How many children, how many children

Stretchers unloaded from a Jordanian military plane at Beirut’s international airport, 26 July 2006. Two Jordanian military planes landed at Beirut airport Wednesday, carrying a field hospital and medical aid to treat those wounded in the Israeli bombardment of Lebanon, airport officials said. A third plane bearing military engineers to help repair the airport’s runways arrived later in the day. (MaanImages/Raoul Kramer)

Here is the latest post I sent to the folks in the US and elsewhere yesterday. No end in sight, I am afraid. Latest is that they allowed a convoy of wounded to be evacuated from the south to Beirut hospitals tonight but no humanitarian corridor is in sight yet … will keep you posted … be well.

Sorry my writing has been so sporadic. I can’t seem to get myself to write what is going around me. I don’t seem to have words, and now it is all sound bites … bombing, destruction, deaths, counts, types of explosions, what they have destroyed next, how many children, how many children, how many children. I was at a vigil yesterday to say they should stop killing children. Lots of press, no people — exhausted and fearful already. And they haven’t even started on us randomly. The southern suburbs are getting flatter and flatter by the day as the death toll rises. Hospitals are filled to capacity with shortages on everything already. More refugees flooding in every day and no way to accommodate them in the schools anymore. They are being painfully relocated yet again to schools in outlying cities and towns … and now Sidon … terrorizing with leaflets and flyovers all day as mass graves are dug out and filled in — 84 yesterday in Tyr. The Bekaa valley is being raised, all these places still unreachable via the “humanitarian corridor” that is supposed to be up and running by today. No food, water, medicine or supplies to all outlying villages in the south and the southern mountain range. At least a 200 more dead that cannot be reached since they bombed vans leaving towns they forced to evacuate, and they even hit a Red Cross team and one of the poor fellows died. So they are not willing to risk their lives to go dig out corpses. Can’t blame, them really, and Bekaa is unreachable — roads are bombed out.

Meanwhile, we get news clips of tearful folks leaving as families are ripped apart again, and still the US says (as it rushes new patriot “protective missiles” to Israel) it feels for the people and will do everything they can to move the humanitarian aid along, which cannot be distributed due to Israeli bombs … so bloody convoluted. And now Condi has come and made more of a mess. The only good news we have is that Hezbollah is willing to give the two soldier hostages to the Lebanese government. It seems that much behind closed door diplomacy is underway, but not fast enough to stop the murder and destruction … too little, too late as ever.

Last night was quiet, except for a few huge ones in the south suburbs to last us the night. But no electricity — thus the sporadic writing — and thus no water and now half the phones are out due to a tower being hit in the mountains. I slept well.

We need a ceasefire desperately. We need the US to listen carefully to the chief humanitarian officer sent by the UN, to the voices of the screaming relatives who are now avowing to avenge their dead. The US and Israel have just succeeded in 12 days to create more hatred than they did in three years in Iraq, and there are those internally who are trying to separate the factions again and drive wedges further between Sunni and Shiite and between Muslims and Christians in general … and then saner voices who are calling for the Lebanese to stay united.

I saw refugees on almost every street corner of Beirut today. They are looking for food, housing and shelter. The crisis will continue as floods more are arriving daily from the south any way they can. They are being offered places in schools in outlying towns but feel they want to stay in Beirut … 800,000 displaced and counting.

I saw jasmine in bloom on the wall of my building. I played with my roommate, a gorgeous three-and-a-half-month old kitten named Fistouk, which means nuts, which he is. The sea is sparkling and blue, the breezes are delicious and warm. I ate knefe bi jibn with friends, I did laundry, and I am glued to the TV like everyone else.

Dad fell yesterday and broke his shoulder and is in a sling for six weeks and is in bad pain. I am in the village for the day and night with him, thus the electricity to write this post. We expect that after the evacuations are done, the shit will really fly. Inshallah that is not true.

I miss you so … my regression is complete, but I am well overall. This is madness. It will also be survived, as ever before. I had an interview with NBC which will air on nightly news tonight your time. I miss normalcy, which is what I told them. But then, so does everyone else here.

Please pass my posts on. I don’t have the energy or the wherewithall to repeat myself over and over. The bombs are doing that enough … and now with Condi arriving, all smiles and pledging aid 12 days later while they rush a shipment of laser and bunker buster missiles to Israel tomorrow — makes me so angry and sick to my stomach — Ilove the use of my tax dollars!

Inshallah the next few crucial days will prove fruitful, despite the continuing murder and destruction.

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Dr. Laila Farah is a Lebanese-American feminist performer-scholar. She attended Lebanese American University and Eastern Michigan University while working toward her BA in Theatre and Communication Arts. She continued at Eastern Michigan University in order to complete her MA in Performance Studies and Communication. She received her Doctorate in Performance Studies at Southern Illinois University. She is currently an Assistant Professor in Women’s Studies at DePaul University and working on future performance pieces in Chicago, as well as touring with her production of “Living in the Hyphen-Nation.” Her research interests include research with and the performance of “Third World” women and women of color, postcolonial identities and “alien-nation,” and ethnographic and autoethnographic performance. Dr. Farah has taught such courses as the Cultural Politics of the Performing Arts, Contemporary Feminist Playwrights, Reader’s Theatre, Children’s Theatre, Women’s Studies and Performance Studies at Eastern Michigan University, Southern Illinois University, SUNY Potsdam, and DePaul University.