Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘civil war

Book review of “Farewell Beirut”

Posted on November 14, 2008

Farewell Beirut is fundamentally an autobiographical witnessed short stories and is of 220 pages distributed in 15 chapters.

Late Mai Ghoussoub is a writer, sculpture, theater promoter, and a co-founder of the publishing house Dar Al Saki, was 54 when she died of complication from a surgery in London on February 17, 2007.

Mai participated in the Lebanese civil war by caring for the downtrodden Palestinians living in shantytown of refugee camps.

She lost an eye by a rocket that hit her car while aiding in a clinic of Nabaa in East Beirut, and she suffered greatly for three years out of that injury.  Mai decided to leave Lebanon in 1979 and lived for a while in Paris and then moved to London.

Mai suggested to her old school friend Andre Caspar, who was hitchhiking in the USA, to join her and open a library that would offer Arabic books and manuscript.  The library led to instituting the publishing house Dar Al Saki in 1983. Mai married Hazem Saghieh, a writer and newspaper editor.

During an art exhibition in Shore Ditch London, Mai and her Israeli actress friend Anna Sharbati donned Muslim attires and held tennis rackets to stir any climate of conservatism in London, but nobody noticed them.

Mai recalls that at the age of 12, she was attached to her female French teacher Nomie.  To please her teacher she wrote a lengthy fictitious essay that ended with an injunction for revenge on harms done to her.  Nomie gave her only 10 out of 20 points because the want for revenge is the basest of emotions… Mai retained that lesson and struggled with it most of her turbulent life, especially during part of the civil war.

First story.

Tiny and sickly Latifa was barely 9 years old when her Syrian father “rented” her for a year to work as maid (house helper). Latifa was to get up before any member of the family and go to bed in a corner of the kitchen after every member was asleep and work non-stop most of the time. Latifa, treated worse than a slave, endured all the miseries and humiliations.

(We had 3 Syrian kids girls from Safita in Syria, ranging from 10 to 12. The father of the kid used to pay us a visit every year to collect upfront the yearly wage of the daughter. The father barely spent any time, much less quality time with his daughter. These girls experienced a heart-wrenched moment when they had to leave us. They got used to us, though we never demanded from them a glass of water. Mother was the boss and we had nothing to do with these hard working helpers. I guess they sensed they will have a harsher life and maybe be married at a young age)

Latifa’s father used to show up drunk once a year to be paid without even bringing his daughter a token of a gift or spending any time with her.

Latifa was raped by the eldest son of the family and she was no longer permitted to leave the apartment. During the civil war in Lebanon, tiny Latifa was to brave the snipers and rockets to bring food to the family. 

Latifa joined the militias of the neighborhood and moved with them; she covered her face with a hood (cagoule) so that nobody would recognize her, but her large eyes could not conceal her.  Latifa never took revenge on her “masters”, but tried her best to move forward.

Latifa got famous as “Um Ali”, and one of the toughest fighters in Beirut. 

She was killed mysteriously and her “masters” had no photo of her to plaster it on the street in remembrance of a “martyr”.  Latifa lived incognito and died incognito.

Second story.

Said was the only son of the owner of a small grocery.  His family was constantly worried for his upbringing.  Said was a short, stocky, jovial and smiling helper; he delivered the groceries to the homes and was liked by the entire neighborhood; he wanted to join the “hospitality” business.

The civil war changed Said: he joined the militias and became a tough fighter.  There were plenty of rumors about Said’s deeds during the war; a sniper, a blackmailer, a leader of a group of fighters and anything that warriors are expected to end up doing among scared and humiliated citizens.

Said opened a small hotel after the war.  The author was unable to label a definitive judgment opinion on Said as she recalled him when Mai was settled overseas.  Can a man be fundamentally good and change to the opposite when circumstances change?

Third story.

Hashem is an Iranian refugee in Beirut, fleeing the new Khomeini Islamic regime

Hashem is well liked and funny and has strong and definite positions against the Western States and cultures.  He immigrated to Denmark during the Lebanese civil war and married the tall, beautiful and blonde Kirsten.  

