Daniel, Ibn Bahija: An Open Letter to Lebanon.

Looking out from my balcony; Ras En-Nebaa.

Looking out from my balcony; Ras En-Nebaa. (Photo by Mayda Freije Makdessi)

Seest thou one who denies the Reckoning? Then such is he who harshly repulses the orphan…. —The Small Kindnesses, 107:1–3

  النسخة العربية: دانيال، ابن بهيجة: رسالة إلى لبنان

We remain the repulsed, splinters, expelled from the body; the corpus surrounds us, englobes us, drives us out; it then returns to a state of “as if” we had never existed. Should we attempt return, we do not notice that the immune response starts yet again, only at this point we are incapable of understanding its reasonings and explanations. Ô Lebanon! Shall I be sorry that I wished not to return as an “American”? Had I done so, I know I would have been embraced with open arms, as the colonized greet their oppressors. There is no comfort here. No, I sought something more from you: an origin, a sense of source, an acknowledgement of belonging, a claim to place—a wish shared by many also discounted as not being “of” this place, none of which you deemed worthy of offering. In this regard, I was naive to an extreme, no doubt. Things have changed as they are wont, though it took much of a lifetime: After a decade of search, a DNA test, and reunion with extended family, a great unblocking took place as word got round, as the who and the what and the why made the rounds; and an elderly man plagued by his memories of a child absconded with half a century ago came forward, and revealed a secret to the only man he trusts with such information, my cousin Jamal’s father. And with that the Sisyphean task, twelve long years later, is accomplished.
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Words From the First Intifada (dedicated to Gaza)

This piece was written after the Israeli massacre of Palestinian youth at the Lebanese border with Palestine on the Day of Return, May 15, 2011.

In 1987, after the First Intifada started, I remember sitting in a coffee shop in New York and overhearing words that stung and burned and never left me. I wrote down my thoughts in a sketchbook at the time, but never brought them forward; I forever regret not having said anything at the time. Last Sunday, two-and-a-half decades later, I took part in the debut of the Third Intifada in Maroun Ar-Ras at the border between Lebanon and Palestine. I recall these words now, updated as the occasion warrants.
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Fiber Arts: “To Oakland With Love” Exhibition

Kufiyyeh test knitting

I am honored to have been asked to participate in an exhibition of fiber arts at the Pro Arts Commons/Gallery in Oakland. My work will represent knitting done while sitting vigil waiting to hear word from friends and family in Lebanon and Gaza these past months.

More can be learned from the Pro Arts web site:

https://www.proartscommons.org/calendar/to-oakland-with-love

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My Vigil [Full Transcript]

JRR Kinsey, who oversees the Blood’s Call: Online Journal & Podcast and who interviewed me recently [link to interview ➤], asked me to contribute an audio piece to an artists’ web site produced by Ming Studios [link to site ➤]. I’m adding the full transcript here.

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My Vigil: An Audiocast

JRR Kinsey, who oversees the Blood’s Call: Online Journal & Podcast and who interviewed me recently [link to interview ➤], asked me to contribute an audio piece to an artists’ web site produced by Ming Studios [link to site ➤].

It has been an intense summer of vigilance: friends and family in Gaza; in Lebanon; displaced from Syria….along with the day-to-day of news concerning the current state of the world. This audiocast starts with a wheatpasted poster I saw seeking support for an Indigenous girl being rehomed. The notion of genocidal settler-colonial displacement ties this violence to the recent discoveries at the residential schools here, as well as the continued destruction of Gaza, Palestine, and Lebanon.

My hope for the piece is to tie this cataclysmic violence together as sourcing from similar systemic oppression, to point to the resolute vigilance it requires of us to face it, as well as to point out the waste of energy that is screaming into the void concerning such issues. These are not isolated incidents, but wholly connected and linked one to the other; their unlinking is equally tactical.

Collaborating with me on this piece are Amany Es-Sayyed [link to her Instagram ➤] in Beirut, as well as Ziad Sader in Nabatieh South [link to his Spotify ➤]. I am grateful for their gracious cooperation as well as their inspiring spirit.

