August 8, 2006: Day 28 of the July War • Patience in the Face of Adversity

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.

Last night was quiet. Although there is something sinister in the silence; I feel like something bigger is going to take place. My friends are doing relief work in the schools trying to help the children; many of them have sores that won’t heal and no one is sure exactly what the Israelis are dropping on us anymore.

From the American stooge Prime Minister, addressing the Islamic Summit in Kuala Lumpur:

The Israeli war machine has laid waste to tens of towns and villages, has destroyed our infrastructure, has orphaned our children, has maimed our men and widowed our women, but it cannot destroy the will of our people to be free. After almost sixty years, after killing hundreds of thousands of Lebanese and Palestinians, after occupation, humiliation, oppression and intimidation, after Deir Yassin, Sabra, Chatila, Qana, Gaza, Jenin, Bint Jbeil, and Qana yet again, they have not learned that they cannot and will not destroy our will to live, that a desire to resist oppression is in the nature of man. With your help, inshallah, we will overcome this latest brutal onslaught, and Lebanon will again receive you with open arms. From the steadfast, resolute city that is Beirut, I wish you every success in your deliberations today, and know you will not let us down.

Haram, the guy cries every time he has to deliver a speech. To note is that if there were no resistance, he would not be speaking like this. Pure co-optation, and always begging others for help. Where is the dignity in that?

* * *

More ridiculous propaganda; this I found in my neighborhood:

Literally, “which service?” “Beirut” is written at the bottom of the strangely drawn map of Lebanon.

Today I went up to again pack supplies; there were some Arabic-language television reporters there today. One of the students speaking on camera came back to help pack boxes and I joked, “you’re a television star now!” He said he didn’t want to speak on camera, because he speaks Arabic with an Iraqi accent, and the Lebanese are quite chauvinistic. “It’s okay, we’re all together in this now….” Later I asked him about his family who is still in Baghdad; I have another friend whose father is likewise still in Baghdad. He said that any notion that America was in fact going to liberate the country was dispelled after the first months of fighting and that no one believes it anymore. He ran away from the war in his own country to pursue his studies; now his studies are on hold again….

In talking today I found out that the woman running the volunteer effort is friends with my landlady whom they call “Teta”….”she thinks the world of you!” she said to me….this is how Lebanon works….

Toward the end of the day one of the custodians who used to work in my building and whom I first met when I got here two years ago showed up. I asked after him and after his family, dreading the answer: “The whole house is destroyed. I don’t have anything anymore.” I asked if everyone was okay, and he said yes; “nashkur ‘Allah“, “thank God”, I said, and I added: “I don’t know what to say.” But he interrupted to ask me how I was, and how I was faring close to the southern suburbs and I told him I was fine. I asked him where his family was (in a school) and he asked how he could help us; his shift was over and he wanted to pitch in. I was a bit taken aback, but didn’t have time to reply when his co-worker and my “Arabic professor” as I called him then showed up and another round of embraces, and questions about health and family and the like. He asked me if I was going back to America, and I replied “no”. He welcomed me: “Ahlan“.

And I had to fight back tears the rest of the afternoon, and fight back my anger, and fight back my nausea over what has happened; and I would like to say first of all that hearing bombs falling half a mile from your apartment makes you think about Higher Powers; in the sense of absurdly invoking them out loud of course, but also in the sense of wondering how they can possibly exist in such a world; and I have to say that if I were to choose a God, and sometimes I come very close, it would be that of these men, and their sense of charity and humility and resolute steadfastness in the face of what they have lost; it would not be that God of America who smites, and punishes, and destroys; that Old Testament God of Israel who claims a “chosen people” to the destruction of others, to the New Testament God who smilingly waits for Rapture, and Apocalypse, and Armageddon, and lays waste to a world, and continues to make suffer those whose only mistake in life was being born “infidel”.

Second of all, I would like to say to anyone who still sickeningly is able to go on about statistics of this war that don’t involve deaths or injuries on this side, who is still able to plot and lie and spread deceit about what is happening, who is still able to ignore the destruction of this Nation and its People, who is still able to carry on about the “necessity” of this and the “righteousness” of this and the “virtue” of all of this, I beg of you to please, please, come speak to my friends now working on this absurd assembly line that barely can manage to make a dint in what is needed right now in this country, this relief effort assembly line of students, teachers, workers; this assembly line of people from all over the region, some from other war-ravaged places, some who remember the Civil War here, some veiled, some not, some pregnant, some barely of age to even comprehend what is going on, all dedicated to making something work here if those elsewhere who would wish ill on this place could manage to keep their murderous impulses to themselves; I would like to say to all of those who still manage to not have empathy for what is happening to please come here, and please look my friends in the eye, and please explain to them how they are “terrorists”, and how this needed to happen to them, and how their loss is justified.

Please stand in front of these men who have nothing, absolutely nothing, who had nothing before and have even more nothing now, and yet who are turning around to help others and explain to them your Grand Theories for creating a New Middle East; please come here and travel to where their homes used to be and where their towns used to be and where their townspeople now lie in the shadow of where their towns used to be; please come here and listen to my students now speaking of family friends who have been killed, but who are told to “mourn later” because there is work to do now; please come explain why an entire month has gone by at this point; please come witness this great Postponed Mourning, this National Sorrow that waits because there’s no time for sorrow now, and talk again about how you are saving them, and how Israel needs protection, and how much you are “concerned” and are a “friend” of the Lebanese people because frankly, honestly, you need to do the talking, you need to come here and look them in the eye and say something, it needs to be you to do the speaking here at this point because if I dare open my mouth, if I dare stop and open my mouth at this point in time it will be to scream at the top of my lungs for the next thousand thousand years.

About Daniel Drennan ElAwar

Adoptee, rematriated.
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