last entry was false alarm - hotel talal still exists. Yes, it does (update, August 2010)...
Out of respect for this wonderful community I won't delete and edit right away, but I want to seriously question some phrases. "It is strongly discouraged to visit Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, unless you are with someone who lives in or is familiar with the camps. Camps vary in size and appearance (the camps in Beirut are like slums, but some rural camps can resemble more open villages) and hostility, but you should bear in mind that Palestinians, who have no civil or political rights in Lebanon and are barred from most professions, will generally feel no reason not to be as open and civil to you as a Lebanese person might be" under "Stay safe". And in particular the last part about Palestinians not feeling the need to be open and civil. Firstly, it's a very insulting phrase towards Palestinians, as they generally tend to be very open and civil. Also the refugees in Lebanon. And secondly, who writes it like that? If someone had a personal encounter with Palestinians in a refugee camp in Beirut, and felt it wasn't very nice, that's okay of course. No society consists of only saints. But I don't feel it's accurate to characterize Palestinians as any less civil or open than anyone else. Not Lebanese, American or Portuguese people. And for the record: staying in a refugee camp is for the most part completely safe. Don't let the upper-class Lebanese fool you. But yes, I would bring a local with me. Both for logistics and he'll know what to do. Tourists won't usually be spending a lot of time in a camp either way.
"Avoid talking about politics and religion, even if asked, for this might lead to trouble. Say you don't know the situation if your comments are wanted. Avoid any governmental or military convoys that may be passing by. Lebanese people have adapted to all those situations", also under "Stay safe". This is, at best, too generic. But for the most part it's just bullshit. Who should you not talk to about these subjects? The police? They won't ask these questions. Military? Same thing with them. Hizbollah? Maybe the only ones you might want to turn it down a notch towards. But: I was personally questioned by Hizbollah for six hours (due to taking pictures in Dahiyeh), and I didn't experience any problems when elaborating on my knowledge of the political state of Lebanon and its sectarianism. Of course, don't get hostile (where would you ever advice someone differently?), but apart from that there shouldn't be any problems regarding this matter and Hizbollah. And as for the rest of the Lebanese citizens? Talk as much crap - including politics and religion - as you feel fit. They absolutely do not mind. This section should be removed in my opinion. Maybe just a small note on staying calm if questioned by Hizbollah (but this has of course nothing to do with either religion or politics...).
The two above-mentioned sections should be changed. In general I feel that it is important to broaden one's view. Speaking about anything with Lebanese is one way of doing that. Another, better, way is to go to a Palestinian camp. Tourists of the Downtown area need that. And it's great fun. Therefore it's important not to make generic (and unfair) statements about a whole group of people of Beirut (tens of thousands).
I see there isn't a lot of activity on the discussion page, so I won't wait too long before editing myself. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by 126.96.36.199 (talk • contribs)
Stay Safe sections are second only to Respect in accumulating unnecessarily obvious advice, although I think most travelers would have more concerns than you did over six hours of questioning! If you think the article can be improved by shortening or rewriting, please plunge forward. — D. Guillaime 16:02, 10 August 2010 (EDT)
I did just that, plunged forward. Thanks for the advice!