Saturday, July 29, 2006

Mercy Mission into Beirut Airport
By Jon Leyne
BBC News, Beirut

From the air, the swimming pools at the luxury hotels are a rich blue. Beirut is still the high-rise capital of the Middle East; the most stylish city in the Arab world. Or perhaps it is just a mirage.

Today that was the view from an aid plane, bringing urgently needed supplies of food and medicine to this beleaguered city.

I joined a Jordanian Air Force plane in Amman, Jordan, for this mercy mission.
This was one of the first flights into Beirut since the fighting began - the only tangible outcome from many days of depressing diplomacy.

To reach the Lebanese capital, we followed a flight plan precisely coordinated with the Israeli Air force. It was a zig-zag that took us out to sea, well away from the dangerous airspace over southern Lebanon.
Beneath us, Israeli warships patrolled the Lebanese coast.

Israeli warplanes knocked out Beirut airport early in this current conflict. There is still a huge bomb crater, precisely positioned in the middle of the main runway.
Before our flight could land, Jordanian engineers patched up another runway. It is still not safe for commercial aircraft.
Less than two weeks ago this airport was teeming with life. Businesspeople and tourists enjoyed the normality of the new Lebanon. Now the airport is eerily deserted.

As our military plane moved to a standstill, airport workers descended on the cargo, rushing to offload the desperately needed supplies.

Desperately-needed aid

Across the Arab world there are telethons, fund raising drives, emotional appeals for assistance for the Lebanese people. There is no shortage of aid. The problem is getting it through to the people who need it.

Jordan seems to have been allowed into Beirut airport, because of its peace treaty with Israel.
The Jordanians are focussing on setting up a field hospital. It's a makeshift affair, housed in a school in downtown Beirut. But it has operating theatres, x-rays, even the capacity to carry out plastic surgery. It was not due to open until the day after we visited. But already there was a steady stream of patients, most of them evacuees from southern Lebanon.

Mohammed Baidoun brought his young son in for treatment for apparent food poisoning. His family fled from the town of Shahabiyeh in southern Lebanon.
His bitterness towards the Israelis was balanced by his effusive gratitude for the medical care.
"We thank every nation, whether Jordanian or Saudi or Egyptian, for their help in treating these children," he said. "Thank you."

But these are the lucky ones. Aid workers say getting help to the embattled villages in the south is close to impossible. Until there is a ceasefire, that is unlikely to change.

Remembering the South

Bint El Jbeil and Habboush, near Nabatiyeh, (turn on your TV they're all over...)

World War III started with....

Sept. 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center in NY


1948...Birth of Israeli State in the Middle East

1982...Birth of Hezballah in Southern Lebanon

[......] Iran helping Hezballah to arm itself.... for how many years now?

July 2006...Hezballah Capture of 2 Israeli soldiers

July 2006...Israeli war on Lebanon (600 Lebanese deaths and 700,000 displaced)

July 2006...Al-Zawahiri (Al Qaeda) "We are ready to join the fight against Israel"

July 2006...Hamas Spokesman (on Al Qaeda) "Any group, be it Muslim or Arab, willing to fight the Israeli State with us will be welcomed"

No word from Nasrallah yet...

How can we stay apolitical? how can the citizens listen to this and wait, WAIT, WAIT...?

Fighting Oil Spill

Associated Press

"I have nothing but the sea," Yazmanji said. "If you take the sea from a fisherman, he will die, like the fish."

Black Sands of Lebanon

Ramlet el Baida

This environmental disaster was the result of israeli bombardment of civilian lebanese oil and fuel tanks at the Jiyyeh powerplant 20 kms south of beirut.The disaster is expected to impact all the eastern mediterranean basin, including Turkey, Syria, Cyprus, Greece, and others.

- no ships have been sunk on or around the lebanese coast.
- this is not an accident or the result of an exchange of fire in hostile territory.
- this is a deliberate and precise targeting of the oil tanks and powerplants along the lebanese coast by israeli warplanes You can find all this information and more on these two websites:

The oil slick now extends along more than 60% of the Lebanese coast

Statement by the Ministry of Environment

10,000 tonnes of heavy fuel oil has spilled into the Mediterranean Sea along the coast of Lebanon with an additional 15,000 tonnes expected to follow.On 13 and 15 July 2006 Jieh power utility located 30 Km South of Beirut directly on the coastline was hit by Israeli bombs. Part of the storage tanks caught fire and are still burning 10 days on. The fuel that did not catch on fire was spilled into the Mediterranean Sea as a result of the blast.Due to winds blowing South West to North East and water current movement the oil spill was partly carried out to sea and partly dispersed along the coast of Lebanon. So far it has affected 70 – 80 km of both public and private rocky and sandy beaches along the Lebanese coast including public and private marinas/ports for boats/ships of fishermen and tourist resorts from the Damour region south of Beirut through to Tripoli in the North.

The Ministry of Environment asks the Lebanese community to assist it in its work and has prepared a Ministerial brief along these lines.

Some Impacts on the Environment

The marine ecosystem (fish species) is active in the summer and has been adversely affected, but the degree of damage cannot be estimated at this point in time. Thankfully, the bird migratory season had recently ended and therefore the numbers of birds affected is expected to be low.· A small percentage of the heavy fuel oil might have evaporated due to exposure to the elements and does not have a lasting effect.· A small percentage of the oil might be naturally decomposing because of the natural biodegradation process.· A large percentage of the spill has emulsified and solidified along the Lebanese shore, clinging to sand, rock and stone as the pictures will show.· Some of the biological impacts after an oil spill can include:o Physical and chemical alteration of natural habitats such as when oil is incorporated into sedimentso Physical smothering effect on the marine lifeo Lethal or sub-lethal toxic effects on the marine lifeo Changes in the marine ecosystem resulting from oil effects on key organisms e.g. increased abundance of intertidal algae following the death of limpets which normally eat the algae.

