From the Open-Publishing Calendar
From the Open-Publishing Newswire
Indybay Feature
Related Categories: Palestine | International
Leila Buck: From Damascus
by Live from Lebanon (reposted)
Wednesday Jul 19th, 2006 7:14 PM
I have so many things to say and share I don't know where to start.
I feel very helpless, especially when we see how this is becoming increasingly treated as a two-sided conflict. I don't support Hezbollah's actions at all and as I think I've said a hundred times, neither do 90% of the Lebanese. But it is unbelievably unfair to target, and I do mean target, and attack, an entire nation for what one militia group inside it has done. Israel's attacks are described as "retaliation", "response", "defense" and my favorite, "justified". Yet Lebanon is supposed to just sit and be decimated and anything Hezbollah does is not a response but a terrorist act. I do not condone violence in any form. But I am tired of watching the two sides painted as equal when the toll of death and destruction wreaked on Lebanon is in numbers and lasting impact so indisputably greater.

For every time you hear that Israel is "minimizing civilian casualties" with "surgical strikes", know that the south of Lebanon and everyone in it as well as the southern suburbs of Beirut are decimated and continue to be bombed many times daily. Also know that Lebanon is the size of Rhode Island, or Connecticut, I forget - it's small. So while bombing every bridge and road in and out of the country plus every port may seem to be better than targeting civilians, it is a slower and more insidious kind of targeting - a complete and knowing crippling of an entire nation's ability to get help to those wounded, supplies to people who need them, not to mention travel to safety or sustain what was a vibrant and growing tourist industry on which the country depends. And people are dying.

I haven't even seen the death toll today in Lebanon but I know it's climbed above 200, with 400-some injuries. Today my cousin told me they bombed Achrafiyeh, for those who care a historically Christian neighborhood with beautiful old buildings that managed to survive the last war, now housing streets with lots of trendy restaurants that remind me of Williamsburg.

Yesterday on our way over the border from Lebanon to Syria we were moved to see a convoy of ambulances heading the other way, presumably coming from Syria, whose relations with Lebanon we all know to be tense at best, to help deal with the mounting toll of death created by Israel's unending assault. Half an hour later we found out that Israel bombed those ambulances and the road other innocent people like us were fleeing on. Of course many will say they feared they were carrying weapons. Honestly, I am tired of that excuse. Perhaps a small percentage of the time that is true. However given our own government's use of the mythical weapons to justify another senseless war, I think we should all question each time that same excuse is used to justify attacks on civilians. Whether there might have been weapons underneath a home or truck, all I know are there are the bodies of innocent men, women and children.

Human life is human life. Losing one is a terrible thing, no matter who or where. But that does not make the means and reasons for taking that life equal. Israel has weaponry supplied and paid for by the most powerful nation in the world, namely the US, and the Israelis who carry out the attacks on Lebanon are knowing citizens of the country doing the bombing since every Israeli must serve in their country's military, unless they are brave enough to join the many who refuse to do so. Hezbollah on the other hand, does not represent Lebanon or the Lebanese, something Bush and the Israeli representatives are so fond of saying. Why then does Israel continue to target the Lebanese people, terrify them and decimate the hope of rebuilding they have worked so long and hard for? And why does the US say nothing of this except that Israel has a right to do so?? Please, those of you seeing this as a "complicated" thing started by Hezbollah, just remember that in Kindergarten we learned it doesn't matter who started it - and if you must pick on someone, try someone your own size.

§Reliving the terror, once again
by Electronic Intifada (reposted) Thursday Jul 20th, 2006 1:13 PM
How do I even start this? How do I write about my Beirut? My heartbreak, my home, my safety, my loss. Again.

I suppose I just start.

I have experienced true terror a handful of times. The first was in 1983 - the first time I evacuated Beirut. We had gone to visit my jiddo (grandfather) Emile and my teta (grandmother) Hilda, as we did every summer. Just after we arrived, the airport was shut down, Israeli soldiers were everywhere, the mountains were filling with smoke. We spent the next week in the staircase of our building as shells fell around us. Wadie was almost hit by shrapnel. Daddy was in Switzerland. He knew we were in danger. I had no idea he wasn't with us because he was Palestinian. I didn't understand. Although I was born in 1974, I never knew about the war until the summer of '82 - the first summer we didnt go; the summer we spent in Illinois. I did cartwheels in the living room trying to get mommy and daddy's attention, but all they did was watch the news and eat nuts and look worried. I wish I'd known how my mommy's heart was breaking. I know now.

