A Call for Phoenicia

By Edmond Nicolas

February 22, 2007


Once a nation’s history becomes defined by the challenge of “We have been here forever, but where do we go from here?”, the only means left for that nation’s people to survive and rescue their existence is to take the fight and expose the roots of their culture to the whole world. The roots of a culture are the inner law that governs the instinct of survival of that nation.


Acts: 11- 19. “Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch,”

Acts: 15- 3. The church sent them on their way, and as they traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted.”

Acts: 21- 2. We found a ship crossing over to Phoenicia, we went on board and set sail.”


These three references are from the Bible and recount the journey of St. Paul and other persecuted among Christ’s followers in early Christianity. They enlighten us to the fact that the disciples were looking for a sanctuary in Phoenicia from which they would spread the message of Christ throughout the ancient world.  We are not bringing this study to light for a religious purpose, but instead to use the Bible as a historic document that reaffirms the preexistence of Phoenicia before Judaism, Christianity and Islam.


A culture can investigate religious texts to build the case for the originality of its ancient roots. And the accuracy of the text will confirm the invalidity of any claim that disputes the matter of that existence. We can dig beneath the surface and reveal the ancient structure of a temple or a city. We can rebuild over the original foundation a totally new structure.  However, if we use the ancient text for a religious purpose only, it is like elevating a new ceiling over an old structure without the four standing walls. The four walls are the elements that give its virtual shape to the new structure are: One, the remodeled old structure has to relate to its present milieu. Two, the new structure should recognize the history of its neighbors. Three, the new structure has to be recognized by its historic neighbors. And four, they must renew their historic peaceful bond with each other. These four elements will give back to the whole neighborhood its historic and essential nature, and without them the old foundation and the new ceiling would lay flat on top of each other. 


Nations become greater once their entire population shares their belief in the history that belongs to the legacy of their motherland.  Also, a great nation would drive itself to ruin once its population lives at odds with the history of the motherland.


The Middle East today is in the midst of an agony that is threatening the peace around the world. It is the pain that will give birth to a new age in human history. Moreover, there is in Lebanon a demographic force that is working to alter the historic culture of the motherland with a phony identity that is being exported from beyond the region. This despicable and vile act is hostile to the peace and tranquility in Lebanon, the region and around the world. Hence, if the nations in the region and the world community desire everlasting peace and harmony in the Middle East and among each other, consequently it is time for the Lebanese people, like the other nations, to give a free voice to their desires and wishes as well. We, the Lebanese, should be given a chance to acknowledge the roots of our motherland Phoenicia. 


Likewise, the designers that conspire to redraw the map of the region at this time have to recognize the existence of Phoenicia. Phoenicia is the doorway that will bolster the historic reason for every other nation in the area to exist in peace and freedom.  


The population of our motherland Phoenicia is like an aged garden to the farmer. The consequences of our long history have grafted our tree population with varieties of fruits. However, even if the grafted branches have grown tall and big, they still cannot change the nature of the tree and the originality of its roots. Furthermore, once the grafted branches are no longer productive organs, the farmers have to cut them down before they absorb the nutrition and drive the tree completely to its demise. The course of action is a major surgery but eventually it would help the tree prosper and grow younger up from its roots again.


Likewise, it is time for all the communities living in Lebanon to accept the legacy of our Phoenician ancestors as their own.  Even though a large number of the population is from a different race or different religion, it would be for the benefit of the entire nation to adopt the belief of our ancient Phoenician which is our deepest bond and which should unite us all. This way we are all connected to one historic glory, the glory of the motherland.


Moreover, if some people continue to refuse the originality and the history of our motherland Phoenicia, it is a reason against their existence in the land. If a person does not admit that he belonged to the house where he is raising his children, then he is confirming this as a proof against himself that he does not belong where he lives.  The original owner has the right to use every means to free and retain the ownership of his property.


In order for our forefathers to survive the conflicts with the invaders throughout the ages, the Phoenicians and other small nations in the Middle East bowed to the pressure of foreign forces that repeatedly occupied their lands. It was a tactic to survive the strength and the brutality of the aggressors.  They preferred to pay tribute as long as they were left alone to conduct their way of life. Our forefathers and over 6,000 years of our history, continually succumbed to the power of Egyptian Pharaohs, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Arabs and Turks. However, Phoenicia outlived them all. The greatest empires of the ancient world came and went but the Phoenician people persisted. They were always ready to shake the yoke of foreign domination. They taught their children to be constantly prepared whenever the opportunity allows them to reclaim their Phoenician heritage.


However, in 330 AD the Roman Emperor Constantine moved his seat from Rome to Constantinople, a new city that he built and called after his name. Constantinople - the Istanbul of the present day - was more centrally located to rule the Roman Empire that expanded over the Eastern and the Western ancient world.  We have to keep in mind that during this period of Christianity, the Church was not divided into Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant and the Church of England as it is divided today. Hence the various nations within the vast Roman Empire were still sharing the same dogma. Though a century later, when Rome was destroyed and the western part of the Roman Empire collapsed under the attacks by the Barbarians, the eastern part of the Roman Empire became known as the Byzantine Empire. The Byzantine Empire survived until Constantinople was overran by the Ottomans in 1453 A.D.


