NOVEMBER 2007 - NOVEMBER 2017: OUR PAGE CELEBRATES 10 YEARS  by Naji FARAH

 

What happened in the history of Lebanon between November 5, 2007, date of our first page on the Lebanese throughout the world, and today? On the security front, and following the war ravaging Syria since 2011, let us note the massive but peaceful influx of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, in addition to the long-established Palestinian refugees in the country. Let us also mention the liberation by the Lebanese army, last August, of the northeastern region of Ersal, finally taken over from the "jihadists" after long months of fighting.

But on November 7, 2017, we can only deplore the gloomy atmosphere in Lebanon, following the surprise resignation, three days ago, of Prime Minister Saad Hariri, which seems directly related to regional conflicts involving Saudi Arabia and Iran in particular. Everything seemed to be going so well in the Cedar’s country, especially since the political consensus having, after more than two years of vacancy, led just a year ago to the presidency of the Republic General Michel Aoun, with a new promising government giving confidence to the Lebanese in all corners of the planet.

For our part, ten years of research and publication of more than one thousand articles in French in 215 bi-monthly pages, in collaboration with the newspaper Orient-le Jour, will have brought their knowledge of the unique cultural, economic and political importance of the Lebanese and their descendants in the world. We have thus contributed to strengthening meetings with young people and the main elements of the Lebanese diaspora, more particularly in Latin America, where will be held at the end of this month in Cancun, Mexico, a large congress at the call of the Lebanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Our ambition for the next few months is to ensure that, from the countries of emigration, the long-awaited political force emerges, which can put pressure to lighten the weight of foreign interference threatening Lebanon at any time. In parallel, and as the studies and archaeological missions, around the world, on the Phoenician, Roman and Byzantine eras in Lebanon, intensify, we wish, by means of various portraits and stories drawn from the ancient collections, to revive the Lebanese who, since antiquity, build the world.

 

THE STORY OF RJLIBAN IN VIDEO

 

YOUTUBE RJLIBAN

 

TRAVEL BRASIL CARNAVAL 2018

 

The annual trip of the RJLiban association in Brazil will allow you to discover big cities of this magnificent country during the Carnaval period. This trip will take place at the beginning of February 2018 in collaboration with the Libano-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce of Rio de Janeiro.

The six options proposed include all 5 days in Rio de Janeiro and 2 days in Foz do Iguaçu. In addition, we offer 2 days of sightseeing in São Paulo and Aparecida, a one-week luxury boat trip from Santos to Bahia via Ilha Grande, Ilheus and Búzios, and to finish 3 days in Manaus in Amazonia and 2 days in Brasilia.

 

OPTION 1: From Saturday 10 to Saturday 17 February

Stay of 8 days, 7 nights in hotel bed and breakfast at Rio de Janeiro and Foz do Iguaçu - 4 great meals with drinks - 2 domestic flights - transportation by air-conditioned bus - entries to Sambodromo and sites - multilingual guides - without international flights

4.500 usd in double room - 5.500 usd in single room

 

CONSULT ALL TRAVEL OPTIONS

Nostalgia for Lebanon

[original version in Spanish and Arabic]

 

Living It, Remembering It, Loving It

 

We are feeling nostalgic. Weeks have gone by since our trip to Lebanon, and we who were in the land of our grandparents, El Bled, continue to enjoy remembering our days in this wonderful country. We continue to share the experience through Internet and Whatsapp messages, as well as phone calls, between those of us who visited Lebanon in the Summer of 2015, thanks to the NGO RJ Liban.

 

We seven Mexicans, among over seventy people, had the opportunity to visit Lebanon during three weeks, and shared this experience with people from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, France, Ireland, Norway, and Uruguay. Most of us were of Lebanese descent, and the others were friends of Lebanon, as evidenced by their interest for the culture of the old Phoenician country.

 

It all began with an invitation by RJ Liban and its founding president Naji Farah, to visit Lebanon free of charge during three weeks, after participating in a contest on RJLiban’s website. Thanks to Nabih Chartouni, president of the association Al Fannan, we heard about this invitation, which was the starting pointof one of the most beautiful experiences for those of us who won the contest.

 

RJ Liban is an association which was founded in France in 1986 by a group of young Lebanese professionals and students.  The acronym stands for Rassemblement de la Jeunesse Libanaise in French, in other words Lebanese Youth Gathering. Its mission is to promote and preserve the cultural heritage of Lebanon, to allow Lebanese people and their descendants and friends throughout the world to get acquainted in order to strengthen their love of their country of origin.

