Foreign Policy Magazine

A Shrinking Island

A tolerant and diverse cosmopolitan center, Beirut is a reminder of what the Arab world could be again.

MY FAVORITE BEIRUT CAFE is on a street corner opposite a large park, one of the few green spaces in the concrete jungle that is the city I still call home. The trees in the park, known as the Jesuit Garden because it was once a summer retreat for Jesuit priests living closer to the coast, shield the remains of a Byzantine church.

The waitress, Lea, a student of health and nutrition at a Beirut university, brings me an espresso as soon as I walk through the door. She grew up in Zahleh, a predominantly Christian town in the eastern Bekaa Valley. Jad, the

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