Lebanon: The pride of my heart

To all of you who sent messages and emails of concern and support, and who called my family in the US to make sure I am safe. I am so, so touched. What can I say - I am living a nightmare. Just last week, Lebanon was expecting 1.6 million tourists, a record number since before the civil war. We were expecting $4.4 billion to be injected into our economy. Now it’s in shambles. Imagine a militia in the US that acts on its own and kidnaps two Candian soldiers, imagine Canada in response bombing our ports, roads, bridges, residences, neighborhoods - killing US citizens, destroying lives, creating refugees … stopping life. Lebanese did not want this war … we are fed up; we have no voice. 

Not a normal Monday

Many foreigners have been finding ways out of Lebanon. American students at AUB will be given first priority tomorrow; the Embassy says it won’t announce until the last minute if by land, sea or helicopter. Others will apparently have the opportunity as early as tomorrow, and most likely within the next three days. It is interesting what causes tension among people in situations like this. They have been told they can only have one small bag. The dilemma is like the subject of a high school essay - what would you bring if you had a few hours to pack and could only fill one small bag? There was a great deal of discussion about going or not going. 

This nameless war

This evening as we gathered in Ras Beirut with some close friends for food and conversation, I asked if this war had a name yet. Someone suggested that all of Israel’s wars are known by dates, so this would be the 2006 war. To the Arabs, they are all known as tragedies. This could be the rape of Lebanon (though hardly the deflowering), the July massacre (this only works for the one-month war). If I knew the names of the two captured Israeli soldiers, I might suggest the war be named after them, or has it gone way beyond that? 

At a crossroads in downtown Beirut

Today I drove through downtown on my way to visit my parents. I was driving alone and was a bit nervous. First time in a car alone since this whole thing started … But I had to see my parents. I came across a red light and stopped. The streets were empty, and I caught myself wondering why I stopped and didn’t just go through. Streets were totally empty - no other cars, no traffic police. Then I remembered my latest policy that is helping to keep me sane; that even under attack, we should not lose our manners. That even under attack, there are still some regulations we should abide by. Somehow, by not crossing the red light, I was able to maintain some dignity. 

Day 5 of the siege

A quiet night in Beirut, more or less, compared to what the inhabitants of Tyre and the south and the Beqaa and Tripoli experienced. They were shelled from the air and sea with little respite. Tyre is in a tragically dire situation. 30,000 are displaced; the mayor was on TV screaming for help, his voice choking with despair. They are out of supplies, they have more wounded than they can handle and the city’s reserves in fuel and other basic amenities are nearly depleted. (The IDF wants to “clear” three provinces in the South: Tyre, Marja’uyun and Bin Jbeil, in preparation for the “20 km buffer zone.”) The port of Tripoli was bombed, the port of Beirut was bombed. 


I hear it from my neighbours and friends, from phone calls coming in from loved ones abroad. I hear it inside my own head. We all just feel so helpless. How exactly does one face indiscriminate attacks from the air, land and sea? A sense of claustrophobia overcame me when all routes out of Lebanon were being cut off, one after the other. I wasn’t even thinking of leaving, but their moves succeeded in making me feel trapped. My solution? Call a friend living abroad - how trapped can I be if I can still communicate with the outside world? As trite as that might sound, it worked. The magic of psychology. 

Four days of bombing in Beirut

For four days straight, since 12 Wednesday at around noon, Israel has been bombing Beirut, the south of Lebanon, parts of the Bekaa and other parts in Lebanon non-stop. It is 12:49 am Sunday morning right now, and in Beirut, Israeli warplanes are bombing successively on an area called Haret Hreik in the southern suburbs of Beirut, and they have just announced that there is a big fire expanding in the whole area. Two things are sure: First, Israel seems determined to continue its terrorizing, brutal and non-human offensive on Lebanon. Second, when Israeli officials say that one of their priorities in their offensives (anywhere, not only in Lebanon) is to make sure not to hurt civilians, this you can reject by following the news of Lebanon. 

Waiting is our struggle

Waiting, one might assume, has a negative connotation, i.e., passivity. But this is not true under siege, where waiting embodies resistance. It is resistance despite all the forms of violence we are facing, resistance to all forms of war we are subjected to, not only from the Israelis but also from the deafening silence of the international community. This is a battle of wills, and whoever’s will breaks first will lose. Waiting under siege is steadfastness, and steadfastness is what is needed now. 

How many people will die while I sleep?

I kept going back and forth from the balcony to the TV, about 20 times, filming outside and filming the TV screen repetitively. It was real. It was happening. They announced that Israeli jet fighters are approaching Beirut, then I heard them, I saw them, and I filmed them launch missiles to destroy bridges, buildings, roads, and churches, killing four and injuring dozens. The roads were like a ghost town. I captured those too. What I remember most is the unbelievably close sound of the explosions, then the smoke that I could see directly in front of me. 

Good morning Beirut

Since 1993 and the signing of the Oslo Accords, the Arab leaders, the US and the UN have been saying that negotiations and normalization with Israel are the only way to peace. But we have yet to see Israel make the smallest concession, taking the opportunity to swallow up yet more land, butcher the Palestinian people and continue to imprison thousands. Hamas’ election was but one indicator that ordinary Arabs have understood that successive peace accords have brought them nothing but further misery - only resistance, with all the suffering that comes with it, bears fruit.