From the Editors
A fierce storm has been lashing Lebanon since Saturday. The storm has led to severe flooding and near-paralysis of the entire country. The country has not seen a storm like this for decades, some say millennia. Someone remembered a storm like this from a long, long time ago. A man from across the southern border had bought Lebanon’s entire store of cedar trees and used it to build a big boat. There were conspiracy theories, and some muttered that somehow the Jews seem to know about disasters before they happen.
According to reports in al-Nahar newspaper, it seems that God warned Lebanese leaders about this storm, because “he loves Lebanon and its people.” Al-Safir newspaper reported the same story, but did not mention the part about God loving Lebanon. Michel Aoun was out taking a walk in the hills when he heard a voice. But it was different from the other voices he normally hears. The voice (or The Voice) warned him about the storm, and suggested he build an ark big enough to carry all the people of Lebanon. Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, received a written message to the same effect. He tends to be harder to get in touch with. Samir Geagea was in his garden when one of the flowers started talking to him and gave him the same message.
With their customary efficiency, the Lebanese leaders got together and established the National Dialogue Committee for Building the Ark. They all attended except for Nasrallah—who connected through a video link—and Walid Jumblatt—who connected through a Ouija board. Al-Akhbar newspaper obtained a copy of the meeting minutes and published them in a series called “Ark Leaks” (presumably, with no pun intended).
Samir Geagea suggested that the ark be built from cedar trees. Leftist leaders objected to this typical right-wing appropriation of the cedar tree as a national symbol. Saad Harriri favored palm trees and promised that Saudi Arabia could supply a large quantity. The Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP) suggested Aleppo pines. No agreement could be reached, so a decision on this agenda item was postponed.
Michel Aoun felt strongly that only Lebanese citizens should be allowed on the Ark. Walid Jumblatt insisted that Syrian and Palestinian refugees should also be allowed. Carlos Edde did not understand what the argument was about. Wiam Wahhab said we either float with Syria or drown with Syria, and suggested the Syrian president be named captain for life. Decision on this agenda item was postponed.
Najib Mikati suggested that the Ark should have one large room for everybody. Saad Hariri suggested five large rooms. Jumblatt suggested twenty-eight. The Orthodox representatives suggested that each sect get its own room. Nabih Berri suggested two large rooms, one in the back and one in the front, and a small communal room in the middle. No agreement could be reached, so decision on this agenda item was postponed.
Berri volunteered to take responsibility for hiring the people employed to build the Ark. Aoun retorted, “now wouldn’t you like that” and “we’ve all seen your hiring strategies in the ministries under your control.” Nasrallah interjected and told them to stop bickering. Hariri and Geagea were snickering in the corner. Decision on this agenda item was postponed.
Michel al-Murr suggested that one of his companies be awarded the contract for building the Ark, as a service to his country of course. The others replied that while they did not doubt his sincerity, this is the one time they needed someone with some experience and who knew what they were doing. Hariri suggested the parliament establish a private company to handle this, and that he would finance it in return for a short concession of no more than five hundred years. Decision on this agenda item was postponed.
Nasrallah insisted that Hezbollah should be allowed to take its weapons on board the Ark. Geagea quoted Gibran Khalil Gibran that “love is the best weapon.” Hariri asked Nasrallah why would he need his weapons on the Ark if the weapons are only meant for Lebanon’s external enemies. Berri suggested that a few harpoons and RPGs would not hurt anybody. Decision on this agenda item was postponed.
The meeting broke with no agreement on any of the issues, but President Suleiman felt that it was a good first step towards establishing a long-term strategy for dialogue over the building of the Ark. Meanwhile, hipsters in Beirut have started dressing like Noah, ironically of course. Several underwater bars have opened in Gemayze, with names like Ghawwasa (submarine) and Balal (wetness).
Al-Akhbar later reported that each sect is now secretly building its own Ark, and a small boat is being built for people who live in Hamra.
[This article is an edited version of a post first published on Karl ReMarks]
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