Diaries: Live from Lebanon

The dream of returning home

Fadi looked up and pointed at the rain. “This is like our life. We hate the rain. But we can’t change it so we will stay under it.” This rain appeared all the more invasive when picking lemons in winter. It is a cold, wet and miserable task, for the equivalent of $7 a day. A task only perceived to be fit for Palestinians in Lebanon. Despite Fadi’s postgraduate qualification in accounting and fluency in English, he rightly pointed out that “I can’t be a lawyer, I can’t be a doctor … Seventy-two jobs I can’t do.” Mary Pole writes from the al-Buss refugee camp. 

The children of Shatila: no future and no past

My wife Linda and I went back to Beirut, Lebanon recently to visit the American Community School that I graduated from in the 1950s. One of the counselors at the school, an American named David Bakis, has started a project to bring some cheer into the lives of children in the Palestinian refugee camps near Beirut. No easy task. Curtis Bell writes from the United States. 

Uncertainty clouds Nahr al-Bared's future

One year has passed since the first Palestinians were allowed to return to the outskirts of the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp, destroyed by the Lebanese army during three months of fighting in the summer of 2007 with Fatah al-Islam, a small Islamist militant group. Meanwhile, up to 15,000 people have resettled in the camp. Ray Smith reports on their situation from Nahr al-Bared. 

Picking oranges the Palestinian way

Burj al-Shemali is located at the edge of Tyre and was established in the early 1950s after Zionist forces expelled hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homeland. Today some 20,000 people live in the quiet, but fenced-in Burj al-Shemali Camp. More than two-thirds of its labor force work at least part-time in agriculture. Ray Smith writes from southern Lebanon. 

Behind Beirut's Sport City

Najwa cleans the houses of the rich in Beirut. She lives with her son in the limbo spreading between the Stadium (Cite Sportive) and the Sabra Palestinian camp. Sociologists often refer to the Palestinian camps in Lebanon as a “space of exclusion”: the laws governing life in the camps are different from those governing life in the rest of Lebanon. Najwa’s neighborhood is an exclusion from the exclusion: no laws apply there. Rami Zurayk writes from Beirut. 

The time zones of Lebanon

This is what I have to say about the latest series of political speeches in Lebanon: Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah speaks as if there is no future, but March 14 government coalition leaders Walid Jumblat, Saad Hariri and Fouad Siniora speak as if there is no past. For Nasrallah, the past performance and actions of the Loyalists is the only reference point. Rami Zurayk writes from Beirut. 

Uncertainty in Beirut

Beirut is exploding all around me. After Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah made his speech this evening, during which he accused the governing coalition of declaring war on the resistance, opposition and March 14 supporters started fighting each other and making their armed presence felt all over West Beirut, including my neighborhood of Hamra. EI editor Maureen Clare Murphy writes from Beirut. 

Living with the certainty of war

For a while now, we’ve been talking about it. For a while now, I’ve been talking about it. Yes, there will be another war. I have said so during radio interviews, during dinner conversations, during phone calls with my family in the US. Yes, there will be another war of Israeli aggression on Lebanon. It is just a question of time, this summer or next summer, this year or next year, but, yes, there will be another war. Rania Masri writes from Beirut. 

Nahr al-Bared and the right of return

I left Lebanon more than a week ago and am only now starting to find words. I have never before been in a place that has seen so much war. Occupation, yes. Injustice, yes. Death and destruction and uncertainty, perhaps. But something felt different about Lebanon. I have not wrapped my mind around it enough to feel confident that what I write will accurately represent my own thoughts, let alone the actual situation. But I do want to tell you about Nahr al-Bared. Hannah Mermelstein writes. 

A new struggle for life after war

Tyre enjoys a reputation as a laid back summer resort with a “liberal” lifestyle in the heart of south Lebanon — with its striking Roman ruins, ancient Christian fishing harbor, and bustling beachfront. But during the off-season — and compounded by the negative impact of the summer 2006 conflict with Israel, the ongoing political crises in Beirut and skyrocketing prices nationwide — the town’s family-owned retail shops and businesses, farmers and fishermen barely make a living. Rebecca Murray writes from the southern Lebanon city.