Impacts on Human Health

Some possible short term adverse effects might include nausea, headaches and skin (dermatological) problems in residents living close to the effected areas or in beach goers getting in touch with the oil.Plant crops and animal products from coastal farms close to the oil spill sites might have to be tested for hydrocarbon content to be declared safe for consumption.The Ministry does not advise fishing off the quays and wharfs found along the coast from Jieh to Heri-Chekka until the complete scope of pollution is assessed.

Impacts on Tourism

Northern Coast
The tourism industry has badly suffered. The acute impact of the war on this industry has been immediately felt by the nation. The chronic impact of the oil spill is disastrous on the tourism industry due to the length of time it is going to take for the clean up of the sand, the rocks, the shallow reef and the marine ecosystem as a whole.Many public and private beaches have been heavily affected including boats/ships of fishermen and yachts and boats of tourists from all over the Arab world and the Mediterranean countries as well as boats of Lebanese nationals.Beach-based tourism was a major economic activity in Lebanon and constituted a major part of the Lebanon’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Impacts on Biodiversity & the Fishing

IndustryIt is not possible at this moment to evaluate the impact on biodiversity because of the need of more detailed technical assessments carried out under safe national conditions.The siege on Lebanon by the Israeli army has prevented the Lebanese fishermen from going about their daily work. This oil spill has added to their crisis by destroying the immediate marine habitat of the fish species off the coast. However, it is well documented in the literature that the concentration of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons will be elevated above background concentrations over a substantial area. Biodiversity will surely suffer as in Lebanon it is highly concentrated on the coastline.

Other Shoreline Impacts

The Lebanese coastline is made up of mainly rocky shores.
The initial estimates show that the mortality of limpets and other herbivores is high. Further detailed studies need to be carried out to assess the true scale of the damage.

The Question of the Day

Zahra between jumping off chairs and waiting for roasted chicken!

[This dispatche from Beirut was written by Zeina from]

Yesterday M. (9) asked me if I had books in English he could read. He said the little thin books he has are too boring and that he needs" to read something thick in English". So while I was giving him the books, the younger kids insisted that they wanted to read too. I told them that they were too young to read. But they didn't agree, so I asked Z. (4) to show me how to read so she opened the first page of the book and read: "bismillah arruhman al rahim" (the first verse from the Quran or the only line she knows in classical Arabic). The funnier part is that the book was in English.

M. went with his mother to see the doctor yesterday. He's been stumbling and falling frequently and his mother thinks there's something wrong with his legs. She took him to see the doctor and asked for a prescription to help her kid. The doctor asked to see the child alone: apparently A. has been having panic attacks each time he hears the plane flying above the school which makes him loose the feel of his legs.

The kids wanted to stage a little play. But what they were interested in: Snow White? Little Red Riding Hood? Cinderella? The answer was consensual: "Muqawama!!" (The Resistance). They wanted to stage a normal day in the lives of Hizbullah fighters. Halfway through the rehearsal they realized that no one wanted to play the Israeli soldiers so the play was postponed until someone can fill the undesired roles.

But Z. her sister and brother were waiting for her father to come back to the school with a big roasted chicken that is not on the steamed-rice-and-cheese menu of the school. They awaited their father at the door of the school for a full hour. But the question of the day is:"if one of the cows in our farm gets killed, does she become a martyr?".

Le Liban Massacre

[Extrait de La vérité hors de la bouche des canons, La planification de la prochaine guerre mondiale par Phillipe Ducros. Pour en lire plus]

Philippe Ducros est artiste de théâtre, auteur metteur en scène et comédien. Au cours des deux dernières années, il a voyagé maintes fois en Israël, en Palestine, au Liban et en Syrie.

L’électricité détruite est celle qui permet la modernisation des idées, des idéaux. Sans elle, le pays retourne aux chefs de guerre, au féodalisme. Les bombardements délimitent actuellement les différents bastions. Et déjà la tension augmente. Et ça aussi, vous le savez. Vous êtes en train de semer les graines de la prochaine guerre civile.

L’eau détruite est celle qui permet de laver les plaies et les morts afin de pardonner et d’oublier. Ça aussi, vous le savez. Pourquoi voulez-vous que le Moyen-Orient cultive la rancune et la violence ?

Le blé détruit est celui du pain de demain. Sans demain, rien à perdre. Lorsqu’on n’a rien à perdre, on n’a peur de rien. Lorsque toutes les raisons sont bonnes pour mourir et que la vie sur terre est un enfer, alors on revêt l’habit du martyr, la ceinture d’explosifs, on vit notre vie dans la mort et l’on exporte la peur. Cette peur vous est-elle si utile ?

Les routes mènent aux autres. Mais les F16 les ont détruites. Sans routes, les idées tournent en rond et la dynamo de la haine, le cercle de la violence, l’échelle de la peur se créent. Vous savez où elle mène.

Les ponts sont ceux qui auraient pu être établis entre une jeunesse prête à oublier la guerre et à venir tendre la main aux voisins. Une jeunesse prête à passer à autre chose, une jeunesse qui devra danser sur une autre musique dorénavant, qui tendra le bras comme le logo du Hezbollah, avec un kalachnikov à la main. Vous le savez. Ils sont pratiques, les radicaux, ils permettent votre propre radicalisme.

Ont aussi été bombardés
tous les ports et aéroports du pays,
toute l’infrastructure du pays,
toutes les routes menant vers la Syrie,
tous les radars,
une partie de la structure des télécommunications,
des dépôts de nourriture,des usines de produits laitiers,
des fermes,
des églises,
des mosquées,
des écoles,
des orphelinats,
des quartiers résidentiels,
des autobus transportant des réfugiés,
des ambulances,
les réserves d’essence et d’eau,
des stations services,
des camions transportant des aides humanitaires.

Comment prétendre à la justesse de cette réponse ?