On the other hand, Phoenicia stayed under the rule of the Byzantine Empire until the 7th century A.D. Once the Byzantine Empire began to fall apart, the Phoenicians were ready for liberation and declared their independence again. The opportunity came when the Byzantine emperor Maximus refused to recognize the election of John Maron as Patriarch of Antioch and the entire East. The Emperor considered the election that took place in the absence of a delegation from him as a breakaway from his authority. John Maron, the elected Patriarch forfeited his seat in Antioch and fled to Mount Lebanon in Phoenicia. The Emperor sent his army into Phoenicia to capture the Patriarch. The Phoenicians raised an army of 30,000 men under the command of the John Maron’s nephew. The two armies met in Madfoun, in the vicinity of Batroun, 30 miles north of Beirut. The Byzantine army was defeated which gave way for the Phoenician people to establish their independent kingdom.


Ironically, the Phoenician kingdom was short lived because soon after, the whole Middle East and the history were about to change due to the Arab invasion. The Phoenician people could not defend their kingdom before the flood of the Islamic army. It was safer to apply the old tactic of survival and yielded to the Arabs in the hope of surviving this new phase of their history. Unfortunately, it was an episode of history where the varieties of cultures were no longer allowed to acknowledge their existence in the Middle East. The Islamist-Arab conquerors pressured the Phoenicians and all other subjected nations to convert to Islam.


It is essential to understand that converting to Islam was the practical option that the subdued population in Phoenicia and elsewhere had to choose. It was an alternative to enslavement or death. However, some of the Phoenicians chose a totally different option. They chose to flee to Mount Lebanon, Phoenicia’s sanctuary, where their ancestors survived and roamed free throughout the ages.


However, our forefathers who fled to the mountains and preserved their Phoenicia heritage were not more loyal to the legacy of Phoenicia than those who stayed behind and accepted the conquerors’ harsh term of surrender. They continued to be the same people and we are their children and equally honor them throughout our mutual recognition of our Phoenician roots.


This was a brief and romantic overview of the historic facts of our motherland, Phoenicia. The intention is to awaken our consciousness before our children and before the whole world, that we are the offspring of the Phoenician heritage. We can still believe differently but then we have to come up with a logical explanation of what happened to the Phoenicians people who were living in Phoenicia before the Arab invasion.


Today history is repeating itself. Freedom is knocking at our door and it is time to reclaim our Phoenician heritage before the whole world. It is our accountability before the ages and before our generations. It is our responsibility to provide our children everlasting peace and freedom. 


Yet the subject begs itself: “Why Phoenicia should be a kingdom?”


Every sovereign nation whether it was a modern country or a classical kingdom should have a ruler, a head of the state, who represents the nation before the whole world. Whether the rulers were elected to a limited term or if they inherited the position through a bloodline, they should embody the dream of the public and help them make their vision of the future a reality. The rulers are the symbol that bonds the citizens under one command, where they would share the good time and face the difficulties together.


Now if we study the modern history of our nation since 1920, we realize that the President, the highest executive office in the government, was never a source of unity among us all. To the contrary, the presidency was the reason that kept our nation divided and weak. We were weak because we were divided, and we were divided because the presidency post could never make us one nation. The post of president divided the population between Christian people, Muslim people and Druze people. It divided the Christian people between a Maronite community and other Christian communities. And the worst of all, it divided the Maronites amongst themselves, where every Maronite politician wanted to be a president for life and pass the leadership to his offspring.  And this situation is creating an endless conflict within the individual themselves, and between the various communities. The sentiment at the level of the individual is one of indignation: Why he/she is being robbed of their right to be a president? Moreover, every community of our people is offended by the fact that its children are not entitled to run for president.


Therefore, the Lebanese people should work out a solution now to eliminate the source of conflict among our children in the future. Let’s take the United Kingdom for example. The British people were divided among several warlords who fought each other over who should be the king that rule the whole territory of England. They did not become a great nation until the warlords realized that they should yield their power to one king. It is time for the Lebanese warlords who led our people into division and war more than to unity, to yield their power to one person. Let’s yield our personal gain now and pass on to our children a peaceful and great nation or let’s continue to be several warlords and pass to them our endless warfare.


For this reason, let us raise the kingdom of Phoenicia together on the heritage and the glories of our forefathers. Let us yield to one king and let the rule of democracy give every individual the equal opportunity to perform their duty toward our nation, where our children would live, grow and prosper in peace and freedom.


Therefore, my brothers and sisters in Phoenicia and abroad, all the options were downplayed for the sake of our entire nation. And as our ancestors were several kingdoms – Tyre, Sidon, Byblos and Arwad – that willed to share the principle of life, prosperity, mutual destiny and the legacy of freedom together, every community could will today to share the same desire under the banner of one united kingdom, Phoenicia. 


Phoenicia does not belong to one sect or community alone. Phoenicia belongs to its free children who believe in the history and the legacy of their Motherland.  Hence, Phoenicia need not compromise its existence anymore, nor should it be condemned by some of its inhabitants.


That is why Phoenicia should be a kingdom. It is the call of our Motherland to restore its heritage where its children will continue to be in peace and freedom. 


Edmond Nicolas

Author of “The Tomato War and Theomachy”. He lives in Texas and welcomes comments at onemalek@hotmail.com