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?”
From the UNCampaign:
The morning news wasn’t about the U.N. resolution a month into the war, but showed instead the aftermath of Israeli drone planes firing on a convoy of released soldiers and evacuating civilians. I have no comment any more on this kind of thing. Please note though that the Israeli army had “sequestered” the soldiers now freed in the village and were using them as, what’s the word? Oh yes, “human shields”.
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From Le Monde Diplomatique:
The wars against the Palestinians and Lebanon are both part of the same strategy, which seeks to impose a solution that only satisfies Israeli interests. Yet never in the past 40 years has Israeli policy received such unanimous western support….
Again from my colleague Patrick McGreevy, who with his wife Betsy, have stayed in Beirut as well:
Gazing eastward toward Jerusalem, Westerners invented the term “Middle East,” a designation that defined the region by reference to their own view point. Edward Said used the word “Orientalism” to describe how Western “knowledge” about the region was interwoven with attempts to control it. The “knowledge,” for example, that Arabs were backward, lazy, violent, and fanatical, meant that their world needed rearranging, and that Western powers such as France and Britain must take up the challenge. More recently, some have suggested a more complex picture. Not all westerners have reduced Arabs to sub-human status. In the years following World War II, many Arabs appreciated the US for its anti-colonial stance, and African-Americans, particularly in the 1960s and 1970s, identified with Arab resistance movements.
For those facing west from Arab country today, however, the US appears as the latest in a long list of Western adversaries and colonizers. Operation Iraqi Freedom was supposed to destroy terrorism at its heart, but it was based on faulty “knowledge,” and has instead created an open wound, a maelstrom of blood. Operation Just Reward, the Israeli-led and US-backed attack on Lebanon, was supposed to create a “New Middle East” by crushing Hezbollah, but faulty “knowledge” again has led to a situation of great danger. The Arab World is not a blank slate awaiting the schemes of Westerners.
And it must be said: the creation of the State of Israel was another scheme for remapping the region based on the view that the people already here mattered less than those arriving from the west, and that their lands could be treated as if they were empty. For those facing west from Arab country, this was an injustice, an original sin. All talk of resolution, of Arab hospitality, must begin with this recognition. I hope the time when it is possible for Arabs, Christians and Jews to live together here has not passed. But if Israelis hope to become a settler society like the US that seeks not to live with the region’s native people, but remove them, they will discover that their “knowledge” is faulty because the eastern Mediterranean is not North America.
For New Yorkers looking to help:
The Ad-Hoc Coalition for Justice in the Middle East
End of August Action: Working Groups Meeting
COME JOIN US TO PLAN OUR NEXT ACTION
When: Tuesday August 15, 2005, 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Where: Judson Memorial Church (Entrance at 239 Thompson – side entrance near Washington Square South) Subways – A,C,E, B,D,F to West Fourth Street or N,R to 8th Street.
Why: Come join in on the planning and implementation of the next Ad-Hoc Coalition mass mobilizing action which will be held at the end of August. Building on the meeting held on August 2, 2006 at Alwan Cultural Center, the established working groups: Program, Logistics, Media and Outreach will meet to work out the details for the planned action.
The Ad hoc Coalition For Justice in the Middle East is a grassroots democratic effort to help initiate and coordinate actions and events to build a stronger and larger movement in solidarity with the Palestinian and Lebanese people under attack by Israel. So far we have made a small but important contribution to this movement by organizing demonstrations at the Israeli consulate and the UN, petitions to the UN Secretary General, a panel discussion, a march across the Brooklyn Bridge on Saturday July 29 and an emergency protest on July 31 against the Qana massacre.
The ad hoc coalition is currently composed of: National Council of Arab-Americans-NYC, ANSWER Coalition, International Action Center, Network of Arab-American Professionals of NY-PC, the International Solidarity Movement -NYC, the New York Campaign for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions, the International Socialist Organization, the American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee.
Gideon Levy, from Haaretz newspaper in Israel:
Lebanon, which has never fought Israel and has 40 daily newspapers, 42 colleges and universities and hundreds of different banks, is being destroyed by our planes and cannon and nobody is taking into account the amount of hatred we are sowing. In international public opinion, Israel has been turned into a monster, and that still hasn’t been calculated into the debit column of this war. Israel is badly stained, a moral stain that can’t be easily and quickly removed. And only we don’t want to see it.
Such weird thinking processes. Translation: “Lebanon, which happens to be civilized I guess because people read newspapers there and go to school, is being destroyed by us, and this is bad because of the bad public relations it produces. Israel has passively become monstrous because of its bombs and not the slow destruction of apartheid and colonial expansion. Let’s re-market this ASAP.”
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What Fassbinder film is it? The one-armed man walks into a flower shop and says: “What flower expresses days go by, and they just keep going by endlessly, pulling you into the future. Days go by, endlessly, endlessly pulling you into the future….” And the florist says: “White. Lily.”—”White Lily”, Laurie Anderson