Pendant la deuxième guerre mondiale, dans la France occupée, ce que nous appelons maintenant la Résistance, les Nazis nommaient ça le terrorisme.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Peaceful Rallies

Wednesday July 26, 2006

Brazil, Rio de Janeiro - (14:00) with concentration at Republica do Líbano Street, downtown Rio.
Canada, Vancouver - (5:30PM) 5:30pm StopWar meeting at the Maritime Labour Centre (1880 Triumph Street - Off Victoria from Hastings)
Egypt, Cairo (6 PM) Tahrir square
France, Paris - (18h à 21h) Place de Trocadéro : Rassemblement tous les jours.
France, Toulouse - (7h30 tp9:00 PM) Sit-in every day. Place du Capitole
Italy, Ferrara (8:30 PM) Center of the city
Portugal, Lisboa - (6:30 PM) In front of the Isareli embassy
Portugal, Porto - (6:30pm) Praca da Batulha
USA, Boston - (5 PM) Copley Square

Thursday July 27, 2006

Canada, Vancouver - (12:30PM) demonstration at Canadian Immigration Detention Centre / 808-300 West Georgia Street, Downtown Vancouver
France, Paris - (19h30) Devant le mur de la Paix au Champs de Mars. Le mot d'ordre : Cessez-le-feu.
France, Toulouse - (7h30 tp9:00 PM) Sit-in every day. Place du Capitole
Italy, Milano - (9 PM) Piazza San Babila
Italy, Rome - (17.30) DEMONSTRATION from Piazza della Repubblica
UK, Manchester - (7:30pm) Chorlton Central Church (Edge Lane/Barlow Moor Rd): speakers, eye witness report from the Lebanon Amin Khosravi, Action IranRae Street, ex President CND Richard Searle, Stop the War Coalition
USA, NY - (6:30pm) SILENT CANDLELIGHT VIGIL at South side of Union Square Park, New York City

Friday July 28, 2006

Austria, Vienna - (17:00h) The protest-march will start from the center of vienna "Stephansplatz" and will go to the US-Embassy.
France, Paris - (18h à 21h) Place de Trocadéro : Rassemblement tous les jours.
France, Toulouse - (7h30 tp9:00 PM) Sit-in every day. Place du Capitole
USA, Boston - (5 PM) Copley Square
USA, Philadelphia - at Israeli Consulate, 15th & Locust, support weekly demonstration from noon - 1:30pm; continue protests from 1:30pm - 6:pm on consulate side of street.

Saturday July 29, 2006

UK, Leeds - Demonstration (details to follow)

(Sources:,,, & e-mails)

A Message of Hope

[Marwan Khoueiry is 21 and just graduated from the American University of Beirut, he's writing for Electronic Lebanon on July 25th, 2006]
Lebanon's Phoenix Rising
Many singers sang songs to Beirut, starting with our beloved Fairuz to the exquisite Majida el Roumi? Every word in those songs is written in blood, the precious blood of the Lebanese people that have suffered all their lives.

I am not writing this article to condemn the atrocious Israeli war on Lebanon that started on that abyssal day of July 12, 2006, nor to debate who is mainly responsible for it. I am writing to give hope - the hope that every Lebanese citizen needs right now. Hope for every family who has lost a child, a mother or a father. Hope for every family whose house was destroyed. Hope for every Lebanese student who thinks he has no future in his country anymore. Hope for every investor who withdrew his business from this country.

In Majida el Roumi's song to Beirut, she sings, "Beirut, lady of the world, get up from under the ruins like a pine flower in April."
Have you ever seen or smelled a pine flower in April? If you are Lebanese, I think you should have. It has a pure white color, and what color is better than white to remove all this black? As for the smell, this fragrance that tells a new beginning, gives you a little chill when experienced for the first time. What better fragrance to wipe out the smell of burnt fuel, rubble and bombs?

As for the red color and its odor, blood can neither be removed nor wiped out. It will be engraved in our hearts and our minds to remind us of all those who perished honorably for us to continue. We shall never forget them.

I am a 21-year-old Lebanese who has recently graduated from the American University Beirut; I was accepted for a one-year masters program in London. As sad as I am to have to leave my country for a year, I have made a pact to myself to return to my homeland - whatever it takes - after this year. Most of my family members and friends tell me that I am lucky to leave and to have a new beginning elsewhere, but I tell them I am lucky to be born in a country such as Lebanon. I am lucky to be born in the country of Khalil Gibran. I am lucky to be born in the country of the Rahbani brothers. I am lucky to be born in the country of Fairuz. I am lucky to be born in a capital that was once referred to as Paris of the East. I could continue forever if I wanted.

I want to return to see the cedar tree grow in my garden. I want to return to see the flashy lights of downtown Beirut on a Saturday night. I want to return to my Sunday lunches with my whole family. I want to return to those snowy white mountains. I want to return to those sandy gold beaches. I want to return and raise a family in Lebanon and most importantly, I want to return to build our Lebanon, the land of my ancestors, the land of the brave and the mighty.

If you ever went to Jezzine city in the south, there is a big statue of Mary at the entrance of the city, watching over the destroyed south. This statue is crying at the moment. I want to help wipe her tears. There is a myth about the Phoenix, a bird that is capable of rising from its ashes. The phoenix will no longer be a legend, my friends, as after this war - which may last weeks, months or even years - Lebanon will rise high and aim for the moon. If it misses, it will surely land on the stars. For all those who left our Lebanon, I tell them: We'll meet again, my friends.

Photo: The Hills of Lebanon photographed May 2006 by Steve Jones.
Mazen Kerbaj, "Real News From Beirut: Fourth Edition", Kerblog, July 24th, 2006

[Hanadi Salman is a journalist for As-Safir newspaper.She's writing from Beirut as published by Electronic Lebanon .]

