This is Beirut

This is Beirut is designed to give voice to the millions of Lebanese who are suffering while the world sits silently. We are not interested in propagating hatred. We want the world to witness through the eyes of Lebanese citizens the destruction and the suffering that has been brought on in the name of defense. If you have a story, poem or letter to share, please email amyabdou@gmail.com We will work together to end this violence.

Monday, July 31, 2006

A Message from Syria

Dear friends,

Salaam alaykum - peace be upon you. The greeting used by Arabs and Muslims all over the world - and for the people of Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq, a poignant reminder that peace is a precious thing. Seeing the images of massacre at Qana today I don't know where to begin - or how to stop crying. I feel I can only convey fragments - perhaps because my heart is breaking. I'm trying hard not to seem melodramatic, because I know how it is there - you read this in the midst of a long, exhausting, busy day and too manyof these and it's too much to bear, it feels so far away. Even here in Damascus it seems removed - but the emotions are here - the frustration, anger, pain - the unspeakable helplessness, watching more children die. "The children", you hear, over and over, from taxi drivers to waiters to family and friends - "How can they do this to children?". I know people everywhere love their children. It is a love that is truly universal. In Arab culture many people, particularly in more traditional settings, are called simply Um Laith, Abu Leila - mother of, father of....a term of respect, homage to the souls they have brought to the world. To watch those souls taken from it is something there are no words for. But our government has words. Resounding words, authoritative words, presumptuous words - like "New Middle East". Amazing - Amazing the arrogance of a nation illegally and brutally implanted inthe Middle East (Israel) and one that isn't even IN the Middle East (America) declaring that they are going to create a "New" region in the most ancient partof the world. And will do so whether the people of that region like it or not -with hands steeped in the blood of their children. But I'm trying not to focus on anger now, not to dwell on the politics - I want you to be able to listen - I know it gets harder and harder to hear. So here is a more hopeful vision - a window to a different Middle East that Iwitnessed and wanted to share:Last night we were invited to a concert at the huge arts complex built by Hafezal Assad, burned in an electrical fire, then rebuilt by his son. It was aconcert in solidarity with the people of Palestine and Lebanon, played by theArab Youth Symphony Orchestra. We thought it would be sweet, if painful, as most youth concerts tend to be. Instead it was amazing. I'll use the present tense now - I want you to feel like you are there: Hundreds and hundreds of audience members pack the beautiful, new Damascus OperaHouse. The building is quite simply breath taking, part of a complex housing atheater, exhibition rooms, and Academy for the Arts plus a lot of other buildings I would LOVE to rehearse in. It is designed by a British company and built by the Syrians, all in white with gorgeous wooden lattice archways basedon the ancient Islamic style. The marble floors are cool, the red carpets rich,the ceilings high, the chandeliers enormous, the effect, impressive.The audience is quite young for the opera as we in the West are used to it -many under 25, in jeans and t-shirts, some girls in Hijab, some without, allchattering with the excitement of those who have come to see loved ones perform. Those who are older are parents and friends, and some, like us, are simply moved by the idea - raising money for the victims of a brutal attack on their neighbors, families and friends. All other festivals and events along with manyprivate weddings and other parties here have been cancelled because of thedevastation next door - who can celebrate amidst so much destruction? So this night is special - a chance to see music for the first time in weeks and stillshow respect and solidarity with their neighbors. That universal "to your seats" bell sounds and we file in - Mingled perfumes ofso many Arab women, on stage and off...Reminders in Arabic, then English, to please please silence your cell phones. The cacophony of rings from Western Popsongs to tinny Arab ones, all turning to silence and anticipation, interrupted by the occasional whispered giggle. The concert begins and I am told that the young people playing come from all over the Arab world - mainly from Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine, and more. They are playing mostly Western instruments (although many are derived from Arab ones), and I am once again reminded that here they are exposed to"our" world so much more than we are to theirs. Imagine fifty American children knowing the NAMES of the oud, the nay, the dirbeke, let alone mastering them. Maysoun, the Syrian Professor of Drama who invited us to the concert, asks if Iknow the Arab composer, but I cannot remember his name. She then asks if I like Dvorzak, and I have to admit I don't know him either. She says they are playing Symphony number 8, which is nice but not her favorite. She prefers #9 - The New World. The one he wrote when Columbus discovered America. I tell her I don'tlike it already and she smiles, chides me: "There are many good things about America Leila! It is a democracy, this is very important." (Here I have to bite my tongue, trying to remember that yes, in many ways we still are). "And you have many great playwrights - Sam Shepard, Tennessee Williams, ArthurMiller, Joseph Chaikin, A.R. Gurney"...now she is mentioning names that evensome American actors would not recognize...She rattles off plays she has read and again I must admit I do not know them as well as she. Finally, she says,"America is multicultural and this is such a beautiful thing, so many different people, so important...." Here I have to agree with her and for the first time in weeks I feel a moment of pride in my country.I think of this pride as I watch the youth on stage, coming together from so many nations to make such beautiful music. I especially love watching the two girls, one in hijab, one in a tank top with long hair. They are the ones on theBIG drums, and I wish the whole world were watching. One young man with glasses, tall and lean in that way that only teenagers canbe, sits center stage with the lone oud, that most central and lyrical of Arab instruments. At moments the orchestra pauses, listens respectfully as he plays the discordant, mournful melodies of Marcel Khalife, Palestinian, genius, soulof a besieged nation.....And back to the symphony, also by Khalife - violins,cellos, trumpets and flutes. There is a different kind of melody in Arabic music - one all its own -sometimes discordant to a Western ear, but always, ultimately, beautiful. And I realize why I am so moved by this symphony. While Dvorzak's was written exclusively for the instruments of his culture, Khalife's incorporates both andmore - the old and the new - the grand suites for ten violins, and the singular soul of the lone oud - there are melodies, rhythms, pauses, discords...The juxtaposition is the heart of the symphony - there is passion in it, and beauty- and from that, the harmony is born. All we have to do, is listen.

Leila Buck
7/30/06
Damascus, Syria

AIPAC's Dangerous Grip on Washington

A Dutch friend asked me recently if the pro-Israeli lobby is actually that strong in America. With his question in mind, I did a little poking and found the following article "AIPAC's Dangerous Grip on Washington" By Ari Berman, TheNation.com. In the article he begins to describe to power structure that is the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee. A must read for those who are in the dark about the influence Israel holds over the American government.

War Diaries- Day 19

Dear World

July 30, Day 19

Qana

Do I need to number the deceased? Do I need to number the children?

I woke up this morning to the sounds of screaming, crying and despair emanating from the television. No, sorry. Not from the television, from people; I am starting to confuse both already.

Then I saw.

I saw rubble, plenty of rubble.

I saw few families running away, screaming "There are children! Women! Elderly!"

I saw women crying. Men crying.

I saw traumatized faces of children wanting to understand.

Those were the living ones.

Then I saw the dead.

People drowned in a sea of broken concrete.

Children lying on their backs, dead.

Children lying on their tummies, dead.