Kersten did her best to assimilate Hashem’s culture and tradition; she befriended his friends, learned to cook Iranian and Lebanese dishes, helped bring Hashem’s family to Denmark and had promised him to wear the veil when they decide to return to Iran or settle in Lebanon.

Hashem fell in love with Maria, a Chilean girl, while attending a Danish language center.  Maria didn’t care for Hashem’s friends or even his health; all she cared for was her relationship with Hashem.  Kirsten didn’t like the situation; she never reprimanded Hashem verbally: her eyes and silence and posture expressed her displeasure.

Hashem was killed in Denmark in 1989; Kirsten set up an official obituary in her church and in the mosque. She organized the funeral to its minute details and delivered the eulogy; she persisted on keeping Hashem’s memory every year and obliterated Maria from the picture. From now on Hashem solely belongs to Kirsten.

Mai volunteered her aid in the clinic of the Chatila Palestinian camp at the start of the civil war; she cataloged the medicines and shelved them accordingly. A young Palestinian leader visited the camp and saw Mai; he sent one of his sbirs to fetch Mai to his headquarter.

Mai and Abu Firas enjoyed a secret amorous affair for long time until Mai’s brother got injured.  Abu Firas made the error of visiting Mai at the hospital; Mai’s family and acquaintances got wind of her marginal affair and she had to leave Lebanon to Paris when her brother recovered.

Mai never carried a weapon or engage in any skirmishes.  Mai was comfortably installed in Paris when she received a long distance call from Lebanon; Mai refused to take the call of Abu Firas:  instead, she wandered in the streets of Paris to relieve the anxiety of the onslaught of her memory of the civil war.

Mai had questions nagging at her “would she ever be able to convince herself that she didn’t participate in the civil war?”, “would she be able to erase the facts that she met assassins and didn’t oppose their deeds?”

One thing that Mai is convinced of is that she allied to mercenaries on ideological grounds and let her country go to hell.

Farewell Beirut (Book review, part 2)

Posted on November 16, 2008

Note: Paragraphs in parentheses are my own interjections.  The names and characters in Mai’s manuscript are not fictitious; she personally eye witness the stories.

The main theme in “Farewell Beirut” is “revenge” and the associated concepts of honor, genocides, nationalism, heroes, traitors, martyrdom, hate, love and the fundamental human emotions that might be interpreted differently through the ages, periods and civilizations… but where the moral values of wrong and right should not be personal matters of point of vues.

In part 1, I related the stories of “Um Ali”, “Said”, “Abu Firas”, and “Hashem”. 

This part would be more related to fundamental questions that Mai Ghoussoub tried to struggle with and to investigate moral issues.

But first, I present the story of Fadwa.

“Fadwa” was sent overseas in 1916 in order to avoid famine and be married to Salem.  In those years parents sent their children by sea, supposedly destined to “America” (USA or Latin America) because they paid high fees.

Instead, and frequently the ship Captains landed them instead in Africa telling them “We reached America, get down” And thus, many Lebanese ended in Africa and kept sending letters to their folks not daring to acknowledge their wrong destinations, and parents resumed sending people to “America”. 

The mother of Fadwa reminded her daughter, before sailing, that she is from a much higher social stratum than her future husband Salem and that Fadwa should remind her husband of that difference. 

Fadwa landed in Ghana (Africa) and had five boys and one girl and she expected Salem to worship her for giving him so many boys. 

Fadwa refrained from mingling with the Lebanese and Syrian families on account that she is of a higher status and had many helpers at home. 

When Ghana got its independence Fadwa was sent back to Lebanon with all her children for fear of reprisals. 

At the airport, the immigrating ladies made sure that Fadwa overhears their conversations that Salem was cheating on her and that he had married an African girl and has African offspring. 