Pity the living and the days to come

This "boom boom ha ha" technique doesn't seem to work all the time, not with me, at least.After 24 hours of "nothing" in Beirut, I was almost getting ready to bid you farewell, and thank you for your support during 14 long days.
Everything in Beirut was so calm I even went home for lunch. There were ongoing airstrikes on the south but no reports of causalities yet.Kinda wanted to come with me to the office when she saw that I was going back there.The minute we reached the street, we heard the sounds of four huge consecutive explosions. I don't remember what I did - maybe I jumped - but when I looked at Kinda she was pale. It took her two seconds to get back down to earth and say the magic words "boom boom ha ha". And she kept repeating that for five minutes, automatically. She was not smiling. She was asking, "Boom boom ha ha ?".

Four people were killed and others were seriously wounded in that air strike on the southern suburbs. Yes, the suburbs again. I sent the pictures of the rubble, of people searching for their homes in streets that were completely wiped out, already, didn't I?Well, it seems that was not enough. I wonder what they're looking for ... it must be something really important.Seven strikes hit the suburbs today, ten shells were dropped on an area that's already almost completely destroyed.They spared it for a while, so people went to check on their belongings and then ... BOOM.

It killed four people; I know one of them. He's my best friend's young cousin. He went there with his brother, without telling their family, to check on their home that they'd left five days ago under the shelling. Mohamad is Palestinian. He was staying at his cousin's house, Salim, my friend. At the moment he died, the moment Kinda and I had reached the street and heard the explosions, his mom and Salim were on Salim's balcony, trying to locate were the shelling was falling. They did not know it hit a building that fell on four people and killed them.
They did not know it was falling on Mohamad.
Now they do.

Counting the dead

Twenty people were killed today. It brings the toll up to 411 since July 12.Nine-year-old Zeinab Mounes, her 11-year-old brother Mohamad and their uncle were found under the rubble of their house in Halloussiyeh where six air raids had destroyed three apartment buildings. Nine other people were injured. No one knows how many people are still under the rubble.
One other civilian from the same village was killed in a morning raid.
Two civilians were killed in Ma'lyeh, west of Tyre.One Palestinian was killed, five others wounded - one of them a child - in Rashidiyeh refugee camp.
Eight people were found under the rubble of their house in Qana.
Seven people, all of the same family, were killed when their house was destryed by a shell in Nabatiyeh.
Six Red Cross paramedics were injured on their way to Qana, IN AN AMBULANCE.

You want more? There's plenty, but I just can't keep doing this.You were right, Linda, writing was therapeutic, but I'm just totally fed up.

Who cares? They're dead. Killed. Chidren, women, men - oh yeah, some are men; unfortunately, their pictures aren't as sensational as those of toddlers.

The UN "peace" keeping forces today evacuated a number of civilians from some villages in the south. Only those with a western nationality were evacuated.
The filthy holders of Lebanese passports were begging them to take them along.They did not. They just left them there to die.

Do they tell you about this in your newspapers? Do they tell you that the UN "humanitarian" envoy who came and toured my country was lecturing the refugees with that patronizing, arrogant, know-it-all and seen-it-all look in his eyes, while trying to look sweet and compassionate?
Do they tell you that this same guy, whose monthly wage is most probably higher then the yearly revenues of all those who died today, had concluded that my country needs 150 million dollars in humanitarian aid, and that once he reached Cyprus, he concluded all this was Hezbollah's fault?Do they tell you we're not beggars?
Do they tell you we don't need charity? Do they tell you we work for a living? That we earn whatever we have? That we sweat, we sing, we read, we learn, we breathe, we love and we hate?

That woman, Hweiyda's aunt, is not a beggar. She's all alone with her burnt niece in a Beirut hospital. Four days ago, she had a house and a family. Four days ago she had a life.Yesterday, when I gave her the hundred dollars Rola had given me for the people in need, she cried so hard it made me want to die.

That's what it's all about.Dignity.
No more pictures, that's it. Showing their pictures will not "open the West's eyes". Showing their pictures will not bring them back. It will merely deprive them whatever is left from their dignity.Those pictures are never published anywhere; there are rules that ban it. But apparently no rules ban killing people like this.These people are not dying so we get to see their pictures.

Let them die, tens of them each everyday. Don't pity them. I bet you they pity us. They pity us. They're somewhere where nothing worse could happen to them.
We're left here, dealing with our consciences, debating whose fault it is, what's wrong and what's right.Pity us, pity those who did not get killed.
Pity us who will be living in the "New Middle East" the US is tailoring for us. Pity the days to come.

Does Hweiyda know that there's a bunch of people who will decide her fate in a conference in Rome?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


14 jours déjà que l'état d'Israël bombarde le Liban sans pitié.

Déjà 372 morts, un milliers de blessés, 700 000 déplacés sans ressources, des villes, des villages, des infrastructures, des centrales électriques détruitsŠles civils libanais vivent l'enfer et subissent une guerre qui va totalement à l'encontre des conventions et des droits de l'homme.

Nous vous invitions, à partir du Samedi 22 Juillet 2006 et jusqu'à nouvel ordre, à nous rejoindre tous les soirs PLACE DE LA SORBONNE, de 16h00 à 20h00, pour un SIT IN d'ordre permanent et apolitique, rassemblant les libanais de tous âges, de toutes confessions, de tous milieux et les amis du Liban sensibilisés à notre cause, pour exprimer notre douleur profonde et notre colère, pour manifester notre refus que ce massacre continue, pour exiger un CESSEZ LE FEU immédiat. Il nous faut aussi soutenir nos compatriotes bloqués au Liban, pour leur courage, leur force et leur patience à subir une guerre incontrôlable et furieuse.

Ce SIT IN ne comportera pas de discours, il n'est affilié à aucun parti politique mais est issu de notre volonté à militer pour notre pays et pour la paix.
Nous soutenons la population civile libanaise et lui promettons de faire de notre mieux. Nous ne les lâcherons pas. Nous ne nous tairons pas. Nous ne permettrons pas que l'horreur et la terreur triomphe.Nous espérons que vous serez nombreux à nous rejoindre, au nom de la PAIX et de la JUSTICE et au nom de toutes les victimes de ce massacre.



