Mayssoun Sukarieh

How it felt yesterday: The ultimate oppression

It is a feeling of ultimate oppression that is reigning in the streets of Beirut; ultimate oppression that turned a victory into a resolution for our colonization; ultimate oppression not only by the Israeli war machine but also by the international community that offered Israel what it could not take by force. Ultimate oppression for being witness to the defeat of the Israeli army but not allowed to live the victory. It was the quietest yet most painful morning in Beirut since the beginning of the war. It started with news about the UN resolution against Lebanon - the resolution that will end the resistance and leave us easy prey to the fully armed state of Israel. 

Words Fail as the Bombs Fall

I haven’t been able to write. Words irritate me these days. Words distorted and twisted by power, words re-used by journalists and analysts like parrots. A country waging a war becomes a country under siege, resistance groups become terrorists. I do not want to use the language the new rulers of the world are using. I get irritated listening to myself uttering a single word they use. I haven’t been able to write also because words fail. I sat yesterday in front of the TV set, watching a broadcast about the Shayyah massacre where 43 people died. It is at the funeral; there are interviews with bereaved mothers. 

They were thirty-three men and agricultural workers

They were working in the fields, to save what is left from the season while Israel constantly targets fruit trucks and convoys all over Lebanon. They were men and agricultural workers. They were workers having a break after a long day of peach and plum picking, resting to continue their day of work that extends to the night. They were men, thirty-three of them, who died because they were working at a time when we are supposed to be all sitting home scared or demonstrating against the resistance as the enemy wishes. They were maybe called: Muhammad, Ahmad, Issa, Ali, Hani Fadi, Khaled, Hassan, Tarek … maybe and maybe. 

We have lost our faith

I have been feeling numb for a while; the overwhelming news in the past few days has focused on the displaced, the searing stories of people who fled in fear and left all their possessions behind. Calls on TV stations and on the radio of people who lost their loved ones … Stories of their anxiety about homes they left behind … Scenes of people murdered on the roads as they fled … And stories of the destruction they saw on those roads. I get confused: Am I seeing and hearing the stories of Palestinians who fled their homes in fear in 1948? No: I am in Beirut, it is 2006, and these are the stories of the Lebanese who have been rendered refugees, but by the same perpetrators of the 1948 displacement: the State of Israel. 

Art therapy with kids in a Beirut shelter

Many organizations and volunteers have started to work with children who were displaced with their families from many parts of the country, and who are now filling the schools, parks and different establishments in Beirut. The goal of current efforts and programs is first to encourage the children to express their feelings and anxieties about the war, and second, to give some time to their parents to relax a bit during the days. In addition to drawing, many volunteers are reading with children, singing, playing, or even just sitting and talking. 

"Didn't you watch the news? They started hitting Palestinians"

“People are starting to sell what they have to get bread; yesterday two people came to ask me if I buy their cell phones, they are selling all what they have. Yesterday, a father of five children who used to work in delivery came to sell me his cell phone, since I work in that area of telephones. Well. it was worth at least 50,000 liras — $32 — and he offered it for just 30,000 liras — $20 — he that 30,000 liras will buy 30 bundles of bread and, which will allow them to live for a month. He asked me, ‘what do I need with the cell phone? I needed it for work, but where is work now?” 

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. 

Shatila Refugee Camp: "What do we have left to fear?"

Since there was no power and I couldn’t be glued all day to the news, I decided to go to Shatila [refugee camp]. The city was almost empty; there were few cars in the streets and few open shops. The cab dropped me at the Sabra area, the “poor souk” as they call it in Beirut, which was bustling with people buying food supplies. All shops were packed except for the butcher and poultry shops, which stood empty. “Meat dishes are a luxury for the poor during normal times, so what do you say about war time?” one of the butchers observed. 

Fear and loathing in Beirut

I live in a neighborhood that is largely supportive of the 14 March 2006 coalition, i.e., my neighbors tend to be critical of Hezbollah and its relation to Syria. The first reaction here, however, was very supportive of the Hezbollah operation two days ago. I first knew of the Hezb operation from screams of joy arising all around the neighborhood. The pharmacist with whom I have argued many times about Syria and the resistance was happy “The IDF deserves it! Is it right what they are doing to the Palestinians in Gaza? Let them take it! Now three soldiers — what are they going to do?”. Then he said: “God bless us though, what will Israel do now? They won’t allow for such an operation; they will go crazy!”