Lebanon from beginning to end (and that may be soon) was Christian, particularly Maronite Christian.
To understand Lebanon, you must understand the Maronites.
Acts 11:26 The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.
The first Christian Church was found in Antioch, Syria.
These Maronite Christians would be descendants of the Phoenicians along the coast, the Syrians in Antioch, and, yes, even a few Jews in the early Christian church.
Over the centuries they would split over some doctrinal issues. Those leaning towards Eastern interpretations became the Syrian Orthodox Christians. Those leaning to the West became Maronite Catholics.
Between internecine Christian fighting with Eastern sects and the Muslim invasions during the 7th century, Maronites were forced to flee the coast to the mountains of Lebanon. The West lost all contact with them, and they were assumed destroyed.
Muslims like to claim that Maronites came from the Mountains and could not possibly be seafaring Phoencians. Actually, the Maronites fled to the Mountains from the coast as well as Syria. It was inland Muslim Arabs who took over the coasts in the 7th century AD. The Maronite claim to Phoenician identity has merit.
This mix-up has caused confusion in assigning DNA data to the wrong groups.
When the Crusaders re-discovered the Maronites in the 11th century, it was considered a miracle of God that the Maronites had even survived. Surviving would turn out to be a Maronite talent.
Three times in their history the Maronites have been close to extermination. Three times Western intervention has saved them.
11th century – Crusaders
1860 – French
1982 – Israel
These Maronites are the ones who invented Lebanon. The Kataeb Party (the fighting Maronite Christian Party) was the group which worked for Lebanese Independence; and got France to agree to it.
The Christians were the majority in Lebanon up until the 1950s. They ran Lebanon and quite well. But there was a timebomb, a growing Muslim population.
They Sunni and Shia Lebanese were believers in a pan-Arab Caliphate and wanted annexation to Syria, not separation in a Christian run Lebanon. Sadly, even the Orthdox Christian were caught up in a greater Syrian mythology. The Orthodox were hoping they could live in a secular Ba’athist regime, as part of Syria. The present collapse of Syria’s Bashir Assad is proof that the Orthodox were mistaken.
The Maronites had no illusions. They had been massacred too many times. These were the heart and soul and fire of Lebanon. The Muslims wanted to be part of Syria.
When the Maronites ran the country from 1943-1975, Lebanon was rich, prosperous, and quasi-democratic, albeit flawed and corrupt. There was a semi-free press. It even outperformed Israel for a while. Unlike the other Arab countries, Maronite run Lebanon never persecuted the Jews. In fact, many Arab Jews, after being expelled from Arab countries fled to Lebanon rather than Israel.
It was not until the Muslim led Civil War that the Jews fled Lebanon; but the Lebanese government never expelled them.
When the Christian ran Lebanon, Lebanon was rich – 1960s
Unfortunately, Israel would sometimes retaliate agaisnt Beirut in central Lebanon for the crimes of the PLO in the south of Lebanon, over which the Christian run central government had no control.
For ex: the 1968 attack on Beirut’s airport where the Lebanese National Airlines (Mideast Air Lines) were destroyed, for a crime that the PLO had committed.
The then Christian run government in Beirut had nothing to do with the PLO’s actions. They wanted the PLO out of Lebanon. However, the PLO was better armed than the government; and so the Christians in Lebanon were powerless to stop the PLO. This was not Beirut’s fault; and Israel should have gone after the PLO, not Lebanon.
The Christians in the government wanted to kick out the Palestinians and the PLO who were provoking Israel.
[Note: Lebanon is one case where I think Israel went overboard. Christians got punished for crimes the Muslims committed].
But the Muslim Lebanese supported the PLO.
When the Christian government eventually tried to reign in the PLO, the Muslim representatives in the Beirut government refused. The Muslims walked out and paralyzed the government. Civil war loomed, and the Christians initially had to back down in 1969 and were forced to allow the PLO freedom of action.