 

To reach this aim, RJ Liban engages in various social, touristic, and cultural programs in Lebanon for people who have emigrated and their descendants. This trip was a perfect example of its mission ; it promoted the return of Lebanese descendants as well as the search for and reuniting with their families. Among those who met their distant families were Laura and Mario, both from Mexico City, José Luis Elmelaj from Argentina and Antonio Abdo from Bolivia.

 

These encounters resulted from long searches and were highly emotional!

 

The trip began at the Beirut airport where we were received by Joseph Athié, a friendly collaborator of Naji Farah. He kindly met us again at the hotel, then invited us to dinner at a pleasant restaurant in a garden with pine trees and oak trees in the Broummana area.

 

The visit was inaugurated by a ceremony attended by the ambassadors of Argentina, Mexico and Uruguay, the consul general of France, as well as a representative from the Lebanese ministry of tourism. Naji Farah memorably took the opportunity to make a speech in which he said that every Lebanese emigrant has the right to return to Lebanon.

 

This declaration made me think and realize that many of our grandparents were sad not to be able to return. Now, the opportunity was given to their descendants. 

 

The visit included the north, south, east and west of the country. It included great cities, small villages, the countryside, mountains, grottos, the seaside, archeological areas, and old neighborhoods. All those places are filled with history, beauty, and color. It is impossible to mention the names of all of them in this small space.

 

These experiences enriched our lives. Living with people from nine countries and realizing that we had the common aim of going back to our roots was a great factor of unity. We shared our expectations of the trip with the entire group in Hamana, where we were invited to a splendid dinner hosted by the Maronite bishop of Mexico, who was visiting Lebanon during this period. We heard the stories of our trip companions and in certain cases, their sacrifices to buy their airplane tickets (the only requirement of RJ Liban). We had Lebanese Arabic lessons in a playful atmosphere and during which our teacher, Samira El Jorr, made our learning process as easy as possible.

 

We savored delicious food which reminded us of that which we had known in our childhood. We watched young Argentinians expertly dance the dabké and joined in with minimal practice, stimulated by the music which awakened many emotions. We admired the sculptures of Mario Athié. We met members of the Lebanese Army, as well as children of soldiers, many of whom were orphans, and asked about their interests and desires. We visited the border with Israel, and treaded a land which speaks of the painful experiences of a fight for a nation and for its honor.

 

We went to the wedding of two young Argentineans at Tyre’s cathedral, Paula Gattas et Federico Montes Chantire, who lived their dream of returning to their ancestors’ land to be united and begin a Lebanese life, then participated in an unforgettable celebration according to the country’s customs. We visited the sanctuary of Saint Charbel Makhlouf and prayed at a mass celebrated by Abuna Yaacoub Badaoui, also from Mexico, in this place full of mysticism.

 

We visited the wonderful national museum of Beirut, guided by the very competent Nada Mitri. We went to the ancient wall built by the Phoenicians in Batroun. We visited the millennial cedars and admired their greatness and majesty. We toured the old streets of many cities and villages, and discovered the customs of their inhabitants. We explored archeological areas and were stunned by the beauty of the photos of professional photographer Mauricio Yazbeck from Brasil. We enjoyed hours of talking with other tourists on the bus and started interesting and warm friendships.

 

At all those sites and at all times, we were accompanied by the constant hospitality of Naji, Joseph, school teachers Nada and Joseph Rizk, ambassador Fares Eid, our public relations manager Rosarita Tawil, and the Lebanese-Argentinean Vanina Palomo, also a member of RJ Liban. I could continue to write many pages, so how could we not feel so much nostalgia?

 

This is a very brief summary of the richness we experienced during this trip. It was a great gift, a dream that we lived out, which brought us a love for Lebanon, with a better understanding of our ancestors and what they left behind because of Ottoman domination, searching for liberty and the possibility of a new life. We now feel motivated to work for the “lebanism” and spread our love for Lebanon from where we descendants were born. Above all, we are delighted to have made many new friends from various countries.

 

With this trip, RJ Liban completely fulfilled its mission, and for this great opportunity, we thank RJ Liban, Naji Farah and his team, as well as the president of Al Fannan. Without ceasing to savor the memories, we can claim what was said by the Bolivian-Lebanese youth: “We may not live in Lebanon, but Lebanon lives within us!”

 

Bertha Teresa Abraham Jalil

Text published in Spanish in the fall edition of 2015 of the quarterly journal "Baitna" edited by the Centro Libanés of Mexico City

 

Masters degree in history with a specialization in art history from the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters of the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

Honorable mention of the Miguel Covarrubias Prize, organized by CONACULTA-INAH, in the category masters thesis in museography .

Honorable mention, 1986, delivered by the UAEM.

Her work includes over 50 courses in art history, human resource training, human development, teaching, research methodology, tourist projects, cultural heritage management, and museology.

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