Enough! – Lebanon’s Darkest Hour

Daizy Gedeon has a friendly chat with Riad Salameh whose Central Bank of Lebanon provided funds for her film “Enough – Lebanon’s Darkest Hour.” Apparently, after the interview Ms Gedeon realises that Finance Minister Salameh has been embezzling public monies so she comes out against him post-interview.

Did Daizy Gedeon find another backer for her 90 minute documentary covering the last ten years in Lebanon’s history? It would be interesting to know who her backers were? The crowd funding via she used would not have provided sufficient funds to make this film.

So using money from the Central Bank of Lebanon, Daizy Gedeon began making a film about corruption. Sound naive? Ms Gedeon’s main objective was to get the Lebanese diaspora to vote against the corrupt politicians who run her country of birth. [Please note I am not part of that diaspora and so not really her target audience]. Her objective is to obtain enough votes to get independents elected to the new Lebanese parliament on the 15th May 2022.

Daizey Gedeon’s theory seems to be that if you get sufficient people elected who are not aligned to religious groups, then civil society will win out. For example, currently if you want a civil marriage, you have to go to Cyprus. According to Gedeon very little has changed to the body politic since the Lebanese civil war. Bear in mind that the confessional system was imposed by the French. The French are always on hand to say that we know what’s best for the Arabs; Macron’s visit after the explosion in Beirut harbour (sic).

The opening scene of Enough! depicts the explosion at the port of Beirut on 4 August 2020. Was this to be ‘Lebanon’s darkest hour‘? This doco actually began as a homage by an Australian-Lebanese person to her culture back in the late 1980s. The film does not ignore the civil war but makes no mention that the United States government sent marines to occupy Beirut as long ago as 1958. The Americans remained until a truck bomb drove them out in an attack on the Marine headquarters in October 1983, in which 241 Americans died.

Daizy Gedeon conducted a number of polite interviews with then Lebanese Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, and the President of the Central Bank of Lebanon, Riadh Salameh. These interviews morphed into a scathing critique of corruption in that country by the very people Ms Gideon had been so nice to.

The former Murdoch sports journalist turned deputy foreign editor at The Australian chose to begin the film with the explosion in the port of Beirut and to laud Emmanuel Macron, the President of France, whose country had occupied the Levant from the end of the First World War till the end of the second.

I found this part of the film a bit like going to the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine and then somehow gaining audience with Vladimir Putin in Moscow and asking him some very polite questions about what his intentions were and then turning around afterwards and saying he’s a evil oligarch.

This is precisely what Daizy Gedeon did with the Prime Minister Hairiri, President Michel Aoun and the governor of the Central Bank Riad Salameh. The film director did not speak with the other person she accused of corruption, Hassan Nasrallah, who became the leader of Hezbollah after the Israelis assassinated his predecessor in 1992.

Using a banner emblazoned across the screen, the films writer-director then made accusations she may have wished to have put to her corrupt ‘oligarchs’. Are these the questions and answers that she would have received if the film had originally been about corruption? I think not.

But sadly, the film attempted little historical analysis. Ms Gedeon seems proud of taking this course claiming in an interview with SMH: “I made the decision not to make an analytical film because the problem is so bad in Lebanon now. We are at the point of losing our country, our culture, our identity. The country and the people are so impoverished and despondent, they are broken people. I felt if I made an analytical story that appealed to intelligence of people only, it wouldn’t achieve my goal. My goal was to move people, move them to take action.” (Interview with Lia Timson, January 20, 2022 SMH)’

Friedmanism
To the filmmaker, the only alternative to the confessional system in Lebanon is the representative democracy that Daizy grew up with in New South Wales. As if the former premier of her state, Neville Wran, was not corrupt! What does Ms Gedeon think about the alleged corruption of former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian?

While Daizy Gedeon was coming to grips with the famous Lebanese food, her country of birth was experiencing ‘the development of underdevelopment‘ implemented using plans by the Chicago school of economics. The head of this school was the winner of Nobel Prize in Economics in 1976, Milton Friedman. Ironically Friedman said that by managing the amount of money sloshing through a financial system, central banks could control inflation without making costly mistakes.
Lebanon is proof positive of the failure of Friedmanism and his school’s monetary policies. No attempt was made by the film or its maker to get to this underlying economic failure. Enough! provides only a superficial critique where the ‘white/US’ view is accepted without question.