Serge Séroff toujours, les pétitions en ligne pour demander l'arrêt de cette guerre,

Beirut Cartoon

[As sent by Sean Ng from New York]

The New Yorker
Issue of 2006-07-31
Posted 2006-07-24

In “The Chronicles of Narnia,” the four Pevensie children are evacuated from London during the Blitz and sent to stay with an elderly professor in a house in the countryside. Last Wednesday evening, in an old Ottoman villa in West Beirut, Skandar Keynes, the fourteen-year-old actor who played Edmund Pevensie in last year’s film of “Narnia,” his mother, Zelfa, and his grandfather, Cecil Hourani, were packing their things and getting ready to evacuate. Two days before the Israeli attacks on Hezbollah began, on July 12th, they had arrived from Britain for their annual summer holiday in Lebanon, and had found themselves stranded there along with thousands of other foreign tourists. They had, in fact, been about to leave Beirut for the Hourani ancestral home in the ancient town of Marjeyoun, near the frontier with Israel. Marjeyoun is very close to the current fighting, and before being taken over by Hezbollah it had been the longtime headquarters of the Christian militia. Except for 2004, when Skandar was filming “Narnia” and the family decamped with him to the set in New Zealand, he has spent every summer of his life there.

Outside the walls of the villa, closely packed modern tower blocks rose all around. It is a noisome neighborhood of narrow streets jammed with people, scooters, and men pushing carts. Quite a few women wear head scarves. On a building in the next block a large banner in support of Sheikh Nasrallah could be seen. A half an hour before they were due to leave Beirut, Zelfa packed the car with their belongings, and Cecil waited by the front door, clearly edgy about the night journey ahead. Skandar chatted in the living room, a place of high timbered ceilings and flaking plaster, adorned with bronze pots and Chinese painted-silk panels of peacocks.

Skandar, a slim, handsome boy with tousled dark hair, was wearing a “Scarface” T-shirt over baggy shorts and blue canvas Vans. He said he had been looking forward to Marjeyoun, where he planned to spend his days swimming and reading. He had brought along his guitar, and hoped to catch up on some movies. “I don’t turn fifteen until September, and back in England I can only go to under-fifteens, which is frustrating,” he said. “Here in Lebanon they don’t care about age limits, and I can see any movies I like.” The day after Beirut’s airport was bombed, he’d gone to the cinema in Beirut where the new “Pirates of the Caribbean” was supposed to première; the theatre owners had turned him away, explaining that they hadn’t been able to fly in the reel. He added that he was a big fan of Johnny Depp. “He’s the man,” he said.

Skandar’s grandfather, Cecil, is a well-known writer on the Middle East; Cecil’s late brother, Albert Hourani, was the noted Oxford scholar and author of “A History of the Arab Peoples.” (Both brothers were born in Britain to émigré parents, but never relinquished their links with their homeland.) Although he was educated in England, Cecil still regards himself as Lebanese: “Being born in England didn’t make you English, at least not in my generation,” he said. With a glance at his grandson, he added, “Perhaps that has changed now, I don’t know.” Zelfa, Cecil’s daughter, is married to the British writer Randal Keynes, a great-great-grandson of Charles Darwin and a great-nephew of John Maynard Keynes. Skandar, who attends the City of London School for Boys, is one of their two children.

“I’m very proud of being Lebanese, and its history and everything,” Skandar said. “And I love coming here every summer.” He doesn’t speak Arabic all that well, he confessed, despite attending weekend Arabic classes for several years.
When Skandar was out of earshot, Zelfa said that she wasn’t particularly frightened, although her face betrayed her nervousness; for several days, the noise from huge blasts had ricocheted through the city, rocking the walls of the villa; their neighborhood had been spared, but much of the city had been shut down. Speaking of Skandar, she said, “He’s just a boy, after all; there’s only so long we can stay here like this, with nothing for him to do.”

Neither Zelfa nor her father was eager to join the mass evacuation of Beirut’s foreigners by ship, which had begun a couple of days earlier. They were also worried about travelling overland, as some people were doing, to Syria and Jordan, because they had heard that the roads were being bombed, and there were said to be long queues at the Syrian border. But on Wednesday some friends had found a driver who could take them out by night. They had been told they could get to Amman in six or seven hours.

Skandar had not thought much about the parallels between the role he played in “Narnia” and his own situation in Beirut. “Maybe it’s because one was acting and this is real,” he said. When the bombing had begun, he had been scared, like everyone, but his grandfather had done a good job of reassuring him. “Now I can say I have been in a real war zone,” he said, and gave a mock swagger.

Skandar’s grandfather came over and said in a low, tight voice that some men, possibly Hezbollah followers, had just come to the door to ask who his visitors were and, incidentally, who he was. Until now, he said, the family had mostly avoided attention in the neighborhood. It was time to go.

— Jon Lee Anderson

Staying On

[Dispatchers- Notes from Different Corners of te World- From]

Why I'm not evacuating Beirut.
By Faerlie Wilson
Friday, July 21, 2006, at 2:36 PM ET

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—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—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.

Monday, July 24, 2006

The Lebanese United

[A Christian Lebanese woman, Nadya Azar, living in Ashrafieh welcomes four Shia Muslim women and their nine children.]

To read more check BBC News at

Lebanese open up homes for refugees
By Martin Patience
BBC News, Beirut

Lebanese widow Nadya Azar was used to the quiet life.
Until two weeks ago, the 70-year-old woman spent her days sitting in her living room decorated with paintings of Swiss landscapes, or on her first-floor balcony overlooking a busy street.
Now her small four-room house in Beirut's Ashrafiyeh district is hosting four mothers and their nine children who have fled the south of the country.
Even as a young boy tears around the house with a plastic orange tennis racket in one hand and a sticky slice of watermelon in other, Mrs Azar says she would not have it any other way.
"They can stay as long as they like," says Mrs Azar.
"They are like children to me."

