Open Letters from the public to the media regarding everything Phoenician, Canaanite, Punic
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This site entertains the publication of open letters that relate to Phoenician/Canaanite subjects and figures addressed from the public to various media, especially television channels, stations or in print.

All questions or comments regarding such open letters MUST be addressed to those who wrote them whose email addresses appear below. will not respond to them.

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Open Letter to: The collective conscience of the Lebanese Nation and World Culture regarding the lack of recognition in the Lebanese National Museum of Emir Maurice Chehab. honors him in perpetuity (see In Perpetuum Honorum) because we believe that people like Alexander the Great, Peter the Great and others do not deserve the adjective "Great." It is people like Emir Maurice who should be called the great because of the timeless gift he gave Lebanon, history and Lebanese National Museum. Further, we believe the Museum should be called the Emir Maurice Chehab Museum, being its father and savior. (The Author of this site)


To my utter disbelief, I could not believe that the Museum of Beirut does not have a dedication or a picture of Emir Maurice at the Museum he worked so hard to save. I visited the Museum on July 17, 2009, looked for some kind of recognition in his honor, watched a film at the theater -- in which he was also not mentioned, and went to the Museum shop, -- where he was also not recognized in any printed matter. What a shame! So much fanfare in the city of Beirut for others who made a lot of money, while they supposedly "helped" modern Lebanon and a man who is recognized internationally in the art world for his uncompromising dedication to Lebanese art and history is not recognized in the Museum that he helped save. He is certainly recognized all over Europe and in other countries. This was a great member of the Chehab, the Lebanese family and the world of arts & culture, and as such he should be recognized in his own country.

What a shame, such a great loss.

Denise M. Chehab
Direct descendant of Emir Melhelm, Emir Yussif & Emir Mahmood Chehab,
and a history major, arts and cultures enthusiast
New York City
San Juan, Puerto Rico


Open Letter to: The National Geographic, The Forgotten Faithful: Followers of Jesus for nearly 2,000 years, native Christians today are disappearing from the land where their faith was born by By Don Belt
Subject: An article on an oxymoron Arab-Christian and the Near Eastern Christians (written by a novice at best, and a certified idiot at worst) where the magazine is called into questionable integrity in the sophomoric treatment of the politics of identity in the Middle East.

Letter 1
Don Belt’s essay’s pithy title, “The Forgotten Faithful Arab Christians” [sic.] of the Holy Land, adumbrates a compelling story of dispossession, marginalization, and extinction; yet, the factual errors, omissions, and distortions throughout his narrative disappoint and misinform. 

Attributing the dwindling numbers of Near Eastern Christians to the Crusades is not only shoddy history, it is at once hypocritical and dangerous.  Whatever happened to the Arab-Muslim conquests of the 7th Century?  Did they not precede the Crusades by some 400 years and had already begun Islamizing Near Eastern Christians?  Weren’t the Crusades delayed defensive Christian wars, waged in an attempt to take back from Muslim conquerors what was taken by force from Christians some five centuries prior?  Belt’s dubious history doesn’t stop with the condemnation of the Crusades and the whitewashing of the 7th Century Arab-Muslim conquests; his unrelenting references to Near Eastern Christians as “Arab Christians”--wrongly subsuming them en masse under a monistic Arab ethno-national and linguistic label--is a sinister and cruel expropriation of the history of indigenous, pre-Arab, Near Eastern Christians.  Today’s Copts, Maronites, and Assyrians, heirs to the ancient Pharaohs, Canaanites, and Aramaeans, would be amazed at Don Belt’s assertion that Arabs were “among the first to be persecuted for the new faith, and the first to be called Christians.” One wonders, whatever happened to the Jewish Jesus, and to the Hebrew, Aramaic, Latin, and Greek speaking followers of Jesus?  Whatever happened to Levantine Jews, Roman, and Greek Pagans and Pantheists who adopted Christianity some seven centuries prior the Arabs’ blood-soaked entry into the Levant?  

Aside from a host of other factual errors, Belt puts the onus for the disappearing Christians of the Holy Land squarely on modern Israel and Israeli policies, while 13 centuries of Arab-Muslim persecutions get nary the cursory mention.  One wonders what role Israel plays today in the disappearance of the Copts of Egypt, the Maronites of Lebanon, the Chaldaeans and Assyrians of Iraq, and the Syriacs of Syria among others?  Is their dispossession of their homelands over the past 13 centuries also the result of "Israeli occupation?"  Can someone at the NGM spell anachronism in this narrative?