Sophistication?
Should people mistake the high life of Beirut, the building of resorts and the resilience of the Lebanese as a version of European sophistication? The author’s criticises the Syrian occupation but says little about the Israeli and the US occupation of her beloved Lebanon. The Lebanese people faced civil war, foreign invasion and international intrigue by many not just the Syrians. Daizy Gedeon highlights the Syrian occupation but ignores catastrophe of Israeli occupation. What about the massacres at Sabra and Shatilla? No mention.

Was the filmmaker’s reluctance to mention the Israeli’s because her family are from the north and she didn’t really know much about Israel’s occupation of the South? I think not. Her father worked at Beirut airport when it was bombed by the Israeli air force. A modern international airport taken out of action by the ‘civilized and democratic‘ country of Israel. Surely that sends a message. At the time in 2006, the Israeli military claimed “the goal of the attack was to shut down air traffic in and out of the Lebanese capital.” This was a direct attack on the filmmakers country of birth and on her family as her father was working at the airport on that day. This event gets no mention in Enough! Why?

Hezbollah
The film is anti-Hezbollah. Daizy Gedeon calls out the Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, and lumps him together with the corrupt members of the Cabinet but does not mention that it was his strong organization with its powerful militia which managed to drive Israel out of Lebanon, thus providing a 15 year window of peace after the Summer War of July 2006. It was this war that prompted me to start this blog. The Lebanese diaspora rose up that day even in sleepy Brisbane where Daizy put on Enough!

The filmmaker chose the explosion at the port of Lebanon as the centrepiece of Enough! Why? The horrific blast that killed and injured many more was a catastrophe for the people of Beirut and began the exodus which has accelerated during the current financial crisis.

Who are the Lebanese?
The people shown on film come from a fairly narrow cross section of Lebanese society. Hairdressers, people in the arts, politicians and bankers. What about ordinary workers, NGO workers, trade unionists, grassroots political organizations? There is no mention of the Palestinians in the entire film save for one interview where the 200,000 Palestinians in the camps are mentioned in passing by a minister. How is this possible when much of the conflict over the past 75 years in her country has been caused by Israel’s apartheid policies against the Palestinians, after the Al Nakbah in 1948. So why not talk with people like Olfat Mahmoud who runs a program for Palestinian women in the Burj El Barajneh refugee camp and whose parents and grandparents were forced at gunpoint out of their homes seeking refuge in Lebanon, stateless without the Right to Work, disenfranchised for three and four generations.

Another world is possible
Another world is possible and solutions must be found. Lebanon cannot continue with a dual currency system of the Lebanese pound and the US Dollar where the rich can depart with their US dollars leaving the rest poverty stricken, without electricity and water nor the wherewithal to buy essential services. There was much talk about inflation in the film but no solutions given, only condemnation of the corruption of politicians. What about their backers? Why no attempt to look behind the facts?

It fell to one of the corrupt Ministers to mention the refugee problem. Lebanon is faced with 1.5 million fleeing Syrians and over 200,000 Palestinians.

Q & A
To make matters worse, in the Q & A Daizy Gedeon suggests that the Lebanese army is making headway under the tutelage of the US army. An army that occupied her country and still carries out intrigues in Beirut.

The film simplistically claims that there are strong ties between Hezbollah and Amal but fails to tell of the bloody battles between the two groups provoked by Syrian military intervention.

Ms Gedeon does not mention the close association between Hezbollah and the other confessions and the safety this has brought to villages in the Beqaa Valley located about 30 km (19 mi) east of Beirut. No mention of the alliance between Hezbollah and the Orthodox Catholic to provide security for villages in the East near the Syrian border.

Much of the Q & A session was taken up with the filmmaker arguing the need for the Australian diaspora to vote in the upcoming 2022 and 2026 elections. That a group of independents could cause sufficient trouble for the government to force them to get rid of the influence of what she calls the oligarchs of Lebanon. I would have liked to hear what her mother and father who fled Lebanon because of the Israeli bombing of the Beirut international airport had to say.

Rating
I give the film two stars for raising an important topic when war has broken out in Europe and at a time when people are looking for answers to an capitalist economic system that thrives on conflict. Daizy Gedeon also deserves some kudos for trying to get the Lebanese diaspora to vote and have a say in their country’s future.

But I ask will that be Enough?!

Ian Curr
25 March 2022

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