About Michel Chiha

Family, Childhood, Career

About Chiha Foundation

Political Philosophy

“…It’s because there is no other country like it that Lebanon can be relied on to being true to itself”…

‘The peculiarities of the Lebanese system’ M.C., Le Jour, May 6th, 1946.

 

Michel Chiha’s political philosophy envisaged Lebanon, within a very cramped territorial entity, as being composed of an ensemble of communities belonging to either one of the two largest monotheistic religions, namely Christianity and Islam. Amicable coexistence between the two would only be achieved through a political framework based on an equal respect of the other’s belief system and that this would only be accomplished in an open assembly where each religious grouping and every region was represented as fully and as practically as possible. Michel Chiha supported the principle of a representative assembly, even one that was “imperfect and faulty” because “in Lebanon, should political discussion cease to take place within the confines of parliament, it will assuredly continue within the precinct of the mosques and churches, and at the dawn of every new day, Lebanon would be facing civil war”.

“…A healthy government must ultimately show that an opposition is not detrimental. It is necessary, obligatory and a duty and any state devoid of a healthy opposition or a regime free from rational dissent will inevitably sink into iniquity…”

‘Extract from a short speech’, M.C., Le Jour April 7th, 1951.

 

Confessionalism

In his defense of the sectarian system, he argued at the time that in spite of the enormous drawbacks it would guarantee a degree of accord which in itself did not preclude the possibility of evolving towards a more elaborate system of government.

“…When the demand to move away from a confessional system in Lebanon becomes overwhelming, then each denomination must consent, with a minimum of protest, to be under-represented on occasion. This would be rewarded by the fact that on other occasions they would be wholly over-represented. I, for one, cannot see why this should not be possible but bad habits have been acquired and they are notoriously hard to shed”,

M.C., Le Jour,  January 26th, 1945.

“…The dictionary defines confessionalism as “a narrow attachment to a religious denomination”. However, confessionalism in Lebanon is something altogether different. It is a guarantee of political representation and of fair social relations within interconnected religious minorities. In the broader sense, it is a form of civilization”

M.C., Le Jour,  May 21st, 1949.

“…There are minorities here, denominations there, and different cultures co-existing together everywhere. We should not argue for or against the particular rights of one or the other but rather simply recognize the rights of all…”

‘Thoughts on policy’, M.C., Le Jour,  January 9th, 1945.

Economics

“Lebanon’s geographic location and trading history dictate the need for three basic premises in terms of its economic policy: a strong and stable currency, advantageous trading facilities, and low taxes”.

“…Lebanon is a nation where everything relies on balance and moderation…”

M.C., Le Jour,  April 10th, 1947.

 

“…History, evidence, and the fact all show that even a moderate version of a tightly controlled economic system is not a rational option for Lebanon…”

‘The period of illusions’, M.C., Le Jour,  October 2nd, 1948.

 

Foreign Relations

“what defines Lebanon as a nation of associated minorities is the fact that it offers refuge to all the persecuted minorities of the Middle East in a nation where no one can persecute them or have someone else’s origin, ancestry or creed imposed upon them”.
“Located between the Arab and the Mediterranean world, the multifarious Lebanese culture and its advanced social environment dictate a foreign policy based on maintaining harmonious and empathetic relations between East and West, indeed to such an extent that it precludes the option of taking risks”.

“…Henceforth, three major factors will influence our future. The first is the Path (which is as old as tribes and families). The second is oil and the third is the proximity of the Jewish state…”

‘Perspectives’, M.C., Le Jour, August  3rd, 1948.

From the very onset of the Palestinian issue, Michel Chiha vigorously called for the enforcement of international human and individual rights and his early predictions on the dangers of Zionism were to prove uncannily astute and accurate.

“…The decision to partition Palestine in order to accommodate the creation of a Jewish state will prove to be one of the biggest mistakes ever to have been committed in the political universe…”

‘An absurd policy’, M.C., Le Jour,  December 5th, 1947.

“…If the Lebanese wish to thrive then they must be prepared to work very hard, for this is a small country whose survival depends on the services it provides in the face of debilitating competition…in the near future the Lebanese will replace the Jews along the trade routes of the world…”

‘After the weapons, the cash’, M.C., Le Jour,  January 21st, 1949.