Lebanon’s New President is a Symbol of a System Designed to Fail

This Monday, the Lebanese parliament formally appointed former general and civil war-era warlord Michel Aoun president of Lebanon. His appointment ended a stalemate between Lebanon’s major parties and politicians that had kept the post vacant for two and a half years. While it has mostly been presented in western media as the triumph of the Hezbollah and Iran backed Aoun over the Saudi backed Hariri, the election of Aoun says more about the heart of the Lebanese political system than it does about regional power struggles. Lebanon was founded in 1943 based on agreements between political and social elites hoping to protect their networks of power and privilege within their own communities. These agreements still define the logic of Lebanese politics today. The path of Michel Aoun, a man who bears significant personal responsibility for the death of hundreds, to the presidency highlights just how well this system still protects the interests of political elites and how poorly it works for the people of Lebanon. Continue reading “Lebanon’s New President is a Symbol of a System Designed to Fail”

Advertisements

Playing Identity Politics: Israel’s Targeting of Palestinian Christians

Around one fifth of the population of the Jewish state of Israel is not actually Jewish. Most of these around two million people are the descendants of the Palestinians who remained after the 1947-1949 ethnic cleansing that resulted in the founding of Israel. Because they are not Jewish, these Palestinian citizens of Israel are treated as second-class citizens and subject to dozens of discriminatory laws. However, even within this minority, the laws and policies of the state distinguish and discriminate based on religious and ethnic identity. Most recently, attempts have been made to drive a wedge between Christian and Muslim Palestinians within Israel and the occupied West Bank. Continue reading “Playing Identity Politics: Israel’s Targeting of Palestinian Christians”