Tiny dead children's fingers and toes emanating from the ruins.

Grey bodies and torn clothes.

Men holding little girls' bodies and saying to the camera, in an outburst of sadness and anger "did you film this?"

Did you watch this?

I hope you didn't, at least you will get to sleep tonight.

I hope you did, because it happened. Ruthlessely.

To the children of Qana, I am sorry.

I am sorry you didn't wake up this morning.

I am sorry your last moments of life were lived in fear, anger and despair.

I am sorry you weren't given the chance to grow.

I am sorry your mothers didn't watch you grow.

I am sorry you lived and died in a world ruled by ruthless idiots.

I am sorry you lived and died in a world where bombs are more valued than human life.

I am sorry your tiny hands had no pulse in them.

I am sorry your tiny bodies ended up being wrapped in nylon and labeled just like another supermarket product.

I am sorry you will see the world no more.

I am sorry my calls are not efficient enough.

Condoleeza Rays is also sorry, by the way. Israel is sorry too because their high-tech observation devices did not allow them to 'know' you were hiding there. The bomb that fell over your heads is also sorry.

Send more bombs, destroy more homes, kill more people.

Then, apologize. That will work.

To the 37 children of Qana, I am sorry.

To all the children of Lebanon, I am sorry you had to know anger at such a young age.

Over 700 victims already. Olmert asked Rays for 10 to 15 more days, enough to murder, proportionally (although there's nothing proportional here, but we still have hopes), 350 more people.

Dear Bush, Rays, Blair, Olmert and associates. Take your time. Drink your coffee in the morning with a clear conscience. There's no need to rush, really.

We will be waiting for you to make up your mind. You don't even have to worry about apologizing afterwards, we heard enough "sorry"s so far.

Who can blame unconsciousness anyways?

Love,

A grieving Lebanese Citizen

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Analysis: A second Qana Massacre?

By Martin Asser
BBC News, Beirut


The southern Lebanese town of Qana is known for two events in
history, and there could soon be a third as news comes in of rising
civilian casualties from an Israeli air strike there.
In realms of biblical narrative, some believe it to be the scene of
Jesus Christ's first miracle, turning water into wine during the
wedding at Cana of Galilee.

In modern times, it was the scene of one of the bloodiest events of
the modern Arab-Israeli conflict, the Israeli shelling of a UN base
sheltering Lebanese civilians 10 years ago.

International shock at those deaths - more than 100, and another 100
injured - led to huge pressure for a ceasefire deal bringing an end
to Israel's last sustained military operation against Hezbollah
militants, codenamed Operation Grapes of Wrath.

The Qana Massacre, as it is known in Lebanon, remains a powerful
symbol for Lebanese people of what they say is Israel's
indiscriminate and disproportionate response to Hezbollah's rocket
attacks.

'No accident'

Israel still insists the 1996 shelling was an accident and that its
forces had a legitimate militant target - a Hezbollah military unit
that had fired mortars and rockets from near the Qana base.

Then, as now, Israel accused Hezbollah of using the civilian
population as human shields when they launched their attacks.

However, a UN investigation reported in May 1996 that the deaths at
the Qana base were unlikely to have been the result of an accident as
claimed by the Israelis.

The UN report cited the repeated use of airburst shells over the
small UN compound, which sent down a deadly torrent of shrapnel that
caused terrible injuries among the unprotected civilians.

The UN also noted the presence of Israeli helicopters and a drone in
the skies over Qana which must have witnessed the bloodbath.

NOW, history repeats....

"TYRE, Lebanon (CNN) -- Israel said it mistakenly destroyed a four-
story building near a Hezbollah rocket-launching site in Qana,
Lebanon, on Sunday where the Red Cross and Lebanese internal security
sources at the scene said 54 people died, including 19 children."

It was the deadliest attack in 19 days of fighting between Hezbollah militia and Israeli forces, which began after Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid.

A Red Cross official said the Qana airstrikes hit a residential building that housed refugees, which Israel said was near Hezbollah rocket launching sites. Officials said they believed at least another 11 children were still under the rubble.

More than 60 bodies have been pulled from the rubble, Lebanese representative to the United Nations Nohad Mahmoud said.

"I saw several bodies of children, women and old men," reported CNN's Ben Wedeman. "Residents were digging with the their bare hands, taking more and more bodies out. Parts of the town were completely bombarded, as if hit by a giant mallet in many places. I was told by one Lebanese army officer that they counted more than 80 individual strikes on the town."

Updated map, 12-25 July; Zeina


Dear Friends,

I have attached a new map that we have just finished. It locates the infrastructure, mainly transport and vital sites, that have been bombed over the past days...

We have done this map as it can clearly reveal the siege that different cities/inhabitants have undergone and still suffer from, it also shows how Israel’s fierce assault on Lebanon completely violates the Geneva conventions & international law relative to respect for human rights in armed conflicts, through it’s massive destruction of vital civilian utility sites and infrastructure.

The other map of locations bombed is being updated daily on www.lebanonupdates.blogspot.com

Please feel free to circulate and publish anywhere you see fit.

Warmly,

zeina

War Diaries- Day 18

Dear World

July 29th, Day 18

Over 600 deceased.

Over 3220 injured.

Over 800 000 displaced.

I don't like to give numbers. I don't know how significant they are. I believe that, from the moment one person is murdered, from the moment one person is suffering, finding a solution is a must because people's right to a lead a decent life should not even be asked for. I should simply be there.

Today, a friend of mine told us a funny event that happened to her, and I have been hearing the same story from people around me. She received an international call on her cellular phone, at 3:30 in the morning. Being too tired to wake up and answer, she ignored the sound and went back to sleep. As the phone rang back at 4:30 in the morning, she answered and heard: "The State of Israel speaking." In a state of panic, she hanged up, refusing to hear what they had to say next. But all the stories I have heard give some insights about the content of the phone call being: "Beware of Hezbollah."

I cannot but express, once again, all my respects to the integrity and pride of the Israeli Government. Killing civilians is not enough. Nor is bombing bridges, roads, homes, hospitals, trucks, cars and motorcycles (which makes you want to live in a tent and move on the back of a donkey). Now, they start their psychological bombing, similar to the one expressed in American movies where the murderer traumatizes his victim with a series of threatening phone calls. My friend actually woke up in the morning, thinking she had been hallucinating, then checked her sanity by browsing the "received calls" section of her cellular phone. Brilliant strategy. I hope they are aware of how desperate their approach is. Personal phone calls? There's really nothing I can say about this.

On television, Marcel Ghanem is hosting the war photographers, who have been exposing some of their unpublished photographs and video shoots. Unpublished because, if people see them in the morning on their daily newspaper, their very desire to go through the day will be compromised. And I am seeing things I have never seen before. Hands, detached. Masses of flesh, what once was a human being living his life. A man killed in his own living room. An elderly holding a box with what's left of his belongings, trying to circulate in the core of his pulverized neighborhood. And that is only a selection. The photographers are talking about their experiences, how many times death skipped them by pure chance. They talk, and show photographs, and it sounds like a story, a nightmare, our current reality. I am thinking how beautiful it would be to organize a live exhibit of these photographs, not through the net, but printed, framed, exhibited in a glossy museum. So that people can look and see, so that nobody says that the media is distorting the facts and numbers.

