THE LEVANT: ZONE OF CULTURE OR CONFLICT?
AbstractPalestinian novelist Samir El-Youssef writes that the question in the title of this essay, “is the Levant a zone of conflict or culture?” is an ironic one indeed. Anyone with a token knowledge of the Levant, argues El-Youssef, knows that these lands are of both conflict and culture; the problem dwells in the fact that the people of the Levant need to be reminded that theirs is a land of great culture that deserves recognition and valorization as such. The author was born and brought up in Rashidiyyé—a Palestinian refugee camp in Southern Lebanon. Rashidiyyé, writes El-Youssef, was and still is as bad as a refugee camp could get. Yet, a mere fifteen minutes walk from the camp stood the ancient Phoenician port-city of Tyr; a harbour town housing the awesome vestiges of one of the greatest, most pacifist, most benevolent builders of civilization. El-Youssef concludes that "the refugee camp (in its indigence,) and the ancient city (in all its glory,) standing side by side, are a stark example of the Levant being both a land of conflict and culture."
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