There is a war going on in the Middle East - the least we can do is stay well informed. Here are some messages we received recently and want to share with you: testimonies from the civilian front line, arab news updates and links for action and protest.
this page brings posts of July 19.
most recent posts are here
follow these links for previous posts:
July 18 / 17 / 16 / 15 / 11 / 8 / 6
Subject: Beirut update 4
Date: July 19, 2006 9:14:05 PM EDT
Evacuation is not the solution. Just stop the bombing and then no one has to go.
I would say that the biggest issues on my mind today is what is going to happen to Beirut after all the foreigners are shipped out? On tv and online, I'm seeing thousands of people fleeing the country. Where are you all going?
Ladies and Gentlemen, I can finally say that I had a total breakdown today. It really hit me hard. I was crying all day... And I'm not ashamed to share this with you.
I have been helping foreigners leave. Two already gone. One tomorrow. And one that keeps postponing her departure... She doesn't want to leave. Her parents have pleaded for her to leave, but she loves Beirut as much as I do...
What happens when they are gone?
When the US and Europe evacuate all their citizens will they then give Israel another "green light week" or even month of bombing. Will they then finally go for the all out Beirut attack?
Beirut is nothing without her foreigners. Please don't leave.
So, I cried and cried... Because I felt an incredible wave of fear and sadness take over my mind. I have not been sleeping. Combine fear and lack of sleep and you get one big breakdown.
Church bells are ringing now telling me it's 3am. In about an hour I will hear the mosques singing to me. Only in Beirut . I love Beirut.
I got a lot of emails today from people in England . They said it was really really hot. My husband said that if this war doesn't kill us, global warming will. Hehe.. I did manage to laugh today.
Spent the whole day working to bring international media to our peaceful demonstration tomorrow. I hope they show up and I hope it remains peaceful. It is so important that the world sees what is really going on. I can not thank you all enough for the media contacts you have been sending my way. It is proving to be a small miracle. Thank you. Thank you so much.
I feel like I'm in a WWII movie right now. there is a loud propeller sounding plane flying around. It is so loud. What is it doing? I wonder if this noise is similar to what the Jews were hearing back then.. How frightened they must have felt. Hearing these loud sounds, and not knowing if this was going to be their last breath. ... So, what I don't understand is why they are doing it to us now? My Israeli neighbors... Violence can only bring violence... Please ask your government to stop. How can a people who have already had this, do it to someone else?
Though this Israeli aggression right now is of the most brutal kind, I think that it is so important that we retain our dignity tomorrow at the demonstration. The last thing the world should see is Arabs burning flags.
My eyes are stinging and the computer screen is blurry.... If only I could sleep.. I would sleep...
I also cried so much today when I found the catalog of the art exhibit I curated that took place last month. Last month lies in a different universe now. The show targeted young Lebanese women artists. it was all about providing a platform for a new generation of artists... What is to become of them now? Some of their work is still in the gallery..
I called so many different friends today, crying to them over the phone.. Apologizing for crying so much... But I guess I had to let it out. Just wanted to speak with people incase this was the last day I could actually do so. Phone lines in the south have been cut, people are stranded.. No way to hear from them. No way to know if they are alive. No way to get to them.
One friend was trying to instruct me on how to find a shelter near my house since we don't have one in our house. I almost threw up. I don't want to have to go around my neighborhood asking people if they have a shelter. Apparently you then get your own blankets, candles, mosquito coils, etc and store them there... For when it happens. I almost threw up from fear. Then I called my other friend and he told me he was sitting in his room listening to Enya. He is stuck in the suburbs/mountains. Yesterday the Israelis blew up a huge gas reserve near his house. Glad to see they are hitting Hizuballah so well. In areas they don't exist. And my friend, so close to the burning site, has only the option to sit back and drown out the sounds
of taunting flames with elevator music.
..wow, just realized I have no idea what day it is today. Did the gas blow up yesterday or was it the day before?
What does it matter... Everything is blowing up.
My friend told me about a bartender today who has not been able to speak with his family since this whole thing started. They were in the south. He has no idea if they are alive. His parents have a house in Dahiye ( Beirut suburb where they bombed)... He made a run over today to see if he could grab his passport. It is such a huge risk to go anywhere near Dahiye! When he got to his home he realized that he would never be able to see his passport again, his building no longer existed. This bartender is stuck in Beirut for eternity.
What is this madness... Tell me why I shouldn't cry.
And I watch the people leave.
Lebanese and foreigners..
What is going to happen when they all leave?
What is going to happen to Beirut ?
What is going to happen to me?
I am now going to stuff some cotton in my ears and try and get some sleep.
Big day tomorrow, wish us luck.
...and I have still not learnt to hate.
Beirut , 4:13 am
P.s. A friend has put up a blog site for me to document my writing.
From : jan ackenhausen
Date : Wednesday 19 July 2006 23:54
Subject : Re: yalla
A List of UN SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTIONS against Israel
* Resolution 106: " . . . 'condemns' Israel for Gaza raid".
* Resolution 111: " . . . 'condemns' Israel for raid on Syria that killed fifty-six people".
* Resolution 127: " . . . 'recommends' Israel suspends it's 'no-man's zone' in Jerusalem ".
* Resolution 162: " . . . 'urges' Israel to comply with UN decisions".
* Resolution 171: " . . . determines flagrant violations' by Israel in its attack on Syria ".
* Resolution 228: " . . . 'censures' Israel for its attack on Samu in the West Bank , then under Jordanian control".
* Resolution 237: " . . . 'urges' Israel to allow return of new 1967 Palestinian refugees".
* Resolution 248: " . . . 'condemns' Israel for its massive attack on Karameh in Jordan ".
* Resolution 250: " . . . 'calls' on Israel to refrain from holding military parade in Jerusalem ".
* Resolution 251: " . . . 'deeply deplores' Israeli military parade in Jerusalem in defiance of Resolution 250".
* Resolution 252: " . . . 'declares invalid' Israel 's acts to unify Jerusalem as Jewish capital".
* Resolution 256: " . . . 'condemns' Israeli raids on Jordan as 'flagrant violation".
