Beidas Khalil

Yousef Beidas

Yousef Beidas (Arabic يوسف بيدس, also transliterated Yusif Bedas, Yusef Baydas, Yousif Beydas) (December 1912 - 28 November 1968) was a Palestinian Lebanese banker. As the founder and Chairman of Intra Bank he was the central figure in one of the Middle East's greatest financial success stories and later one of its most disastrous financial collapses.

Born in Jerusalem under Ottoman rule, Beidas was the son of Palestinian author and scholar Khalil Beidas. Having fled Palestine with his pregnant wife in 1948 he took up Lebanese nationality on account of his Beirut-born mother. However, having been born in Palestine to Orthodox Christian parents and against the background of mounting regional tensions, Bedas was never accepted as Lebanese by the predominantly Maronite (Catholic) elite.

The collapse of Intra Bank in October 1966 brought the Lebanese economy to a halt and sent shockwaves throughout the Middle East. The circumstances which surrounded Intra's fall remain to this day controversial issues. The surprisingly weak support from the Lebanese government and the very public allegations over Charles Helou's role in the affair have been attributed to such issues as Beidas' Palestinian origin and envy over Beidas' almost complete control of the Lebanese economy.

Najib Alamuddin wrote in his autobiography The Flying Sheikh:

"I am convinced the affair was the beginning of the disintegration of Lebanon and its old type of Lebanese government - a system corrupt in style and morals that had plagued Lebanon since independence and finally plunged the nation into a civil war that threatened its very survival as an independent state."

Edward Said had a slightly different take on the events in his autobiography Out of Place:

"Beidas' astounding rise and fall was considered by some to presage the terrible Lebanese-Palestinian disputes of the seventies, but it seemed to me to symbolize the broken trajectory imposed on so many of [the Palestinians] by the events of 1948"

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