of universal identification. How can this be? The Lebanese historian Kamal S. Salibi examines, within the gentle of recent scholarship, the ancient myths on which his country's warring groups have dependent their conflicting visions of the Lebanese kingdom. The Lebanese have regularly lacked a typical imaginative and prescient in their prior. From the start Muslims and Christians have disagreed essentially over their country's ancient legitimacy: Christians quite often have affirmed it, Muslims have tended to stress Lebanon's position in a broader Arab historical past. either teams have used nationalist rules in a damaging online game, which at a deeper point contains archaic loyalties and tribal rivalries. yet Lebanon can't have enough money those conflicting visions whether it is to increase and continue a feeling of political neighborhood. during his vigorous exposition, Salibi deals a massive reinterpretation of Lebanese background and offers insights into the dynamic of Lebanon's fresh clash. He additionally supplies an account of the way the photographs of groups which underlie glossy nationalism are created.

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Starting from the early years of that same century, the city of Aleppo, in northern Syria, had been rising to importance as a leading centre for European commerce with the East. English, Dutch, French and other European THE CONFIDENCE GAME 43 trading companies began to set up offices there; and Roman Catholic missionaries also gained access to the city, including the Jesuits who were already active among the Maronites in Mount Lebanon. With time, European commercial activity in Aleppo brought it a special prosperity.

From the Islamic point of view, all these peoples were Christians revolting against the legitimate Islamic state, which made the Muslims of the empire react and rally strongly around Ottoman rule. In the middle decades of the century, between 1839 and 1876, the Ottoman state made a determined attempt to modernize its institutions by a series of reforms called the Tanzimat, and the idea of a secular Ottoman nationality was promoted to give the empire a greater internal cohesion. This idea, however, was too subtle to be understood for what it was by the common run of Muslims, who continued to regard the Ottoman state as the State of Islam; and it was nattlrally rejected by the common run of Christians a s a n Islamic ploy.

To them, Palestine as a country was meaningful, but only a s a prelude to something else: the Zionist concept of a Jewish nationality, reconstituted on what was conceived to be its historical home grounds. To its native Arab population, however, Palestine was no more of a natural country than Lebanon, Syria, Transjordan or Iraq, and might a s well have been given another shape or size. Transjordan, formed essentially out of the southern parts of the old Vilayet of Damascus, but with bits of Arabia added, was certainly not a natural country.

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A House of Many Mansions by Kamal Salibi
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