Au nom de la réfugiée et du soldat.

Son regard à elle est hagard, vidé, comme le chargeur de sa mitraillette à lui.
Elle se demande où est Allah,
Lui, défend sa terre promise.
Ce n’est plus le même Dieu qu’ils implorent tous les deux.
Ce Dieu-là est depuis longtemps devenu fou,
Suite à tout ce qu’on dit commettre en son nom.
Ce Dieu-là est parti, a renoncé à sa créature. Frankenstein déçu, apeuré.
Le règne du billet vert et de la haine a pris place, a écrasé ce que fut l’humanité.
Le combat n’était même pas long.
Mais au final, bien plus que quelques fractures.
Ce sont des cœurs qu’on a arraché,
des yeux qu’on a crevé, et ses larmes qui coulent, qui coulent…
Son regard est hagard, rempli de cristaux qui s’égouttent sur ses joues rougies,
Sourires forcés vers ses petits, pour leur dire que tout ira bien.
Elle se demande comment tout ça finira, lui non plus n’en sait rien.
Elle court.
Il tire.
Dans le vide, tous les deux.
Elle a grandi au son résonnant des versets du Livre.
A lui on a toujours appris qu’on a souffert pour lui.
Elle, dans le culte du martyr.
Lui, dans celui de l’innocent puni pour être né sous le signe de l’Etoile.
Des marionnettes.
Comme vous et moi.
Alors tournons-nous vers ceux qui détiennent toutes les ficelles.
Vous, qui pressez le détonateur pour l’entendre exploser bien loin de vous.
Vous, pour qui le monde est un terrain de jeu,
Qui ne sentez même pas que c’est le sang des enfants qui coulent sur vos mains.
Entre un sourire et un autre, prenez le temps d’écouter
Le silence de cette réfugiée, le regard de ce soldat.
Arrêtez de les interrompre avec vos discours insensés.
Vous, les détenteurs de toutes les ficelles,
Si seulement nous pouvions vite nous défaire de vos nœuds,
Vous laisser tous seuls plonger dans le gouffre de haine que vous creusez tous les jours,
Et vous y enterrer, en gravant sur vos tombes « Rest In Peace »
Parce que nous, nous voulons vivre en paix.

Nayla SAAB
Beyrouth, Liban

Day 6 of the siege: Notes on solidarity, Hezbollah, and Israel

[Freelance writer, Rasha Salti, writing from Beirut, Live From Lebanon on July 18th, 2006
For more please check Electronic Lebanon on the sidebar.]

Destruction in the Bir el-Abed area of the southern Beirut suburbs after bearing the brunt of an Israeli air strike. Photo taken 16 July 2006. (IRIN/Leila Hatoum)

"I am drafting this entry in this unusual diary at 11:30 pm; I have about half an hour before the generator shuts down. Most of Beirut is in the dark. I dare not imagine what the country is like. Today was a relatively calm day, but like most calm days that come immediately after tumultuous days, it was a sinister day of taking stock of damage, pulling bodies from under destroyed buildings, shuttling injured to hospitals that have the capacity to tend to their wounds more adequately. The relative calm allowed journalists to visit the sites of shelling and violence. The images from Tyre, and villages in the south are shocking. Images from Haret Hreyk (the neighborhood in the southern suburb that received the most "focused" shelling) are also astounding. The number of deaths is yet uncertain, it increases by the hour as bodies are pulled from the landscape of destruction. In the southern suburbs, some people may be trapped in underground shelters under the vestiges of their homes and apartment buildings. And yes, there is a problem of space in morgues in the south and the Beqaa, because none of the towns and villages are equipped to handle these numbers of deaths. The IDF has destroyed almost entirely the village of 'Aytaroun. Some of the surviving wounded are Canadian citizens. Like the eight Canadians who died in the building in Tyre (a building that housed the Red Cross and civil rescue), the Canadian government has had very little regard for them."

Israel's Warning to the Lebanese

[I just received this email from a friend in Beirut.

"To the Lebanese people, Hizballah declared war on the Israeli nation. We all know, from the past days, how strong is the Israeli nation and the readiness to use its strength to crush any terrorist elements whenever she feels like it.

Dear Lebanese citizen:

The proverb says: "He who sleeps between the graves, can only have nightmares"

The Israeli nation is strong and determined to do whatever is needed to protect its citizens!!!

The Israeli Nation"

"This paper my cousin got as it fell on the street under my house in Beirut
it states a threat from Israel that if you don't want to have nightmares don't sleep in graveyards !
How Morbid !-- check out my page @"

[Please check by clicking the link in the sidebar. This blog has amazing pictures of the daily life in Beirut since the start of the conflict]

Israeli Assault on Lebanon
Map of locations bombed

In the meantime, Friday 21st of July
in the greater Beirut area

El Pais journalist in Beirut


Jóvenes en guerra
EL PAÍS - Internacional - 23-07-2006

Teniendo en cuenta que aproximadamente la mitad de la población libanesa tiene menos de 25 años, y que una tercera parte de las bajas producidas por la contenida masacre colateral israelí se ha cebado en los menores, puede decirse que aún podemos esperar más. Podemos alcanzar la mitad. Ánimo, señores defensores de su pueblo: ustedes están en condiciones de lograrlo. Tienen de todo, hasta fósforo blanco, al estilo Faluya, como han atestiguado médicos del sur del Líbano. No se detengan.

Mientras tanto, entretengámonos un poco. Hablemos de cómo afrontan los jóvenes de Beirut -y del Líbano- la depresión. Aparte de aquellos que todavía buscan distracción en los cada vez más apagados reductos de placer situados de Junieh para arriba, en el país cristiano, se nos ofrecen tres formas de reaccionar.

Una. Esto no puede estar sucediendo, es un mal sueño, en cualquier momento todo volverá a ser como antes. En este apartado tenemos la modalidad, si esto sigue así, ¿qué voy a hacer con mi vida?, y otra todavía más pasiva: me quedo en casa en pijama, mordiéndome las uñas, con el ánimo por los suelos.

