Lebanese MTV mocks Palestinian refugee rights

Posted: February 5, 2012 by Rex Brynen in Lebanon
Tags: ,

Lebanon’s MTV (Murr Television–unrelated to the US music channel MTV) recently broadcast a skit by the “comedy” troupe Ktir Salbe mocking efforts to improve the situation of Palestinian refugees in the country.


كتير سلبي أنه الكل عم يحكوا عن حقوق الفلسطيني بلبنان، مع العلم أنه اللبناني ما حدا عم يحكي عن حقوقه
Ktir salbeh that everyone is talking about the rights of the Palestinians in Lebanon but no one is talking about the rights of the Lebanese.

كتير سلبي أنه تلت أرباع شبابنا مهاجرين وتلت أرباع اماتنا عم تبكي من شوقهن لولادهن
Ktir salbeh that the majority of our youth immigrated and the majority of our mums are crying because they miss their children.

بينما موضوع ملف توطين الفلسطينيين صار موضوع على نار حامية ويمكن صار أمر واقع… عرؤوسنا
meanwhile the issue of the settlement of Palestinians is now boiling and maybe it is falling fact.. on our heads.

كتير سلبي أنه فلسطين ما تعود للفلسطينيين بس اللي سلبي بعد أكتر أنه لبنان ما يعود بس للبنانيين
Ktir salbeh that Palestine stops being for Palestinians but what is more salbeh is that Lebanon stops being only for the Lebanese.

كتير سلبي أنه ينحكى عن حق تملك الفلسطينيين بلبنان شقة بالوقت اللي اذا اللبناني لاقى شقة ما معه يدفع حقها
Ktir salbeh that we’re discussing the right of Palestinians to own flats in Lebanon while when the Lebanese find a flat, they can’t afford to pay for it.

كتير سلبي أنه لبنان بس يحمل همّ الفلسطيني بالوقت اللي أكترية الدول العربية الباقية ما بدها تدفع فلس لأنها مش من هالطينة
Ktir salbeh that only the Lebanese worry about the Palestinians while most of the other Arab countries don’t want to pay a penny because they’re not made out of this.

The transcript above is via a report yesterday in al-Akhbar, which goes on to comment:

One wonders if any of these people on MTV have ever entered a Palestinian refugee camp. As one tweep remarked “The way these people are talking on MTV you’d think Palestinians in Lebanon lived in palaces and it was the Lebanese who lived in refugee camps.” About 400,000 Palestinians live in overcrowded refugee camps all over Lebanon, while being denied their basic civil rights.

The most depressing thing is that this is not the first time that MTV has aired blatantly racist content. Facebook is full of angry people commenting on how MTV represents people from Lebanon’s city of Baalbak in the Bekaa valley as insane violent farmers.

Less than two months ago, MTV aired a distressing and highly dangerous report on how “foreigners” are the main reason behind crimes in the Christian neighborhood of Burj Hammoud. The report fails to mention that the Christians in Burj Hammoud, who are mostly of Armenian descent, were once foreigners and refugees as well. The area should have been celebrated for welcoming other communities instead of demonizing them and spreading sectarian fear and xenophobic hate.

Ktir Salbeh has recently made fun of migrant domestic workers. When interviewed by Now Lebanon this week, the show’s director Hani Khafsheh claimed that the critics do not understand the program’s sense of humour. He also tried hiding behind the double meaning of the wordsalbeh by claiming that here it was used as “negative.” As activists rightfully told Now Lebanon, “racism is not funny.”

Not funny indeed.
Comments
  1. Lina says:

    What they are saying is not offensive. As much as we all feel with their agony, sadly the world does not revolve around Palestinian refugees. We have been living with this tragedy for years and all nations have been expected to fend for the Palestinians and help them when they are not doing much to help themselves – the Palestinian authority and the Palestinians themselves who live in peace, happily in Israel.

    Palestine is a tragedy and no one deserves to live in the conditions they are living in. But to come and impose their rights on a country that has come out of a turmoil an dis struggling to feed its community and offer jobs to its youth, is not a ‘right’. Countries are happy and willing to help within their means, and should not be expected to support ‘beyond’ their means. The effort needs to come from the Palestinians and their representatives who were too busy serving their needs. Stop blaming others and finding points to accuse others when they are being generous and helping out. Jordan opened its arms to Palestinians and offered them not only jobs, but governmental powers, and they still speak against it and deny they are Jordanians even-though some have never even set foot in what is called Palestine.