* Resolution 259: " . . . 'deplores' Israel 's refusal to accept UN mission to probe occupation".
* Resolution 262: " . . . 'condemns' Israel for attack on Beirut airport".
* Resolution 265: " . . . 'condemns' Israel for air attacks for Salt in Jordan ".
* Resolution 267: " . . . 'censures' Israel for administrative acts to change the status of Jerusalem ".
*Resolution 270: " . . . 'condemns' Israel for air attacks on villages in southern Lebanon ".
* Resolution 271: " . . . 'condemns' Israel 's failure to obey UN resolutions on Jerusalem ".
* Resolution 279: " . . . 'demands' withdrawal of Israeli forces from Lebanon ".
* Resolution 280: " . . . 'condemns' Israeli's attacks against Lebanon ".
* Resolution 285: " . . . 'demands' immediate Israeli withdrawal form Lebanon ".
* Resolution 298: " . . . 'deplores' Israel 's changing of the status of Jerusalem ".
* Resolution 313: " . . . 'demands' that Israel stop attacks against Lebanon ".
* Resolution 316: " . . . 'condemns' Israel for repeated attacks on Lebanon ".
* Resolution 317: " . . . 'deplores' Israel 's refusal to release Arabs abducted in Lebanon ".
* Resolution 332: " . . . 'condemns' Israel 's repeated attacks against Lebanon ".
* Resolution 337: " . . . 'condemns' Israel for violating Lebanon 's sovereignty".
* Resolution 347: " . . . 'condemns' Israeli attacks on Lebanon ".
* Resolution 425: " . . . 'calls' on Israel to withdraw its forces from Lebanon ".
* Resolution 427: " . . . 'calls' on Israel to complete its withdrawal from Lebanon .
* Resolution 444: " . . . 'deplores' Israel 's lack of cooperation with UN peacekeeping forces".
* Resolution 446: " . . . 'determines' that Israeli settlements are a 'serious
obstruction' to peace and calls on Israel to abide by the Fourth Geneva Convention".
* Resolution 450: " . . . 'calls' on Israel to stop attacking Lebanon ".
* Resolution 452: " . . . 'calls' on Israel to cease building settlements in occupied territories".
* Resolution 465: " . . . 'deplores' Israel 's settlements and asks all member
states not to assist Israel 's settlements program".
* Resolution 467: " . . . 'strongly deplores' Israel 's military intervention in Lebanon ".
* Resolution 468: " . . . 'calls' on Israel to rescind illegal expulsions of
two Palestinian mayors and a judge and to facilitate their return".
* Resolution 469: " . . . 'strongly deplores' Israel 's failure to observe the
council's order not to deport Palestinians".
* Resolution 471: " . . . 'expresses deep concern' at Israel 's failure to abide
by the Fourth Geneva Convention".
* Resolution 476: " . . . 'reiterates' that Israel 's claim to Jerusalem are 'null and void'".
* Resolution 478: " . . . 'censures ( Israel ) in the strongest terms' for its
claim to Jerusalem in its 'Basic Law'".
* Resolution 484: " . . . 'declares it imperative' that Israel re-admit two deported
* Resolution 487: " . . . 'strongly condemns' Israel for its attack on Iraq 's
* Resolution 497: " . . . 'decides' that Israel 's annexation of Syria 's Golan
Heights is 'null and void' and demands that Israel rescinds its decision forthwith".
* Resolution 498: " . . . 'calls' on Israel to withdraw from Lebanon ".
* Resolution 501: " . . . 'calls' on Israel to stop attacks against Lebanon and withdraw its troops".
* Resolution 509: " . . . 'demands' that Israel withdraw its forces forthwith and unconditionally from Lebanon ".
* Resolution 515: " . . . 'demands' that Israel lift its siege of Beirut and
allow food supplies to be brought in".
* Resolution 517: " . . . 'censures' Israel for failing to obey UN resolutions
and demands that Israel withdraw its forces from Lebanon ".
* Resolution 518: " . . . 'demands' that Israel cooperate fully with UN forces in Lebanon ".
* Resolution 520: " . . . 'condemns' Israel 's attack into West Beirut ".
* Resolution 573: " . . . 'condemns' Israel 'vigorously' for bombing Tunisia
in attack on PLO headquarters.
* Resolution 587: " . . . 'takes note' of previous calls on Israel to withdraw
its forces from Lebanon and urges all parties to withdraw".
* Resolution 592: " . . . 'strongly deplores' the killing of Palestinian students
at Bir Zeit University by Israeli troops".
* Resolution 605: " . . . 'strongly deplores' Israel 's policies and practices
denying the human rights of Palestinians.
* Resolution 607: " . . . 'calls' on Israel not to deport Palestinians and strongly
requests it to abide by the Fourth Geneva Convention.
* Resolution 608: " . . . 'deeply regrets' that Israel has defied the United Nations and deported Palestinian civilians".
* Resolution 636: " . . . 'deeply regrets' Israeli deportation of Palestinian civilians.
* Resolution 641: " . . . 'deplores' Israel 's continuing deportation of Palestinians.
* Resolution 672: " . . . 'condemns' Israel for violence against Palestinians
at the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount.
* Resolution 673: " . . . 'deplores' Israel 's refusal to cooperate with the United
* Resolution 681: " . . . 'deplores' Israel 's resumption of the deportation of
* Resolution 694: " . . . 'deplores' Israel 's deportation of Palestinians and
calls on it to ensure their safe and immediate return.
* Resolution 726: " . . . 'strongly condemns' Israel 's deportation of Palestinians.
* Resolution 799: ". . . 'strongly condemns' Israel 's deportation of 413 Palestinians
and calls for their immediate return.
From : jan ackenhausen
Date : Wednesday 19 July 2006 23:20
Subject : Re: yalla
Stop the massacre
.forward to your friends.
Wednesday July 19, 2006
Australia , Sydney - (12 noon - 3PM), at Wynyard Park on York Street Sydney (behind Wynyard station).
