Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Notes: Electronic Lebanon: Eyewitnesses, personal responses

After September 11, Prince Alwaleed offered Rudy Giuliani $10 million. But when the Prince suggested that the United States might consider a more balanced policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Guiliani returned the money. Patrick McGreevy is the first Director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for American Studies and Research at the American University in Beiruit. In this diary entry, he explains why he and his wife are staying in Beiruit. He notes that for their Lebanese friends there is no evacuation plan.

Olfat Mahmoud is Director of the Women's Humanitarian Organization at the Borj Al Barajneh camp in south Beiruit near the airport. "Destruction," she says in this eyewitness account,

"has become our daily bread....We are facing a humanitarian crisis on an unprecedented scale and we call on the international community to stop Israel's total destruction of Lebanon and the killing of innocent civilians. We are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance and we ask all good people in the world to help us." She can be reached at: 00961 3 019 775 (mobile), 00961 1 840 239 (telephone and fax).

Hanady Salman is an editor at As-Safir newspaper. "I have to admit to all of you that I have very mixed, weird, sick feelings about all this," he writes from Beiruit.

"The first three or four days were very strange. I was in Beirut sitting in an air conditioned office, watching the devastation of the South and the southern suburb. It felt like when you watch news and pictures from Palestine and Iraq. You feel frustrated and concerned, but you know there's not much you can do for them, for mere geographical reasons, at least that's the excuse one uses to comfort oneself. But 'this' was happening a few kilometers away and I'd still be sitting here watching.

"The other weird feeling was related to the first one: I felt that I was paying my dues. The guilt feeling I've always had toward Palestine, and later towards Iraq, has diminished a little bit. I felt like hugging Palestine and Iraq and screaming to them 'We're with you, like you: left alone, suffering and part of your cause, a great one.'"

Najla Said is an actress and founding member of Nibras, an Arab-American theatre collective. Edward was her father. She writes from Damascus,
"the beauty was that when daddy died, Lebanon became what I had. All I had. My safety, security; my home, my family, my everything. My good times, my laughter, my healing, my wholeness, my fun. My roots. My security ... that's the only word I can write.

"And now this summer. Evacuated again. Throwing up, shaking, fearing, hurting, crying. Again.

"And again the feelling I keep having is that terror. That terror that I had twice before. The feeling that it is gone, it's over.

"You summon your courage, your optimism, your humor - the things that people love you for. You decide that tomorrow Beirut will be back, that you will see daddy again (oh how I kept turning my brain away from thoughts of him when he died - it was too difficult to fathom the reality). The idea that you will never see something or someone you love again is unbelievably terrifying when you know really that it's over, it's gone, and it's getting worse every day."

Zena el-Khalil is an installation artist, painter, curator, and cultural activist. She is the co-founder of xanadu*, an art collective based in NYC and Beirut. She currently lives in Beirut.

"I feel like I'm in a WWII movie right now. there is a loud propeller sounding plane flying around. It is so loud. What is it doing? I wonder if this noise is similar to what the Jews were hearing back then. How frightened they must have felt. Hearing these loud sounds, and not knowing if this was going to be their last breath.... So, what I don't understand is why they are doing it to us now? My Israeli neighbors... Violence can only bring violence... Please ask your government to stop. How can a people who have already had this, do it to someone else?

"Though this Israeli aggression right now is of the most brutal kind, I think that it is so important that we retain our dignity tomorrow at the demonstration. The last thing the world should see is Arabs burning flags."

Her blog, documenting her writing from Beirut, is located at

There's more. Electronic Lebanon belongs in the family of websites with Electronic Intifada and Electronic Iraq.Recommend this Post

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