Lebanon’s Arab identity is a not a menu à la carte or a dish side option, it is rather a characteristic inherent to the country’s founding, memory, culture, charter and constitution. Arabism is Lebanon’s vital extension, muse, source of its creativity and verses of poetry. Neither imposed nor dictated, it – Arabism- developed under Lebanon’s influence which nurtured its intellectual and literary heritage, scientific and philosophical capabilities, civilizational features and contemporary political identity.
Lebanon’s people, were at the vanguard of the literary and intellectual renaissance in the Arab world; the first to modernize and develop the modern Arabic language, to embrace and absorb the transformations of the world and its developments; to establish associations of Arab liberation movements from the Ottoman domination; to intellectually articulate the Arab nationalist project; to raise Arab awareness to scientific developments; to break the barrier of estrangement between the East and the West; to build bridges of Arab interaction with the West; to raise the issues of modernity and modernization and argue the problems and dilemmas thereof in the Arab world.
Though Lebanon was a model in the modern Arab world, the voice of freedom, for all Arabs in international fora, and a dedicated defender of fateful Arab causes specifically the Palestinian cause, it was nevertheless equally conscious and considerate of its distinctive specificities. Arabism, for Lebanon, never repudiated differences and dissimilarities, and was never synonym of a stagnant ideology that spreads stereotypes, or a unilateral authority that abolishes freedoms and violates rights. Arabism, for Lebanon, is a civilizational extension that responds to developments and interacts with the surrounding world, an oasis of diversity and a horizon of difference that embraces free initiative and creative action.
Although the Lebanese cherished their Lebanese peculiarity, they never saw the Lebanese identity are contradictory to or competing with Arabism, but was rather a special space within the broader field of Arabism, stimulating creative action, intrusive initiative, free behavior and deliberate thought. Lebanon was an advanced and inspiring Arabism for most Arab people, earning their high esteem, a specificity that does not condone isolation or inclusion, and rejects all racism or arrogance.
It is a balanced and accurate equation that all Arabs have accepted and cherished dearly; the doors of Arab states were open to all the Lebanese, who contributed to the development, building and renaissance of their nations, sparing no energy, efficiency or creativity. Equally, Lebanon has always received care, attention and support from all Arab countries who did not fail Lebanon at times of distress, during the civil war, the Israeli attacks or the economic crises, initiating and sponsoring the Taef Agreement to divert the internal strife. They made tremendous efforts to preserve and support Lebanon’s sovereignty before international fora.
Lebanon, henceforth, was the bright expression of Arabism, the center of Arabs, a proud miracle … Arabism was the strategic and creative expression of Lebanon and its safety valve. It is the equation that preserved Lebanon’s specificity and distinction, and recognized its prosperity, stability and superiority. It is the equation that preserved the reality of Lebanon, its identity and meaning, and any prejudice thereto was a prejudice to Lebanon itself, and any alternative identity or culture would be tantamount to annulling Lebanon itself or elimination it from existence. Lebanon is not a geographic area or a region, but rather an authentic entity, which found in its wide Arab surroundings its civilized reality, a source of inspiration and profuse intellect hence becoming a spacious human bafflement, a warm space for living, a thriving spirit, and a creative mind.
This explains the rational and sincere calls for protecting Lebanon from any regional axes, keeping it immune from regional or local conflicts that might disrupt its subtle and sensitive equation. Neutrality does not mean withdrawing from any moral or national commitment to Arab and humanity causes that Lebanon has constantly committed to, as much as it is not encumbering Lebanon with incommensurable loads, and preventing it from being a springboard for any expansionist regional ambitions or the backyard of any closed ideology. Neutrality means to avoid Lebanon’s involvement in any axes disputes, and the desire of its people to be a space for assembly and reconciliation, a land of freedoms, a haven for the oppressed and a platform for free intellectual, political and literary expression for all Arabs. In this sense, neutrality is an activity and a strength, not a weakness and inaction. It is a premise of positive, constructive approach and not a foundation for negative or perpetuating stance. It is a horizon of convergence, continuity, and integration, not retreat, isolation and estrangement.
We are keen on a deep relationship with the Arab world, a serious and open commitment to all its causes, an organic relation with the national security regime and the Arab interests, and an explicit and direct bias against anyone who assaults or threatens any Arab country. Such a decisive interest is not considered a political position or an expression of goodwill but an act of defense for Lebanon itself, clinging to its truth and insisting on its identity. Just as Lebanon is an advanced and inspiring Arab model, Arabism is the uniqueness of Lebanon and the backbone of its survival.
For this reason, the Arabism of Lebanon was a central cause in its history. The Lebanese, since the early recognition of their homeland as an independent sovereign existence, have resisted all attempts to be cut from their Arab affiliation. They spared no sacrifice for this cause, and they will not hesitate to offer what is necessary at all times to defend this affiliation.
Lebanon is experiencing today the most dangerous attack waged against it and its Arab affiliation. Local and External forces are seeking to assign it to regional, non-Arab countries, the closed ideology of which contradicts the specificity of Lebanon that is open to pluralism and creative freedom. They are exerting all efforts to embroil Lebanon in lineups, confrontations, battles, and conflictual axes. They are depleting and even destroying its economy, disrupting and annulling its national cohesion, repossessing and even undermining its state institutions, and causing a crisis relationship with its Arab neighbors which might excerpt Lebanon and extirpate it from its historic memory and natural foyer.
The Lebanese people consider their defense of the Arab identity of Lebanon an essential part of the struggle for Lebanon’s survival. They shall fight until the last breath, despite the great imbalance of power. They hope and expect from their Arab brothers, who have never failed Lebanon in its days of hardship and distress to support them in this fateful battle. The results of this conflict do not decide the fate of Lebanon, but rather the fate of the entire Arab world. The battle that is taking place now in Lebanon is not a defense of Lebanon’s Arab identity, but rather a defense of the Arab identity per se. Arabism without a stable, prosperous and advanced Lebanon, is a diminished and disfigured Arabism, and Lebanon, without an Arab depth and affiliation, is a fragile hybrid entity caught in the winds of change.
We do not stand here in defense of Lebanon as a regime or authority, but rather as a homeland for life, an idea and a cause. As stated in “Lisan Al Arab,” Lebanon is the great thing, and it is certainly not a profit and loss cause. Our cause is a matter of affiliation and fate, and will never fail to be.