An exhibit now, so that people can watch and actually react. If we do it in ten years, it will be just another human disaster that we regret and cry. It is just a thought… Because it seems to me that, if there's one thing that can (barely) still shake humans around the world, it is frozen moment of suffering printed on Kodak paper.

As a closure, I would like to propose to the Israeli Government other means of puzzling our heads via the phone, probably less costly:

  1. Missed calls, our favorite Lebanese code system. One missed call: "beware". Two missed calls: "evacuate". Three missed calls: "too late, you're dead".
  2. If missed calls seem too fuzzy, they can still resort to SMS. "Feeling safe? Don't! We are constantly watching" or "Please purchase candles ASAP, we will be bombing electricity plants soon."

So much care brings tears to my eyes, really.

"Allo? Hayeteh!"

A Lebanese Citizen

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Rally - Voices for Lebanon and Palestine

End Israel's attacks on Lebanon and Palestine

Demand a ceasefire now!

Sunday 30 July 1-3pm Trafalgar Square

The latest news is that comedian Alexei Sayle and actor Simon Callow have confirmed they will be speaking at Sunday's rally!

They will be joining actors including Maxine Peake, John Austin MP, veteran peace campaigner Bruce Kent, Tony Benn, 13-year old Zeinab Daher who has just returned from Lebanon, and many others (full details of speakers confirmed to date are on the attached leaflet)

The rally is organised by the PSC and supported by CND, Stop the War, British Muslim Initiative and many others.

Despite increasing international pressure for a ceasefire, our government has refused to put pressure on Israel to end its assault on the Lebanese and Palestinian people. We need to send a strong and clear signal to the government that we are calling for an end to Israel's attacks and for an immediate ceasefire. Please join us on Sunday and get everyone you know to come too.



There is always hope

War Diaries- Day 17

Dear World

July 28th, 17th day of war

Yesterday, the UK sent to Israel, as a token of appreciation for their initiatives towards peace in Lebanon illustrated by buried families and shredded children, a brand new bomb technology capable of digging 30 meters in the ground and exploding from the very core of it. This brilliant invention, carefully conceived by some brilliant scientist financed by an even more brilliant government, causes massive destruction in very little time. I bow down to all these brilliant people for their priceless efforts in making human massacres a swifter and quicker process.

I urge Blair and Bush not to include the word 'peace' in their vocabulary. It is really an offence to any human being's intelligence to even utter the word 'peace' when all you have in the back of your head is a mass of bombs and deadly weapons.

Everyday, as I encounter people, I hear new stories. Stories told by people who have left their houses and came running for their safety, bringing with them the most painful news from lands they were forced to abandon. One of these news is that, in one of the surrounded villages, and due to the lack of milk, parents were feeding their children collected rain water mixed with sugar.

The UNIFIL were able to reach one of these villages, where the inhabitants have been living with almost no food, water nor medication for 16 days. With utmost care and involvement, they managed to rescue all the foreigners, and totally ignored the 'local' dying elderly and starving children.

Since when is your right to live predetermined by the kind of passport you hold?

Since when are human beings left to die under the bricks of their own houses, while the rest of the world watches them on television with a bag of chips in their hands, and refuses to do something about it?

This war is not a disaster. Not yet. The disaster will arrive when this war is over, when the tension of the moment dissipates. The disaster of people digging in the rubble and finding the corpses of their beloved. The Health Ministry announced it today: 100 people are assumed to be still buried under the rubble. Another problem appears with all the refugees' psychological state, especially the children. Children who have been so harshly taken away from their homes, their cocoons, their safety. There's a lot to be done after this is over.

Today, two of my friends, who were abroad when the war exploded, came back after a long and stressful trip all the way from the Syrian borders, on the rhythm of bombs exploding every once in a while. One of them told me that on his way back, there was something about Lebanon's breeze and mountains taking life within him, circulating in his blood. This, they will never be able to bomb.

Bank Audi's advertisement on television says that the sun will shine back on Lebanon. I see it is already shining, everyday. We just have to catch a ray of it everyday and hold on to it.

Our sun, that's something they will never be able to bomb. As long as I know this, everything is okay for me. Almost.
Sunshines,
A Lebanese Citizen

Friday, July 28, 2006

Israel nixes major U.N. role in Lebanon

Israel's U.N. ambassador, Dan Gillerman, on Thursday announced Israel will not allow major U.N. involvement in Lebanon and will not allow the U.N. to join in an investigation of an Israeli airstrike that demolished a post belonging to the current U.N. peacekeeping mission in Lebanon where four U.N. observers were killed.

Gillerman said, "Israel has never agreed to a joint investigation, and I don't think that if anything happened in this country, or in Britain or in Italy or in France, the government of that country would agree to a joint investigation."

Tell the President


42 leading figures in British politics, diplomacy, academia and the media in a declaration urging Mr. Blair to tell the President that Britain "can no longer support the American position on the unfolding humanitarian catastrophe in the Middle-East".

Note also that after meeting Bush Blair will meet Rupert Murdoch, the staunchly pro-Zionist and pro-Bush owner of 1/3 of the media in the
world, including Fox TV.

PM urged: Stand up to Bush and call for ceasefire
By Colin Brown, Deputy Political Editor
Published: 28 July 2006

Tony Blair will face fresh pressure over the Middle East crisis today
when he arrives in Washington to meet President George Bush. Senior
Downing Street aides said the two leaders intended to show the world
they were seeking an urgent end to the hostilities in Lebanon,
despite the failure of the much vaunted Rome summit on Wednesday to
deliver a unified call for a truce.

Israel's Justice Minister, Haim Ramon, added to the pressure
yesterday, when he interpreted that indecision as a green light to
continue the bloody assault on Lebanon.

"We received yesterday at the Rome conference permission from the
world... to continue the operation," he told reporters.

The Prime Minister's visit takes place as 42 leading figures in
politics, diplomacy, academia and the media put their names to a
declaration urging Mr Blair to tell the President that Britain "can
no longer support the American position on the unfolding humanitarian
catastrophe in the Middle-East". Their declaration, printed on the
front page of today's Independent, calls on the Prime Minister to
"make urgent representations to Israel to end its disproportionate
and counter-productive response to Hizbollah's aggression".

After his stop-over in Washington, Mr Blair will fly on to California
tonight to attend a conference with the media magnate Rupert Murdoch.
An ally of Mr Murdoch, Irwin Stelzer, insisted Mr Blair was not Mr
Bush's "poodle", but his "guide dog", particularly over the Middle East.

Downing Street officials said Mr Blair intended to respond to world
criticism by showing urgency in seeking an end to the hostilities
between Israel and Hizbollah. The Prime Minister and the President
are planning to commit their governments to a lasting ceasefire by
restoring the authority of the elected government against the
unilateral action by Hizbollah.