  2. Eliza says:

    This country if full of racists and ignorant peopl ,either you are black ,philip ions ,or other workers which they are under paid and no one really cares .As for Palestinians ,most of them have been born here and live in the misery and that is all they know . Yes ,the Libanese should go and see for themselves but then maybe they get dirty !!

  3. Nadim Shehadi says:

    There is a bright side to this, as always. Ktir Salbeh is a very popular programme which addresses political and social issues in an often shock and awe fashion and certainly never in a politically correct manner. This is their style and I am a great fan.

    In fact I would have expected much worse from them especially when it comes to the issue of Palestinian refugees. It was quite restrained not to mention the civil war and the Palestinian role in it or their role in provoking the Israeli invasion of 1982 which many Lebanese consider as the price they paid for the PLO presence or the battle of Nahr el Bared etc.. all these issues are still burried within the Lebanese psyche and are very difficult to deal with and it may even be early. Compare this to the forty years it took for the French to barely begin discussing the Algerian war, or Indochina which is still taboo. Looking at it positively, the Palestinian rights issue is an important one in Lebanon’s transition from the aftermath of civil war followed by fifteen years of Syrian control. I would say that Ktir Salbeh have done the issue a huge favor just by raising it, the worse that can happen is for it to be ignored or brushed under the carpet.

    Now the question is whether people will get on a high horse and self righteously condemn their programme or jump on the occasion and follow up the story and the debate in a positive manner to deal with the refugee issue rationally.

    The audience that the programme reaches is the opportunity. As with all complex issues, the answers are often very simple, the problem is that they tend not to be raised because of their complexity.

  4. Rex Brynen says:

    Nadim:

    I’m not a watcher of the show, but I’m unconvinced that most of their viewers understand the skit as a satire of negative attitudes towards Palestinians. Rather, I suspect that most viewers will take it as a confirmation of their existing biases.

    Certainly, frank discussion of the Palestinian issue touches upon many painful and contentious periods in Lebanon’s past. However, 1982 was three decades ago, and I’m increasingly less inclined to give Lebanon a pass for the delay in grappling with this issue or other issues. (Equally, I’m increasingly less inclined to give a pass to Palestinians who claim a continued need for arms and de facto extra territoriality of the camps.)

  5. Nadim Shehadi says:

    Rex: You can watch the show online, they are highly satirical, sometimes cruel, and hit the nail on the head. Good with impersonations of politicians and do not spare anybody. There are a couple of shows like this, the other is called ‘la youmall’, there was a riot when they immitated Nasrallah They would both certainly be banned in less tolerant and open minded countries like Canada especially if they get anywhere near mentioning ice hockey.

    Three decades is a short period in memory terms – It took till the mid-eighties, forty years after the WWII, for genetics research to start picking up, for ‘ethnicity’ to become an acceptable term in social ‘science’, to be able to listen to Wagner and read Nietzche ….. and some people still do not drive Golfs and protest against Siemens getting railway contracts in Wyoming. But even closer to home how many good Arabic sources can you find on the war of the camps in 84-85? The subject is almost taboo and a PhD student recently doing interviews had great difficulty getting people to talk about it in both Lebanese and Palestinian circles.

    Lebanon officially started grappling with the issue in 2005, you and I did ten years before, but I think the change has been quite significant and relatively quick, in fact meteoric in policy terms and in terms of atmosphere even more.

    Issues like this tend to get burried under the carpet for a long time, because they are too sensitive, raising them in academic circles is easy, it gets more difficult when you target policy circles, then there is media, but the toughest is to reach the ‘masses’ and get the subject to ‘trend’. For all I know this could just have been a few minutes on air and then it will disappear but that would be sad.

    • ali says:

      I have never been a fan of this show nor do i find it funny. They have crossed the line many times and showed insensitivity in many occations. The cast is not funny plain and simple, very sarcastic, ignorant and quite lame. Now let me get to the point, at one one point in time a nation or people in a nation has to accept responsibility and stop blaming others for their own problems. The past was a present, our present will be a past and a bad past if we do not do anything about it. The future will become a past. We can work in the present for a better future.
      I do not find it funny to make fun at the expense of hurting other. I do not consider being nasty, and provocative or talking dirty jokes to be funny. Comedy helps us release some of our stresses but not at the expense of offending others or compromising our values and principles. Most shows on lebanese televisions need to be cancelled, they are influencing our kids in a very negative way.

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