Dos. Chicos y chicas que han decidido actuar. Mónica Leiva, joven y muy experta en la zona enviada especialmente por la cadena SER, les llama los bulldozers. No sólo han elegido la acción, sino que están determinados a prescindir de los prejuicios sectarios y confesionales que tanto daño han hecho a este país. Trabajan con los refugiados, ayudan. En cada desdichado ven a un compatriota, no a un miembro de tal o tal otra comunidad. Por muchas razones -esta madurez a bombas que les está cambiando-, éste es el grupo en el que puede confiar el país, si queda algo en pie. El que reconstruirá el espíritu del 14 de Febrero (en alusión a las manifestaciones por la independencia), sin permitir que, esta vez y una vez más, les traicionen los políticos, tanto del Gobierno como de la oposición. Eso, poniéndonos en lo mejor.

Hay una tercera categoría, la de los trabajadores, sobre todo aquellos que, en hoteles y restaurantes, se distraen lo suficiente con jornadas de 10 o 12 horas que les dejan exhaustos, con poco tiempo para pensar en las familias de las que han sido desgarrados, los hogares que han perdido o en el mundo que se hunde a su alrededor.

En el capítulo de muchachos y muchachas que van en pijama como zombies en medio de una pesadilla, están aquellos que antes creyeron, y mucho, en el sueño libanés en su versión más light y moderna. Como N., que salió de su pueblo de la Bekaa hace años para triunfar en Beirut como actor y haciendo anuncios, pues es un chico guapísimo. Pero Beirut está llena de bellezas juveniles de todos los sexos que se pasean por los castings, que son usadas y tiradas y que, si tienen suerte, acabarán trabajando como peluqueros y maquilladores para bodas y bautizos de pueblo, aunque lo llamen estilismo. Si tienen suerte.

Están también aquellos que dan vueltas por la casa sin entender qué van a hacer con sus vidas, porque sus estudios se han visto interrumpidos. Chicas como Suyahla, que pronto acabaría sus estudios para maestra, una especialidad asumida como carrera menor, como en tantas partes; y que ahora se devana los sesos imaginando qué hacer. O como Ghassan, musculoso presentador de espacios deportivos en un canal privado que ya no tiene deportes que filmar y que ve asimismo cómo el segundo curso que tenía que realizar este verano en técnicas de comunicación ha sido suspendido. Sus amigos, además, se han ido al Chouf, a las montañas, en donde los refugiados chiíes duermen hasta en los jardines públicos. "Tengo que buscar algo que hacer", dice, vestido de riguroso chándal con camiseta de tirantes y exhibiendo una encantadora sonrisa y una musculatura que tumbaría a Schwarzenegger. Hace gimnasia para sacarse los nervios, pero delante de mí no deja en paz las articulaciones de sus dedos.

Estos jóvenes, y muchos otros que he ido conociendo: la magnitud de su tragedia es superior a la que sufren sus padres, pero por otros motivos. La generación de cuarenta y tantos años recuerda el horror de la guerra anterior, sufre y teme. Sus hijos llegaron a creer que este país se había recuperado para siempre. ¿Qué será de ellos? Pienso en Maya, repudiada por su familia de Trípoli, en el norte de Líbano, porque se vino a buscar la vida en la capital. Trabajaba repartiendo folletos y ofreciendo descuentos para atraer clientes a la puerta de un Starbucks. He perdido su pista, como ella su camino.

¿Qué daño habían hecho? Si algunos hasta admiraban la fortaleza y unidad de Israel. Todo lo que querían era una ilusión. Para ir tirando.


El conflicto de Oriente Próximo REPORTAJE
Aquí estamos La escritora y periodista ofrece desde la capital de Líbano su visión personal sobre la escalada de violencia
MARUJA TORRES - Beirut - Internacional - 13-07-2006

Suelo elegir para ir de vacaciones las ciudades que más amo, y aquellas que temo no volver a ver. Mi repentina decisión de pasar unos días en Beirut se vio apoyada por este periódico con un estimulante consejo: “Haz un reportaje para agosto y cuenta cómo se pasa allí el verano”. “Así fue como llegué a Beirut la primera vez, en 1987: para informar sobre la paradoja del verano libanés en guerra”, respondí. Por entonces el verano era caliente —campos palestinos sitiados, coches bomba, secuestro de extranjeros—, y éste va a serlo de nuevo.De modo que, 20 años después, estaba yo tomando el sol en la piscina del hotel St. George, pegada al lugar donde volaron a Rafic el Hariri, un pedazo de calle hoy convenientemente reasfaltado y cercado para guardar todos los secretos; un sitio piadosamente bautizado como Rafic Hariri Place. Hay que reconocer que en Beirut te ponen una calle cuando estás vivo y que, cuando te han asesinado, te ponen varias. Pocas horas después, Hezbolá montaba lo de los soldados israelíes, y el futuro ya será historia. Como el pasado. Desde el profundo lugar en donde le mantienen en coma, Ariel Sharon ve cumplidos sus designios. Destruir la resistencia palestina, jorobar a Líbano.
Una temporada turística que se prometía feliz, que ya empezaba a dar sus frutos —el lujoso Movenpick Hotel lleno de saudíes con bungalows que cuestan lo que un piso en Madrid—, los tenderos de Hamra frotándose las manos: “Dicen que vendrán millón y medio de visitantes”. El cuento de la lechera que los beirutíes se cuentan para resistir la realidad se ha visto, una vez más, con el cántaro roto. Todavía con las emociones calientes del Mundial de Fútbol, que les había hecho sentirse ganadores, pues con astucia iban reemplazando banderas hasta hacerse con la del ganador.

