What Lebanon Could Be…

Lebanon is trending on Twitter…if only it were for different reasons. This is what I wish my Twitter feed looked like:

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Time to Crash a Wedding

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UPDATE: A report by NOW Lebanon claims that the state is stopping the works near the forest in Bcharre. It also states that the works were not uprooting trees, but moving soil & rocks to construct an amphitheater for the wedding of William Tawk – movement that could affect the rest of the forest. 

As reported by LBC, Gebran Tawk’s son is having a big fat wedding – so fat that he needs a forest removed just so he can have it. Not just any forest, a forest of cedar trees in Bcharre, home of another Gibran.

“It is worth noting that the ancient forest is listed on the World Heritage List of UNESCO; a list that requires the protection of classified sites and their surroundings within an area exceeding 500 square meters; however, the preparation activities carried out in the vicinity may obliterate the existence of the forest.”

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The Lebanese Cedar tree, or Cedrus libani, grows in Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, northwest Jordan, western Syria, and south central Turkey. It is on our flag. It is our symbol. It is endangered. I have visited the Cedar Reserves in the Shouf & Tannourine. Cedars are sensitive organisms that require high elevation to grow (4,000-6,000 ft above sea level). Because their seeds need to be buried in snow for a minimum of two months, they are also in danger due to climate change. In a BBC article, Nizar Hani, Shouf Cedar Reserve scientific coordinator, said “isolated populations of trees will be more affected by climate change, so increasing the area of the cedar forests could help.” Instead, we’re clearing the area for round tables and a 3-day wedding for three thousand. Two years ago, Al Arabiya’s Rima Maktabi (she was reporting for CNN for a short period) reported that eco-tourism had been booming thanks to these forests and, as a result, many villagers could sell their homemade products such as jams, honey, and oils, to visiting tourists.

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The cedars were used in King Solomon’s temple and they were exported by the Phoenicians. They are mentioned in the earliest written records of the Sumerians dating from the third millennium BC, the Epic of Gilgamesh, and the Bible.

Mr. Tawk, you are a former Lebanese deputy, a citizen of this nation’s soil, and you should be ashamed of yourself.  By destroying a forest of cedars, you are ripping out the veins of our country’s heart and you are defecating all over our heritage. Mabrouk lal 3arees.