YOUSSEF AYOUB HITTI
Prestige issue 80, January 2000
When the press wrote beautiful articles, its course of combatant was called…
CEDAR OF LEBANON
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Youssef Hitti who counted among its readership, the whole community of Lebanese emigrants, established a kind of bridge between the patriarchal seat and the Lebanese of overseas and maintained a rich correspondence with His Beatitude Elias Howayek (1843- 1931) to whom he was very close. Maronite Patriarch from 1899 to 1931, charismatic and compelling personality of the history of Lebanon, he did not hesitate to open the doors of the Patriarchate of Bkerké to the displaced from the First World War. (The Lebanese chose him to represent them at the Peace Conference of Paris).
The press in Lebanon also had its heyday, its golden age in which, although young, it was able to assert itself as the fourth power. Some men have made this press, have forged it. Men who marked history, as discreetly and as effectively as politicians. Youssef Hitti was one of them. Founding a newspaper was then an adventure, and writing a paper an exercise of literature. Emeritus Pen, founder of the cedar of Lebanon in Rio de Janeiro in 1916, Hitti was a patriot. He had put his written verve to the nation’s service and was actively involved in politics of Beirut, even when he was on the other side of the world, especially during the First World War. And if he did not bear a single day weapons, his pamphlets had the effect of shots.
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Cedro de Libano, newspaper founded in 1916 in Rio de Janeiro, then the capital of Brazil. This newspaper symbolized the struggle against the Ottoman occupation. After the departure of the Turks, Youssef Hitti returned to Lebanon and published Arzat Loubnan.
He was not any journalist. And if his correspondents were placing to his name the title of adib “man of letters”, that is only fair. … Brilliant and engaged writer, he made of his newspaper Arzat Loubnan the platform of his inflamed speech for the independence of Lebanon. The press of Lebanon was not born with independance, it has diligently pursued this dream since the beginning of the century, from Rio de Janeiro and then Lebanon where Hitti returned to settle after the departure of the Ottomans. This man of the press published in Portuguese in Rio, in Arabic in Lebanon and was fluent in French, among other languages. It is to him and a handful of other donors that we owe the creation of the Society of Hunters, the valiant fighters of an emerging Lebanese Army. Arzat Loubnan is more than the name of a newspaper, these two words before the proclamation of Greater Lebanon, carry a deeper meaning, a faith in a political entity that had not yet emerged. Youssef Hitti, a native of the coastal town of Damour, who gave the country more than a poet and a writer, has never compromised and neither failed in his principles. A few days after the Armistice, on May 8th1945, at age 55, Hitti died. He realized that Lebanon had a long way to go before becoming really independent.
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On his arrival in Beirut on December 9, 1925, the High Commissioner Henri de Jouvenel (1876-1935), a former journalist and senator, invited the great figures of the press at a tea at the Residence des Pins. He told them of his political program for Lebanon. It was during his tenure (1925-1926) as the Destour (Lebanese Constitution) was written and the first Lebanese president, Charles Debbas was elected.
The press of the early century can not be cited, without thinking fondly to its pioneer Youssef Hitti who coasted history.
5/15/1945: Letter of condolence by MP Nohad Bouez, father of MP Fares Bouez, to the family and the widow of Youssef Hitti. After the disappearance of the great journalist, his brother Khalil, decorated later by the Minister of Culture, Edmond Rizk, took up the torch … © Archives Prestige The press grants him a posthumous tribute. Former journalist at Arzat Loubnan Fadel Said Akl, whose father has paid with his life the sincerity of his pen during the Ottoman occupation, martyr of the independence celebrated on May 6, attempted to identify in the daily An- Nahar with an article published on May 13, 1993, the history, or rather the adventure of a man who, with two words, Arzat Loubnan, marked the press. © Archives Prestige
Letter of June 1st 1938 written by Youssef Hitti, dean and father of “family” for his brothers, including Shaul, whom he asks to treasure all documents and letters that were addressed by the Government of Lebanon. © Archives Prestige