September 18, 2011

The rules of Lebanese-Israeli engagement




What happens if, while abroad, you make a friend who happens to be Israeli? What if you are attending an event with participants from the Jewish State and shake an Israeli representative’s hand? What if you bought a magazine that was printed in Tel Aviv and wanted to bring it back home?

These questions may seem superfluous to non-Lebanese, but for natives of the Land of the Cedars, engaging in any activity with an Israeli, physically or not, can land you in hot water.

That is because relations between Israelis and Lebanese are governed by two half-century-old laws: the 1943 Lebanese Criminal Code and the 1955 Lebanese Anti-Israeli Boycott Law, the former of which forbids any interaction with nationals of enemy states, and the latter of which specifies Israelis.

To boot, because in the laws’ eyes Lebanese nationality takes primacy over any other, a Lebanese who has dual citizenship and is involved in an exchange with an Israeli anywhere in the world can be legally prosecuted in a Lebanese court.

NOW Lebanon asked Salim El Meouchi, senior partner and chairman of the Beirut-based law firm Badri and Salim El Meouchi, just how far the laws extend. 

“The moral of the story is that the subject is highly politicized and sensitive, and one must be very cautious,” El Meouchi said, adding, “The laws and regulations would also benefit from being updated and developed in order to cover and clarify grey areas.”




Nalliah Thayabharan

30 years ago US President Ronald Reagan launched “Let Poland be Poland” campaign. Now it is time for US President Obama to launch "Let Palestine be Palestine" campaign. US President Barack Hussein Obama understands the Israeli-Palestinian issue very clearly. President Obama knows the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is now at a dead end. Earlier President Obama tried to revive the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations by mandating a complete West Bank settlement freeze, only to be forced embarrassingly by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to back down. May President Obama had the temerity to publicly tell Israel that its current policy towards the Palestinians is untenable and unsustainable, and to modestly suggest a negotiating formula to break the impasse, President Obama was publicly chastised by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and had to submit to the humiliation of seeing the US Congressional leaders of the Democratic Party repudiate him in favour of Israeli Prime Minister


Firas the PLO has been trying dialogue since Oslo and look where they are, they cant even get the US not to veto a simple resolution recognising Palestine and what little is left of it as a nation. I dont know which "out dated methodologies" you are referring to but ill tell you what does work on Israelis as Lebanon has shown is Resistance whether it be armed or not. This means that no amount of violence or terror will make us submit to the will of Zionism and take away from the people of these lands their right to live a life of dignity, and not as subordinates of Israel. If you think you can engage the israelis into giving up their ambitions I say good luck, but many many many many before you tried and failed.


You Lebanese are pathetic. International civil society is increasing its boycott of Israel and you want to make peace? Someone said Egypt has been trading with Israel forgetting that there was a revolution in Egypt and one thing they were not happy with was Mubarak's peace. You really are sad and insecure.


Elie, what a load of bull! No the Lebanese are not closer to the Israelis than to the Yemenis, what planet do you live on. FYI, I met plenty of Israelis, no they are not like that, not even the secular ones. The Israeli soceity is a very complex one made of various ethnic and social elements. Some of these elements might coincide with some elements of the Lebanese society no more than just like some elements of the Chinese soceity might have similarities to the Lebanese society. Don't let your opposition to Hezbollah drive you to making such ludicrous claims, they will only back fire on you...


Surprised Lebanese, being anti-Zionist is not a pre packaged deal which you either accept or not. Nothing of what I said implies that I am pro or anti-Zionist, I was talking about how dialogue is the only way forward, if that makes me pro-Zionist then whatever. The issue for me is about out dated methodoligies that many in the region continue to rely on in their assesments of the Israeli problem, it's time for a change, it's not working...


Yes, I agree there should be peace, but not a fake peace. Israel hasnot harmed only palestinians, but also lebanon. I am surprised on some comments here. There are people here who see themselves as non middleeasterns. Doesn't matter if you have 20a% arabehtnicity or 90%. Some people here are such a joke. basically they say: ee are europenas 9or phenicians). The truth is, and stop the crap and dream and empty words: lebanese are a mix, the same guy who's phenician has also some arab blood.So, one guy here said "we have more in common to israelis than arabs". Which israelis mnister? Even the israeli8s are a whole mix. The europena jews? Who are nos semits. Well, phenicians are semitic, as the arabs and as the oriental jews, who, by the way, identify themselves as arab-jews (mizharis) and share many arab traditions. Grow up. Peace YES, psicological, self esteem and identity problemns NO.

ali daoud

Elie, if you like israelis that much, if you miss them that much, go and live with them, i am sure they will treat you the same way they treated those who fled to israel.