USA / Boston - (4-7pm) at Gibran Khalil Gibran's sculpture which is at Coplay Place, Boston
USA / LA (4:00 PM to 6:00 PM) Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles 6380 Wilshire Blvd, LA (near Wilshire & San Vicente)
Canada / Ottawa: Lebanese Festival will Open (St Elias church). All money collected at the door will be donated to Lebanon . Portion of the profits will be donated to Lebanon . A mass will start at 7:00 pm. A CANDLE LIGHT vigil to follow at 8:30pm.
Canada / Montreal : Human Chain, Vieux Port France / Strasbourg : en soutien au peuple libanais. Place de l'étoile, en face de la mairie à 15H. Transport publique: tram A, arrêt place de l'étoile.
Thursday July 20, 2006 Germany , Stade - (3PM) Street: Am Sande
Qatar : Rassemblement at the embassy in solidarity. 8h30 pm
France /Marseille : au vieux port à 20h30.
Saturday July 22, 2006 France, Dijon - Place Darcy (13h30)
Australia, Adelaide - (12PM) at Parliament house in Adelaide
London - (12PM) march from Parliament square to Marble Arch
USA / Florida (Tampa): Time: 1pm Location: Corner Of Columbus And Dale Mabry
Netherlands / Amsterdam: Beursplein at 13:00.
From: Omar Barghouti
Date: 19 July 2006 15:22:08 GMT+02:00
Subject: A New Middle East is Born -- Article by Omar Barghouti
If interested, you can read my take on the current "situation" at:
It was written yesterday, hence the reference to "six days."
From : Emily Jacir
Date : Wednesday 19 July 2006 16:33
Subject : American "evacuations" in Lebanon
I received the below email from my friend Lynn. I have a whole slew of similar emails from other friends who are American citizens in Lebanon .
American citizens are the least likely people to receive support or help from their government in conflict zones. Let it be known.
The American Government seems to have as little care for their citizens in Lebanon as they do for their citizens in West Bank and Gaza . Lynn 's email reminded me of the invasions (... never-ending) in Palestine . An example: in Ramallah during the 2002 invasion, I also called the consulate and asked for help. What a joke that was!
While the Canadians, Swedes, Italians and everyone else was shuttled out of Bethlehem/Ramallah/Bayt Jalla the Americans were stuck. (OH! Important to note that dual nationals at that time were not allowed in the convoys by order of the Israelis - so Europe was happy to comply to leave Palestinian-Swedes, Palestinian-Italians etc under bombardment).
In my first phone call to the consulate I was told that there were 45,000 American citizens living in the West Bank so there was nothing they could do.
Two weeks later I called and was told that if I could get to Kalandia checkpoint they would pick me up on the other side. To which I responded the roads around my house have been blown up, there are snipers everywhere, we are under curfew, and there is an Apache overhead, IF I make it to Kalandia I wont need you on the other fucking side!
An American named C., who has been living and working in Ramallah since 1998 was called and told that the Americans had coordinated with the Israeli Military commander and they could send the Israelis in to pick her up in a tank! Imagine! Obviously, C stayed for the entire duration of the 40 day siege in which they destroyed, bombed and damaged our entire infrastructure, all we had built, our art institutions, civil society organizations, buildings, everything everyone had worked so hard to build throughout the 90's
Oh! now the Americans don't have to PAY their way out (if they can get out) see this:
Lebanon . Senator John E. Sununu and Congressmen Nick Rahall (D-WV), Ray LaHood (R-IL), Darrell Issa (R-CA), and Charles Boustany (R-LA) met yesterday, July 17, with David Welch, Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs. Among the issues raised with Welch was the reported evacuation fee charged to American citizens fleeing Lebanon . The next day, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice informed Sununu that the fees would be waived.
How kind of them.
Subject: Re: whats the word?
Date: July 19, 2006 2:48:18 AM EDT
Dear Emily: I heard last night that the Amreicans evacuated students at AUB. This makes sense given their location and their political currency. Every single bit of gossip I have heard has it that Americans inside Lebanon are wildly frustrated. I haven't heard a single story of the American embassy actually being helpful in the past week. I heard that the French embassy started calling every registered national last Wednesday afternoon. They kept the embassy open 24 hours from Thursday and evacuated on Monday.
I'm not saying that I expected the U.S. embassy to open their doors and start serving me tea beginning last Wednesday. On the contrary. But basic courtesy and CONTACT once we registered would have been nice. Plus I already told you how humiliated I was when the American embassy official came on television here and completely ignored the fact that Lebanon itself was being systematically destroyed and (at the time) close to 100 civilians had been killed. No sensitivity whatsoever.
So our story is that I faxed our info to the embassy on Saturday, then on Sunday I registered us again via the state department's website. On Monday after dialing for over an hour, and being told by a rude embassy employee that there is no way to confirm that we are registered, he gave me an e-mail address at the embassy and suggested I try registering us again. I then e-mailed them our registration information directly. Each of those three transmissions included phone numbers and e-mail where they can contact us. I stated emphatically each time that we want to be evacuated. I've heard nothing. I also cc'd a woman called Juliet Wurr on the e-mail I sent on Monday. A Daily Star reporter here gave me her contact information. Wurr is the "spokeswoman" for the embassy. She is based either in NYC or D.C. Yesterday she was quoted in the LA Times to this effect: after saying that the U.S. embassy is doing the best it can do in Lebanon and that there will be an evacuation, she then said: "anyway, all of those Americans now in Lebanon did not heed the state department warning not to travel to Lebanon."
Hmm. So we deserve what we got? So we have no right to expect to be treated with basic courtesy and for the American administration here to respect the Lebanese? We have no right to expect an efficient, safe and responsible evacuation? There are 25,000 Americans here. What the fuck?
We heard from an NBC producer friend this morning that anchors of the major networks are being sent to Lebanon to emphasize the importance of the story. (!) Basically, I'm telling you this because it is ironic that the U.S. is going to start shipping a whole bunch more journalists in to the country but they can't get the Americans who want to leave out of the country.
From : Emily Jacir
Date : Wednesday 19 July 2006 15:02
Subject : diary entries from Beirut AND Gaza
Please see Laila al Haddad's blog in Gaza :
A Beiruti's drawn diaries: "How can I show sound in a drawing?"