Their joint appearance at the White House is likely to be met with
scepticism. The Bush administration said this week it was seeking a
"new Middle East", raising fears that the crisis in Lebanon was a
proxy war between the US and Iran, Hizbollah's backers.

Senior officials in Downing Street said the Prime Minister supported
the US strategy on the Middle East, which was agreed at the Sea
Island G8 summit in 2004. Mr Blair is credited with persuading the
President to pursue a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine
problem. Mr Blair and Mr Bush will emphasise they are working behind
the scenes to push for an urgent end to the violence on both sides in
the Lebanon.

"Don't in any way underestimate the intensive nature of the
diplomacy," said one senior aide to the Prime Minister. "There is a
lot going on behind the scenes. We want to show that we are stepping
up the search for a process that allows both sides to end the
hostilities and there is urgency about that."

Mr Blair's influence on the US President, as part of the "special
relationship" with America, was ridiculed after Mr Bush was heard
saying "Yo, Blair" to him at the G8 summit in St Petersburg. In the
recorded conversation, Mr Bush refused to allow Mr Blair to mount a
diplomatic mission to the Middle East, preferring instead to send his
Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice.

Both leaders know that their time in office is running out, and
officials said they saw eye to eye on four out of five of the key
items on the agenda at today's meeting - the "war against terror",
the need to spread democracy in the Middle East, restoring stability
to Iraq, and the need to curb the nuclear ambitions of Iran. They are
far apart on the collapse of the world trade talks, which is also on
the agenda, but other tricky issues such as the controversy over the
use of British airports for US arms shipments to Israel will be put
to one side. "That is matter for Mrs Beckett [the Foreign
Secretary]," said one No 10 source.

Downing Street has insisted that Mr Blair has privately used
influence on the Bush administration over the war in Lebanon, rather
than calling publicly for a ceasefire that could not be enforced. The
Prime Minister's official spokesman said Mr Blair decided to "roll
his sleeves up" and work behind the scenes, rather than act as a
commentator on the sidelines.

Sir Stephen Wall, one of the Prime Minister's most trusted former
advisers, said Mr Blair's approach was wrong. "There have been times
on trade issues when the PM should have told Bush to get his tanks
off our lawn," Sir Stephen wrote in the New Statesman. "There are
still times when, as well as working quietly with Congress on climate
change, we should speak up about the irresponsibility of the White
House.

"There are times, such as the past two weeks, when a British prime
minister should have been thinking less about private influence and
more about public advocacy."

Day 16

* 600 may have died in Lebanon, says its Health Minister. Israeli
planes attack trucks carrying medical and food supplies.

* Israel calls up 30,000 reservists, but cabinet decides not to
expand its incursion into Lebanon.

* Hizbollah fires 48 rockets into northern Israel, wounding four people.

* Hamas rejects comment from Palestinian President that release of
Israeli hostage is "imminent".

* Iran's President says Israel has pushed a self-destruct button.

* Security Council expresses shock and distress at Israel's bombing
of a UN post but no condemnation.

* Al-Qa'ida's deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahiri calls on Muslims to
repel attacks on their countries.

US 'outrage' over Israeli claim

The US state department has dismissed as "outrageous" a suggestion by
Israel that it has been authorised by the world to continue bombing
Lebanon.

"The US is sparing no efforts to bring a durable and lasting end to
this conflict," said spokesman Adam Ereli.

Israeli Justice Minister Haim Ramon made the suggestion after powers
meeting in Rome refrained from demanding an immediate ceasefire.
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair is heading to Washington for talks on
the crisis.

His meeting with US President George W Bush comes amid growing
pressure for the UK and US to join calls for an immediate ceasefire
between Israel and Hezbollah.

Israel has carried out dozens of fresh strikes on Lebanon, leaving at
least five people dead.


LEBANON TWO WEEKS ON
Three airports bombed
62 bridges destroyed
Three dams and ports hit
5,000 homes damaged

At talks in Rome on Wednesday, the US, UK and regional powers urged
peace be sought with the "utmost urgency", but stopped short of
calling for an immediate truce.

That prompted Mr Ramon to declare Israel had received "permission
from the world... to continue the operation".

But questioned by reporters on the sidelines of a summit in Kuala
Lumpur, Mr Ereli said: "Any such statement is outrageous."

The US has said a ceasefire is only worth it if it can be made to
last. President Bush reiterated the US's rejection of a "false peace"
on Thursday evening.

But the BBC's world affairs correspondent, Nick Childs, points out
that Mr Bush also emphasised how troubled he was by the mounting
casualties, a suggestion - perhaps - that he is increasingly
conscious of the price Washington is paying for its closeness to Israel.

He says this public disavowal of the Israeli stance shows how much of
an embarrassment it was for Washington as it struggles with
conflicting diplomatic pressures and the frustrations of many of its
allies.

Air strikes

Some 425 Lebanese, the vast majority civilians, are confirmed killed
in the 17 days of the conflict - but a Lebanese minister has
suggested scores more bodies lie unrecovered under the rubble.


Fifty-one Israelis, including at least 18 civilians, have been
killed, mostly by rockets fired over the border by the Lebanese
guerrilla group Hezbollah.

The Israeli assault began after Hezbollah captured two Israeli
soldiers in a cross-border raid on 12 July.

In the latest violence, a Jordanian man was killed and at least three
other people wounded in one of several strikes in Kfar Joz, close to
the southern Lebanese market town of Natabiyeh

A Lebanese couple there died when their bomb shelter collapsed on top
of them, and at least three children were wounded.

There were multiple strikes on the Bekaa Valley to the east, on
villages around the coastal city of Tyre, and roads in the south-east.

Sporadic clashes were also reported in Bint Jbeil, where Israel
suffered its worst single losses on Wednesday, with nine soldiers
killed.

Shifting aims

In Israel, there is growing concern that Hezbollah is still firing
large numbers of missiles into northern Israel.

Few in Israel still speak of being able to neutralise Hezbollah, our
correspondent in Jerusalem Katya Adler says.

Instead Israel speaks of trying to establish a "secure zone" empty of
Hezbollah fighters north of the border with Israel.

The Israeli government's announcement that it is calling up three
divisions of reservists - said to number between 15,000 to 40,000 -
suggests it is preparing for the possibility of a protracted war, our
correspondent says.
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/middle_east/5223940.stm



July, 2006

Haifa

To all our friends and colleagues,

Thank to all of you who have contacted ASWAT to ask about our safety as we are based in Haifa . It is much appreciated that you are thinking of us in these days. We want to thank you again for your support and the ongoing friendship.

We in ASWAT, our friends and families are safe and we will keep you posted if anything changes. Our reason to write you is to let you know that in these days our hearts and thoughts are in Lebanon , not forgetting Gaza and the West Bank in Palestine and Iraq .

We have a lot of pain and sadness, watching all the pictures as a result of the hits, seeing people killed, and hearing about all the refugees; it makes us stop and raise our voices in ASWAT and say out loud STOP THIS WAR on our sisters and brothers in Lebanon and start negotiating!!!

