From Beirut to ... those who love us (Broadband Video)

This video letter was made on July 21, 2006 at the studios of Beirut DC, a film and cinema collective which runs the yearly Ayam Beirut Al Cinema’iya Film Festival. This video letter was produced in collaboration with Samidoun, a grassroots gathering of various organizations and individuals who were involved in relief and media efforts from the first day of the Israeli attack on Lebanon. It was also broadcast at the Biennial of Arab Cinema, organized by the Arab World Institute in Paris. 

"Justice" Comes to Qana

The attacks of 11 September 2001 gave many ordinary Americans a palpable experience of injustice. Addressing both houses of Congress nine days later, President Bush proclaimed: “Our grief has turned to anger and anger to resolution. Whether we bring our enemies to justice or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done.” By nearly conflating justice and revenge, the President - and, alas, the vast majority of Americans who applauded him - lost an opportunity to see with new clarity, justice itself cast into relief by the very experience of injustice. Instead, the United States launched an endless war, the first stage of which was to be called Operation Infinite Justice. 

We're still alive, despite last night

We’re still alive, despite last night. They were busy bombing Gaza, South Lebanon and Baalback, until 3:14 am — that was when they started hitting the outskirts of Beirut. Twelve, thirteen air strikes? I stopped counting at the twelfth strike and fell asleep. Don’t ask me how, I don’t know. My husband and “my refugees” were out on the balcony trying to locate the new targets, but I stayed in bed. I had a terrible migraine and couldn’t even open my eyes. I’d open them only with every new explosion, and listen to the correspondent on TV specifying the number and targets of each. They were all falling on Ouzai, south of Beirut. 

Birth of the New Middle East?

At 7:00 am this morning the enemy’s air strike got us out of our beds, devastated. The Israeli air force hit the Maameltein bridge which is around 500 meters away from my house. The ceiling felt like it was going to collapse over our heads! Less than 30 minutes later, and while I was standing on my balcony still overwhelmed by the first bombardment, another strike hit the Casino Du Liban bridge right before my eyes. And in the hour that followed, they hit the bridges in this chronology, Maameltein bridge, casino bridge, Halat bridge (complete destruction), and Madfoun bridge (not to mention the rest of the bridges that connect Mount Lebanon, Beirut to the south and the Bekaa). 

And it gets worse ...

Last night … last night … I don’t even know where to begin … It seems the bombs are getting louder. Perhaps they are the new ones from the US expedited delivery. They hit everywhere last night. Beirut, Jounieh, roads leading to the north, bridges in the north; the only highway left, leading to the north, the last escape route to Syria, was hit. We are all trapped now. Waiting … waiting … The bombs started around 1 am in Dahiye. We had some friends over. Everyone was in a state of panic. We waited a bit and then everyone made a run for it, to go home. 

Beirut will never die

Despite the threats of Beirut being blown up today, here were people working … here were everyday people, coming together to help in any way they could. I was filled with so much love, being around such passionate people. Something changed tonight. I guess when you are looking at death, straight in the eyes, you find a new kind of courage. You realize how important it is to hang on to what you have. You fight for life with a new kind of passion. I have spent the last three weeks mourning the loss of Beirut … mourning the loss of my dreams and my work. Now, it’s time to accept what is happening and take charge of the situation. Beirut, she will never die. 

"There was a massacre at Qana"

Coming into consciousness of, or bearing witness to, a massacre only a few kilometers removed from one’s being (or home), feels very much like the experience of being in the proximity of a very powerful explosion only at an extremely, extremely slowed motion. Taking stock of the information on time, place, and the toll of victims, watching televised transmission of rescue workers piling a kindergarden in rigor mortis, is identical to the astounding sensation of the air being sucked from all around, that typically precedes the explosion. And at some point, it all sinks in … 

I refuse to say goodbye

Just got home … was driving like crazy. Word on the street is that Israel is threatening to hit Beirut now. I feel so helpless. I called Maya, she said that if she dies today that i could keep her DVDs that I’m borrowing. I told her the same. I called my husband and told him to come home right away. If I die, I want to be in his arms. My little brother is here with me. He is 20 years old. He is making some tea now. He believes it is going to be ok. We are supposed to be discussing a plan he has to make t-shirts with slogans on them to raise money for the relief shelter he is volunteering at. 

Every time I think that things can't get worse, they do

There is a black dust that is filling the air. We are breathing it in … constantly. It has settled on my clothes, in my kitchen — it is everywhere. We are guessing it is from the Jiye power station that was bombed. It is still on fire. It is the power station from which the oil spill originated from.Today I had my first experience at queuing for gas. The shortages have arrived. So many gas stations have shut down. The few that are left have long queues. I waited for 40 minutes, and when my turn came, I was give $10 worth only. I only have a few minutes left before the electricity gets cut. we are running on generator now and they usually turn it off at midnight. 

Four-year-old Qana survivor's night between the dead

Three of my colleagues went to Tyre today. I will spare you the details of what they saw and wrote. There’s only one thing that I need to share with you. Saada went to Jabal Amel hospital where she found a four year old boy, Hassan Chalhoub, who had spent the previous night in the morgue between the dead. He had been sleeping next to his sister, six-year-old Zeinab, in the shelter in Qana. There with him were his mom and his dad, who’s confined to a wheelchair. Many of the people of Qana are survivors of the 1996 massacre, when 110 people were killed and more than 100 were injured when by Israeli raids on civilians who had sought shelter in a nearby UN base. Thus, many of the people of Qana have special needs.