Mazen Kerbaj, Live from Lebanon , 18 July 2006
Also lots of UPDATES on:
Diaries below in order:
1. Rasha Salti Beirut
2. Zena al- Khalil Beirut
3. Dr. Fawwaz Abu Sitta, Gaza
4. Ghadir Ahmad El-Omari
5. Ibrahim Barzak, Gaza
The generator shut down before I could end this entry. It's noon the next day now...)
I am drafting this entry in this unusual diary at 11:30 pm, I have about half an hour before the generator shuts down. Most of Beirut is in the dark. I dare not imagine what the country is like. Today was a relatively calm day, but like most calm days that come immediately after tumultuous days, it was a sinister day of taking stock of damage, pulling bodies from under destroyed buildings, shuttling injured to hospitals that have the capacity to tend to their wounds more adequately.
The relative calm allowed journalists to visit the sites of shelling and violence. The images from Tyre , and villages in the south are shocking. Images from Haret Hreyk (the neighborhood in the southern suburb that received the most "focused" shelling) are also astounding.
The number of deaths is yet uncertain, it increases by the hour as bodies are pulled from the landscape of destruction. In the southern suburbs, some people may be trapped in underground shelters under the vestiges of their homes and apartment buildings. And yes, there is a problem of space in morgues in the south and the Beqaa, because none of the towns and villages are equipped to handle these numbers of deaths.
The IDF has destroyed almost entirely the village of 'Aytaroun. Some of the surviving wounded are Canadian citizens. Like the 8 Canadians who died in the building in Tyre (a building that housed the red cross and civil rescue), the Canadian government has had very little regard for them.
Evacuations, Privilege, Solidarity
Today was a particularly strange day for me because I was granted an opportunity to leave tomorrow morning. I hold a Canadian passport, I was born in Toronto when my parents were students there. I left at age two. I have never gone back, for lack of opportunity and occasion, no other reason. I have the choice to sign up for the evacuation, but the European and North American governments have been so despicable, so racist that I don't want to subject myself to a discrimination of that sort. The Swedes, the Danes and the Germans have evacuated their patriots with blond hair and blue eyes. The immigrants that were given shelter to their countries "out of the kindness" of their governments have been systematically left behind; and the guest workers who stayed to enliven their economies and their babies who adjust the dynamism of their demographies, were left behind to fend for shelter under the shells. But I digress. The point I set out to make is that I refuse to be evacuated as a second tier denizen.
I had the opportunity to leave tomorrow by car to Syria , then to Jordan and from there by plane to wherever I am supposed to be right now. For days I have been itching to leave because I want to pursue my professional commitments, meet deadlines and continue with my life. For days I have been battling ambivalence towards this war, estranged from the passions it has roused around me and from engagement in a cause. And yet when the phone call came informing me that I had to be ready at 7:00 am the next morning, I asked for a pause to think. I was torn. The landscape of the human and physical ravages of Israel 's genial strategy at implementing UN Resolution 1559, the depth of destruction, the toll of nearly 250 deaths, more than 800 injured and 400,000 displaced, had bound me to a sense of duty. It was not even patriotism, it was actually the will to defy Israel . They cannot do this and drive me away. They will not drive me away.
This is one of the most recurring mistakes that the IDF makes, this is how we see things: THEY have destroyed this country, THEY are taking an opportunity to turn it to rubble and to usher us into oblivion, if there is ambivalence vis-a-vis the wisdom of Hezbollah's capture of the two soldiers, there is unambiguous, unanimous solidarity to stand in the face of Israel's barbaric arrogance. Some people see more in this war, some people see a moment of where the logic/values of the policies of the Moubaraks, the Abdullahs of the Arab world, i.e. the defeatist, pragmatic corrupt sell-outs will be humiliated as well. And I am sure, other people see other things as well.
The roads to Damascus are not safe. Its many different ways are shelled everyday. Drivers know what "calculated" risks to take, I am assured, but one never knows. Everyday the way out becomes more difficult. I decided to stay, I don't know when I will have another opportunity to leave.
The first contingent of Britons was evacuated early this evening. There are two ships, but the evacuation will take place over 3 days. Same for the French and Americans, their evacuations will last for 2 days. While the evacuations are taking place, there was relative quiet. A welcome lull. There was activity in the street, even on the Corniche along the seaside. Refugees from the south, displaced from their homes and provided shelter in public schools strolled in Hamra, looking for a breath of fresh air. A break from the confinement in schools and other makeshift shelters.
Imagine the horror, the sad, sad horror: we are on borrowed time and the only reason we are not under threat, under any serious threat is because the passport holders of some of the G8 countries are evacuating safely to safer harbors. With this relative calm, the sense of impending doom becomes almost palpable, time, space, light and movement are subsumed in an eerie stillness. It feels vaporous and fills the air. As it wafts from room to room, from apartment to apartment, as it turns a corner and moves to another neighborhood, every gesture, every act is a little delayed, slowed, surreptitiously lethargic, every thought lingers too long in the unfinished or inchoate state. This eerie stillness numbs the passage of time and the cognitive perception of things material. Objects seem both familiar and unfamiliar. They are familiar in that they were there the day before and seem not to have moved from their place. They are unfamiliar because they seem to belong to another time, another life. There was another life, I had another life that seems distant and foreign now. The morning is different, noon is different, sunset is different. Another Beirut has emerged. War time Beirut . War time Lebanon . War time mornings, war time noons. Siege time Beirut , siege time morning, siege time sunsets. Everyone else in the world is going about their day as they had planned it or as it was planned for them. The shakers and movers of this world, the fledgling middle classes of the developping world, the 11 million children workers in India , the good-doers and the evil-doers. We are in a different geography of time, of agency, we are besieged, captive, hostage. No chance of Stockholm syndrome this time. Our every move is monitored: every moving vehicle delivering food, fuel, or medicines is monitored, every phone call is listened on, every email read, every dream snarled at, every desire crushed. Israel has the right to explode it to smithereens.
