Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘17 years of civil war

A State “out of subject matters” (Lebanon), by Dr. Jamil Berry, (November 9, 2008)

I am reading in French “Le Liban, pays hors sujets?” by Dr. Jamil Berry.

This manuscript is 164 pages, funny, tragic, and within the subject matter.  It is a partial autobiography covering 4 years of a Lebanese surgeon who decided to return from France and practice surgery in 1992, just after Lebanon was getting out of 17 years of civil war.

Dr. Berry, of the Moslem Shiaa sect and from south Lebanon of the town of Tebnine, was absent of Lebanon for 22 years and he arrived in 1992 to share in rebuilding of the medical institutions and surgical staff.  He was first confronted with a pseudo Lebanon of what he had in mind.

It is a story of a State where the higher the mark of luxury of the car and the more sumptuous the palaces, the higher the indication of a personality within the State’s affluence. In the same time, this affluence is inversely proportional in the scale of redundancy.

Jamil Berry was 17 year-old when he landed in Bordeaux, France, to join a medical university. Berry’s French is highly classical but he was extremely unfamiliar with the slang of this nation.  He was under the impression that “bagniol” (car) might imply a girl friend. His French friend invited him to a ride in his bagniol which he used to lend to his father, and clients of his father and which bounces nicely. Jamil first refused the ride with “bagniol”; when Jamil’s friend came for breakfast before going out for the ride Jamil asked him “Why your bagniol is not joining us? Do call up your bagniol”. 

The Classical French language is fraught with polysemism (a word might have several meanings) but the slang is much worse because the root of the word has no relationship with the meaning of the other dozen meanings. For example, “pepins” (seeds) might mean seed, umbrella, minor troubles, redundant objects, and others.

The main characteristic of Downtown Beirut was dust, dust and more dust and heavy-duty vehicles removing debris and crashing down crumbling building.  The Lebanese “citizen” was in a period of classifying in his memory the events, images and horrors that he went through and thus was in a haggard state, confused and mighty serene with his unfocused eyes; a young man bumped the rear of a parked car and the profusion of his excuses meant that he was actually looking intently in front of him but still he didn’t see the car!

Dr. Berry received clients in clinics on West and East Beirut but he charged higher fees his Christian patients because they could afford it.

In a month time, he saved $100 and invited his French wife to a restaurant; it turned out that the $100 bill was faked! Once, Dr. Berry applied to the hospital “Hotel Dieu”, fundamentally a French hospital and run by Christian administrators and physicians; his application was denied: the highly professionals are still endemic sectarians and regional.

A year later, Dr. Berry joined a French delegation for the program of twining 4 public hospitals with corresponding hospitals in France for gaining training and experience in running hospitals.

The staff at “Hotel Dieu” was beside itself for having to answer to Dr. Berry in order to receive financial aid.

Many public hospitals applied for the twining program and were denied: the applications were rhetorical and lacked graphs, charts and scientific compactness in contents and presentation.

Every Friday, Jamil practiced a day in his hometown Tebnine at its public hospital that was directed by a Colonel in the Army.  The Colonel was complaining that young people, no more than 35 years old, were dying suddenly. It happened that Israel was bombarded this area for 45 minutes and sucked up all the energy in Dr. Berry.

Jamil told the Colonel that these deaths can be explained and it is related to economy: the people in south Lebanon never have the time to recuperate their energies and one day the high energy deficit reclaims sudden death.

In the summer of 1993, Israel launched a 5-day preemptive war on Lebanon from air and sea and south Lebanon was under heavy fire.  Dr. Berry volunteered to join Tebnine’s hospital.  The Minister of Health took him aside and said “Reflect well. This is a real war. Your patients would not be victims of car accidents”.

The horror was reaching Tebnine in Red Cross ambulances.  At one junction, an Israeli Apache helicopter hovered in a stand still position for 7 minutes in front of their ambulance; each minute was an eternity because Israel shoots on purpose ambulances and then claim “collateral damage” incidents.

Going toward Tyre to unload medicines and board another ambulance, the 28 year-old nurse Carla was sitting beside Jamil: her job during the trip was to shield Dr. Berry with her body from any Israeli rocket. In Tebnine, the veiled nurses kissed and hugged Dr. Berry: customs are out in frightening moments.

The Minister of Health decided to visit two public hospitals in the south after the war.  He brought rhetoric instead of dire needed cash and medicines and equipments! This State is outside the subject matters and their officials and counselors out of subjects.

Then came the full-scale preemptive war of April 12, 1996 when Israel bombarded Lebanon for 15 days and destroyed for nth time all Lebanon’s infrastructures or what was left of them; it culminated in the slaughter in the town of Qana where citizens were taking refuge in a UN compound, 107 died instantly and hundreds would die in later days from injuries. Dr. Berry was in the hospital of Tebnine that accommodated over one thousand refugees; he also witnesses an Israeli F16 rocket 4 times a poor potable water reservoir that served 200, 000 inhabitants of the region!

Dr. Berry expounded on how the 150 private hospitals are blackmailing the government and siphoning $400 millions from the treasury just for reserving “beds” for surgery cases that the public hospitals are equipped to perform and how the powerful lobby of the owners of private hospitals are pressuring the governments from investing in public sanitary institutions and also preventing any accounting, inspections or control.

This manuscript contains many more stories, an open letter to Israel and another to the Lebanese government and political structure.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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