Salem joined Fadwa a month later looking much older and deprived of wealth; but he didn’t expect the hatred and all consuming feeling of revenge that were eating up Fadwa. 

The couple slept in separate beds and Fadwa never called her husband by his name or even faced him. Salem was the “He” or the “decrepit old man”.

Salem’s old friends were admonished never to pay him further visits. Salem was homesick to Ghana because he spent most of his life there and the surrounding family was not cheerful.  Fadwa never smiled and children were scared of her outbursts and rigidity. 

When Salem became handicapped, Fadwa confined him for perpetuity in the house and never cooked his preferred dishes and locked on the sweets and chocolates on grounds that they are forbidden to his health.  Salem died miserably. 

Fadwa died shortly after Salem, totally frustrated and a very unhappy old lady that could not feel that the fruits of her revenge were satisfactory.

The author Mai returned to visit Lebanon after the civil war.  She is repainting her apartment to erase the slogans that militias have painted over the walls; she kept the slogan “Those who teach us lessons in moral values are hypocrite and insolent”.

In the seventies, saying that a person is sure of his opinion was a bad connotation of someone who refuses to detach from traditions.  It was a period when moral issues were not absolute: a person had to take into consideration the environment, the period, and all the facet of the story. 

Opting for neutral stands were cherished values. That was fine and dandy until you are confronted with these sample accidents: thousands of women raped in Bosnia, racist gangs killing whole families in London, cutting off the sexual parts of a 4-year old girl by its family living in Paris according to customs… 

Then you realize that wrong and right are no longer personal opinions.  Vaclav Havel said “The concepts of justice, honor and disloyalty are palpable nowadays”

A chapter compared the act of martyrdoms of the young 16 year-old Lebanese girl Nouha Samaan against the Israeli invaders in South Lebanon and Flora in 10th century Andalusia (Spain).

(Between 1983-87, at least 3 young girls committed suicide acts against the Israeli forces of occupations, such as Sanaa Mheidly, before the young males replaced women).

In Flora’s period, Spain was ruled by the “Arabs” and mostly the Muslims from Morocco and it enjoyed a long period of prosperity and cultural development and tolerance for other religions and ethnic immigrants. 

The mother of Flora was Catholic and her father a Muslim and they lived in Cordoba.

By the age of 16 Flora became a ferocious, one sided Catholic zealot; she proclaimed in front of the tolerant judge that the Prophet Muhammad is a cheat and the devil. 

The judge had the right to execute her but let her go.  Flora would not desist. She associated with the bigot preacher Yologious who claimed that the educated Catholics have taken the road to perdition: instead of focusing their readings solely on the Bible “they are reading literary manuscripts, scientific books, learning to write well and composing poems”. 

Many young disciples of Yologious were harangued to sacrifice their lives for Catholicism and finally Flora had to be executed. 

At that time Europe needed “martyrs” while the Muslims were tolerant.  In this century Europe stopped commemorating its “martyrs” while the Muslim World need “martyrs” for their struggle. (To be continued)

Woodstock and May 68 (France): Any links?

Posted on October 8, 2010

Woodstock turned out to be the free musical event of the century and gathered a million of youth and young parents with their kids for three days:  It was organized in a nation of plenty and economic growth and a savage, genocidal war in Vietnam.  

The US was training astronauts to land on the moon and the war in Vietnam was harvesting 200 US soldiers every day.  

The youth in France, and particularly in Paris, took to the streets and occupied schools, universities, manufactures for an entire week.  France was in a State of plenty; and “Law and Order” policy was firmly established.  Transparency of the power system in both countries was lacking.

Youth and the newer generations were worried of carrying on their life as their parents did:  It seemed pretty boring and pointless to working for just acquiring consumers goods.  

Youth needed an alternative for their future and a way out of what to do of these internal conditions of plenty and security.  

