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Peace and Reinterpretation of the Past: Dismantling Conflicts in Mount Lebanon
Posted on Mar 24, 2021 |
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The war in Lebanon has ended and the path of peace has begun, but its bloody and painful past continues to succeed time and time again in infiltrating the present and directly influencing it through a range of economic, security, political and cultural pathways.
the Author
Peace and Reinterpretation of the Past: Dismantling Conflicts in Mount Lebanon
©Adra Kandil

The war in Lebanon has ended and the path of peace has begun, but its bloody and painful past continues to succeed time and time again in infiltrating the present and directly influencing it through a range of economic, security, political and cultural pathways.

Many associations have worked to promote a culture of peace in order to counter the heavy legacy of war, most notably the "Fighters for Peace" organization.

This organization was founded in 2014 and worked, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), to address the cumulative effects of the civil war through a speech to younger generations aimed at preventing the re-experience of conflict and fighting.

Mount Lebanon, with its sectarian and political diversity and the bloody conflicts it stores, has been the scene of the organization's latest experiences in building a culture of peace among youth. In 2020, the organization launched a series of workshops and panel discussions targeting the youth in Mount Lebanon areas. Twenty young people from Aley and Al-Shahar regions were selected and trained in internal mediation, peace-building and conflict resolution techniques, and many areas that serve to enhance their ability to communicate positively and effectively with young people at risk of being caught up in extremism and violence.

The importance of the activity of the “Fighters for Peace” organization lies in transferring the work for peace from the emotional sphere and turning it into an institution that employs the experiences of those who have experienced and participated in the war and its tragedies, in the arduous and difficult search of building the pathways to peace.

 

Assaad Chaftari: Fighting for a moment of hesitation in front of the leader's speech

The importance of working with Mount Lebanon youth lies, according to former combatant and organization member Assaad Al Chaftari, in opening the way for new generations to ask questions about dangerous topics, which, if left unaddressed, will prevent the crossing into a secure future.

He summarizes his experience working with youth under three main headings:

1- General awareness and recognition of oneself and the other.

2- Rehabilitation to enable the youth to interact with their communities.

3- Transforming the youth into disseminators of the culture of peace.

He acknowledges that the general atmosphere in the country creates a culture that is adverse to the culture of peace, because it reinforces the discourse of violence, but he believes that the moment of youth hesitation when a leader speaks out calling for violence deserves all these struggles.

 

Badri Abu Diab: Reconciliations are great but not enough

Badri Abu Diab, a former combatant who co-organized and managed the workshops with the youth, explains the mechanism of action, saying that it is based on slogans that emphasize that violence is not a solution, that there is no need to live the pains and repeat them, and that the path of solutions begins with dialogue.

The direct framework of the workshops according to Diab, was based on the process of connecting generations and components of Mount Lebanon, and has chosen Aley, Al-Shahar and Brih as a field for work on the topics of conflict analysis in accordance with general political, gender, sectarian and political criteria.

He pointed out that some participants considered that the reconciliation was completed with the famous “Reconciliation of the Mountain” in 2000, which took place under the auspices of the late Patriarch Mar Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir and Druze leader Walid Jumblatt. This reconciliation created a positive atmosphere that allowed many Christian families to return to their villages, under the roof of a project aimed at turning the page on war and establishing coexistence.

For his part, he asserts considering that reconciliations are positive, but when they are achieved under political and religious patronage, they remain of a superior character, unless they are reinforced by the dissemination of a culture of reconciliation in the heart of conflicting societies and permanently empowering them, which has not happened yet, and therefore, many problems continue to occur repeatedly.

 

Abdullah Malaeb: A youthful reading of the history of conflicts

Abdullah Malaeb recounts his experience of participating in the workshop in Al-Shahar area, based on youthful and regional specificity. This experience, in his view, produced a sharp confrontation process with history and established a conviction about the need for a generation independent of ideas and references based on the history of grudges and disputes.

Disclosure of what happened is necessary to establish a knowledge that allows all parties to admit their mistakes as a prelude to building deep, solid and clearly defined reconciliations.

According to Malaeb, Al-Shahar bears a special symbolism capable of transmitting general indications related to all of Lebanon, due to its sectarian, confessional and political diversity, but on the other hand, he recognizes the difficulty of dealing with the issue because the history that is being addressed is not distant, but rather goes back to a relatively recent period.

Hence, he explains that the emphasis was on how to create a new youthful experience by promoting scientific knowledge and analyzing global experiences in conflict resolution, which led to the emergence of a new type of discourse which seeks to convey the essence of this knowledge and the ideas it defends such as reconciliation, coexistence and rejection of violence, to the practical field based on the concept of the unity of belonging.

Malaeb concludes by emphasizing that this experience is only an initial step that must be completed with a series of successive steps to ensure its success, especially in the presence of authorities that derive their legitimacy from the past.

 

In its search for an interpretation of the history of war and conflicts, “Fighters for Peace” does not attempt to dispel and deny history, but rather works to acquire it by establishing and unifying the standpoint towards it to prevent its house arrest in the event of semantic, cognitive and interpretive fragmentation imposed on it by those in power.

The former combatants have consolidated their personal history and united their attitudes towards it. Transferring this experience to the youth would provide an entry point for considering the most complex structural problems facing the peacebuilding process in Lebanon in general and in Mount Lebanon in particular, namely the search for history, which to this day remains lost in the jungle of sectarian and authoritarian interpretation.

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Mar 2021
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