Interview with Dr. Youssef Tabsh – Lebanese Parliamentary Candidate 2018

29136052_174482046507007_1178572907012517487_nDear Reader,

As a start, I have a disclaimer to make: Dr. Youssef Tabsh is my father and is currently running for parliamentary elections in Beirut II district. The aim of this post is to objectively reflect my father’s responses to questions and concerns which matter to the Lebanese citizens in general, and more specifically, Beirut community.

The questions mentioned below have been curated through my personal network, then merged, edited and phrased in such a way as to reduce any redundancies and overlaps while ensuring that all key inquiries are addressed.

In addition to the Q&A below, I’m adding a link to the Electoral Program of “Sawt El Nas” the coalition which Dr. Youssef Tabsh is part of.

You can also follow his Facebook Page on: Dr. Youssef Tabsh Friends (Elections Campaign Page)

About Dr. Youssef Tabsh

Dr. Tabsh is a medical doctor; a uro-surgeon to be exact. He is the youngest of his 5 siblings descending from a typical Sunni family residing in Tareeq El Jdide in Beirut. He has been very proactive in civic welfare matters since he was 14. Dr. Tabsh pursued his studies at Makassed and Al Bir Wal Ihsan schools respectively. Later, he obtained a scholarship to pursue his medical education at the First Institute of Medicine in Saint Petersburg (previously Leningrad), Russia  where he also headed the Arab Students Association.

Upon his return, he registered at the Lebanese Order of Physicians as well as the Lebanese Urology Society. He then opened his clinic, started his medical practice in several local hospitals, joined the Soviet Union Alumni Association in Lebanon which he was then elected as its President. Dr. Tabsh served as a founding member of the Mourabitoun (المُرابِطون) political party, and Vice President at the medical foundation called “Najda Sha’bia” (النجدَة الشعبية). Additionally, he was a founding member and then elected President of the Lebanese National Crescent(الهلال الوطني اللبناني). He is also a founding member and Vice President of an NGO which civilizations studies organization called “Tayyar El Hadarat Abhath wa Dirasat” (تيّار الحضارات-أبحاث ودراسات)

In the aftermath of the civil war, Dr. Tabsh put his political engagement on hold and focused solely on humanitarian work and medical practice. In the 90s, he ran for Presidency of the Order of Physicians.  From a broad geo-political perspective, Dr. Youssef Tabsh strongly believes in Arab nationalism, the Palestinian cause, a fan of Jamal Abdul-Nasser’s socialist views and approaches, and a vigorous advocate of freedom of expression and humanitarian work.

Over the past 37 years, Dr. Tabsh had helped and supported thousands of people in need across all spectra of the country; whether sick, impoverished, or in trouble. His medical and humanitarian services ranged from Beirut, to Saida, Palestinian camps and other various areas in Lebanon where there were people in need.

Currently, Dr. Youssef Tabsh is a retired medical doctor, a loving husband, a father of 4 and a grandfather of 3. He speaks 4 languages, is an avid reader and a strong believer in lifelong learning. He still has that flame in him; that passion and vision to serve his community, his country, and the Arab nation at large by any means and by all means within his capacity. His activism since childhood stands proof to it.

Q&A

After that many years of not being in the political scene, why did you decide to run for elections?

As a matter of fact, my lifelong friends Brigadier General Moustafa Hamdan from the Mourabitoun movement (حركة المرابطون) and ex-MP Najah Wakim from Haraket El Sha’b (حركة الشعب) both asked me to run for elections as they strongly believed in my vision and political agenda while feeling that there is a real chance to succeed with the new electoral law. Based on multiple discussions and meetings, I felt it would be worth to give this step a shot, and I definitely look forward to further serving my country.

When people hear “Mourabitoun” they recall the armed group that was based in Beirut defending against the Israeli invasion. To what extent does the current Mourabitoun movement still resemble its history, and what has changed since then?

