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How Do we Sleep While Beirut is Burning? (Part Two)

“On a daily and hourly basis, Beirut is now the target of an unsurpassed savagery from the air, from the sea, from the land. They are pounding Beirut. Their ships, their fighter jets, their artilleries, their unparalleled barbarity, pounding Beirut like there is no tomorrow, burning it to ashes, murdering its fragile peace, shredding its imperceptible harmony to pieces, its gloriously cantankerous and divided thinkers, journalists, artists, writers, historians, poets, photographers, filmmakers …” In part two of a two-part series, Professor Hamid Dabashi analyzes the state of affairs that allows the carnage in Lebanon to continue. 

First UNHCR relief convoy arrives safely in Beirut from Syria

UNHCR’s first relief convoy - carrying 140 tonnes of emergency relief items for thousands of displaced people in Lebanon - arrived safely in Beirut on Saturday after making the journey from Syria. The supplies of blankets, mattresses and kitchen sets will be distributed rapidly in the mountain areas outside Beirut where tens of thousands of people are crammed into schools. “The arrival of this first convoy is really good news. We are relieved that our emergency supplies are finally able to enter Lebanon, and this is just the start,” said UNHCR’s representative in Lebanon, Stephane Jaquemet, as the convoy pulled into the Lebanese capital. 

Lebanon's Children: Voices of the Unheard

“Israel made us refugees and destroyed our homes, and this is why we came here [to the refugee center] with our families… I saw bombing and I was so afraid… They are not bombing a certain place, they are bombing everywhere. I want to tell people in America to ask Israel to stop bombing because we didn’t do anything. We’re not the ones threatening anyone. Stop bombing because it’s not the fault of the children. Why are they bombing and killing children?… They are killing lots of children and they are bombing everywhere. Hezbollah is just trying to resist, and to defend from what Israel is doing…” 

Galilee and the Valleys Against the War

We, residents of the Galilee and the Valleys, Arabs and Jews, do not believe the government of Israel and the military who maintain that war is being waged in self-defense and for the purpose of releasing the captured soldiers. We do not believe them because it is now common knowledge that the military steps were planned a long time ago. We know that about a month before the Hizballah attack on the army patrol, a military exercise was conducted as a rehearsal for an attack on Lebanon. Similarly, the kidnapping of the ministers and Parliament members of the Palestinian Authority was planned weeks ahead of the capture of the soldier Gilad Shalit by the Hamas. 

What Exactly is an "Existential" Threat, Mr. Olmert?

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, by declaring the attack on Lebanon as an “existential” one, set forth a dangerous series of events which will only serve to do long-term damage to Israel. It was an overstep and overreaction which will have profound and deep consequences in the years to come. It will also bolster the case of churches, labour unions and human rights organizations which are calling for a divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel in an attempt to force the state to change its policies related to the occupation. “Existential” threats do not absolve Israel of the responsibility to comply with international law. 

Islands in Arabia

Sitting on my balcony staring down at the Sea Gate of the American University of Beirut, and to the Mediterranean beyond, I am in no danger. The bombs are in the distance. The fighting is in the south. In Tel Aviv, Israeli citizens are staring at the same sea, in perfect safety. The missiles are landing in Haifa and farther north. And those following this war from living rooms around the world are in utter cocoons of safety. Most of us are separated from the violence that under girds our world and its order. But are we safe from fear? And does our fear make us wish for an order more and more strongly under girded? 

Down the Memory Hole

In the wake of the most serious outbreak of Israeli/Arab violence in years, three leading U.S. papers—the Washington Post, New York Times and Los Angeles Times—have each strongly editorialized that Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon were solely responsible for sparking violence, and that the Israeli military response was predictable and unavoidable. These editorials ignored recent events that indicate a much more complicated situation. As we recently noted, the portrayal of Israel as the innocent victim in the Gaza conflict is hard to square with the death toll in the months leading up to the current crisis. 

Letter to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice on the Crisis in Lebanon

The close and extensive military relationship between the United States and Israel gives the United States a special responsibility to raise civilian protection issues with Israeli leaders with regard to the Israeli military campaigns in Lebanon and Gaza, and to ensure that U.S.-supplied weapons are not used in attacks that violate international humanitarian law. The United States’ commitment to fighting terrorism in the region also strongly argues for raising these concerns with Israel, since that fight is undermined if a close U.S. ally launches attacks that fail to distinguish between combatants and civilians. 

While I was building dreams, they were preparing my destruction

So, they’ve been planning these attacks all along. Why wasn’t I informed? For the last six years, I have been making plans. I have been building dreams. I got married. I bought a home. I painted. I exhibited. I made plans with people … for them to come here. I invested time, emotions, money, ideas, love … into Lebanon. For the last six years, I have been building bridges. From Beirut to New York. From Beirut to everywhere. For the last six years, I have made new friends. I have met with people. I have made contacts. I have made committments. For the last six years, I promised people things. At work, at home, with friends … 

Despite direct hits, TV stations play vital role in relief efforts

For the past two weeks, Lebanese TV stations have been working flat out to provide their viewers with reports of the Israeli offensive in the country. Exhausted anchors have given the crisis 24-hour rolling coverage and correspondents have taken great risks to cover the heavy fighting. In addition to covering the news however, Lebanon’s many TV channels are also playing a role in the massive relief effort for the hundreds of thousands of Lebanese who have been displaced. Phone numbers for volunteers and donations are continually flashed up on screens and information from people in the areas that have seen the heaviest fighting has been included in the news.