I commend the National Geographic for attempting to shed some light on the plight of the forgotten Christians of the Near East.  But under the guise of telling their story, Don Belt has set out to erase the historical memory of Near Eastern Christians.  Subsuming them under a uniform, reductive “Arab” identity, and assuming pre-Muslim Arabs inhabited the Holy Land prior to the 7th Century advent of Islam is not only unscrupulous and misleading reading of Levantine history; it is hypocritical, inaccurate, ideologically motivated, and potentially dangerous.  There are already enough misconceptions about the Middle East being intellectualized in the media and the academy; sadly, instead of correcting, illuminating, and informing, Don Belt’s essay contributes to further distortions and politicization--not to mention forced “Arabization”--of Near Eastern history.

Thank you,

Franck Salameh
Assistant Professor of Near Eastern Studies
Coordinator of the Arabic Studies and Hebrew Program
Department of Slavic and Eastern Languages and Literatures
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Lyons Hall 210
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467

Letter 2
It is profoundly disappointing how broad a brush Mr. Belt has used to paint Middle Eastern Christians (in the June 2009 issue of the National Geographic, pp. 84-97.)  Rather than reducing them to the simplistic and inaccurate label "Arab", Mr. Belt should have had the intellectual honesty to recognize the complexity and diversity of these pre-Arab, ancient Near Eastern peoples, not all of whom take kindly to the label "Arab", and most of whom brandish proud histories, languages, and traditions predating the Arabs and Muslims by centuries if not millennia.  Besides the obvious contempt Mr. Belt has for these people--quipping snidely at one point that "candidates for sainthood" don't ordinarily come to mind when speaking of Lebanon's Maronites -- his article was more a reflection of his ideological bias than it was a dispassionate "history" of the Christians of the Holy Land as the NGM's cover page misleadingly announces.  His disturbingly inaccurate observation that Arabs were among the first people to adopt Christianity demonstrates either an immodest and unsubstantiated revisionism, or else Mr. Belt's breathtaking ignorance of both the history of Christianity and the history of the pre-Arab Eastern Mediterranean.  It is unfortunate that the National Geographic chose to publish such an inaccurate and politically charged treatise--by the journal's Senior Editor for Foreign Affairs no less; someone for whose past writings I otherwise had the utmost appreciation and respect.


Franck Salameh
Assistant Professor of Near Eastern Studies
Coordinator of the Arabic Studies and Hebrew Program
Department of Slavic and Eastern Languages and Literatures
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Lyons Hall 210
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467


Open Letter to: The History Channel regarding their erroneous portrayals in a Battle BC segment entitled Hannibal
Subject: Erroneous portrayals of the Barcids during a Battle BC segment entitled Hannibal.


The reason for my writing is to inquire why The History Channel, whose very name should be synonymous with historicity, is perpetrating a racial myth with it's programming, namely in its most recent production of a Battle BC segment entitled Hannibal. This ancient general, as you should well know, was a direct descendant of Phoenician Canaanites, Near Eastern colonists of Carthage who are today's Lebanese.  We Lebanese then as now haven been anthropologically designated Caucasians of the Mediterranean extraction in taxonomy, an obvious fact that can easily be perceived by anyone.  Yet this begs the question, Why was our Hannibal Barca and his father Hasdrubal portrayed by a mulatto and a Negro respectively?  Portrayals that were rendered even more ridiculous by your accurately portraying their Punic followers as whites.  To make such a mistake would be tantamount to calling our first president George Washington a Native American because of his geographic location on the world map.  

My indignation over the segment comes primarily from two sources: The first, extreme Afrocentrists, who seek to relegate the Second Punic War to the level of an anti-white conflict waged against the beginnings of European imperialism by their arrogating our ancestor as their racial role model, by labeling him a sub-Saharan African.  The second, extreme Eurocentrists, who, like the aforementioned, seek to do the same by classifying us in the biracial ethnic group of mulattos, or even the race of full-blood blacks.

These ahistoric portrayals by The History Channel help to deny not only our proper race and ethnicity, but our group identity as a whole and our contributions to human development throughout time.  To properly educated your viewers about the recorded aggregate of past events, it would do well for the producers of such programs to be more thorough in their research and careful with their choice of actors.  A good starting point to learn from would be the site address of Phoenicia.or , a large repository of our people's past.  And in future time, please, try to avoid making the mistake so commonly committed by others on your channel elsewhere, specifically in labeling us as Semites instead of the Canaanites that we are.  To do otherwise would simply be both racist and ethnocentric.  

Best regards,
Jared Reilly
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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Additional references, sources and bibliography (Please don't write and ask me for references. You can find them at the end of article or in Bibliography)

Phoenicia, A Bequest Unearthed -- Phoenician Encyclopedia

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