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A few weeks into my stay, I contacted a relative of my father, a man I had met once before at my uncle’s funeral.
It turned out that there was going to be a memorial in Haifa for his mother who had recently passed away.
It’s 2017 and we’re still talking about this, but then again what can you expect when one of your country’s “liberal” TV stations is more conservative than America’s Fox News?
Earlier today, following this viral blog post, MTV decided to take part of the crusade against the seriously bad show on LBCI called Take Me Out.
I could have been in Lebanon as far as I could tell from the view. Very modern and powerful I supposed, but that a suburb of Tel Aviv resembled Lebanon so closely was not what I had expected. When I responded with (I don’t understand Hebrew), I was met with surprise. I let people know that my father was born in Haifa in 1948 and that same year his family took him to Lebanon where he lived most of his life. One of the most moving interactions came from an Israeli man who had served in the Army in Lebanon.
For most of my first week or two, I kept to myself. Anxiety that told me “if I interacted with people, they would realize I was Lebanese and I might be discriminated against or possibly worse.” I interacted for directions and practical advice but little else. Some Israelis told me, laughing, that I looked more Israeli than they did. Without talking about politics, without talking about right or wrong, he apologized to me personally for the damage that the incursions caused to the Lebanese people.
Another Israeli man expressed his concern and empathy for the Arabs of ‘48 (of which my father was one of the youngest) and I understood that here was a man who very simply wanted good relations and who did not have ill will towards Arab people, or to me, in any detectable way. The idea that such thoughts existed in Israel, especially by former soldiers, was something that never, ever would have occurred to me.
The human element of the interactions I had in Israel as an Arab woman had broken through the rhetoric I have heard for years, and had touched me.
It is an experience that I wish were much more common amongst my fellow Lebanese because of the humanizing and understanding it added to my perspective on Israeli society and especially regarding Israelis themselves, who I grew up knowing only through the lens of news reports and conversations that were invariably unfavorable. I have always been drawn to countercultural experiences, whether growing up in Beirut or living in California as an adult.During this reunion, I was overwhelmed in turns by warmth and sadness, meeting people I was related to and had never met before or in some cases even known of.I was treated like a long lost daughter, and felt like one too.My family took me to see many areas: Akko, Ras an-Nakura, Tiberias, Nazareth, and the Druze village of Daliyat el-Carmel.We went up to the border between North Israel and Lebanon and took a group picture together that I sent home to my family.