We got on the boat and fled to Cyprus, leaving my family behind. The boat was filled with pilgrims going to Mecca. I didn't know who they were. I didn't understand. I didn't know Muslim or Christian or Jew. I didn't know anything. I knew fear and I knew confusion. I knew the sound of bombs - an inexplicable sound if you haven't experienced it before, for it is a sound you feel and not a sound you hear. It is terrifying - your body shakes. You feel helpless and you cry - that's what happens. No sound effect can really replicate what it feels like when they're real. I never thought I'd hear that sound again.

I went into my mommy's bed the night before we left. I was scared. The balcony door was open because there was no air conditioning, no electricity. As the curtains fluttered behind me I shivered and shook in my non-existent sleep. I felt the breeze behind my back and knew for certain the bombs would get me as I lay there, vulnerable. But I was frozen in terror, shivering and shaking, teeth chattering. I wanted to move to the other side, switch places with mommy, have her wrap her arms around me and keep me safe - but then she would feel the bombs on her back, I reasoned, and she would die. I can't lose mommy, I thought. I'd rather die than lose mommy. I'm so, so, so scared.

I wrote about that experience and it got me into Princeton. Wadie, my brother, did too. I didn't see Beirut again 'til 1992.

I was 18. It was awful, destroyed. Where were the beaches, the fruit, the vegetables, the clean water, the fun, the bikinis, the people, the joy? I remember feeling like I had walked into a cobweb-ridden home, frozen in time. I cried.

Each year after, though, I went back. It got better and better. It became home again. All the things I loved: the cucumbers, apricots, watermelon, sunshine, beaches, laughter, love, warmth, family, perseverance, resilience, strength, beauty and joy. They were there, and they continued to come back, along with the people who had fled - stronger than ever, year after year.

The most wonderful summer ever was twenty years after the scary escape. In 2003, mommy, daddy, Wadie, his wife Jennifer and myself were all in Beirut - laughing, playing, fighting, eating, drinking, beaching - being a family. Back home.

My parents orginally fell in love in Beirut. In the late '60s/early '70s. In fact, daddy, who is so revered as a "great Arab," actually rediscovered the Middle East he had lost as a child through Lebanon, through mommy - who is, as I love to say, 3,000 percent Lebanese.

And so we buried daddy there, four months later. In Brummana, in the mountains next to jiddo's home. In the Quaker family cemetary.


Comments  (Hide Comments)

by r. spike
Wednesday Jul 19th, 2006 8:50 PM
It is time for Israel to stop. They have made their point. The rest of the world has sat up and listened. Lesson driven home. End of story! Lebanon Beware - do not do this again! No more innocent civilian casualties need to be accrued on the Lebanese side of the border.
by Some Random Guy
Wednesday Jul 19th, 2006 11:14 PM
"Also know that Lebanon is the size of Rhode Island, or Connecticut, I forget - it's small."
Israel is only the size of New Jersey. It's also small.

"However given our own government's use of the mythical weapons to justify another senseless war..."
So all those rockets, which are gaining in range and destructiveness, raining down on Israel are "mythical?"

"Human life is human life. Losing one is a terrible thing, no matter who or where."
Tell that to Hesbollah. They were responsible for the for the suicide truck-bombing that killed 240+ US Marines. I'm an American, and I want them disarmed or dead. Preferably dead. If Lebanese allow themselves individually, and their nation as a whole, to be used as a shield, and didn't see this coming, they're now discovering that some gross errors in judgment carry a very heavy price. Lebanon has done the equivalent of running out into heavy traffic, and now wants to wring their collective hands and weep about being run over.

"...just remember that in Kindergarten we learned it doesn't matter who started it..."
This isn't kintergarten, and it absolutely *does* matter who started it. In fact, the only thing that matters more is who's going to *finish* it. I hope it's the Israelis, and that it happens over the next few weeks and months. Otherwise Hesbollah will continue to destabilize and kill. Year in, and year out. Indefinitely. Lebanon will have a potential Israeli retaliation hanging over their heads. Indefinitely. That doesn't sound like much of a future to me.

