Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Two views from Lebanon

A Lebanese writer who has seen it before.

I am also pissed off because no one realises how hard the postwar reconstruction was. Hariri did not work miracles. Every single bridge and tunnel and highway, the airport runways, all of these things were built at three times their real cost, because of kickbacks. We accepted this just to get things done. We wanted only to have a society which stood on its feet, more or less. A thriving Arab civil society. Schools were sacrificed for roads to service neglected rural areas or so that Syrian officers could get richer, and we accepted that the road was desperately needed, and that there was the ‘precarious national consensus’ to protect. Social safety nets were given up, as was universal healthcare, unions were broken and co-opted, public spaces taken over, and we bowed our heads and acquiesced. Palestinian refugees were hidden from sight, and we accepted it. In exchange we had a secular country where Hizbullah and the Lebanese forces could coexist and fight their fights in parliament, not with bullets. We bit our tongues, we protested and were defeated, we took to the streets, defied curfews, time after time, to protect that modicum of civil rights, that semblance of democracy. And it takes just one air raid for the fruits of all our sacrifices to be blown to smithereens.

A young woman from Chapel Hill whose commitment to peace is unshaken.

Leaving my friends, I feared that I would forget what was going on in Lebanon. Forget the friends that I had left behind. We all knew no one else could know what we had gone through together. We just have to continue to hope that by telling our story, we can get others to join us in our commitment to peace for the Lebanese people and for everyone in the region.

Now, traveling with my parents in Turkey, my memories of Lebanon are bittersweet. I know how Lebanon was, the real beauty of it. Even if I am able to go back to Beirut, it has all been changed.

I would like to ask all of you to remember ALL of those being affected by this war. Please pray for those who are there because there is nowhere else for them to go. We all have the choice to sit idle or to work for change. I believe that there is enough hope and love out there to build a better world.

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