In both events, youth motto was: “Love is everything.  We need to be free to love and be loved.  Yes for peace and no for war”  

In a sense, morality and law and order to the youth were no longer necessary.  They want to be liberated of  the shackles of the moral “value set” that society was chaining them in. That’s how they perceived the political and social situation then, and their feeling was on target:  Change and reforms were not being felt as technology was.

(Actually, the Beat generation a decade ago set the stage for this new phase)

Men, lawyers and investors, organized Woodstock; but it was the women who ran the show and kept the peace; marijuana and a few other drugs helped.

It was not supposed to rain in that summer event but it poured; people enjoyed sliding in the muddy inclines.  Many soldiers returning from the front in bad mental and physical conditions joined the party:  They were in states of shock and diminished as individuals. 

The mood at war was different from the mood of fraternity, compassion, respect for the other during the musical event:  They experienced extremes in mood swings.

People who purchased tickets, before the event turned free, could gather in front of the large stage. Most attending visitors parked on the hills surrounding the show:  They saw little ants singing and bouncing on the stage but they had their own music in the caravans and vans and tents.

They had their own supply of drugs and favorite music.  They could feel at peace alone even among million.  Masses were no longer of any threat; they could deal with their own internal demons in a gathering of like-minded association.

I lack statistics on the casualties during Woodstock such as injuries, sicknesses…but it is amazing that the event went on for three days in relative peace and very few official policing.  

Most of the youth had no plans of action for their future; they had not the slightest idea where the next location will be or how their life will unfold.  

Many converged to San Francisco, particularly to Ashbury Heights.  The young women had a better grasp of how their individual social stand could transform and empower family and community.

Transparency of the democratic system and reforms were very much in the mind of the newer generation but the detailed programs and future activities were not planned.  It was the real step forward in mankind history instead of the so-called “giant step” of Armstrong on the moon.

In the Paris revolt of May 68, women were the most vocal and most active in the organization and demonstrations:  They were revolting for serious freedom to womanhood in the customs and traditions of society.  Laws were to be more specific on gender equality in duties, rights, and responsibilities and opportunities in the workplace and be effectively applied.

At that age of seemingly confused plan of actions, many claimed that joining for music sake and this impulse of being there in the gathering of crowds was a show of unity of youth spirit around the world.

Youth refuses to miss a togetherness event.  It is this power of gathering that worried the power-to-be: The various interpretations of the meaning of these demonstrations were beside the point.

It was a big party with deep lucidity:  banners read “Run, comrade, run.  The old world is chasing after you.”  

Youth was taking a reprieve by running joyously, a week of total freedom, running as fast as he could, knowing that the old world will invariably catch up with him.   Karl Marx said:  “When history repeats its cycles, the next time around is a farce.”  

Spring of 68 was a sympathetic and spontaneous farce; it was an innovating and creative revolt with no arms.

It was a spring of movable fair, an all free-invited party.  It was a movable feast for sharing ideas and desires for justice, peace, liberty, and pleasure.

There were plenty of generosity and compassion:  Youth was feeling bored of the old world system of unjust order, capitalism, petrified ideologies and dogmas.  It was a humongous fair where affluent lifestyle in the western States of plenty hide the miseries of the lowest classes living in shantytowns.

It was in a period for the third world struggling to emerge from the slavery stage of colonialism.  Spring fairs in the western world spread to most nations where the partying lasted and lasted.

The virus of the movable feast reached countries with old systems destroyed by the colonial powers:  The newer power systems were unstable and mostly haphazard to come chasing after mass movable fairs. 

Spring of 68 crossed to Lebanon and lasted 5 years and emerged on a civil war that lasted 13 years and produced 300 thousand casualties (10% of the population!)

You don’ t need to have a unified purpose to ge together; just youth assembling.  

Large assembling of wolves is good enough a show of force to giving the best impulse to political parties for figuring out the major problems in the political structure ideology.  

The awareness of the problems, after the show of “peaceful force”, can make a difference even if the demonstration was not united behind a clear banner of intent for specific reforms.  

Invariably, a few reforms are imposed.  Getting on the streets beats sitting in isolation, eating our hearts out in bitterness and confusion.

