Ignorance, the enemy of Lebanon

Khairallah Khairallah
Khairallah Khairallah
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Hussam Saad Hariri has made his grandfather proud. Nothing lasts like investment in education and enrichment of one’s knowledge. This is what Rafiq Hariri, who insisted on educating thousands of Lebanese people from all sects and all parts of the country in the best universities of the world at his own expenses, has accomplished. This persistence was one of the main reasons that he was made a target by those in Tehran and Damascus, who believe in the culture of death.

These are not random charges against the Iranian and Syrian regimes, but have been made by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL). In its brief, the STL’s prosecution speaks of 3,000 pieces of evidence about convicts who carried out the assassination of Rafiq Hariri.

The crime did not simply aim to kill Rafiq but was aimed at assassinating Lebanon. Perhaps Rafiq’s first crime was that he educated thousands of the Lebanese people, revived Beirut and put Lebanon back on the map of the Middle East and the world. He was aware that Lebanon’s future is all about developing people and not turning them into members of militias.

The problem is that many Lebanese people do not want to be educated. Hence it was normal that some people did not comprehend the importance of the graduation of a young Lebanese man from the Royal Military College of Sandhurst

Khairallah Khairallah

Sandhurst alumni

The problem is that many Lebanese people do not want to be educated. Hence it was normal that some people did not comprehend the importance of the graduation of a young Lebanese man from the Royal Military College of Sandhurst, which was founded in 1801. The military college does not only pass out British military officers but also graduates those who look forward to a better future. Its list of alumni includes King Hussein, his son King Abdullah II and his grandson Prince Hussein who is the current Jordanian crown prince. This is in addition to Oman’s Sultan Qaboos and plenty of other officials from the Arab Gulf.

There are also other prominent figures who have graduated from this college, such as a number of Sheikh Zayed’s sons. There is also a good number of Qatari and Bahraini figures, including Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa, the former emir of Qatar. As for those who hail from Saudi Arabia, there is Prince Khalid bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz who can take pride in the fact that he brought back life to the Lebanese daily ‘Al-Hayat’, when he re-launched it from London in 1988.

The list of Arab graduates is long and it gives an idea about the significance of this college in terms of preparing young men to confront the most arduous of circumstances, such as sleeping in the wilderness when the temperature is below 20 degrees. Young men who enroll at the college for 44 weeks do not only learn how to adapt to grueling weather conditions but also lessons in international relations. This prepares them to subsequently enroll in the world’s best universities.

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In brief, enrolling at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst does not mean joining the British army. It’s a unique college that prepares whoever goes there to be physically, psychologically and mentally prepared and to enroll at prestigious universities later.

Lebanon’s past glory

Some reactions to the graduation of Hussam Saad Hariri from there reflects the extent of ignorance that dominates a part of Lebanese society. It simply gives an idea how backwards Lebanon is after it was one of the most sophisticated countries in the region or rather among Mediterranean countries. Where were Greece, Cyprus and Turkey when Lebanon organized the Mediterranean Games during the era of Camille Chamoun and when there were festivals, as significant as the Baalbeck Festival?

We don’t need to recount how Lebanon was in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, when Beirut’s airport was among the most important airports in the world. We also don’t need to recount what was achieved during the era of Fouad Chehab in terms of constructing the institutions of modern Lebanese state, and in terms of civil organization.

The campaign against Saad Hariri and his son was spiteful. It expressed the extent of hatred towards Lebanon and towards what Rafiq Hariri built to revive Beirut. Some parties want Lebanon to remain uneducated and distant from the civilized world. A clear evidence is the situation of the Lebanese University which is supposed to be one of Lebanon’s civilized fronts. Instead of being a symbol of co-existence and openness, the Lebanese University has turned into a farm for a sectarian party that wants to impose its culture on all Lebanese people.

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The culture of life is what made Lebanon play a pioneering role in all fields of the region. How many Arab leaders and officials graduated from the American University of Beirut (AUB), which was founded in 1866?

What about the role which Rafiq Hariri played in protecting AUB and other universities and in keeping the doctors of its hospital in the 1980s in Lebanon, when every single Lebanese doctor wanted to immigrate to the US, Europe or a specific Gulf country?

Investing in human capital

No prestigious Lebanese doctor immigrated to Tehran. The reactions to Hussam’s graduation from the Royal Military College Sandhurst and to his trip to Beirut to visit his grandfather’s tomb reflect such unprecedented ignorance. There are some parties that simply want to push Lebanon into the trap of empty sloganeering. If Lebanon stands today, then it does so thanks to the Lebanese people who continue to fight and resist.

They resist through the education they have received at prominent schools and universities and thanks to institutions which were founded by the first three eras after independence, i.e. the eras of Bechara El Khoury and Riad Al Solh and of Camille Chamoun and of Fouad Chehab. They are resisting after Rafiq Hariri restored hope to the Lebanese people and brought many of them back to the country before a party came to close Downtown Beirut for over a year in 2007 and 2008.

Instead of living in the dreams of oil and gas that have been discovered off the Lebanese coast, it’s important to get back in touch with reality which says that no wealth is more important than the human capital and that ignorance is Lebanon’s first enemy.

It’s no secret that Lebanon is currently passing through a difficult phase. What makes this stage more difficult is that there are some who insist on the destruction of “man” by promoting ignorance. Ignorance is the shortest way to attract youths to sectarian militias so that they serve a project that has absolutely nothing to do with Lebanon.

This article is also available in Arabic.

Khairallah Khairallah is an Arab columnist who was formerly Annahar’s foreign editor (1976-1988) and Al-Hayat’s managing editor (1988-1998).

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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