The Daily Star

Security forces struggle to hold the line

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s army - backed by police forces - tried Tuesday to stamp out violence erupting from street protests, only to see it resume again in area after area. By the time The Daily Star went to press, at least three people had died and 133 others, including eight policemen, were wounded in clashes. Hotspots for Tuesday’s clashes included Jounieh, Batroun, Chekka, Koura, Akkar and Tripoli in Northern Lebanon; Dekkwaneh, Nahr al-Mott and Jdeideh in Mount Lebanon; and Corniche al-Mazraa and Tariq al-Jdideh in Beirut. 

Siniora Cabinet girds for rough ride as opposition launches general strike

BEIRUT: As the Hizbullah-led opposition forces move on Tuesday to launch a general strike that promises to paralyze the country, officials within the ruling parliamentary majority have urged Lebanese to ignore the calls for a work stoppage. After almost two months of an opposition sit-in in the heart of the capital aimed at bringing down the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, the campaign has progressed to ambitions of paralyzing the periphery of the capital and the rest of the country. However, Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah vowed on Monday that “we will not raise arms against anyone.” 

Down but not out: Artists refused to give up

The past year hasn’t been a great one for the art scene in Beirut. As of January, Lebanon was still reeling from the political assassinations and phantom bombings of 2005. Whatever momentum artists, curators and dealers built up over the next six months was trounced by the war with Israel that erupted in July. Numerous projects geared toward establishing a modern art museum or a contemporary art center in the Lebanese capital got shoved to the back burner, gallery exhibitions were cancelled and individual bodies of work had to be shelved by the artists who had been hoping to realize them. 

Don't let one family's latest tragedy become that of a whole country

There is no such thing as a routine political killing, but Tuesday’s assassination of Lebanese Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel threatens repercussions - and signals intentions - that are nothing short of extraordinary. With the Lebanese political climate already fouled by soaring tensions, the timing alone indicates that the people who orchestrated the attack are both ruthless and reckless. The assailants’ identities and immediate demands are unknown, but their message is clear: They will bring the country to - and possibly beyond - the brink of disaster to get their way. 

Foreign meddling and domestic inaction push Lebanon to the brink of crisis

Lebanon is once again on the brink of a crisis caused by foreign meddling and domestic inaction. The White House is accusing Hizbullah, Iran and Syria of seeking the illegitimate overthrow of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora’s government, parroting a theme long championed by a very recent visitor to Washington, Chouf MP Walid Jumblatt. The simplistic charge dovetails with much of the current US approach to the Middle East, but it also lends credence to the theory that the Bush administration’s Lebanon policy is so flimsy as to be alterable by the last person who gained an audience with the president or one of his top advisers. 

The Beirut blogs: People under siege tell their stories online

“I don’t want to be a war story … I just want to be me … not what is imposed on me … I don’t want to be another depressing story in your Inbox.” Beirut-based artist Zena al-Khalil began sending email updates to her friends, colleagues and contacts on July 13, the day Israel began bombing her city. Like Khalil, writer and curator Rasha Salti started organizing her thoughts into “siege notes.” Her missives, poignant, personal and rife with pointed political analysis, are now posted online at “Electronic Lebanon” - an offshoot of Electronic Intifada that launched within hours of Israel’s attack of Lebanon’s infrastructure and citizenry. Either way, they are collective memory in the instant, a readymade archive. 

Israel's long history of abusing the United Nations

The crux of the problem is that the Jewish state resents the United Nations because it has failed to accept repeated humiliations - and worse - with sufficient obsequiousness. In the Israeli view, international organizations should follow the example of the United States, which has frequently betrayed both the safety and the reputation of its own military and diplomatic personnel by meekly accepting Israeli atrocities and provocations. The US government forced the US Navy to help cover up the nature of Israel’s deliberate 1967 attack on the USS Liberty, which killed dozens of American servicemen, and to deny proper decorations to victims and survivors alike. 

Film festival drops Israel as sponsor to protest attack

The organizers of the 2006 Locarno International Film Festival have dropped the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a festival sponsor because of that country’s unremitting bombardment of civilian targets in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. The Israeli ministry was listed as a co-sponsor of one of the festival’s programs, called “Leopards of Tomorrow.” News of the sponsorship provoked a letter of protest from several Lebanese and Palestinian filmmakers and festival guests - who threatened to pull out of Locarno, which starts on August 2, if the links were maintained. 

Western media fail to tell the real story in Lebanon

One has to assume that what the decent Western journalists report is being heavily edited somewhere along the line before it gets to the consumer. This is presumably intended as a prophylactic against the inevitable charges of “anti-Semitism” and resultant drops in advertising revenues that will follow unvarnished coverage of Israeli brutality. The product of this regime of fear has been a generation of biased reporting that portrays the Jewish state as weak when it is very strong, moderate when it is frequently extremist, democratic when it is often theocratic, liberal when it is commonly draconian - in short, “Western” when it is anything but. 

War of destruction in Lebanon: Friday afternoon

BEIRUT: Israel destroyed the home and office of Hezbollah’s leader Friday and tightened its seal on Lebanon, blasting its air and road links to the outside world to punish the guerrilla group-and with it, the country-for the capture of two Israeli soldiers. Hezbollah’s Sheik Hassan Nasrallah and his family were safe after missiles demolished the two buildings in Beirut’s crowded southern neighborhoods, Hezbollah said. But the strike underlined Israel’s determination to take the fight direct to Hezbollah’s leadership as Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert vowed the massive campaign would continue until the guerrillas were neutralized.