Egypt’s Nasser was arming the PLO. Nasser wanted to use the PLO to fight Israel from Christian Lebanon which was too weak to control the PLO. In this way, Nasser could destroy both the Jews and the Christians.
Nasser was behind all of this though he claimed otherwise.
From 1969 to 1975, the PLO was out of control. They ran South Lebanon like a separate country. The Christians were furious. The PLO robbed, killed, murdered and massacred whoever got in their way.
The Maronites – stuck between Muslim violence and Israeli retaliation – realized they would have to arm themselves; and so prepared for a fight. The Kataeb (Maronite) Party set up militias. They told the PLO to stop shooting rockets at Israel – and stop murdering Lebanese citizens – but the PLO refused to listen.
After years of PLO abuses, robberies, rapes, murders, etc. in South Lebanon, the Maronites finally retaliated by shooting up a bus of Palestinians. The Civil War was on.
The Christians did try to throw the PLO out, but lost.
Arafat then started massacring Christian towns, but we never hear about that. The PLO massacred the Christian citizens of Damour.
One of Arafat’s goals was to destroy the Maronites of Lebanon.
… the road to Jerusalem passes through [Christian] Jounieh – Yasser Arafat
Jounieh is the heartland of Christian Lebanon. Beirut was divided in half, between Christian and Muslim, along the Green Line. It would be fought for, but Jounieh and its suburbs are overwhelmingly Christian. Arafat knew he had to detroy the Christians to take over Lebanon, before he could attack Israel, without his rear flank in danger. Arafat sought to destroy the Christians of Lebanon, and he knew that meant destroying Jounieh.
Jounieh as seen from its fabled cable ride.
Had it not been for Israel intervention in 1982, the Maronites would have been pushed into the sea.
In the end, the Muslims won the Civil War – and Christian power was diminished. The Christians are only tolerated for their expertise, but that too will change. Lebanese Maronites are fleeing to the West now. Many know the end is near. They talk about holding on but they know that there is no future for them.
The Maronites are down to around 25% of the population now.
The Beirut Central goverment still nhas no control over South Lebanon. Only instead of the Sunni PLO, south Lebanon is now run by the Shia Hezbollah. Every time the central goverment tries to pass legislation to control Hezbollah, Hezbollah calls out its troops and threatens Civil War. Hezbollah runs the country. The Beirut government is a facade.
If the Shia Hezbollah run the south of Lebanon, the Sunni fanatics run the North. Lebanon may be dragged into Syria’s Civil War because the Shia Hezbollah support Bashir Assad, while Lebanese Sunni support Syrian rebels. Of course, the Christians who are stuck in the center, are wedged between two fanatical groups.
The Christians have been lied about.
The Maronites are blamed for the Shaaba and Shatila massacres, but the world never hears that these massacres came only after years of the PLO massacring Christians.
Sadly, even Israel reacts badly.
In the 2006 Lebanon-Israeli war, the Christians were initially rooting for the Israelis. They wanted Israel to root out Hezbollah; but then Israel started bombing Jounieh – which had nothing to do with the war; and the Christians got upset with Israel.
Lebanese Christians sought ’06 Israeli victory
Ha’aretz: Avi Issacharoff – Mar. 21, 2011
Newly released WikiLeaks cables reveal Lebanese Christian leaders supported Israel’s strikes against Hezbollah during the Second Lebanon War, Al-Akhbar, a Lebanese newspaper linked to Hezbollah, reported yesterday.
In that case, he said, Israel should take care not to antagonize local Christian communities, according to the U.S. cable.
“The Christians were supporting Israel in 2006 until they started bombing their bridges,” he was quoted as saying in that cable.
Israel had reasons for bombing the bridges, but it antagonized the Christians who had NOTHING to do with Hezbollah’s war with Israel.
The Christians are abandoning Lebanon. This is a total pity. The only decent nation in the Arab world has been destroyed by al-Islam.