The shelling has not really let, don't get me wrong. It still goes on but it's more occasional, there are more "blank spaces" in between now.
These "siege notes" have been receiving a number of reponses from Israelis. I have to say that most are of the annoying sort. First, they always begin by noting that I am intelligent and I get commended for my intelligence like Colin Powell gets commended for his English language speaking skills and you wonder what those making these observations expect from you and the world in the first place. Second, they systematically mistake expression of dissent and critique with Arab regimes and official discourse as some sort of a favorable disposition towards Israel . In other words there is, falsely, a tautology between regarding Israel as an enemy country and endorsing radical ideologies of Islamic fundamentalism or rabid nationalism. As if being a democrat, an egalitarian and a feminist implied that one could not have even more profound grounds for being critical of Israel and regarding that country as an enemy country that has sponsored and produced nothing but war, violence, wretchedness, misery, banditry and usurpation. And so heartened by my ambivalence towards this war they recommend that more conversations should take place between Israelis and I. Off course most propose that I make the effort to seek those Israeli interlocutors out. This extreme form of Habermas-mania, that assumes that deep conflicts can be "talked through" is the sumum of hubris. The experience of the peace process is telling: it is clear that Israelis cannot cannot cannot accept Palestinians as human beings whose humanity is of equal value as their own. This is the bottom line. And until that bottom line is changed, there is nothing that a member of a society that builds walls around itself to shut itself off from the world and shut the world from itself can tell me. Punto final.
One of my impromptu (Israeli) commentators warned of my candor, despaired at my position vis-a-vis Israel, and took generously time and space to explain to me that Hezbollah he/she must be crushed because if they were to win, they would destroy Israel and me, because of my values and lifestyle. This view, along with other views salient in western media (particularly American) of Hezbollah betrays ignorance. It is fatal ignorance.
The most gross miscalculation Israeli strategists are making is based on the assumption that Hezbollah is a) not a legitimate political entity in this country, b) its base is made up of extremists and c) its "elimination" would leave the Lebanese construct unscathed. In point of fact, pushing the Lebanese population to "rise up" against Hezbollah, or the scenario of a Lebanese implosion is the worst case scenario for all regional "parties", because the country would then become the jungle of violence and killing that Iraq is today.
Because I am a staunch secular democrat, I have never endorsed Hezbollah, but I do not question their legitimacy as a political actor on the Lebanese scene, I believe they are just as much a product of Lebanon's contemporary history, its war and postwar as are all other parties. If one were to evaluate the situation in vulgar sectarian terms, when it comes to representing the interests of their constituency they certainly do a better job than all the political representatives presently and in the past.
It would be utter folly (in fact it would be murderous folly) to regard Hezbollah as another radical Islamist terrorist organization, at least in the ideological and idiomatic vein of the American intelligentsia and punditry. (There is something about a stubborness to misunderstand that betrays an intent to see a crisis linger or even escalate in the US . If Americans feel better being misguided idiots, Israelis should know better. If the Israeli intelligentsia wants to play deaf like Americans the only outcome will be an Iraq scenario, although I reiterate that Lebanon is not Iraq and the Lebanese are not and will not be Iraqi and will not be manipulated into the barbaric sectarian horror. We've tried that before and it does not work, and we are tired of fighting each other.)
Hezbollah is a mature political organization (that has matured organically within the evolution of Lebanese politics) with an Islamist ideology, that has learned (very quickly) to co-exist with other political agents in this country, as well as other sects. If Lebanese politics was a representation of short-sighted petty sectarian calculations, the lived social experience of postwar Lebanon was different. Sectarian segregation was extremely difficult to implement in the conduct of everyday social transactions, in the conduct of business, employment and all other avenues of commonplace life. And that is a capital we all carry within ourselves, there are exceptional moments when the country came together willingly and spontaneously (as with the Israeli attacks in 1993 and 1996), but there are other smaller, less spectacular moments that punctuate the lived experience of the postwar that every single Lebanese can recall where sectarian prejudice was utterly meaningless, experienced as meaningless.
When former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri was assassinated, the country seemed divided into two camps, the consensus was overwhelming however that we will not revert to fighting one another, to eliminating one another.
If Israel plans to annihilate Hezbollah, it will annihilate Lebanon . Hezbollah and its constituency are not only Lebanese in the perception of all, they are also a key, essential element of contemporary Lebanon . Moreover the specifics of UN Resolution 1559 may have regional implications, but at heart and in essence they can only be resolved within the Lebanese consensus. Israel CANNOT take it upon itself to implement that UN resolution. There is off course sinister folly that Israel should implement any UN resolution considering its stellar record of snarling, snickering and shrugging at every single UN resolution that did not suit its sensibilities.
Hezbollah are not al-Qaeda, Israeli and US propaganda will portray them as much, and that is the downfall of public opinion, that is the tragedy at the root of the consensus that agrees to watching Lebanon burn. In more ways than can be counted they are different political ideologies, groups and movements. First, they are not suicidal. Second, they are not anti-historical. Third, they are a full-fledged political agent at the center of a dynamic polity. Their ideology is not an ideology of doom, they represent as much petty interests of their constituency as they are imbricated in the fabric of regional politics.
Israel , and Channel 2
I was watching Lise Doucet on the BBC interview one of Olmert's underlings yesterday after the speech. This is the folly of the Israelis, and I believe it will be their downfall, ultimately. He was lamenting that Hezbollah hit the "peaceful" city of Haifa , an Israeli city that he described as exemplar of coexistence between Jews, Christians and Muslims. Haifa ! An Israeli city? Haifa ? The name is Arabic. The jewel in the crown of Palestinian cities... A peaceful haven of coexistence between Jews, Muslims and Christians? My God! It took DECADES for Christians and Muslims to appear on the roster of "human beings" in the ledgers of the Israeli government. Decades of struggle, riots, pain and suffering. And they are still second class citizen, and they are still unwelcome, pushed out, day after day, crushed by the Israeli machine.
