That Lebanese Sense Of Humor

BEIRUT (AFP) – Lebanese may have lost homes, loved ones and livelihoods, but one thing they haven’t lost in the aftermath of the war is their legendary sense of humor.

Jokes helped them survive Israel’s devastating military onslaught and are now making the post-war healing process a lot easier. Anecdotes are to be found everywhere — in living rooms, text messages, television shows, e-mails and even blogs, where some Israeli users have been less than amused.

Amid sad stories about lost loved ones, destroyed homes and impoverished people who had to live in public schools, they joke about everything: the Israelis, the Americans, the Arabs, but mostly they tell self-deprecating gags.

Three Hezbollah guerrillas run out of Beirut’s southern suburbs after Israeli raids, flashing the victory sign. Actually, no. They were really pointing out that there were only two buildings left standing.

Why did rents go up in Ain el-Rummaneh district overlooking the southern suburbs? Because it has sea view now!

Why are coquettish elderly Lebanese women very happy about the war? Because it took them back 30 years.

Why will Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah win the Nobel Prize for Education? Because he is the only man who sent one million people to school in just two days.

But they also tell jokes of bravery against the Israelis.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was sitting in his office wondering how to invade Lebanon when his telephone rang.

Beirut’s most famous imaginary character announces to him in a heavily accented voice: “This is Abul Abed and I am calling to tell you that we are officially declaring war on you.”

“How big is your army?” replies Olmert.

“Right now,” said Abul Abed, “there is myself, my cousin Mustafa, my next-door neighbor Abu Khaled, and the whole team from the tea house. That makes eight!”

Olmert paused. “I must tell you Abul Abed, that I have one million men in my army waiting to move on my command.”

Abul Abed paused, then said: “Mr. Olmert, the war is still on! We have managed to acquire some infantry equipment!”

“And what equipment would that be Abul Abed?”, Olmert asked.

“Well sir, we have two Mercedes 180s, and a truck.”

“I must tell you Abul Abed that I have 10,000 bombers and 20,000 fighter planes. My military complex is surrounded by laser-guided, surface-to-air missile sites. And since we last spoke, I’ve increased my army to two million!”

“Mr. Olmert, we have to call off this war,” said Abul Abed.

“I’m sorry to hear that,” said Olmert. “Why the sudden change of heart?”

“Well,” said Abul Abed, “we’ve come to realize that there is no way we can feed two million prisoners!”

Israel’s systematic destruction of bridges in the offensive launched after Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers on July 12 has also been a source of inspiration.

Olmert sent a commando operation deep into Lebanon. Mission: Capture Lebanese diva Fairuz.

He insists on finding the only bridge he did not destroy: an imaginary bridge evoked for decades in a romantic Fairuz aria.

“On the bridge ‘Lawziyeh,’ under the shade of the leaves,” goes the song.

Early one day, a man rushes desperately to the dentist. “Please take out my bridge, or the Israelis will bomb it!”

Advertising agencies have also entered the game.

A gigantic black poster covers the entire side of a five-story building: It shows the golden Johnnie Walker character with his top hat and waistcoast blithely striding after leaping over a gap on a destroyed bridge. [check it out here]

Internet users are sharing a picture of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in the arms of a Hezbollah chief Hasssan Nasrallah in light summer clothes, standing under the shade of palm trees at a sandy beach.

It is a parody of the “Axe Effect” attraction campaign by the namesake deodorant brand. [check it out here]

Jokes are also abundant about the Arabs.

After Saudi Arabia decided to donate half a billion dollars to rebuild Lebanon, Egyptian President
Hosni Mubarak ordered the capture of six Israeli soldiers at the border.

Amid a mass evacuation of foreign nationals from Lebanon, Palestinian refugees who have been stranded in Lebanon for nearly 60 years are ecstatic: the
Palestinian Authority has decided to evacuate its nationals as well.

But in a country that has repeatedly been invaded by Israel, the one joke everyone likes to tell remains:

An Israeli recently arrives at London’s Heathrow airport. As he fills out a form, the customs officer asks him: “Occupation?”

The Israeli promptly replies: “No, just visiting!”

by Nayla Razzouk [source]

1 Comment

  • Well Nas, I saw them on TV smiling with the ruins of their houses in the background and deeply wished that Jordanians could learn something from them!Seriously, it’s troubling.

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