Se rompió el cántaro. Mientras escribo esto, en mi hotel de toda la vida, Le Cavalier, la gente espera con las maletas hechas los autobuses que les llevarán a Damasco o a Amán —las únicas vías expeditas, al menos en estos momentos—, desde donde tomarán un avión hacia sus países respectivos, o recuperarán la paz de sus hogares en Siria y Jordania. Hoy me han entrevistado para una televisión, cazándome en la calle: mujer extranjera sola que elige quedarse. Formaba parte de lo exótico del día.

He salido a dar una vuelta por los alrededores —conviene no acercarse a los barrios chiitas del sur de Beirut, más fácilmente bombardeables: y además, con sus excitados habitantes celebrando las hazañas de Hezbolá mediante tiros al aire o petardazos—, y he visto a la gente de siempre, más triste y desesperanzada que nunca. Ha vuelto. Se refieren a algo más que los israelíes. Se refieren a la incapacidad de sus políticos, a la inoperancia de un Gobierno que se reúne para decidir que no decide o para determinar —e incumplir— que no se insultarán mutuamente en público. Sólo la extrema gravedad de esta crisis les ha hecho juntarse en consejo de ministros… para realizar una declaración que es toda una demostración de esquizofrenia. El Gobierno se desentiende de aquello que hace un partido al que pertenecen algunos de sus ministros. Israel lo tiene fácil. Hezbolá y sus patrocinadores, también.

Pero es la gente la que sufre, la que teme. Y la que agradece que le compres los periódicos, como siempre. Que te intereses por su salud, como siempre. Que te tomes un par de cafés, en donde siempre. De nuevo los nombres de las tiendas, como en las otras guerras ocurría, me ponen un nudo en la garganta: La Vie en Rose, Dernier Crie. Hay una nueva, cuyo nombre, Princess Diane, más bien parece una maldición.

En el hotel, a mi lado, un matrimonio sirio y la tía materna me cuentan que se encuentran aquí para adquirir el traje de novia de su hija y sobrina, No se pueden ir: es carísimo, nada menos que de La Belle Mariée —recuerdo los escaparates rotos, con sus fantasmagóricos maniquíes vestidos de novia, en la Beirut sin luz de las otras guerras— y se lo entregan dentro de dos días. Hasta entonces, habrá que esperar. La chica, Nada, es preciosa. Se casa en un par de semanas. Inshallah.

De momento, en esta zona no se ha ido la luz, pero los generadores están siempre a punto. Y la letanía de los vendedores de cupones de Hamra resulta más certera que nunca: El Yom, El Yom, El Yom. Hoy. Hoy y sólo hoy. La suerte para hoy. Como dice Hassan, afanado en su restaurante: “No pienses. No pienses”.

Es el mejor de los consejos. Aquí en Beirut tratamos de seguirlo todos.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

A Farewell to Beirut
Robert Fisk in Beirut
July 22, 2006

IN THE year AD 551, the magnificent, wealthy city of Berytus — headquarters of the Romans' East Mediterranean fleet — was struck by a massive earthquake. In its aftermath, the sea withdrew several miles and the survivors — ancestors of the present-day Lebanese — walked out on the sands to loot the long-sunken merchant ships revealed to them.

Birthday Boy

Thomas is 8 today
sitting aboard the "Jean Bart" French battleship leaving the Beirut port
on his way to Cyprus

He asked his dad before leaving "why?"
"why am I leaving with Jeddo and Nanny and why today, on my birthday?"
His father told him it was to go on vacation to the beach,
it was his birthday gift from his grandparents

His father doesn't know when he will see him again
perhaps in a few weeks he said, if the situation worsens
he will himself try to leave through Syria
but before then he won't leave his country, his home...

Perhaps in a month he hopes, when everything will be peaceful again
Lebanon will relive again and celebrate the begining of Fall
his son will return to Beirut, all tanned and grown up
But he will come back to a Lebanon destroyed and lost

Only for the children of our countries
do we have to learn to live in peace
do we have to drop our arms and
forget about this instinct
that we call 'animal'
Dearest Nayla,

We are watching in agony the escalation of the war in Lebanon. It is so sad thatthe international community is tolerant and encouraging the massacre takingplace in this country. We are trying to feel the pain of the refugees and thosethat that are left behind to face death and destruction. It is a duty of everyone of us to spread the truth and crush the ignorance that reigns in the mindsof the vast majority of the citizens of the western world. We owe it to the victims of this horrific aggression to keep the eyes of our soul open and vigilant but also to wake up the conscience of as many people as possible. During the past few days as I have searched for solace in my beloved passages ofgreek literature I have discovered a lot of relevant quotes and poems for yourblog. From George Seferis (1900-1971) He was a Greek Nobel Laureate for literature,essayist and diplomat who held posts in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Iraq and theGreek ambassador in London (1957-62).

From his Nobel Prize speech (Stockholm 12/10/63)

"...In the tightly organized classical tragedies the man who exceeds his measureis punished by the Erinyes. And this norm of justice holds even in the realm of nature.

"Helios (the Sun) will not overstep his measure" says Heraclitus "otherwise theErinyes, the ministers of justice will find him out"....I, our gradually shrinking world, everyone is in need of all the others. We must look for man wherever we can find him. When on his way to Thebes Oedipus encountered the Sphinx, his answer to it's riddle was : " MAN" (human).That simple word destroyed the monster. We have many monsters to destroy, let us think of the answer of Oedipus.

Our mind is a virgin forest of killed friends…
Our mind is a virgin forest of killed friends.
And if I talk to you with fairytales and parables
It is because you listen to it more sweetly,
and you can’t talk of horror because it’s
because it doesn’t speak and moves
it drips the day, it drips on sleep like a pain reminding of evils.

G. Seferis 1940-1945 Last Stop

"As pines keep the shape of the wind even when the wind has fled and is no longerthere, so words guard the shape of man even when man has fled and is no longerthere."

Poetry quote - G. Seferis

Nayla, keep up this wonderful work. My sister Panagiota and I are praying forthis to end.