This eloquent underling was making the argument that Hezbollah wanted to destroy the city of "coexistence". Off course, he does not care that the city the IDF has currently under siege, the city they are bombing to rubble, the city where the red cross and civil rescue headquarters were shelled to the ground, Tyre , is itself a gorgeous jewel on the Lebanese coast. That it is a GENUINE city of coexistence amongst Christians, Shi'ites and Sunnis. And the delightful town of Marja'yun is also a city where sects and religions co-exist, and Zahleh... and so on and so forth... But no matter, the Israelis have always done this, and eventually, it catches up with them, and in the end, they realize that their narrative is so far removed from reality they have to back track. The key to understanding Israeli's relationship to our humanity lies in a text by David Grossman, one of Israel 's foremost novelists, essayists and writers. He wrote it around the time of the First Intifada. Israel was then beginning to come into reckoning that the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza was no longer tenable or sound strategy for the well-being of its democracy.
By the second or third of these "siege notes", the emails reached Israel and Israeli blogs. A journalist from Israel 's Channel 2 contacted me by email and asked for an interview. I was uncomfortable with the idea at first, for fear that my words be distorted and my genuine, candid sentiments quoted to serve arguments I do not endorse. Exposing oneself with transparency has its charm and price. That journalist seems like a nice person, but I have no reason to trust her and she understands my misgivings. My only defense is transparency. She sent me the set of questions below for me to answer so she can air them on TV or use them for some report. I decided to share them with you all.
1. How your day looks like from the morning. What you did today? did you have coffee? how do you get the news - television? radio? internet?
The routine of our days is totally changed. We now live under a regimen of survival under siege. Those of us still not wounded and not stranded do whatever needs to be done to survive until the next day. Coffee, yes, I have coffee in the morning, and at noon and in the afternoon. Perhaps I have too much coffee. The passage of time is all about monitoring news, checking everyone's OK, and figuring out what has to be done to help those in distress. News are on all the time. All the time, whatever media works.
There is a great need for volunteers to tend to the hundreds of thousands displaced now.
2. Can you describe the neighborhood you live in?
So it will be bombed? No thank you. I live in a very, very privileged neighborhood, far from the southern suburbs. After the evacuation of foreign nationals (and bi-nationals) is complete, everyone is expecting doom and if Israelis decide to give us a dose of tough love as they did in the southern suburbs my life will probably be in serious danger as my family's and everyone who has decided to stay here.
3. Can you say something about yourself - like what you do for living, if you can say.
I organize cultural events and I am a free-lance writer. I used to live in New York city and moved to Beirut Tuesday July 11th. I have no life at the present moment. I try to do a few things over the internet, but that's increasingly difficult.
4. Are you Lebanese or Palestinian?
Both and it gets more complicated I have Syrian blood too. And Turkish and Bosnian. I am the product of the Ottoman empire , and I say it with pride. I know it ires a lot of people. But I am VERY proud to claim my lineage. My father was expelled from Jerusalem in 1948, he and his family lived in a gorgeous home in Talbiyeh. I think it is a day care school now. We own property in old Jerusalem as well and the Atlantic Hotel which was bombed by your "valiant" paramilitary pre-national militias in 1946.
5. In Israel our leaders think that by targeting Hezbollah and other places in Lebanon will make the rest of the local population against them. Is this true?
It is pure folly, but even if it were true it is a terrible strategy, an imploded Lebanon is a nightmare to all, not only the Lebanese but to everyone, does Israel want an Iraq at its doorstep? There seems to be consensus now in Israel over the military campaign. It is because Israelis are not yet pressing their leadership and military the smart questions. Do you actually believe it would be possible to eliminate the Shi'i sect from Lebanon , and that it would go down easy in the region? If the Americans are advising you, duck for cover or move. Need I list their record of wisdom and foresight recently? Vietnam , Central America , Somalia , Afghanistan , Iraq . If you need to listen to imperialists, find less idiotic ones, at least who have a sense of history. Gold help us all if Rumsfeld is also in charge of your well-being. This war will bring doom to all. Stop, cut everybody's losses. Wars can be stopped before the body count is "intolerable" or an entire country has been reduced to rubble.
6. What is the atmosphere in the streets of Beirut , if you can tell.
Beirut is quiet, dormant, huddled. We are caged, but there is tenacious solidarity. You have to understand that we see ourselves under an unwarranted attack from Israel . The capture of two soldiers DOES NOT justify Israel 's response. There has been a status quo for the past 6 years that was well managed. Hezbollah was not in an impasse, the Olmert government was in an impasse. He ran on a campaign to solidify the "new" (illegitimate) borders, finish the wall and finalize the enclave and withdraw into the boundaries of that enclave. The Olmert government did not have the maturity or intelligence to know how to deal with the Hamas government. Your government was guided by arrogance. We, you and us, are here today because your political class is not up to the challenge. I am sorry, but the Hamas government was elected democratically, and there were myriad ways to deal with them. MYRIAD. But this is the stage of your destiny that you have reached, you build walls around yourselves (you to whom the Massada is a foundational trauma/myth!), and you chase barefoot, toohtless, illiterate, hungry people with state of the art military arsenal. And you insist that you are victims, and you insist that you are on the right side of history. All this bulllshit will catch up with you.
7. What is the atmosphere among your friends?
The consensus is solidarity. Our country is under attack. Otherwise, we are an exceedingly plural society every one has a theory and a point of view, and we co-exist. Humoring one another. What do you do when you are under siege? Do you eat one another, cannibalize on one another, or stand in solidarity to weather the storm?
8. Can you go to work, or do you have to stay home? (because some of the workers in the north of Israel did not go to work today)
The largest, largest majority do not go to work. Although it is a form of resilience. If the war goes on for longer, life will have to evolve a different routine. A large part of the work force is impaired from movement. And then there is the random shelling, it's also dangerous to go out. This has gone on from the first day of the siege. The south is now sinking in a humanitarian crisis. Beirut will soon.
(The new regulation by your glorious IDF this morning is to shoot at all moving vehicles larger than SUVs. One was just shelled in Ashrafieh. New danger, new things to look out for.)