To extend that poor and over-used surgery analogy, surgery is traumatic. It isn't done when less invasive means, which would accomplish the same thing, are available. Well, those means have been tried for several years now, and it's only cost more lives. It seems to me that surgery is now called for.

People will die, including the innocent. It is indeed a terrible thing. But terrorism is worse. Frankly, I have doubts about whether it can ever be gotten rid of. But as nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare technologies become steadily more available to terrorist organizations, the threat they represent rises exponentially. The world's only hope for avoiding far worse horrors in the future is to make it impossible for any nation to harbor or support terrorists today. Time is definitely not on our side.
by George
Wednesday Jul 19th, 2006 11:32 PM
We watch innocent people die like sheep in a sloder house, with out a fuss. We have no back bone for defending humanity, though we will die defending a piece colored cloth. We don't feel pain because we can't hear or touch those people dieing, and we relate them to a movie we saw.

If there are intelligent beings out in the far universe, they would pass by us like a bat out of hell, because we have not evolved far from the cave man they visited few thousand years ago.

Money and power still is the main producer of leaders around the world with narrow visions and self serving interest, and with a delusion of serving a higher spirit in their cause.
It is sad that our leaders are less human than the ordinary people, and we expect God to bless us with our blind and ignorant thoughts.
by Rafiek
Thursday Jul 20th, 2006 1:24 AM
This is a one-side war. What the U.S says, goes. Yet they trying yet again to fool the rest of the world that what iran and apparently syria says, goes...We all know blair, merkel even the japanese are puppies to the bush administration leash. What upsets me most is the japanese which was atom bombed, almost out of extiction still praise the U.S. They feel nothing and will do it again if they are cornered. That is true with israel as well. Their multi-billion dollar weaponary holds no water to a people whose soul existence is to fight for their freedom, life, beliefs and what is their's i.e. land. More and more "democratic" countries and forcing themselves into homes that survived centuries without this new communism. Communism of the mind! Where those living in a democracy is subjected to mind-games where ultimately, they believe anything their government say, right or wrong. Palestine, Hamas, Hizbullah...these people feel that what they are doing is right...maybe sometimes in the wrong way...but we cant deny that they are oppressed, and the oppressed should always be helped.
by Josh
Thursday Jul 20th, 2006 6:13 AM
I know a woman whose home was broken into, by a swat team, fully armed and with
testosterone raging. She had a small child at home.
The swat team invaded her home, with extreme prejudice, for a reason; she had a bank robber sleeping on her couch, after he had robbed a bank, in the neighborhood, the day before.

Lesson: If you don't want swat teams invading your house, don't have bank robbers sleeping on your couch.

Lesson for the Lebanese: If you don't want the Israeli army invading your home, don't have foreign and insurgent armies using your home as a launch pad, to launch randomly- -aimed rockets, in the direction of Israeli cities, for decades, and say nothing about it.

I feel bad for the Lebanese, but only to a point. There really is no such country as Lebanon.
When foreign armies can walk into your country, set up military camps, and squat in your territory for decades, without a peep of protest from the government, you do not have a country. What you have is a backyard. Someone else's backyard, not yours.

Lebanon ceased any pretense of being a sovereign nation, when Syrian, Hezpollah, and various Jihadi armies moved in, unopposed, and no one made any effort to kick them out.

I understand that Lebanon is not a strong country, but, if you want to have a nation, you have to defend it. I feel bad that the various christian, druze, and non-islamist populations of Lebanon have been besieged for decades. But they need to decide whether or not they will stand on their own feet, as a nation, or get the hell out, and leave their country to the barbarians who are forcibly trying to take it from them, for their own, not Lebanon's agenda.
by For a reson
Thursday Jul 20th, 2006 6:52 AM
Just like many resistance groups in the region, they enjoy support from the people because Israel continues to terrorize and occupy Arab land. Beirut -- We will Never Forget!
Israel's current campaign of terror will only serve to further radicalize the populace.