Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Five-star bribery

A car returning to southern Lebanon

In his televised address yesterday, Nasrallah promised to cover the cost of a year's rent for an apartment with new furniture, for every family that lost their home; starting today. Additionally and in the meantime, they will finance the re-building of their houses. One of the boys who works at the Internet cafĂ©, whose home in Dahieyeh wasn’t demolished, joked that he would like to burn down his house to cash in on the offer.

The government is trying to buy off the Shia’s loyalty to Hezbollah, by promising to finance the reconstruction. "We have to treat displaced people as we would the clients of a five-star hotel,” the coordinator for Saniora’s aid committee told the AFP.

Nice try, buddy. The sectarian warlords and entrepreneurs who constitute "the central government" have always treated their constituents as clients rather than citizens, to further their own political gains and line their pockets. The Shia previously weren’t worth the “investment” to the Beirut power brokers, who didn't give two shreds about their living conditions. Now they are finally also entitled to the bribery and puffery! Does this five-star offer include the room service, available in many Lebanese hotels, provided by Russian “artists”? All-you-can-eat breakfast buffets, hot tubs, and Swedish backrubs for the destitute masses? I’d like to see the brochures:

“Dear Shia of the South! You are most welcome in Lebanon, the pearl/Switzerland/Paris of the Middle East/Mediterranean. Discover the land where the ancient Phoenicians, Romans, Ottomans, French [not to mention the Americans, Saudis, Syrians and Israelis] have all left their mark. We hope you will bask in the many pleasures our country has to offer, our beautiful women and near-extinct cedar trees. Here, you can ski in the morning (as long as the regular crowd at Ferraya doesn't object) and swim in the sea in the afternoon (if it weren't for those damn oil spills). Signed: The State of Lebanon.”

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