The days of armed groups have long been gone; I’ve never been a fan of arms, never used one and not planning to ever own one. Eventually, I’m a medical doctor; I have solemnly sworn to save people’s lives not end it. The Mourabitoun today has kept its core values of Arab nationalism, believing in the Palestinian cause and their right to return to their homeland, and in the socialist agenda of having fair and just policies applied to all citizens within the country regardless of their sects and affiliations. This is the core belief of the Mourabitoun movement. This is what it has been reestablished to do, and this mission will survive despite any challenges.

You are part of a coalition called “Sawt El Nas” or the “Voice of the People”, why this coalition?

As a coalition, there are a lot of common ground among us. It is true that we come from diverse backgrounds and political parties/civic groups, but there is synergy among the members on many core issues, all of which are reflected in our common “Political Program for Parliamentary Elections”.

Can you summarize your political agenda in few bullet points/key words?

The agenda, or political program in general, is quite detailed. However, if I were to highlight the key issues/topics which constitute top priorities for me, they’d be as follows:

  • Secularism: Pushing to end sectarianism in any and all means possible; hence, ensuring citizens are treated equally and fairly, irrespective of their religious affiliation.
  • Rule of Law: Developing necessary policies, and spreading awareness about the importance of institutionalization, good governance and proper functioning of public entities to serve citizens properly, consistently and fairly.
  • Transparency: Activating and empowering the proper institutional bodies to monitor, audit and hold accountable all public servants (from President to Ministers to MPS to all those who work in the public domain) as a means to combating corruption in a structured, consistent and sustainable manner.
  • Knowledge Economy & Employment: Initiate new government projects, open new positions, reverse the brain drain and enforce policies which encourage recruiting fresh graduate Lebanese, people with disabilities, and enforce certain female quotas.
  • Health Care: Ensuring healthcare services are accessible, affordable, of high quality and treat all Lebanese people with courtesy, irrespective of whether or not they have money.

What is your stance of the current political parties who are in power?

They are a disgrace to the country. They have been in control of this country since the civil war; many just changed hats from war-lords to governmental figures. It is a shame that Lebanese citizens have consistently voted them back into office time and time again. There is a saying in Arabic that somewhat means “Your leaders are a reflection of who you truly are” and that shows that some Lebanese people still believe in those “leaders” and they represent them, or else why would they vote for them? That shows that a non-representative percentage of the Lebanese population are sectarian, corrupt, short-sighted, promote their own personal benefit over that of the country’s. Yet, and thankfully, not all Lebanese are like that, and with this new electoral law, we all have a chance to make a difference, of putting people in office to voice out our concerns, and represent us as we deserve to be represented.

Can you walk us through your political program and plans if you become an MP?

Well there are many points to talk about here, so I prefer if you read the program in detail (link) as it covers topics including but not limited to: Foreign policy, Empowerment of the Army, Jails & Justice Department, Sectarianism, Right to Give Nationality to Children by Males and Females, Female Quota, Rights of the Disabled, Brain Drain & Economic Recovery, Knowledge Economy, Healthcare, Education, Unemployment, National Debt, Economic Policy, Fighting Corruption, Garbage & Other Environmental Issues, Electricity, Internet, Telephone & Other Services, and Transportation among other topics.

Anything else you’d like to tell the readers?

Well I want to tell your readers, especially those in Beirut, that their vote won’t go in vain. Each vote counts, every person who steps forward and practices their civic duty is helping shape the future of the country in a way they find fit. I hope that through my bio, my replies, and the program I shared with you above, I will have managed to convince your readers to vote for me. All those who know you, my son, whether personally or through your work, I believe they know what kind of person you are and what kind of upbringing you had. It is the same vision, support and encouragement which I had provided for you that I would like to offer to the youth of this country; give them hope, provide them with decent careers, bring them their country back from the bunch of people who have been taking us hostage for over 30 years now!

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NGOs 101: Field of Work of NGOs

NGOs 101 Series

Many of those I meet think that NGOs are limited to charity work and philanthropy. Yet throughout my work with NGOs, I’ve realized that they cover almost every aspect of “industries” or “field of work” that many of the Private Sector cover, as well as those of Public Sector and UN agencies.