The next phase of modernity began after this successful big party.  Moral values were reviewed and adapted to new realities because ancient fears changed qualitatively:  Laws of pure obedience were submitted to a new reflecting generation. 

Ethics of giving more weight to values than laws was supposed to be the normal extension to morality. The foundations were set for the remaining of this most violent century.

Though the trend for launching pre-emptive wars around the world were in the planning and executed with determination: Let blood reach the knees in the nascent underdeveloped States and south America.

Wild Goose Chase (fiction, Chapter 17)

Posted on November 24, 2008

Artax troops were leisurely wandering in the Mongol steppes heading east and still hoping to link up with the troops of Iskander who was now on the run.  The most common of news, and the most dreaded, reached Artax:  A successful coup d’etat by one of a more “legitimate” cousin of his.  That renegade cousin claimed the title of “Khosro the Magnificent, the eldest Son-God Incarnate”.   

In his guts, Artax foresaw this kind of turn of events and had hypothetically pondered Khosro immediate reactions on receiving such news, supposing that he was not poisoned or murdered before the reversal of fortune.

As long as the troops believed that Artax was the legitimate Monarch, which means his treasure chest was plenty, then there was hope to prioritize His dreams and desires.

Artax was faced with a serious dilemma. Would he resume discovering new lands and new people or focus on his people?  What are the alternatives?  

If he gathered his army and marched on his cousin then he would be obeying a natural reaction from any monarch and the reaction would agree to his traditional troops.

The Monarch was analyzing a typical reaction that was labeled centuries later “Pavlov Reaction”, but which intrinsically was targeted toward animal reactions after extensive training to a certain behavior.

His army would urge him to march on his cousin anyway; otherwise, he might lose the confidence of his officers and soldiers to his legitimacy.  

Artax decides to keep both options.  

He reasoned that the first angry reactions were beneath a wise and forward thinking monarch.  He will then resume the exploration with a much smaller army: These wastelands up North cannot afford a large expedition anyway. 

He will also regain his throne by other means than direct and frontal assault by armies.  He doesn’t desire to mire his country in a textbook civil war.  

He opts to bifurcate south to any region that is flourishing, fertile and close to His Estate Afghanistan, and settle and refill his treasure chest and lay the ground works for a new Constitution and a Bill of Rights for the Persian Empire.  

We didn’t have GPS locators at the time to offer precise coordinates but Artax troops headed toward what is called now Islamabad.

Most probably Artax had named it Azarabad or the City of the Sun God Azar.  Azarabad was on the Indus River and close to impregnable mountain chains with easily defensible passages.

Worst battles between the Christian forces: The army and the Lebanese “Christian” Forces militia of Samir Geagea

Support movement for General Michel Aoun, currently elected as President of the Republic

The issue of the daily Al Balad, May 9, 2005

Testimonials of the civil war in Lebanon

This is the story of a girl who was 13 years old when the movement of General Aoun started after being appointed Prime Minister in interim, after President Amin Gemayel tenure ended without the election of a President in 1988.

All the Muslim Sunni sect leaders, pressured by Syria, refused to form governments. Aoun had to form his own government with the military.

The girl used to participate in the demonstrations in support of Aoun liberation stand against the occupation of the Syrian forces, and joined her schoolmates visiting the Presidential Palace in Baabda. She also drove there accompanied by her aunt and grand dad.

The Dekwani area where she lived was under the control of the “Lebanese Forces”, which was at the time still allied with one of the divided Lebanese army.

She once wrote a poem to General Michel Aoun and drew the Statue of Liberty depicting the territory of Lebanon where the torch stands.

Later, when the Lebanese army faced the trespasses of the “Lebanese Forces” on Red Lines that separated the  militia forces, and the refusal to evict the port of Beirut, people were forced to take refuge in basements.

The children were separated from adults who needed silence to listen to the radios. 