9. Whatever crosses your mind.
Let's not go there... It's dark now, and I am too traumatized. I just want this to be over. I am waiting for a ceasefire. Are you? Is that too unmanly for your society? What do you need to see before you cease your fire? You want to hear me expire? You take down Hezbollah, and I am going down with them. Do you know when Hezbollah was born? 1982. Where were you? Was it an exciting summer for you?
10. I, for example, went to my gym class this morning. I am at home now, listening to the radio on one side, writing mails on the other side. Air-condition is on, since it is extremely hot and humid in Tel Aviv. I live in the center of the city. Later I will go to the office. I think life in my city continues but in a lower volume.
Life as it were, or as previously understood, in my city has stopped. No gym classes, and I am accumulating cellulite, hence chances of finding second husband are lessened (can I make the IDF pay for that?). Air-conditioning is dependent on electricity or generator working. Power cuts are the rule now and the generator works only on a schedule. I like it when Israelis report their weather, it ought to have some cathartic virtue, because it's like a reality check one of the few reminders they are in this region and not in Europe . So yes, without air-conditioning and with power cuts, my "semitic" curls produce unruly coiffe and I have to admit, I am enduring siege with bad hair.
I am on email, but that's intermittant between two bouts of "breaking news".
I hope you will wake up to the nightmare you have dragged us into. I hope you will want to have fire ceased as soon as possible. I hope you will deem our humanity as valuable as your own.
Dearest Friends and Supporters and Loved Ones,
I am afraid I am too exhausted to write up a diary for today.. Been working
so hard all day on so many things. Everything from solving the half a
million refugee problem we now have to keeping my parents calm, to trying to
contact international media to tell them about what is going on.
So many of you have asked me how you can help; I can tell you now, what we
need so much of is media coverage that highlights the reality of the
situation in Lebanon . I watched a bit of CNN today and I was shocked.
I am working with several NGOs, volunteers, activists, etc to reach the
international media. To reach the world...
HOW YOU CAN HELP:
1. contact the media and let them know about what is going on
2. contact your local politicians and ask them to step in
3. send me reliable media contacts that I can either send my stories to or
inform them about events, medical needs, etc.
In the meantime, you can also help by passing around the below message to
any good/effective/reliable media sources you may have. We really need to
get the international press there so the world can see us!
An invitation for a demonstration against the Israeli Attacks on Lebanon
A group of civil society organizations "Lil Hayat" (For Life) invites all
Lebanese to gather in front of the UN House (ESCWA) in Riad El Solh Square
in Beirut at 11 am on Thursday July 20, 2006 to march to the European Union
Headquarters in Saifi. The gathering will be submitting a statement in
protest of the Israeli attacks and calling on the mobilization of the world
to stop the Israeli attacks on
Be many so we can be one.
Thank you to all for your wonderful support... So many of you I have never
met.. Hopefully one day I will be able to invite you to my home in Beirut ...
It will be a sunny day. The breeze will be blowing just right... Maybe we
will drink matee, maybe arak? We will joke and laugh. And my children will
be running around with flowers in their hair.
The Palestine Center
Reports and Commentary (18 July 2006)
Overview: Mainstream U.S. media has reported that Israel's bombing of the Palestinian Foreign Ministry in the Gaza Strip was carried out in the late evening hours of 13 July and 16 July 2006 in order to avoid harm to civilians-another example of how Israel has exercised what it calls "restraint." However, what is left out of its statements is the full truth of what Israeli officials know, that all so-called "targeted" strikes impart death and destruction among non-combatant Palestinian civilians.
The following testimonies were published by the Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights on 17 July 2006. The Palestine Center is forwarding it in order to enhance public awareness and understanding of the full dimension of developments in the Occupied Palestinian Territories .
Firsthand Accounts: Civilian Collateral Damage in Gaza
Palestinian Center for Human Rights (17 July 2006)
TESTIMONY No. 1
Dr. Fawwaz Abu Sitta, 53
Economics Professor at al-Azhar University
I am a professor of economics at al-Azhar University . I live with my wife, Anika Fagner, a German citizen, and my son, 18-year-old Suleiman, in a 3-story villa. We live on the second floor of the building. My brother Nawaf, an engineer, lives with his wife and his two daughters, 13-year-old Nouran and 7-year-old Dana, on the third floor. Fortunately, my mother, 82, is in Cairo visiting her daughter.
For some reason, I expected that the building of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, located directly to the north of our villa, would be bombarded, as the building of the Ministry of Interior and the office of the Prime Minister were bombarded twice. So, my wife and I slept in the southern part of our house as the building of the Ministry is located to the north of the house. We also took some precautionary measures.
During the first bombardment of the Ministry on 13 July 2006, my son was on his way back home, and my wife and I were sleeping. We woke up hearing the blast.
I was astonished then not by the destruction incurred to the 7-storey building of the Ministry, rather by the destruction incurred to the garden, which my father and I had worked for years to make it such beautiful. The garden was destroyed and became a cemetery for debris.
A large cement block hit my mother's balcony, where she used to sit. The villa was severely damaged, as windows and doors were destroyed. My wife, my son and I have been shocked by the bombardment and the damage incurred to the house and the garden during the first bombardment of the Ministry.
Last night, I was awake as I heard a drone flying over the area. My wife was sleeping. I opened the doors and prevented my son from moving to any other place in the house. I expected that bombardment would take place again, but I did not expect it last night and against the same building that was largely destroyed in the first attack.
When the bombardment took place, the house was severely damaged. Debris hit the rooms, including my office. I was shocked when I saw debris in the living room, which could have killed my wife, my son and me if we were there.
My wife got up hearing the blast. She was screaming and calling me and Suleiman, because we were outside the room trying to check the damage. Due to darkness, I was not able to check the damage until the sunshine.
Children were heard screaming in dozens or even hundreds of neighboring flats, especially in the apartment building located to the west. These flats were also damaged.
TESTIMONY NO. 2
"On Targeting the Palestinian Ministry for Foreign Affairs"
Ghadir Ahmad El-Omari
Employee of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
My name is Ghadir Ahmad El-Omari. I was born in 1976. I work at the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights. I am responsible for the Center's monthly publication.
