Sunday, August 13, 2006

Jumbled Thoughts

Warning: slightly long, grab a beverage.

Cher mes amis,

This is an email of random thoughts and observations.

As you've seen lately in the news, the bombing here
has gotten worse. It's funny how quickly we adjust and
what can become "normal" in everyday life. I no
longer jump when i hear the shelling and bombing,
except when they are really damn close - I am only
human after all. Thursday night's bombing was so crazy
and intense, the house repeatedly shook us all awake
as Israel attacks get closer and closer to the heart
of the city.

My first nights were sleepless and intense. You know
when you're heart pounds so loud it makes you deaf as
the pulsing in your ears reverberates though your
head, and i had to tell my heart to shut the hell up
so i could try to hear the planes and guess where they
might drop next. Well now, I don't even get out of
bed, I colorfully curse and roll over and go
back to sleep and then curse some more for the next
and the next. I nver claimed to be a lady - sorry

You get used to it but you don't. We were at a
meeting and my elbow loudly hit a window and everyone
jumped in fear. And then there are the children.

Scared by experiences they never should have
had, the children are among those suffering the
most - not just among the highest death tolls or
needing diapers, more than one pair of underwear,
the clothes on their backs they fled with, and
medications for the subsequent skin rashes - but they
are among
the most traumatized.

Unfortunately, those who fled to Beirut from the
fighting in the South, have escaped nothing at all.
Many of the areas in Beirut that have been bombed were
also the areas sheltering the displaced. This week an
entire family that escaped from the south died in an
attack 4 days ago. Those who have not been
redispalced can still feel and hear the bombing around

A friend of mine works in the public garden that has
been turned into a makeshift camp. Many of the
children wet themselves as soon as they hear a bomb
she says. They scream and they shake uncontrollably
other parents report.

The psychological damage abounds as evident by some
volunteers who went to a school to play with some of
the displaced kids. Within minutes children who had
no other way of expressing their trauma and emotions
broke into fights with intense aggression that the
volunteers had to continually try to control. Others
responded differently, one girl sat in a corner
the entire time, facing the wall, unresponsive,
unmoving, her mother and 3 sisters missing for 25
presumed dead.

Schools are indefinitely closed. The displaced are
indefinitely homeless. The country and its
infrastructure are indefinatily dismantled. The
children indefinatily affected.

The ceasefire is on the horizon but it is far from a
reality here in Lebanon, not only because of the
heighten attacks in the last few hours, but from sheer
mistrust undoubtly from Lebanon's long dark history
with Israel. Furthermore, as i have eluded to in
other emails, the country is sharply divided - 18
secs, race, religion, class, politics, the north, the
south, the Bekka mountains, the list goes on. An
example: some displaced have received aid goods with
the Hariri government stamp, these Shiites so despised
Hariri's government that they said, "Thank you, I am
not hungry," and walked away.

Most are worried that the increase in tensions from
the conflict will eventually tear the country apart
once more. Many suspect this is Israel's intention.
The group we are working with is not only
on civil resistance against Israel's policies and
aggression, and
solidarity with the south and those who have suffered
the most, but efforts for national unity to prevent
what many Lebanese have expressed as the next possible
civil war.

Another friend came into a cafe to meet me and looked
so tired.
"Didn't you sleep last night?" I asked.
"They called again this morning - 4 a.m.," she said
exhausted. Israel has set up an automated calling
system to call Lebanese citizens around the country at
all times of the day and night to tell them not to
support Hezbollah and that Israel is on their side.

We turned to watch the news in the cafe and saw great
coverage on the convoy and Adam speaking in Arabic,
labled as an American Jewish activist, which made us
smile. Then the
screen shifted to one of their segments showing the
victims of the conflict - men, women, people digging
out the
dead, a rescue worker holding up the dead body of a
baby completely covered in gray ash - the only
discernable color was a sky blue pacifier pinned to
his shirt. The screen shifts again to young Israeli
children concentrating as they write their names and
messages on bombs about to be loaded onto Israeli
planes and "delivered" to Lebanon.
"From Israel, with Love."

Some of you may think my emails extremely biased, and
while I do have my own political views, I have
refrained from entering them here. As I am in
Lebanon, I can only tell you about my observations
here. I also find added value in that, as Israel
certainly has inequitable press coverage, aid,
assistance, bias, and scales of suffering and
destruction. These emails are simply glimpses from
the other side.

To Israel's surprise it took more than the declared 10
days to stamp out Hezbollah. In their attempt, they
have inflamed and further solidified anger and hatred
among hundreds of thousands of Lebanese citizens who
have unjustly suffered, have been unjustly targeted,
and will continue to unjustly suffer from the effects
of war
for decades to come.

Hezbollah had some concentrated areas of support.
Because they are effectively fighting the source of
grief for so many Lebanese, they have now gained wide
spread support and respect.

But I beleive both sides have lost.

It took Lebanon 20 years to rebuild from the last
civil war. This, the Lebanese tell me, was suppose to
be the best summer in Lebanon ever. Everything they
have rebuilt has now been destroyed. We haven't had
running water in our apartment for almost a week, the
electricity comes and goes, the fuel is almost gone
and most sources for stroage have been destroyed, all
major roads and bridges - gone, most part of the
country hav been effectively cut off from eachother,
one of Lebanon's solid pillars of its economy -
tourism, gone, many academics, artists, businessmen
and civil servants - fled the country - the country
has been systematically destyed.

We drove by some beaches south of Beirut, the sands
were oozing with
black oil, remnants from the spill weeks ago that the
current has carried along the entire coast o Lebanon.
A containment crew should have come in immediately to
professionally clean the spill, they were not allowed
in. Some activists and scientists are looking into
the uranium damage possibly left by destroyed tanks
and certain artillery - making the land deadly to

Yesterday, back in Beirut we saw leaflets falling in
downtown Beirut, no doubt wind blown from southern
parts of the city where Israel has continued to
bombard. Notifying civilians before you bomb them is
still attacking unarmed civilian populations and a
direct violation of the Geneva conventions.

As I am writing this the bombing is continuing and I
admit my heart beats irregularly.

If the ceasefire does not call for Israel to withdraw
its troops, is it going to last? That is if it's
implemented at all.

My friend and I tear ourselves away from the TV and my
friend turns to me and says," did you finally have
water last night?"
I laugh. "At least the electricity cut out one minute
before I was about to get into the elevator," I say
thankfully, "I just bought a bottle of water to

She looked at me, but more looked through me, her
large black eyes lost in thought.
"That's how my friend died you know. She was a taking
a shower when a bomb hit. They had to carry her out
naked, " she said quietly starring off into the

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