Cultural Briefings

Culture of the Abyss

New Generation of Lebanese Politicians Reveals Further Decline in Quality of Leadership
Elie Chalala

Hussam Itani, former editor of the opinion pages of As Safir and currently a columnist for Al Hayat,  has always distinguished himself with his daring and unapologetic opinions. Equally important is the intellectual appeal of his newspaper columns. The latest by this Lebanese columnist is "The Culture of the Bottomless Abyss" (Al Hayat, November 13, 2012) in which he sums up the decadent state of culture and politics in today's Lebanon. 

Aleppo: A Tale of Three Cities

Yassin al-Haj Saleh

(Yassin al-Hajj Saleh is considered one of the most important observers of Syrian politics. He spent 16 years in Syrian prison, an experience about which he recently wrote a book. One Syrian scholar rejected the description of Yassin al-Haj Saleh as a political observer or analyst and instead he considers him the ultimate historian of the Syrian Revolution. Recently he wrote a short essay on Aleppo, a city with which he had an intimate history. 

A sense of humanity must mean a sense of 'surprise' at inhumanity

Elie Chalala

An avid reader of Fawaz Traboulsi’s columns in As Safir, one of his latest really caught my eye.  The title Traboulsi gave to his column is “About Aleppo, Its Sisters and Its Surprise.” Troublsi's major concern is with the weakened or absent feeling of "surprise" among some of the Lebanese and Arabs who constitute the bulk of his readership. According to the author, two villains in particular exemplify ...


Desecrate the cities...and desecrate civilization

Mohammad Ali Atassi

The ruling clique in Syria has always evinced a strong and neurotic animosity toward the urban centers of the country, with special emphasis on the cities of bilad As-sham. Throughout the junta’s long reign and domination of the land, it exhibited hostility toward the city while at the same time rebelling against the essence of the city itself.  A truly modern concept of the city requires certain indispensable components: ...


"The Earthquake of Houla" — Reading Adonis

Elie Chalala

Adonis’ controversial writings on the Syrian revolution have ensured that his critics consistently mention that many people hate him. Yet, even so, there remains a big difference between his critics and his “haters.” A large number of Arab and Syrian intellectuals, artists and scholars have denounced the threats of physical harm to Adonis featured on some new media venues ...


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