I live in the building opposite the Governmental Buildings Complex in Gaza City . I moved there with my husband, Ibrahim, in late February last year. Prior to that, we spent a year designing and furnishing our apartment in the building. We made out house just the way we wanted it to be. The 5-story building is separated from the complex by a street. I was forced to leave our apartment on the 5th floor of the building and go to my father's house after Israeli occupation forces (IOF) bombed the Gaza power station on 27 June 2006. I moved to my father's house because I'm expecting my first child. The doctor advised me not to climb stairs. I could not follow the doctor's advice without leaving our apartment, since the power outage means that the elevator does not work.
It was about 1:40 when I woke up to the sound of an explosion. I rushed to the window and looked around the building where my father and sister live. I didn't see anything to indicate that the explosion was near the building. I went back to the room and turned on the radio. I searched for a local radio station with news about the explosion, but to no avail.
I was very worried that the Ministry for Foreign Affairs was the target of the Israeli bombing. It was customary for them to repeat bombing a place that was targeted earlier. I knew that my husband Ibrahim was in our apartment. And he was awake since his work as a correspondent for the Associated Press required him to stay awake and follow the events on the ground.
A few minutes passed before my mobile phone rang. It was my husband Ibrahim. As soon as I recognized his voice, I knew that the explosion I heard a few minutes earlier was a new Israeli raid on the Government Buildings Complex, opposite the building where I'm supposed to be had it not been for the circumstances that forced me to leave due to the power outage.
The Ministry for Foreign Affairs building that was bombed in the predawn hours of 17 July 2006 for the second time is the closest building to our apartment. That is why most of the apartments in our building sustained damages, especially since the bombardment was by fighter jets.
The anxiety and longing to know what damages were inflicted on my apartment was a scenario repeating itself for the second time in less than 4 days. The first time, when the Ministry for Foreign Affairs was targeted on 13 July 2006, we were suffering in my father's house from a power outage that prevented us from following the news through Palestine Television. This time we had power and we turned to the television to find out what happened.
In the early morning and before going to work, I went to my apartment to see the damage. The door between my bedroom and balcony was destroyed. The door step was destroyed. Some floor tiles from the balcony were ripped out by the explosion. Debris covered everything in the bedroom and balcony. The room next to the bedroom was also extensively damaged. Its door was destroyed, and walls covered in black smoke. The furniture was greatly damaged due to the shrapnel that hit the room. My neighbors in the same building had similar damages. Thank God we did not sustain any human losses. Most of the building's residents left after the first strike at the Ministry. Those that remained took precautions to stay away from rooms overlooking the street.
You may have noticed that I didn't mention the windows when listing damages. The simple reason is that these windows were completely destroyed in the first bombardment. Our car also sustained heavy damages due to the debris and shrapnel.
The room in which the furniture was extensively damaged was the room that my husband and I planned to have for our first child, whom we're expecting this month. We spent long hours talking about the details of the room: where we'll put the bed, closet, and toys, the color of the wall paint, covering the floor with a protective layer in case the child falls down, and other details that occupy parents awaiting their first child. Of course, these plans are now put off indefinitely.
After bombing the Ministry for Foreign Affairs for the second time and in light of the expectation of having the remaining ministries in the complex targeted, our apartment faces an unknown future. And we haven't even finished paying its installments. The same destiny that has led to damaging the apartment, rendering it uninhabitable, awaits us and our first child.
Dated: 17 July 2006
TESTIMONY NO. 3
Ibrahim Barzak, 30
Associated Press Correspondent to the Gaza Strip since 1992
GAZA CITY (AP) - It was hot, there was no electricity. I was waiting for a phone call and slouching toward my balcony when something hit me from behind.
I thought it was a door as I hit the ground.
Before dusting myself off or assessing the damage, I hit the speed dial on my phone to report to the world that Israeli planes had bombed the Palestinian Foreign Affairs building across the street from my apartment -- part of Israel 's two-week old offensive that followed the capture of an Israeli soldier by Hamas-linked militants.
The 1:30 a.m. blast threw an entire neighborhood into the middle of the war zone. My neighbors and I were living in the collateral damage.
The smell of dust and explosives, the shattering of glass and sound of bombs are nothing new to a journalist who's covered this conflict for well over a decade. Neither are they new to the people stuck in the middle of this unending battle between Palestinian militants and the Israeli army.
Women and children were screaming in the streets. Also nothing new.
But this time, the women and children were my neighbors.
Thirteen people were wounded in the bombing.
Cars were destroyed. Mine, with giant stickers that said "AP" on front and back, had a door blown off.
As residents of my building streamed into the hallways, some of us coordinated as best we could in the darkness and the panic and fear.
Two of us met up in the stairway with a flashlight -- an AP reporter and a Fatah spokesman.
"Have you knocked down that door yet?" someone yelled, checking neighbors to make sure everyone was OK. No need, came the answer -- "He's away tonight, working the night shift." And so we worked our way down.
On the third floor we found an elderly man. Trying to escape Gaza 's heat, he'd wandered out to his balcony to fall sleep. He was unconscious now, and we carried him inside, where an emergency team met us and took him to the hospital.
We learned later that he was fine, knocked out by the sound and the concussion of the blast.
On the street, one of my neighbors was carrying his daughters, aged 7 months and 6 years.
The younger one was covered with dust.
So was my bed when I returned to it later that morning. All of my windows were blown out, and shrapnel stuck into the walls. A teddy bear I've owned since I was a child was buried under glass.
Today, I'll try to clean up. I'll talk with my wife, who is expected to give birth any day now -- the hospital where we want to have our baby demanded 25 liters ( 6.6 gallons ) of gasoline for their generator, because electricity supply can't be guaranteed. I'll see if I can find a new door for my car.
But I won't put up new windows. Not until the offensive is over.
The above testimonies were published by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights on 17 July 2006. They are republished by The Palestine Center with permission. The Palestine Center is an educational program of the Jerusalem Fund for Education & Community Development.
From : Delvosalle
Date : Wednesday 19 July 2006 14:26
Subject : RE: about the war
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