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August 13, 1982 - Image 22

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1982-08-13

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

22 Friday, August 13, 1982

Detroit Lebanese Give Their View

553-7111

LaNde

By YOSEF GOELL

(Editor's note: The fol-
lowing is an abridged
version of the article by
Goell which appeared in
last Friday's Jerusalem
Post Magazine.)
"Sometimes I'm jealous of
the Jewish community
here. You people are so suc-
cessful in maintaining your
separate ancestral culture
and in teaching all of your
chilren Hebrew. Not like

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The speaker was Marcel
Hage (pronounced Haj) na-
tional president of the
American Lebanese
League, the organization
that claims to represent
nearly two million Ameri-
cans of Lebanese descent.
The organization, singu-
lar among Arab groups in
the U.S., recently came out
in unabashed support for
the Israeli operation in
Lebanon, and advised
exploitation of Israel's
presence there to oust the
Syrians and the PLO from
all of Lebanon.
I met Hage in Detroit,
home of the largest
American-Arab commu-
nity. It is far from clear
whether a majority of
these Detroit-area Arabs
would agree with Hage
on the PLO issue.
Several weeks ago, the
Amin Jabbara-led Arabs in
Detroit, who comprise the
largest Arab community in
the U.S. (estimated at
60,000), called a pro-PLO
demonstration to protest
American support for Is-
rael's incursion into Leba-
non and the continuing
blockade of the PLO in Be-
irut. Only ,about 200 local
Arabs showed up.
This is due to the fact that
the main factor characteriz-
ing the several - million -
strong community of Arabs
from different countries in
the U.S. is their determina-
tion to assimilate into the

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American mainstream as
quickly as possible, and to
put the hassle of unending
internecine warfare in the
Middle East far behind
them.
An Egyptian I met in the
U.S. several years ago, who
was active in several
Arab-American organiza-
tions, complained to me of
this same situation. He said
the masses of Arab immig-
rants to the U.S. are deter-
mined to resist any and all
involvements in the causes
of the countries and the na-
tional movements from
which they had removed
themselves.
Marcel Hage con-
firmed this image. Hage,
who left Lebanon in 1954,
at 19, first went to Ven-
ezuela and came to the
U.S. three years later, re-
grets that his children
know no Arabic.
"Assimilation is our
major problem. We
Lebanese tend to assimilate
very, very fast, even in the
first generation, which is
unusual among other im-
migrant groups. The only
thing that remains, even
over a number of genera-
tions, is the joy of eating
Lebanese food and the fact
that many Lebanese -
Americans maintain the
Old Country pattern of
keeping up widespread fam-
ily ties and of helping new
immigrants from Lebanon
as a matter of duty."
Unconsciously echoing
turn-of-the-century atti-
tudes on the part of the older
German Jewish "aristoc-
racy" towards the new-
comer "greenhorn" East
European Jewish immig-
rants to the U.S., Hage said:
"A lot of recent Arab im-
migrants from Yemen and
Iraq, who have largely con-
gregated in the area of
Dearborn, have resisted
learning English and have
given a bad name to the
total Arab community in
the eyes of other Americans.
Many people resent this sort
of behavior."
Reminiscing on his own
childhood in Lebanon, Hage
admitted that he had al-
ways felt that he had very
little in common, with the
Moslems in Lebanon. "That
may have been a shame, but
I was educated in French-
language schools like many
other Christian Lebanese.
But that doesn't make me
any less a Lebanese."
He said that his organ-
ization was making a
strong effort to attract
Lebanese Moslems to its
ranks, too. Apparently
with little success.
Most Moslems in the U.S.
tend to support the PLO, to
the extent that they express
any interest at all in Middle
East and Lebanese politics.
The American Lebanese
League is nearly entirely
Christian in membership.
But Hage and others in the
organization firmly denied
that it was an American
mouthpiece for Bashir
Jemayel's Phalange, or the
Phalange - dominated coali-
tion which they call "The
Lebanese Forces."

However, the organiza-
tion's publications are full
of praise for Jemayel, and
his Phalange forces.
Hage said that his organ-
ization was preparing to
send a fact-finding mission
to Lebanon to assess what
the real needs in foreign as-
sistance were. I asked Hage,
who is an engineer with
General Motors, whether he
had ever gone back to visit
since he left Lebanon 22
years ago.
Yes, he said, he still had
two sisters and their
families in the Tripoli
area from which he came,
and he had visited them.
"It would be impossible
for me to live there after I've
been in America for so long.
I just couldn't get used to the
influence peddling, without
which nothing in Lebanon
moves. But that doesn't
mean that I don't care for
Lebanon and for its fate."
I also asked to meet with
younger, more recent im-
migrants, who had left
Lebanon under the impetus
of the deadly civil war that
has been raging there since
1975. That same evening
25-year old Shaheen Bou
Maroun, formerly of the
Shouf Mountain village of
Mazraat en-Nahar, and
Milad Zohrob, 30, of Alma
es-Sha'ab in the Haddad -
controlled Christian - Shia
enclave in the south of
Lebanon, came over.
Shaheen said that he had
been fighting in the forces
associated with Camille
Chamoun's National Lib-
eral Party in the early part
of the civil war, but had
been forced to leave due to
PLO threats to himself and
his father.
"I didn't want to leave.
But through a neighbor

who was going out with a
Moslem girl — we were
all at the American Uni-
versity of Beirut — I got
threats that my brother
and I would be killed if
we didn't leave the coun-
try. My father, who still
owns and farms some
land outside of As-
also
w
was
hrafiye,
threatened that they
would burn his house
and crops if we did not
get out of the country. So
we left. But we were
forced to."
Milad is a graduate of the
AUB and also has a Master
of Business Administration
from the University of De-
troit. He said he got out
when the Syrian army took
over a large part of Lebanon
in 1976. Both Shaheen and
Milad are new members of
the national board of the
Lebanese
American
League.
Shaheen says that he
came to the U.S. on a vis-
itors' visa, was later refused
a student visa and was
nearly deported despite the
fact that his mother was
American-born. "Her father
had migrated to America
earlier in the century and
had settled in Binghamton,
N.Y. But later he went back
to Lebanon."
his
got
Shaheen
permanent-resident "green
card" in 1978 and was
graduated from the Univer-
sity of Michigan as a civil
engineer in 1979.
"I now work for
Bechtel, George Shultz's
former company," he
said without any further
comment.
Milad is a senior financial
analyst and is married with
two children; Shaheen is
(Continued on Page 23)

Nuclear Holocaust

By DR. GEORGE BERNSTEIN

How does one see Death,
When the atoms of the Dead,
Like ghostly vapor trails
Dance their solemn way
To the beginning
And to the end
Of Time.

How does one hear Death,
When it roars and sighs
In a cacophony of deafening
Silence.

Too late the Messiah
The days of Armageddon
fulfilled.

The final miracle, withheld,
Double Deuteronomy our fate,
As that of Sodom, and
Gomorrah.



Since none remain to bow the head
Is He not also dead?
Without the I, can a Thou
exist?

Despair exists,.
Despair that grins from faceless
shadows
Burned in the concrete Sphinx.

Aeons ago.
The fiery gaseous cloud
Blossomed into Earthly
splendor.
Will the Promise of its glory be
Shattered by the sons of Cain.



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