We have received some news from activists and friends from Helem, an LGBT center in Beirut . After the influx of refugees from the southern suburbs of Beirut as well as from the south of Lebanon , Helem center, together with other NGOs, has begun providing shelter, food, and supplies for the refugees.

More information can be found at http://www.helem.net/

Helem also pointed out a few blogs so as to allow people to get first hand information from the civil society in Lebanon:
http://sanayehreliefcenter.blogspot.com/
http://lebanonupdates.blogspot.com/

Other important links:

http://arab-americans.blogspot.com/

In solidarity,

ASWAT-Palestinian Gay Women

E-mail: aswat@aswatgroup.org





War Diaries- Day 16

Dear World

July 27, 16th day of war.

When I was a child, the 8 o'clock news were the most annoying thing for me. It was the moment where I couldn't communicate with my parents anymore, the moment where I had to stop watching my Felix the Cat cartoons videos. Silence prevailed around the house, leaving space to the speaker's voice, announcing the deceases and destructions of the war.

I remember one specific event, on some war night, where General Michel Aoun went on television and announced that the "Liberation War" was going to end, for the sake of Lebanon's children. I remember my mother jumping with joy, and I will never forget the relief I felt within, although I was too young to grasp what was happening. Of course, the next morning, we woke up to our lovely boom-boom alarm. And it took another interminable set of boom-boom mornings before the war ended.

Whatever I say, I will never be able to express how intense my thirst is to this sentence: "the war is over".

But everyday, we face the reality that it will not end soon. The most painful thing about it is that we don't know anything. We don't know where they are going to bomb, when they are going to bomb, what they are going to bomb. We don't know if we can plan for tomorrow. So far, all that we know is that fuel will run out on Friday. Fill up your Mazola plastic bottles so you can operate your generator for a few days before darkness prevails. Store up candles and matchboxes. Prepare a radio and spare batteries.

The eighties all over again. My father's silhouette is highlighted by the corridor's night candle. He carries me out of my bed and takes me to our vestiaire, the only safe area in the house, far from windows and balconies where gunshots are likely to land. Except that now, there are no gunshots, but bombs. No area in the house is safe. My father is not here anymore, and anyways I am too heavy to be carried out of my bed.

Today, while they were digging somewhere in the south to check if another UN officer was buried under the rubble, they found the bodies of a mother holding her two children. Once again, me deepest respects to the Israelis, who are so keen on freezing our intimate moments under masses of powdered concrete. Mummification Revisited.

The Ministry of Health announced today that the number of deceased reached over 600. What is the peak number before they ask for a cease fire? A thousand? A million? One American? 600 without counting the people in the South Villages surrounded without food, water, milk for 16 days now. 200 out of the 600 are still buried underneath the powdered households.

Today, as I was going back home from a friend's house, I took a glimpse at the sea, of which I could see a chunk, framed between two buildings. I miss the sea. Since they bombed the lighthouse and set the Beirut Port on fire, I have been avoiding going to that area. But it is only from a far distance that I can enjoy it now, since they have been pouring oil and petroleum, which set it in a disastrous state of pollution and killed most of the marine life

It is funny what God's Chosen People are doing to his creation. Having within something as intense as life, going on doing something as destructive as what we have been witnessing and enduring for the past two weeks.

Today, I realized that we might be totally out of electricity in the coming weeks. So I started calculating. No electricity, no fridge. Being myself a big fan of fruits, that cannot survive without refrigeration, I decided to start making fruit preserves.

These Israelis never stop surprising me with their avant-gardist visions. Training the next generation of Lebanese Grandmas, who would have thought about that!

With Love,

A Lebanese Citizen, and promising grandmother-to-be.

Natural disaster




Referring to the attached pictures,
During the Israeli attacks on The Power Station of Jiyeh (i.e. In South of Lebanon), 15 tons of fuel were spilled in the Mediterranean Sea. While chances of additional mass of fuel are in a risk of leaking into the sea. Black nap is covering the Lebanese coast reaching all the way to Chekka (i.e. North of Lebanon)…
Plz circulate this email, we need to broadcast to the whole world this natural disaster that might carry on for years.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

War Diaries- Day 15

Dear World

July 26th, Day 15

Today was my first day at work after two weeks of absence. Although everything was just the way we left it on Thursday July 10, nothing was the same. We weren't the same. For the first time, sitting and working in front of a computer screen became hell, although sitting home and following up the news on television was not less of a torture. My desk was s a mess, I didn't even have the desire to clean it up.

I was sitting at a friend's house when we heard about the attack on a 6-floors residential building in Tyre. People were running all over, covering their noses with their dusted shirts. God knows what chemicals the bomb had in it. The attack provoked a big mushroom smoke, and people were rushing out the scene with grayed faces, bursting in an explosion of sadness, anger, despair. The Red Cross members were rushing to help, transporting dismantled body parts on their carriers. Black and grey smoke, orange and red flames people running left and right in utmost panic.

And then I realized that I haven't grasped the reality yet, that war is once again happening to us. I watched it all on television like another American action movie. They are so good at making things look real that we now confuse our reality for one of their movies. Image after image, sound after sound, it builds within me a cumulus of anguish, sadness and chock, but doesn't get me an inch closer to reality. I watch, I burst into tears sometimes, but then again I am only watching myself as another actress in some drama. You always think something like this will never happen to you and then find yourself in the middle of the action, watching it, screaming words that eventually have the impact of a whisper.

There are three things currently playing on our national televisions: news, politicians talking or arguing, and national songs coming in between them. Basically, I skip the politicians, gather sadness during the news and burst into tears hearing the national songs. I can't help it. Today, an orchestra of young men and ladies was singing one of Zaki Nassif's songs, and there was something about this wonderful life energy within them that shook me from head to toe. It is that same life that animates Red Cross volunteers, and all the young people who are channeling everything within them to reduce, as much as possible, the amount of suffering happening around them. I might sound idealistic, but I feel this is what Lebanon is all about. The people. We have witnessed our buildings fall so many times, but the people here have always found a space to get up and keep on going. It is one of the things that pours hope in all of us. And they don't deserve this because they are wonderful. They had bombs as lullabies and shelters as parks in their childhood, and yet they refuse to bend and simply keep on going forward.

On the television, Marcel Ghanem has gathered a few young men and women debating about the country's situation. At this stage, I don't know how supportive talking is. I am in no situation to judge, I am kind of slow concerning politics. They are yelling at one another, repeating the same words I have been hearing for the past fifteen days. The War Vocabulary. Nation, Peace, Resistance, Nasrallah, Sanioura, Protection, Shelthers, Publicity Break and we continue. 'Fadi didn't fail. When Auxilia helped him, Fadi didn't forget. He grew up and became an architect, and now he is helping another Fadi through Auxilia.' Solution. Rays. Saudi Arabia. Christian. Muslim. Unity of the Lebanese people. Israel. Enemy. Displaced. Communities.

Sukleen is recruiting. I am seriously considering joining the night shift; Beirut's streets are very sad to look at. Never been dirtier. I could also use some pocket money. I do encourage everyone to do so. Mechanic work can be a great therapy for the madness that is starting to install itself in my head. Plus I really love the tweezers they use to pick up the trash!