Here’s a quick overview of the list of “industries” or “fields of work” that NGOs cover:

  1. Advocacy & Awareness
  2. Agriculture
  3. Business & Economic Policy
  4. Child Education
  5. Youth Empowerment
  6. Citizenship
  7. Communication
  8. Conflict Resolution
  9. Peace Building
  10. ICT
  11. Culture & Society
  12. Democracy & Civic Rights
  13. Rural Development
  14. Disability & Handicap
  15. Displaced Population & Refugees
  16. Education
  17. Environment
  18. Family Care
  19. Women’s Rights
  20. Governance
  21. Health
  22. Human Rights
  23. Charity/Philanthropy
  24. Labor
  25. Law & Legal Affairs
  26. Migrant Workers
  27. Relief
  28. Reconstruction
  29. Rehabilitation
  30. Research & Studies
  31. Science
  32. Social Media
  33. Technology
  34. Transparency
  35. Training & Capacity Building

Thus, the next time you hear of someone working in NGO, I kindly ask you not to label them as “Charity Worker” as many NGOs are not limited to charity work.

Is University Life Only About Academics?

To make a long story short, the answer is: No! Absolutely not!

Here’s a more elaborate answer on why its not only about academics. This topic has recently surfaced to my attention as many have asked me about my university life and what are the keys to success at university.

Now as a matter of fact, and to make things simple, I can break down university life into 4 elements:

University Life

  • Academics: This includes the major you choose, the courses you take, the papers and projects you do, the grades you take…etc. Trust me, this is coming from someone who scored a 99/100 in his first university course and graduated with a GPA of 76/100 after 3 years of study, not because I’m dumb, but rather because I knew that there are other valuable things to focus on.
  • Work Experience: Not everyone has the luxury of having work opportunities in the university like work-study programs or what not. Yet opportunities don’t stop there, a university student can virtually work a gazillion different things from being a waiter/waitress in a nearby restaurant/café to private tutoring for younger students or schools students, to ushering in some events, to joining some company as an intern having any kind of part time job, whether related to their field of study or not. Obviously having the opportunity to work on campus and/or in the field of study is an excellent choice, yet if that is not present, then you don’t have to limit yourself to that…just get into the working mindset and learn how to earn your own money, as early as possible. Again, trust me on the immense impact of earning your own cash, this is coming from someone who worked a multitude of things in university from ushering for events to working in the IT department at university to private tutoring to having an internship, and some were even in parallel!
  • Community Involvement/Extra-curricular Activities: This includes clubs, societies, NGOs, political parties, movements, sports teams, music band or any kind of engagement with the community that gets you to invest in your own hobbies, skills, knowledge and self in general. Again and again, this is coming from someone who started his own NGO with some friends from 1st year of university and was involved in all sorts of clubs, societies, committees and groups all throughout university and beyond.
  • Networking & Connections: Yes this is a crucial element as much as any of the above 3 points. The truth about life is that the more people you know on the personal level, the more connections you have, the higher are probabilities of getting to new career opportunities, academic opportunities and social opportunities. You might even end up meeting the love of your life through one of your connections.  In every step along the way, I made sure I connect with people, truly connect with them and not just have them as acquaintances or someone I once met, but rather making friends, building trust, sharing worries and good times.

Each one of those 4 elements gives you an added value to your knowledge, to your life, to who you are, to the career options you’ll have, and to the people you know. To truly benefit from university life, you got to make use of all what the university life can offer you, whether on or off campus. Again I stress on the fact that perhaps not all universities have extra curricular activities or at least not the ones you want, not all of them will give you work/career choices, but then again the university is not an island, it exists within an ecosystem which you can reach out to and benefit from what it can offer.

For me, this has been one of the key success factors in my life, knowing that there is more university life than just academics. So to all those entering universities, to all the university students out there… don’t just focus on your academic element of university, it wont be enough for this ever changing and challenging world!

