Meet the Melkite Catholics who helped form Lebanon. After the end of World War I, people from the Levant journeyed to and lobbied in Europe to settle their fates. With complex connections and experiences in the Levant, Melkites helped create the Republic of Lebanon from the 1910s through the 1950s. Like the Maronites and others, they helped shape a place that in turn shaped them.
Traditional handicrafts have thrived across Lebanon since time immemorial. Nobody knows when Phoenicians began making blown-glass vases around Saida and Tyre. For centuries, master weavers have tended their looms in Baalbek; woodworkers have fashioned intricate tawleh boards in Beirut and Tripoli; and cutlery-makers have whittled ornate camel-bone handles in Jezzine.
The Lebanon we loved was a palace of myths, legends and lies. But it was, and is, the home we chase. In the Beirut blast, we all lost something. Some of us lost everything. Since then, overcome by loss and lostness, people have just fallen into sudden silences from time to time.
After the explosion last August, help poured in from volunteers and international organizations. The city has been healing slowly, but with the country’s economic and political crises, efforts are stalling.
In this podcast, a discussion of what it felt like a year ago before and after the blast; the challenges of reporting on a city that is both a global story and also home – and why living in Beirut sometimes feels like waiting for life to restart.
I think of the Lebanese lords, whose own generals now call “cruel, dishonorable, and shameless”; whose own advisers describe as “too stupid to understand or too selfish to care, or both”; and whose own intelligence hands believe are crooks who will only liberate Lebanon, and even then not certainly, when they die.
The work of Khamissy, Hadla, and others fills a huge gap and is crucial for any form of genuine reconciliation and sustainable state-building in Lebanon, a fragmented country constantly on the brink. However, the country’s ruling class — its warlords and businessmen-turned-politicians and their cronies — aren’t too pleased.