Keep your country clean!

Peace, Peace Please!

A Lebanese Citizen

Video report

Lebanese Doctor Says Israel Using 'Phosphorus Weapons'

Video Report

The doctor treating the family says that there is phosphorus in the weapons that cause extremely painful burns on it's victims.:

- WARNING - Graphic images .

Click here to view
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article14181.htm

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Israel troops 'ignored' UN plea (BBC News)





United Nations peacekeepers in south Lebanon contacted Israeli troops 10 times before an Israeli bomb killed four of them, an initial UN report says.

The post was hit by a precision-guided missile after six hours of shelling nearby, diplomats familiar with the initial probe into the deaths say.

The news came as crisis talks seeking to end the fighting between Hezbollah and Israel ended in Rome.

They agreed immediate action "to reach with the utmost urgency a ceasefire".

The four unarmed UN observers from Austria, Canada, China and Finland, died after their UN post was hit by an Israeli air strike on Tuesday.

The UN report says each time the UN contacted Israeli forces, they were assured the firing would stop.

Israel is conducting an investigation into the deaths, and has rejected accusations made by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan that the targeting of the UN position was "apparently deliberate".

In southern Lebanon, fierce clashes have continued between Israeli forces and Hezbollah fighters around the town of Bint Jbail.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/5217176.stm

Updated map, 12-25 July; Zeina

Our Tears are the Spring of Lebanon

Lebanese refugees draw on a graffiti wall at one of the institutions provided by the Syrian government for the Lebanese people fleeing the Israeli attacks, in Damascus on Wednesday, July 6, 2006. Some of the graffiti reads 'Our tears are the spring of Lebanon' and 'We are steadfast'. (AP Photo Bassem Tellawi)

Deadly Israel raid on UN post clouds Lebanon crisis meet

BEIRUT (AFP) - Fighting on the Lebanon-Israeli border has intensified after an Israeli air raid killed up to four UN observers and at least nine Israeli soldiers were hit in a border town, as an international crisis meeting opened in Rome.
A chorus of intenational criticism followed the deaths of the peacekeepers in the border town of Khiam, which ironically came as the world leaders began to discuss proposals for a beefed-up international force for Lebanon.
India said one of its peacekeepers had been wounded in the attack and it was considering withdrawing its 600 troops in the existing UN force, indicating the problems that forming a new force might face.
"I am shocked and deeply distressed by the apparently deliberate targeting by Israeli Defence Forces of a UN observer post in southern Lebanon that has killed two UN military observers, with two more feared dead." -Kofi Annan

Click here for full text

Congress and the Israeli Attack on Lebanon: A Critical Reading

Here is a must read article from Foreign Policy in Focus:

Congress and the Israeli Attack on Lebanon: A Critical Reading by Stephen Zunes, University of San Francisco

"In short, both Democrats and Republicans are now on record that, in the name of “fighting terrorism,” U.S. allies—and, by extension, the United States as well—can essentially ignore international law and inflict unlimited damage on the civilian infrastructure of a small and largely defenseless country, even a pro-Western democracy like Lebanon."

Lebanese Organisations around the USA and their actions

http://www.justiceforlebanon.com/
Boston, July 22, 2006 – In response to the recent atrocities committed in Lebanon, concerned Lebanese-Americans of Greater Boston will lead a peaceful demonstration and candlelight vigil at Copley Square on Friday, July 28, starting at 5pm*. This grassroots event is one of many being organized across the U.S. and worldwide.

http://www.relieflebanon.org/

http://nyc.lebaneseclub.org/


Take Action
Sign the Save the Lebanese Civilians Petition and forward this invitation to your friends. Also, if you know of any action items one can take, or of any demonstrations, or whatever, please send us an email (click on the Contact US on the left side of this page), so we can disseminate this information to our members and site visiotrs.

Write to President Bush, your Senators, and Congressmen.

War Diaries- Day 14

Dear World

July 25th, 14th day of war.

It is weird how war gets imprinted in every one of your senses.

I started developing taste for what I call war-food. Things I never ate before. Things I will never eat after because they will be carrying the bitterness of the moment in them. Among these foods are baked chips, roasted chickpeas, Ghandour 555 biscuits, bottled juice.

Today, a friend was mentioning how we got used to the constant buzzing of the Israeli planes in our ears. Besides this sound, hearing ambulances sirens every 10 minutes has become yet another routine. The sky lost its color, weather forecast lost its meaning because anyways, we stopped seeing the sun. A constant smell of smoke and burning prevails in our noses.

Bint Jbeil fell in the hands of the Israelis today. It is sad to watch your country burn on television.

The sound is becoming louder and louder whenever they bomb the southern suburbs. It seems they are trying a new brand of explosives. Neomania? Desastromania?

Politicians are still talking on television. On the bottom of the screen, the red cross announces its inability to reach Rmeich, one of the surrounded villages that need urgent help. And the world keeps watching.

Two weeks now, war has shifted from being a big boom in our lives to becoming a daily routine. A daily sitcom we follow up in disbelief on television. Big booms stopped dragging us towards the television. After jumping from our chairs, we immediately guess the source of the boom depending on its provenance and intensity. "Suburbs, again". Or: "No! it's not a bomb! Just a truck passing on a bumper!"

I promised myself I will not look back. It is pointless and painful. I promised myself I will not become numb. It is against the principle of life itself. My senses might be getting used to all this, my being will never be.

I just hope that this war is an opportunity for everyone to see what a mess we have made out of this world. How nothing makes sense. Maybe politically it does, but in terms of human life, it is absolute madness.

I started to develop war syndrome. I jump over my seat every time I hear a door slam. My deep respects to Israelis who care so much about over-developing our reflexes, it will sure be a great benefit for the future!

Love,

A Jumpy Lebanese Citizen

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

HOW TO HELP

To coordinate peacefull demonstrations for cease fire:
http://www.saveleb.org
http://www.moghtarebeen.com


Dear compatriots and Friends of Lebanon, additionnal calls for
donation have just been set out :


Samir Kassir Foundation - LIBAN:
--------------------------------
Byblos Bank - Tabaris Branch -Swift: BYBALBBX
Account USD : 380.3652902.001 - Account LB: 380.3652902.002


Society Saint Vincent de Paul - LIBAN:
--------------------------------------
Banque | Audi - Beirut
Account USD: 088587/461/002/009/39 - Account LB : 088587/461/001/009/25


Ministère des Finances - LIBAN:
-------------------------------
Compte de solidarité aux sinistrés Libanais
Banque du Liban
Account USD: 02 700 362 123 - Account LB: 01 700 362 123


Ambassade du Liban - France:
----------------------------
Solidarité LIBAN - 42 rue Copernic 75116 PARIS
Banque AUDI SARADAR France - Swift : AUDIFRPP
Account Euros: 00208240004 Cle RIB 22


Croix Rouge Libanaise:
----------------------
AUDI BANK -BAB IDRISS - SWIFT:AUDBLBBX - Account N°: 841500
http://www.dm.net.lb/redcross/