The trapped citizens would go three days without food.  The main ingredient was lemon because it killed the appetite and boxes of Panadol for headaches.

The girl’s grand dad cooked on a blue alcohol flame which took forever for the cooked food to be ready.

General Aoun gave up the fight as the Syrian air force bombed the presidential Palace on October 13, 1990, with the consent of the US, Israel, and Saudi Kingdom.

The citizens heard the General voice on the radio telling them the situation so that ”we save and keep whatever is left in Lebanon”. 

People wept and started burning the General’s cassettes and pictures for fear that the Syrian might indict them.

After October 13, the girl resumed her studies at the all girl school in Fanar where the Syrian troops installed one of their headquarters.  The girls would not go out to play, especially when rumors spread of mass graves in Beit Mery and Deir Kalaa.

The Syrian soldiers used to walk the playgrounds while the students kept to their classes and they celebrated the remembrance of the independence at Independence Day.

The students began throwing leaflets opposing the Syrian occupation from school buses windows when passing Syrian check points; the consequence was school order to shut all school buses windows during the whole trip home.

The supporters of the General had a code car honking and poster were plastered stating “The General will return” from exile in France.

Note 1: I had returned to the US to resume my PhD program. My parents told me peace has come and you decided to leave again? A month later, the worst battles were engaged between the Lebanese Forces and the army under General Aoun.

I had to rely on the Red Cross to get any news of the safety of my parents who had to keep to the lower floor for over 4 months and stacking bags of dirt on entrances and windows. I received my request from the Red cross 2 weeks later: Parents safe.

Note 2: The Syrian forces remained in Lebanon until 2005, after the assassination of ex-Rafic Hariri PM. The International Court, after 15 years of deliberation, still didn’t extend any convincing decision of “Who assassinated Hariri”. This court ended up stating that Syria was Not behind this assassination. As if we, the Lebanese, didn’t know that the US/Germany and Israel were the planners of this “sophisticated” execution.

Beirut was a Movable Fair before the onset of the civil war in 1975

With a strong currency (1$ worth 2 Lebanese pound) and a low cost of living before the onset of civil war in 1975, Beirut was a movable fair for the common people, those living and commuting to Beirut.

Actually, during most of the civil war period, the  LP remained strong due to the massive reserves of hard currencies of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), from the massive infusion of Gulf Arab States, Saudi Kingdom and Libya…

I recall, while at the university, (1970-75) that I could live for an entire day on barely 2 LP for the cost of Taxis, buses, watching movies, going to theaters, eating and drinking fresh juices and joining daily student demonstrations, marches and sit-in demanding reforms in Lebanon political system.

You may read my memoirs on these wonderful period on https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2019/09/05/movable-fairs-in-beirut-1971-74/

What follows is an article posted by a French woman, a foreigner in 2016, who was overwhelmed by a faked sense of sustainable fair in Beirut. She was taken care of by those 1% “rich” people who kept looting the budget and lived on inherited wealth. Though she was aware of the precarious conditions of this political system and resurgence of violence at any moment.

Beyrouth est une fête

Katherine Pancol. Écrivain

Jean C. El Dahdah shared this link. February 19, 2016

Ça y est! Je reprends goût à la vie! Alors, que vous raconter?

Que le Liban est une bouteille de champagne posée sur un volcan et qu’à Beyrouth, la fête est perpétuelle, frénétique comme une avance que les habitants prennent sur la vie et le prochain conflit…

Les Libanais sont les gens les plus accueillants, les plus affectueux, les plus gais, les plus entreprenants, les plus insouciants, les plus généreux du monde.

La vie, ils l’inventent à chaque minute de peur qu’on ne la leur confisque.

Ils ont cette intuition terrible: la guerre peut surgir n’importe quand, alors vivons pleinement, aimons, dansons, buvons du café noir, du café blanc, fumons de longs narguilés, ouvrons des boutiques, des restaurants, construisons, traînons dans les rues, faisons des carnavals, inventions, célébrons, oublions les feux rouges, l’interdiction de fumer, vivons, vivons, vivons…

Beyrouth est une fête.

