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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Want to get Lebanese in trouble? Tweet them from Israel!

From Now Lebanon:
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.
Can a Lebanese citizen who Is physically In Lebanon, or can any resident of Lebanon, engage in a conversation with an Israeli citizen who is physically in Israel? What if the Lebanese has dual citizenship?

No in both cases, and the same applies if the person the Lebanese is talking to is Arab-Israeli. However, a Lebanese can legally call the Occupied Territories. Israelis can also call Lebanon, though engaging in a phone conversation should be avoided and would be considered illegal.

Can a Lebanese citizen who is in Lebanon engage in a conversation with an Israeli citisen who is outside of Israel?

No, not even through an intermediary or institution, though “If you are discussing non-threatening issues such as social small talk, and if you happen to be in another city, the case could, in principle, be defended," said El Meouchi.

Can a Lebanese citizen who is outside of Lebanon engage in a conversation with an Israeli who is outside of Israel?

No, though "In the case of spontaneity, tortuity and the discussion of non~threatening issues, it could be defended," noted El Meouchi.

Can a Lebanese who only holds a Lebanese passport marry an Israeli citizen, dual or not, outside of Lebanon and some back to Lebanon? 

No. Article 1 of the Anti-Israeli Boycott Law prohibits any type of relation with Israelis, though it basically has to do with commercial and business transactions. As such, it could he argued that marriage is not a commercial or business transaction, said El Meouchi, However, such an argument may not convince the Lebanese government.

Can a Lebanese man marry an Israeli woman who gives up her nationality and transfer his Lebanese citizenship to her? 

Yes. In principle this is possible, though the Lebanese government could take a negative position on a case-by-case basis, the lawyer said.

Can a Lebanese citizen do business from abroad with an Israeli who Is In Israel?

No.

Can a Lebanese buy an Israeli publication or product abroad and bring it back to Lebanon? 

No.

Can a Lebanese citizen participate in a conference, festival or sporting event where an Israeli citizen is also a participant? 

Yes, as long as they are not in direct communication.

Can a Lebanese publish in a journal in which an Israeli also published? 

Yes, as long as the publication is not Israeli, does not publish from Israel, does not belong to an Israeli or a person residing in Israel, and as long as the Lebanese and Israeli did not communicate directly on the published work.

Can a Lebanese Iriend an Israeli on Facebook? 

No, because technically speaking, any Facebook activity with an Israeli would still be considered a violation of Article I of the Anti-Israel Boycott Law.
As far as the question on sports competitions, the answer seems to be that Lebanese cannot even compete against Israelis - and must forfeit their matches, the way Iran does.
Sixteen-year-old Christopher Finan’s Tae Kwon Do coach has very high hopes for him. The teenager, who trains in Champville, north of Beirut, started to learn the Korean martial art when he was 10 and has rarely lost a match. Competing in the 2010 World Junior Championships in Tijuana, Mexico last month was a dream-come-true for the Lebanese junior champion. He paid for his own training and even bought his own ticket – which cost over $1,000 – to reach Mexico, but he was in for an ugly surprise.

Finan’s first opponent at the championship was Gil Haimovitz, an Israeli teenager. Finan had to forfeit the match, for as a Lebanese, he is not allowed to not touch, speak to, deal with or compete against an Israeli citizen, even if that citizen is just a 15-year-old boy.
According to that older article, Lebanon has the most restrictive anti-Israel laws of any country - including Iran!
No other Arab countries that take part in international competitions have national laws stipulating boycott with Israel in sports competitions, while Iran allows players to boycott as an individual decision.
It would be a real shame if Israelis should start conversations on, say, Sayed Nasrallah's YouTube page or on the talkbacks at his Al Manar channel. No matter what insult they hurl at him and his Lebanese Shi'ite buddies, they couldn't legally answer without breaking the law.

There's a lot of potential here....