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 24, 2006

Message from Seattle

Lebanon's ordeal transcends its borders and lives with each one of us. We need to keep the voice of Lebanon as clear and as loud as possible. In this effort this is a posting I have received from Ghassan.


Friends,

I just want to share with you what I have been spending my time in the last few days, a small contribution to our cause, now that I am not on
the bomb-receiving end, and effectively part of the diaspora.

Yesterday Saturday, we organized a peace rally and candlelight vigil
in Seattle, where we had different speakers from the community come
and tell their stories in public.

One speaker had just come back from Lebanon with his family and spoke
of the ordeal.
Another's family is still stuck there and is talking about the
horrible evacuation experience.

More interesting - because we're not used to such discourse - was a
speech by a woman representing a jewish-israeli organization
advocating peace. She and her parents are holocaust survivors, and
through her organization she's actively working in Israel to denounce
violence, showing how 60 years of violence in the middle-east did not
resolve the problem.

There was also representation from other minority groups, notably the
Japanese-American Community, who feels for the Lebanese and the Arabs,
and took a pledge after WWII not to stay silent when there's racial
discrimnation and segregation supported or allowed by the US. Local
press was present to cover the event.

Photos of that event are posted on
flicker by a photographer that attended the event.


On the other hand, I took part this morning of a 9-people
Microsoft-delegation to the "World Affairs Council', a
non-governmental non-profit organization, whose charter includes
facilitating "discussions of critical world issues"
[http://www.world-affairs.org/]. They arranged for us to meet with a
democratic Washington-state senator, Maria Cantwell.

It was a good, and rare, opportunity for us to voice our opinions to
the senator and an opportunity for us to vent our frustration about
the american foreign policy in the middle-east, and about its support
for more violence. We talked about the bloodshed, the humanitarian
crisis, the lost hope of a country that had just started blossoming,
and the tragedy of a new generation of Lebanese experiencing war. Some
were emotional and broke down in tears when they talked about their
families still stuck in south Lebanon. Two local TV stations were
present and recording our statements; we will be on 10 o'clock news
tonight. I will forward you the video if we manage to put it online.

My impression about the senator was that she was unfortunately mainly
interested in scoring points with her local voters, meaning that she
did not comment or wish to talk about the US policy, and tried to keep
her speech focused on how her office can help with the evacuation of
US passport-holders from Lebanon. I found out later that she had voted
earlier this week for the congressional resolution to support israel's
right for self-defense that you must have heard about in the news.

Nonetheless, I'm sure that it's better to talk to such lawmakers, than
not to; and I know that we definitely touched some hearts in the World
Affairs Council. I hope that if we keep repeating the same message
about non-violence and cease fire, then this senator, and other
influential US lawmakers, will start shying away at best, hesitate at
worst, when asked to sign on such blatantly pro-israel resolutions.
But what makes our message weaker is that the senators of Lebanese descent themselves (e.g. Darrel Issa) voted in favor of the resolution.

By the way the http://www.relieflebanon.org donation website has had 25,000
visitors so far; a good sign that the message is spreading.

Ghassan

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