Reply to Meir Zamir’s “Émile Eddé and the Territorial Integrity of Lebanon.”

Not a billet d’humeur for once, but a “scholarly-ish” post. I discussed an article, written by Israeli historian Prof. Meir Zamir (teaches at the Department of Middle East Studies and the School of Management at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev), with Mr. G.Y.A., a former National Bloc leader close to the late Raymond Eddé (1913-2000).

Émile Eddé (1883-1949)

Émile Eddé (1883-1949)

The article in question is “Emile Eddé and the Territorial Integrity of Lebanon,” published in Middle Eastern Studies, Vol. 14, No. 2 (May, 1978), pp. 232-35 [click to view/download pdf]. Zamir publishes a 1932 letter of Eddé in which he pleads for a territorial reduction of Lebanon allowing him to enjoy a more consistent Christian majority, and to “get rid,” for instance, of South-Lebanon and Tripoli.

Here is Mr. G.Y.A.’s reply, verbatim:

Aucune véracité de date dans ce texte et aucun document officiel prouvant déclarations et rencontres, ni dans la presse locale, ni dans les archives du Mandat.
Il est à signaler que, depuis 1978, les Israéliens s’intéressent à écrire l’histoire du Liban et des responsables Libanais, allant jusqu’à les accuser tous, chrétiens et musulmans, d’être à la solde de leur Agence ; se référant toujours à des documents de cette même Agence sioniste. Il faudrait bien faire attention dans vos recherches à ces faux, publiés dans un but purement politique actuel.
L’un de ces auteurs israéliens accusent Béchara Al-Khoury d’avoir promis au président de l’Association juive de Beyrouth, de faire déplacer les chiites du Sud vers l’Iraq et de les faire remplacer par des chrétiens iraquiens et des juifs occidentaux (!?).

In short, the former NB leader says there is a bias, providing a few documents to sustain his claim.

Below are two documents of Émile Eddé dating from 1920, concerning the coastal cities, the Beqaa, and his role during the Third Delegation, which could obtain the restitution of the valley and its littoral to the Lebanese territory.

1- Émile Eddé, “Note de la Troisième délégation libanaise” (Paris, 21 février 1920, 5 pp.) [click to view/download pdf];

2-  Émile Eddé, “Note sur la Békaa” (31 mars 1920, 6 pp.) [click to view/download pdf].

There is also a third text that I would be willing to share with you, upon written request: Journal de Monseigneur Abdallah al-Khoury (avec la Troisième Délégation Libanaise au Congrès de la Paix à Paris, 1920) [French translation of the original Arabic text], edited and presented by Sami Salamé, Louaizé, Notre Dame University, 2002, 157 pp. Many interesting historical documents are in there too.

However, these documents can still not dismiss the issue, as they are anterior to the creation of the Lebanese state, whereas Zamir’s document reproduces a veridical document written 12 year after the beginning of the Lebanese political experiment, which most probably reflects Eddé’s disillusion and mounting skepticism toward the political viability of the Lebanese nation state.

Of course, we shouldn’t accept immediately what Israeli historians write on Lebanon at face value, even if their works are published by the most prestigious houses (I.B. Tauris, etc.), but that doesn’t mean that everything they say is wrong either.

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