Other interesting posts:

Arab Spring, the Economy & Social Entrepreneurship


My dear reader, for a while now we’ve been hearing endless analysis, campaigns and strategies about each one of the above topics individually..from the Arab Spring to the Economy in the Arab world and last but not least “the” topic in town: Social Entrepreneurship.

What I’ll be doing in this article is drawing on the inter-connectivity of the 3…specifically to shed light on the big picture of the current Arab world and how things are heading.

The whole discourse is based on readings, observations, analysis and discussions I had with people across the Arab world from opinion leaders, to CEOs and senior management of companies, activists, governmental officials and so on. Here it comes…

The so called “Arab Spring” started from Tunisia, where Boazizi put himself on fire to revolt in the face of injustice, lack of work opportunities and his sense of hopelessness… he just gave up on his life and on going anywhere but downhill. Yet, Boazizi was not an ignorant man nor a weak person, he was a man of modest education, hard worker and a lot of perseverance. Yet what he lacked was a job, a sustainable and decent income for himself and his family. His story isn’t an “island” but rather a story shared by so many across the Arab world, from illiterates to PhD holders, who are facing difficulties in finding a job…and the unemployment rates are soaring higher than ever.

With the youth bulge in the region, which the World Bank estimated in 2010 that 60% of the Arab world are people under 30 years old, the market is becoming a highly competitive place for job seekers. Millions of Arab youth are working hard on getting their education, graduating and then…the rest is unknown. The funny/sad matter is that the higher the degrees the youth are getting, the harder it is to find a job in their hometown. One asks himself the question of why? How come? …but the answer is simple..there aren’t enough jobs out there…the infrastructure and companies aren’t equipped well enough nor are they growing fast enough to accommodate for this influx of highly educated workforce…and the list can go on.

Consequently, most of those youth who are jobless and are not being heard…have no where to go but the streets…to demand change..to demand jobs..to demand their dignity to be safe-guarded…and when you have thousands and millions of educated people either in low-paying jobs or jobless …they will revolt…they will seek to make things better…one way or another.

Now the case is that many Arab countries, the economic status they have is different, the social behaviors are different, norms and cultures may also be different…yet what all of the revolutions have in common is demanding change..a change in governance…a change to the better…a change to put up leaders who care for the nation more than they care for power…a change that will bring about economic growth, jobs, resources, dignity for the people and a sense of equality and justice.

Now if we take a bird’s eye view on this whole matter, and with some research into past revolutions across the centuries from the French revolution until today…one can simply realize that after every revolution..there comes some chaos before order is restored…and things will look better hereafter, much better.

Moreover, how things will look in the future…is not much of a mystery either…history repeats itself, with minor modifications. The issue in the Arab world is not the lack of money or resources, there are billions of it in cash yet it’s how we’re making use it(or the lack of).

In this context, the future of the Arab World in the coming 10 years will include the following general guidelines:

  • Educated youth will start seeking to create jobs for themselves, rather than seeking jobs. They will starting making some start-ups, capitalize on the entrepreneurial/innovative skills and become more willing to take risks rather than seeking a stable governmental/corporate jobs.
  • Numerous capital ventures, angel investors and impact investors will start popping up to support Social & Impact Entrepreneurs who not only seek making profit but also leaving a positive impact on the society along the way.
  • Arab nations will realize that each country will not be able to sustain and grow on its own … thus cross border/pan-Arab economic and infrastructure projects will be launched. From unifying electric grids, to opening borders for trade and travel, to creating joint ventures, to mega infrastructure improvements to lure more investments and build a ripe ground for further corporate growth. This will look something similar to the Marshall Plan set by the US to aid Europe rebuild itself and prosper post World War II, yet its Arab based for Arab’s benefit.
  • Family based businesses will nourish and especially those that are gulf based, state supported, and/or “royal”. With the rich getting richer, we can expect some major growth in family based conglomerates.
  • Educational systems will start shifting into more specialized degrees, informal learning, on-the-job learning, and major involvement of technology in the whole learning process.
  • Real-estate business will no longer be the major industry in many countries, to be replaced with other industries like ICT, manufacturing , agriculture, telecom, consultancy, tourism, research/think-tanks amongst others as well. Thus requiring a more diverse workforce.