Ils ne savent pas d’où le danger va surgir pour leur tomber sur la tête.

Le Liban est une immense boîte à lettres où chaque pays voisin fait passer un message en posant des bombes, en assassinant, en écharpant…

Ce ne sont pas les Libanais qui font la guerre, ce sont les pays autour qui se font la guerre via le Liban. (Le plus souvent Executer par des Libanais)

J’étais allée au Liban une première fois, il y a douze ans. Le pays était alors en pleine reconstruction… après une guerre.

Des gratte-ciel surgissaient au milieu des décombres, des camions déblayaient des tonnes de gravats, les façades étaient criblées de balles, on apercevait, béants au soleil, des bouts de cuisine, de salle de bains, de chambre à coucher, la poussière s’élevait en gros nuages gris qui montaient vers un ciel toujours bleu… et les voitures klaxonnaient, klaxonnaient!

( I returned to Lebanon on Christmas of 2000, and the reconstruction was already over and many people lost their jobs, and the vital Beirut Center was monopolized and changed to accommodate the rich visitors and tourists of the rich “Arabs”. Old Beirut was totally erased, even its memorable specialized and Not expensive Souks)

J’avais déjà été frappée par l’énergie qui vibrait dans l’air. On pouvait la saisir à pleines mains et en faire des éclairs.

Douze ans après (et après bien d’autres guerres!), Beyrouth est toujours debout, les buildings en verre lèchent le ciel, des rues montent et descendent comme à San Francisco délimitant un vieux quartier et des quartiers de luxe, des quartiers d’affaires, des rues du soir, des rues de la nuit, des rues qui grouillent, grouillent.

Tout le monde se mélange à Beyrouth et, semble t-il, dans la bonne humeur…

C’est une impression, je ne suis pas restée assez longtemps, mais je n’ai ressenti aucune tension entre les différentes communautés.

Il y a des femmes en mini-jupes et des femmes voilées, des hommes en djellaba et d’autres en costume cravate et tout le monde vit ensemble.

J’ai couru au Musée de Beyrouth voir les statuettes des guerriers phéniciens…

De longues et minces silhouettes semblables à des Giacometti.

J’ai appris à traverser les rues en étendant le bras, en joignant les mains, en cambrant les reins tel le torero face au noir taureau dans l’arène, en suppliant qu’on ne m’écrase pas!

Il faut ployer, sautiller, frôler la tôle, feinter et passer… pour rejoindre des trottoirs qui font office de garde-meubles, garages, dernier salon où l’on cause.

J’ai compris que les feux rouges sont faits pour être brûlés (Not to abide by the color), sauf les “importants” où l’on consent à s’arrêter, les cigarettes à griller dans tous les restaurants et la vitesse à être constamment dépassée…

J’ai bu du café turc sur la Corniche au bord de la mer. On était en novembre, il faisait 28′  et la mer me chatouillait les pieds.

J’ai marché dans les rues avec Rachid El Daïf, un auteur libanais qui a écrit un très bon roman paru chez Actes Sud, “Qu’elle aille au diable, Meryl Streep!”, et nous sommes allés nous poser dans les jardins du café Al Rawda…

J’ai parlé avec Tania, éditrice, qui se bat pour sauver les vieilles maisons de Beyrouth de la convoitise des spéculateurs immobiliers, avec Katya qui peint, j’ai déjeuné au People avec Dédy, un ami tombé dans les livres quand il était petit, dîné avec Émile, librairie chez Virgin, j’ai été invitée partout, partout et chaque fois, reçue les bras grands ouverts et la gourmandise aux lèvres.

Les Libanais sont curieux, raffinés, cosmopolites.