You can listen to the podcast via this web page:

https://www.mingstudios.org/my-on-mondays.html

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August 15, 2006: Day 35 of the July War • The Day After

This month marks the 15-year anniversary of the July War on Lebanon. I kept a diary at the time, and will be uploading excerpts from it over the coming 33 days.

Things are quiet and the absence of jets in the sky and bomb blasts during the day is like a huge weight lifted from the collective consciousness. The president of the university has returned to campus; the daycare center on the bottom floor of my building started up again; the water in my building has come back after being gone for a week or so; hundreds of thousands of people are ignoring travel bans and are making their way back to their homes, or what is left of them. I’m not saying that things are anything like back to normal, but there is a desire to get there, and soon.

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August 14, 2006: Day 34 of the July War • Complicity

This month marks the 15-year anniversary of the July War on Lebanon. I kept a diary at the time, and will be uploading excerpts from it over the coming 33 days.

Can we get to the part where the Israeli people demand the resignation of this criminal government of theirs? Yesterday I mentioned the 20 bombs I counted falling on the southern suburbs within the space of two minutes. Those bombs brought down 12 buildings, including one that used to neighbor the building of one the men who works in my university hall.

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August 13, 2006: Day 33 of the July War • O, Destroyer!

This month marks the 15-year anniversary of the July War on Lebanon. I kept a diary at the time, and will be uploading excerpts from it over the coming 33 days.

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August 12, 2006: Day 32 of the July War • The Criminal UN

This month marks the 15-year anniversary of the July War on Lebanon. I kept a diary at the time, and will be uploading excerpts from it over the coming 33 days.

In the middle of the night, phone messages started coming in that the U.N. had voted for Resolution 1701. All I could manage to reply was: “Does this mean they won’t bomb in the morning?”

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August 11, 2006: Day 31 of the July War • Cries of Anguish

This month marks the 15-year anniversary of the July War on Lebanon. I kept a diary at the time, and will be uploading excerpts from it over the coming 33 days.

I went up to Hamra last night and joined my friends doing the nightly ritual of following the news, listening for jets, making phone calls, and, well, drinking to calm frayed nerves. With the southern suburbs warned to evacuate, we had to suffer through images now of the aged, the handicapped, the indigent, the bedridden, waiting on sidewalks in the hot sun for Red Cross evacuation crews and buses to bring them only God knows where. There’s nowhere to go, and every moving vehicle is considered a target at this point outside of Beirut.

We followed the news concerning another useless day of the United States ignoring everything the Lebanese were proposing, were completely agreed upon, concerning their territory and land now destroyed, as if the “plan book” needed to be followed to the letter, as if Israel were meeting no resistance whatsoever, and as if everyone here were willing to just roll over and play dead, yet again.

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August 10, 2006: Day 30 of the July War • The Civilian Toll

This month marks the 15-year anniversary of the July War on Lebanon. I kept a diary at the time, and will be uploading excerpts from it over the coming 33 days.

Yesterday our supplies ran out and so our relief effort has stopped. I’m planning on starting with Samidoun in the next few days.

The relief effort in the south in any case is halted as Israel continues to not allow humanitarian corridors, refuses to allow reparation of damaged bridges and roads, and has warned engineers and workers that they will become targets if they attempt to make any such repairs. They have warned all vehicles driving in the south below the Litani River that they are now targets. They have hit the old lighthouse in Beirut, a radio relay for Radio Liban. There is a real danger that the AUB Medical Center for the first time will forced to be shut down due to lack of fuel.

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August 9, 2006: Day 29 of the July War • Besieged in Lebanon

This month marks the 15-year anniversary of the July War on Lebanon. I kept a diary at the time, and will be uploading excerpts from it over the coming 33 days.

A colleague forwarded this to me, from the IDF web site; it’s quite pathetic:

Prior to the operation the citizens of the village were warned to leave their houses in time. In order to confirm there are no civilians present in one of the structures in the village, the force fired small arms and threw grenades towards buildings. The forces located a large reserve of weapons hidden in a building, and the soldiers were injured from explosions that occurred following the detonation of the weapons.

The game of marketing and public relations catering to a tiny subset of the global population is the dominant marker of those wishing to impose hegemonic control over others. The antidote is to suss out those who counter this hegemony.

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