Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Daily Star: Manakeesh and Auschwitz

The Daily Star is the biggest English-language newspaper in the Middle East and is published with the International Herald Tribune. It specializes in reviewing staple foods (the manakeesh, a breakfast food, which is the Lebanese equivalent to a bagle); it has a who-was-seen-with-who celebrity column, and copies most of its "news items" from the wires. It is really only worth reading for the neo-conservative, intolerant, lapdog views espoused by the editorial page chief, Michael Young, who is-- despite his phony name--- as Lebanese as the foods his newspaper reviews. Read him for an insight into how treacherous some of the Lebanese are towards themselves, how racist the Maronite establishment is towards the Palestinians, and what a bunch of baloney "national unity" is. Young would love nothing more than US intervention to knock out Hizbollah's teeth, and restore Maronite rule.

This article in the Daily Star, entitled "Poland visit reveals depth of historic ties to Lebanon" discusses-- not so much the ties-- but the many parallels, discovered by a group of Lebanese journalists on a trip to Poland.
Apparently, Poland's Solidarity movement in the early 1980s is comparable to, no, not the work of the land-expropriating company Solidere in Beirut, and yes, I realize the names are very similar; but rather, Lebanon's own monumental grassroots labor movement, the Cedar Revolution! Saad Hariri arriving at Martyrs' Square in his armored motorcade is just like Lech Walesa climbing a fence at the Gdansk shipyards. More importantly, some Polish prince in the 1500s visited Lebanon, and liked it so much that was inspired to write a poem... about Poland. And John Paul II is referred to as one of "Poland's greatest minds". But all this nonsense is unrivaled by the cute ending to the fairytale:

They were also shown Wieliczka's 800-year-old underground Salt Mine, gas chambers and rooms filled with chopped hair and suitcases in Auschwitz, the largest Nazi-run concentration camp.
According to the guide, the Lebanese group was only the second Arab group to visit the infamous concentration camp, in which up to 1.5 million people - the vast majority of them Jews - were "liquidated."
"Arabs don't seem interested in visiting this site. The handful that came (previously) was skeptical of what they saw," the guide told The Daily Star.
At the camp's entrance, where a famous inscription reads "Arbeit Macht Frei" (Work Makes You Free), the second-ever Arab visitors to the site were greeted by a group of its most frequent visitors.
A brief moment of tension ensued when the Lebanese group, proudly carrying a Lebanese flag, came across an Israeli group, also carrying their national flag.
In a brief moment of palpable tension, each group, both clutching tightly to their waving flags, mumbled thinly veiled insults in their mother tongues.
Then, in a moment of proud defiance as the two groups parted, both began to sing their national anthems.

You might ask yourself, why the fuck are a bunch of Lebanese journalists waving a Lebanese flag on a visit to Auschwitz?

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