The above 5 general headlines will start taking place naturally, one step at a time, to accommodate for the political/governmental changes as well as the expected chaos in some of the countries. These new opportunities and systems will encompass creating jobs for almost 100 million youth that will be joining the Arab workforce by 2020.

If jobs are not created in the thousands every month across the Arab world…the economies will not grow nor sustain, governments/dictators/leaders will tumble one after the other…until the wealth is more evenly distributed, dignity and financial-independence is secured for the millions who are graduating annually.

Until then…the Arab Spring will continue, chaos and instability in many countries will prevail until the void is filled and nations start rebuilding themselves, one brick at a time.

Other posts worth reading:

UNESCO

Name of Organization: UNESCO – United Nations Education, Science, Culture, Communication & Information Organization


Date of Origin:
The Constitution of UNESCO, signed on 16 November 1945, came into force on 4 November 1946 after ratification by twenty countries.


Motto
: Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed.


Mission
: UNESCO’s mission is to contribute to the building of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, communication and information


Objectives
:

  • Attaining quality education for all and lifelong learning
  • Mobilizing science knowledge and policy for sustainable development
  • Addressing emerging social and ethical challenges
  • Fostering cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue and a culture of peace
  • Building inclusive knowledge societies through information and communication


Predecessors of UNESCO:

The International Committee of Intellectual Co-operation (CICI), Geneva 1922-1946, and its executing agency, the International Institute of Intellectual Co-operation (IICI), Paris, 1925-1946.

The International Bureau of Education (IBE), Geneva, 1925-1968; since 1969 IBE has been part of the UNESCO Secretariat under its own statutes.


History:

As early as 1942, in wartime, the governments of the European countries, which were confronting Nazi Germany and its allies, met in the United Kingdom for the Conference of Allied Ministers of Education (CAME). The Second World War was far from over, yet those countries were looking for ways and means to reconstruct their systems of education once peace was restored. Very quickly, the project gained momentum and soon took on a universal note. New governments, including that of the United States, decided to join in.

Upon the proposal of CAME, a United Nations Conference for the establishment of an educational and cultural organization (ECO/CONF) was convened in London from 1 to 16 November 1945. Scarcely had the war ended when the conference opened. It gathered together the representatives of forty-four countries who decided to create an organization that would embody a genuine culture of peace. In their eyes, the new organization must establish the “intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind” and, in so doing, prevent the outbreak of another world war.

At the end of the conference, thirty-seven countries founded the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The Constitution of UNESCO, signed on 16 November 1945, came into force on 4 November 1946 after ratification by twenty countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Egypt, France, Greece, India, Lebanon, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, United Kingdom and United States. The first session of the General Conference of UNESCO was held in Paris from 19 November to 10 December 1946 with the participation of representatives from 30 governments entitled to vote.

The political divisions of the Second World War marked the composition of the founding Member States of UNESCO. It was not until 1951 that Japan and the Federal Republic of Germany became Members, and Spain was accepted in 1953. Other major historical factors, such as the Cold War, the decolonization process and the dissolution of the USSR, also left their trace on UNESCO. The USSR joined UNESCO in 1954 and was replaced by the Russian Federation in 1992 alongside 12 former Soviet republics. Nineteen African states became Members in the 1960s.

As a consequence of its entry into the United Nations, the People’s Republic of China has been the only legitimate representative of China at UNESCO since 1971. The German Democratic Republic was a Member from 1972 to 1990, when it joined the Federal Republic of Germany.

Some countries withdrew from the Organization for political reasons at various points in time, but they have today all rejoined UNESCO. South Africa was absent from 1957 to 1994, the United States of America between 1985 to 2003, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from 1986 to 1997 and Singapore from 1986 to 2007.


Website:
www.UNESCO.org