Caritas Liban:
--------------
BNPI - SWIFT Code: BNPILBBX - Account N°: 136,932,001,24
Donation on line : http://www.caritas.org.lb/soutenir/soutenir.asp


Social Movement:
----------------
BNPI - SWIFT Code: BNPILBBX - Account : 0936510554296095


Amel Association:
-----------------
Fransabank - Swift Code: FFABLBBX - Account : 31769440 & n°31769503
E-Mail: amel@cyberia.net.lb


Beirut Association for Social Development:
------------------------------------------
Bank Med - Account n°:420-16517000


The Maarouf Saad Social & Cultural Foundation:
----------------------------------------------
Byblos Bank - Account : 315-3014119-001


Farah Social Association:
-------------------------
Societe Generale de Banque au Liban (SGBL) -Account : 063004367502641010


ICNDR:
-----
HSBC Bank - Middle East - SWIFT Code: BBMELBBX - Account : 003-074473-100
ICNDR@cyberia.net.lb


Comite d'assistance Populaire:
------------------------------
Audi Bank - SWIFT Code: AUDBLBBX - Account n° 746772


Lebanese Popular Rescue:
------------------------
Societe Generale de Banque au Liban (SGBL) - Account n| : 360181781024


Hariri Foundation Lebanon Relief Fund:
----------------------------- ---------
http://.www.haririfoundationusa.org


L'Association Libanaise pour la Démocratie des élections:
---------------------------------------------------------
Société Générale de Banque au Liban - Swift: SGLILSBX
Account n°: 013-004-360-016454-02-5


Croix rouge Française:
----------------------
Crise humanitaire proche-orient 75678 Paris Cedex 14
http://www.croix-rouge.fr


The International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC):
------------------------------------------------
http://www.icrc.org/web/eng/siteeng0.nsf/html/lebanon-news-190706?opendocument


On the behalf of www.lebanese-abroad.com

Nada ABOUZEID

Why I'm not evacuating Beirut

Staying On


Why I'm not evacuating Beirut.

By Faerlie Wilson



BEIRUT, Lebanon: From my balcony this afternoon, I watched as French, British, and American evacuees boarded chartered cruise ships in Beirut's port about a half-mile west of my apartment.

And over the last few days, while bombs and artillery pummeled the southern part of the city, I made the decision not to leave Lebanon. Explosions rock my building even as I write this, but I'm staying put.

I'm not crazy, and I harbor no death wish. This is simply the rational decision of someone who has built a life in Lebanon, who believes in this place and its ability to bounce back. I choose to bet on Beirut.

After five visits to Lebanon over as many years, I moved to Beirut from California this February. I'm a 24-year-old American with friends but no family here. But Lebanese hospitality makes it easy to feel at home; it's a warm society that exudes and embodies a sense of interpersonal responsibility. Live here for two weeks and then go out of town, and you'll get a dozen offers to pick you up at the airport upon your return.

So although I'm not Lebanese by blood, I have become Beiruti. There are plenty of us who fit that description, foreigners who fell in love with the place and its people. One friend, an American college student interning for the summer with a member of the Lebanese parliament, called in tears en route to the northern border to tell me her parents had forced her to leave.

"I'm going to stay in Syria as long as I can," she vowed. "In case things settle down and I can come back."

Until the war broke out last week, this was to be Lebanon's golden summer as last year's tourist season having been dampened by the brutal car bomb that killed former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in February 2005.

This summer started off strong, with concerts by major Western artists that allowed the Lebanese to hope their country was returning to the prewar days when everyone who was anyone’s icons like Ella Fitzgerald, Marlon Brando, and Brigitte Bardot made regular stops in the country. Ricky Martin and 50 Cent performed in May and June, respectively, Sean Paul was on deck for July, and negotiations were under way to bring Snoop Dogg later in the summer. But the most anticipated concert was set for late July: the three-night return of legendary Lebanese diva Fairouz to the Baalbeck festival, where she first earned her fame in the 1950s and '60s.

The after-party for 50 Cent was typical over-the-top Beiruti, held at city's most decadent nightclub, Crystal. Lamborghinis and Ferraris crowded the parking lot; plasticated Lebanese girls in short skirts and spike heels danced on tables as waiters navigated the dance floor balancing trays laden with sparklers and magnums of champagne for high-rolling Saudi tourists, while Fiddy free-styled and openly smoked a joint.

Tourists from the Arab world, Europe, and North America flooded the streets of cities and villages throughout the country. Gulf Arabs in particular have been drawn to Lebanon, especially in a post-9/11 era when they felt unwelcome in the West (and often had trouble obtaining visas). Lebanon offered many of the same attractions as Europe, but in an Arab setting: temperate climate, good shopping, plenty of tourist activities, and most important, heady nightlife and a liberal social atmosphere.

Tourists partied till dawn, stormed the sales at Beirut's designer boutiques, and visited sites like Lebanon's ancient cedar groves and the Roman temples at Baalbeck. Now those magnificent ruins are surrounded by newer ones: The city of Baalbeck, long a Shiite stronghold, has received a heavy share of the Israeli bombardment.

Falling bombs erase entire villages, fire and smoke cover the horizon, and visions of that promised summer have, in just over a week, evaporated. On the beaches of Damour and Jiyeh, the foreign visitors aren't European sun junkies but Israeli missiles. And the cruise ships docked in the port aren't bringing tourists to Lebanon, they're taking them away.

The contrast between Beirut today and Beirut two weeks ago is so stark, it would be unbearable if it weren't so surreal. This isn't my Beirut. This isn't anyone's Beirut. The frantic, vibrant city has shrunk into a sleepy town, with empty streets and only a handful of restaurants, bars, and shops open for business.

It's amazing how quickly you can get used to living under siege. We've taped our windows, stocked up on supplies, and settled into a perversion of normal life. Electric generators succeed where embattled power stations fail. I've learned what times the electricity, water, and Internet connection usually cut out, and I plan my days accordingly, an old Lebanese ritual from the days of the civil wars.

Candles we bought as decoration are scattered throughout the apartment, half-burned down from long nights without electricity. An Israeli propaganda flier dropped on a university soccer field sticks out of my roommate's copy of the now-obsolete July issue of Time Out Beirut, marking a page listing exhibitions at art galleries that have since boarded up their doors. The magazine only launched this spring, and it was easy to see it as yet another symbol that Beirut was finally being recognized as one of the world's great cities. Travel and Leisure magazine listed Beirut as the ninth-best city in the world for 2006. In this part of the world, fortunes shift very quickly.

Smaller explosions and the rushing of Israeli fighter jets overhead don't startle or frighten me anymore. We are exhausted and have to save our emotional energy for the moments where panic is needed. Still, when larger blasts rattle my windowpanes and make the apartment shudder, I rush to the balcony to figure out which part of my city is being hit. Sometimes, it's an easy game: Three days ago, my roommate and I watched as Israeli warships struck Beirut's port.