Just think of the boom to tourism in both Lebanon and Israel if there is peace....Hotel occupancy rates are only at about 50% in Beirut ....

Peter N

I love how the article says the law should be updated to clarify grey areas! Obviously a Lebanese is not allowed to establish rapport or have a relationship (of any sort) with an Israeli, and that is pretty clear so I don't see how it is a grey area. However, OBVIOUSLY again, if you are in a bar in Paris and happen to meet an Israeli and talk about the weather, I can't see how it will get you in trouble... I can see, however, that the lawyer must give you a legal recommendations...


we have suffered enough fighting for a cause that isnt even out own... let the Palestinians deal with their own problems and let us deal with ours... egypt for example has been trading with israel for years, why cant we make peace and start benefiting from each other? in my opinion the only way lebanon can prosper is to scrap every member in the government and appoint new, more modern people. our politicians have been in power for decades and have only made things worse, its time for a change.

Linus de Faire

Npw, if I were Lebanese and to comment on this piece, and an Israeli also comments, and I - silly me - add a comment, would we be in communication, technically speaking? Dear lord, whatever the denomination, help me. Fun piece ms Aline Sara!

Charles G. Bedran

It is ironic how Lebanese politicians from both sides of the isle meet and do business with Israel. Rightists officials meet often in NYC (Midtown Manhattan) at the JCRC (Jewish Community Relations Committee) with Israeli officials. Also, Leftists extract commissions to allow Israeli affiliated companies to open factories in Lebanon. For example Mr. Jimblot got 10% of the Coca Cola Co. shares as a bribe in order to circumvent Lebanese law. This reminds me of the saying "Do as I say; Not as I do". ...Good night Lebanese,and "Bon chance/good luck on your upcoming civil war. Who are you going to blame this one on???

elie haddad

It is about time to grow up. We have been at war with Israel for 63 years. We need to make peace NOW not in a hundred years. Whether Hizbullah likes it or not Israel will continue to exist for many centuries to come. We have much more in common with the Israelis than with Yemenis, Syrians, Qataris, Saudis etc... We are different and the arab world needs to accept it. I dream of the day when we will be able to cross the borders at Nakoura and visit. The Palestinian Authority has been in direct contact with the Israelis for many years and I don't see why we cannot do the same. The Israelis want peace contrary to what the Hizbullah propaganda is saying. Let us finish with the stupid hatred and make peace. The lebanese jews who had to leave and cannot visit Beirut are more proud to be lebanese than any of the Hizbullah followers who prefer to be Iranians!


We'd be ashamed if you were lebanese

roalnd sarkis



As far as i'm aware, Israeli law only prohibits travel to designated "enemy countries", including Lebanon, but there are no other prohibitions (...)


GROW A BRAIN LEBANON-Im so ashamed to be Lebanese sometimes!


hostility unidirectional? are you being disrepectful to the immesurable suffering the millions of people in Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jordan and Egypt have endured because of Israel (...)?


The palestinians have been engaged in direct dialogue for over 20 years, what (...)clarification communication accept your enemy (...)?


You what Firas? no way! are you serious??? God I had you completely wrong man i always thought you were a (...)anti zionist. Oh yeah good luck trying to convince "the israeli electoral roll" (I wonder does that include non-Jews in the occupied West Bank also known to you as Judea and Samaria) to give up on our resources (incl land water and natural gas) and compensate us for the 63 of pain they've put us through.


I can name no less than 10 people who i know to have broken at least 2 of the nos mentioned above. Ultimately if your liberterian you'll want the state to have as little as possible to do with your personal affairs, thus who you friend or do business with becomes outside of the states hand. Im no liberterian but on this topic Im willing to become one! The only way you can start solving the Palesistinian issue and in a wider picture the Arab one is by dialogue with the Israeli public. You need to communicate with them and let them know that their actions, electing their hater leaders, is only inflaming the situation. The Israeli leaders are the worst breed of politicians, thus to ultimately achieve peace you'll need to convince their electoral roll to not vote for them!


This just proves how archaic our laws are. I'm not advocating to admire the 'enemy', but at the very least open a line of communication so the two sides can learn about each other from each other, instead of secondary sources. Everything starts with dialogue and dialogue does not mean peace right away, but clarification and understanding, and then you can choose whether you want to accept or reject the enemy. Also, I find it really ridiculous to enforce such laws that prohibit communication given the internet these days. Update our laws, modernize our country and progress, or else take your me3ze and go back to your village!

Don Cox

And are there any similar laws in Israel, or is the hostility unidirectional?


i always play online poker and sometimes an israeli is on my table... it's happened often to be honest.. am i an enemy of the state??? even if i take his money??? not that i really care


What about communicating with a Jewish person? Or is it just a nationality thing?