I know I'm reasonably safe in my corner of Beirut, and I have a place to go in the mountains if that ceases to be true. Unlike people in many other industries, I still have a job: The magazine where I work decided to publish an August issue -although it will lose money- as a sign of resistance and resilience.

There is painfully little we, the ordinary people of Lebanon, can do to help the situation. So, instead, we do what we can to help each other by donating food and supplies, opening our doors to friends and strangers, and trying to maintain some semblance of normalcy. We aren't giving up.

After the foreigners are gone, local wisdom predicts that the fighting will only get worse. At the very least, there will be less protective padding - a fear of foreign casualties that may have restrained Israel to some degree. Evacuating Beirut would feel a lot like abandoning it. I know that my staying won't keep the Israelis from intensifying their attacks, but at least I won't be complicit, seeing events unfold on a TV screen from the comfort of Cyprus.

So, I'll watch those ships pull away without regret. Lebanon has given me more than I ever could've asked: a home, a sense of belonging, an almost indecent number of happy memories. But aside from any debt to Lebanon, I won't leave because I know how miserable I would be watching the war ravage my country from the outside. As long as my feet are firmly planted on Lebanese soil, I somehow know the country will survive.

People ask me if I'm scared, and I am - but for Lebanon more than for myself. This place and its people deserve far better than what they're getting.

There's a sad, unstated "what will become of us?" question floating around the Lebanese who are left behind. I need to stay here, if only to learn the answer.

On the road to safety

According to Ziad, this image has been circulating in the Lebanese community in Paris and on Friday, it was the cover of the Independent.
This map intimates at the layers beneath the onslaught against Lebanon.

Check out yesterday's article by Robert Fisk over the murder of a fleeing Lebanese family and whether it constitutes a war crime. The original story of the family ran in the Guardian. Here's a bit of the Guardian article.

"The Sha'itas had thought they were on the road to safety when they set out yesterday, leaving behind a village which because of an accident of geography - it is five miles from the Israeli border - had seemed to make their home a killing ground. They had been ordered to evacuate by the Israelis.
But they were a little too slow and became separated from the other vehicles fleeing the Israeli air offensive in south Lebanon. Minutes before the Guardian's car arrived, trailing a Red Cross ambulance on its way to other civilian wounded in another town, an Israeli missile pierced the roof of the Sha'itas' white van. Three passengers sitting in the third row were killed instantly, including Ali's grandmother. Sixteen other passengers were wounded. In recent days, families like the Sha'itas are bearing the brunt of Israel's air campaign and its efforts to rid the area of civilians before ground operations. A day after Israel's deadline for people to leave their homes and flee north of the Litani river, roads which in ordinary times wind lazily through tobacco fields and banana groves have been turned into highways of death."


Ali Sha'ita, 12, is distraught as he tries to comfort his mother, who was wounded when an Israeli missile hit their vehicle, killing three and injuring 16. Photograph: Sean Smith

“Truckophobia”

An entry written by Nadine, a friend of Maya's and a Beirut resident.

“Truckophobia”

A new psychological disorder hitting all the Lebanese people living in Lebanon.
Its manifestations started on Tuesday, July 18, 2006 when the Israeli aggressors started bombing every truck in sight thinking that they were carrying ammunitions for the resistance in the south!
It turned out that they actually bombed trucks carrying humanitarian aid relief like ambulances, medications, food, and fruits and vegetables that were all generously donated and sent from neighboring countries.

The signs of the “Truckophobia” psychological disorder appear when the Lebanese citizen finds him or herself near a truck.
The signs are:

-Screaming “Ya mama camion”

-Addressing the truck driver with a go go go go sign with the right hand

-Fast heart palpitations

-Sweat drops starting on the forehead spreading to the palms of the hands

-Running in the opposite direction if walking in the streets

-Driving very fast if in a car

-Commenting on what the truck could be carrying:
-Chou what do you think?
-No it seems like cloth rolls to me!
-Yiy! Maybe the Israelis from their airplanes will think that the rolls are rockets and they will bomb us! Come on let’s go, yallah!
-No walaw they are not that stupid!
-Ya haram not that stupid!!!!! They mistook watermelons for bombs and they won’t mistake cloth rolls for rockets?????

-Once the truck is far enough and the Lebanese citizen is safe from danger, they say
“El hamdellah, Zamatna, we made it”

-Then if on any anti stress or anti depressant or any kind of relaxing medication, they pop a pill in their mouth and swallow it dry.

Psychiatrists and psychotherapists in Lebanon are looking for a cure for the “Truckophobia” disorder and welcome any suggestions from the esteemed international psychiatric boards unless the latter are as quiet and as numb as their political leaders.

Updated map, 12-23 July; Zeina

War Diaries- Day 13

Another entry from our dear friend Maya


Dear World

July 24th, 13th (or should I say 12th bis, to avoid bad luck?) day of war.

The number of deceased civilians reached 381 this morning.

Over 4000 air strikes

I just went out and looked at the sky. For the first time in 12 bis days, it was starting to clear. But this time, I couldn't really know whether the clouds were clouds, or simply some explosion's smoke coming from one extremity of the city, whether the stars were stars, or simply the careful lights of Israeli high-tech war planes.

On the television, Marcel Ghanem is interviewing a politician, and regularly receiving questions from observers via telephone, each one giving his private and precious opinion about the whole situation. If we were given a cent for every word spoken, all of the humanitarian problems in Lebanon would be solved by now. Too many opinions… Enough to drive you mad in a space of a month. On the bottom of the screen, the announcements band says "Israeli aircrafts bomb once again the southern suburbs." Now I am 100% sure that these planes are not driven by human beings. No matter how stupid he is, any human being would have known by now that there's nothing left to bomb in the southern suburbs. Who knows? Maybe miniature missiles are hidden somewhere in the powdered neighborhoods…

Today, Condoleeza-The Great paid us a small visit. Shiny teeth, sleek hair, impeccable suit. Some hands shaking, few polite smiles, lots of talking (of which we hear none. We only see moving mouths on television), plenty of cameras flashing. I really don't know how photographing Ryce one million times can help us solve the chaos we are in. I am assuming that plenty of these photos are targeted to go in a "World's Most Elegant Female Figures". Thank God we are in the digital technology era, film waste is the last thing we can afford right now.

Today, Israeli aircrafts bombed a motorcycle and killed its driver. It is such an admirable strategy, using airplanes to bomb motorcycles. Especially that the latter constitute very dangerous and solid bases for launching Hezbollah's missiles into the Israeli lands. Trucks, cars, motorcycles, they bomb it all. I just hope they are not targeting all sorts of wheels. Bombing a poor kid bicycling or roller-blading would be a really bad publicity for them. But who cares? International media wouldn't mention it anyways.

We are starting to develop war-habits. Daily routines that keep us going on. Mine: a glass of sparkling water and ice along with chopped carrots and cucumbers. My hands are starting to turn orange due to carotene excess. I do appreciate the color in the core of the grey city that surrounds us… No political insinuations! It simply happens that carrots are orange…

Love,

A Carrot-Flavored Lebanese Citizen