Ils commencent une phrase en arabe, la truffent de mots anglais et français, parlent avec les cheveux, les mains, les yeux

Le soir de mon arrivée, j’ai dîné à la même table avec des Libanais de toutes familles: des chrétiens, des musulmans, des chiites, des sunnites, des maronites, des druzes, des catholiques, des orthodoxes, des riches, des pauvres, des bons vivants, des austères, des grands, des petits, et ils parlaient tous sans s’écharper.

De la Palestine et d’Israël, des USA et de l’Arabie Saoudite et pas une minute, ils n’en sont venus aux mains! J’imaginais le même dîner en France…

Je suis allée avec Dédy à Saïda visiter un vieux palais, le palais Debbané, niché en plein souk, une ancienne maison familiale où une pièce entière est dévolue à de gigantesques volières disposées de chaque coté et j’ai imaginé des concerts d’oiseaux en stéréo!

Nous avons visité le musée du savon Audi, toujours dans le souk, une résidence magnifique où l’on déroule pour vous toute l’histoire de la fabrication du savon… et un caravansérail, construit par des Français au moment des Croisades.

Sur la terrasse d’un restaurant face au Château des Croisés qui s’avance dans la mer, j’ai pensé à Joséphine et au XII ème siècle! Elle me racontait des histoires de Croisés qui ont fait souche, de Croisés qui ont péri, de Croisés qui ont pillé, de Croisés qui ont construit et je l’écoutais, ébahie.

Toutes les notes que j’avais prises pour les recherches de Joséphine revenaient et se mélangeaient aux images de Saïda et de la forteresse…

Au retour, nous nous sommes arrêtés dans une orangeraie et une femme a pressé des oranges, des pamplemousses, des mandarines et des citrons rien que pour nous. Il y avait des jouets d’enfants répandus sous une tonnelle, du linge qui séchait, des figues ventrues, un vieux jardinier, des arbres ployaient sous les fruits, des rigoles irriguaient le pied des arbres… Le temps s’est arrêté.

On se parlait avec les mains, avec les yeux et c’était délicieux…

Vous avez compris, j’ai aimé le Liban. Beaucoup, beaucoup.

C’est un pays de lumière où la vie pétille et chante… une belle leçon de courage et de bonne humeur!

Note: You were a visitor Katheirne and from a western country to boot it. Don’t be fooled by the sincerity and welcoming attitudes. In any case, you didn’t stay long enough to discover the precarity of most Lebanese. The Lebanese have changed for the worst in all aspects, but Not in their sectarian identity and zeal for their feudal/sectarian leaders.

Tidbits #45

Civil war underway in the US due to lingering indignity and latent racism. On May 25, George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis, begging for his life with a police officer’s kneeling on his neck. On March 13, EMT Breonna Taylor was shot to death by police officers who burst into the wrong apartment. In February, jogger Ahmaud Arbery was killed by two vigilantes.

Unfortunately, car pollution are exactly the emissions that are likely to rebound after lockdown orders are lifted. (Though who will return to air transport, except those private airplanes of the elite classes?)

The Navajo nation has the highest Covid-19 infection and death rates of any group in the US, as the federal government fails to provide them with adequate information and resources. Young adults in the community have taken it upon themselves to launch information campaigns to try to protect their elders, who carry the most language and cultural knowledge, Mona Gable reports for STAT.

Most of what we grow in this country (corn, soybeans…) is not food exactly, but rather feed for animals and the building blocks from which fast food, snacks, soda, and all the other wonders of food processing, such as high-fructose corn syrup, are manufactured.

Before the Covid-19 pandemics: The White House releases its $4.8 trillion budget proposal expected to seek cuts to social safety net programs and foreign aid, while also requesting $2 billion in new funding for border-wall construction.

Sadiq Khan, mayor of London ordered a review of the city’s landmarks. A commission will look into statues, street names, and plaques that reflect Britain’s violent colonial expansion.It is an uncomfortable truth that our nation and city owes a large part of its wealth to its role in the slave trade,” he said.

An underestimate, due to the way that government statistical agencies collect data,.  Data show that blacks in the US have 10 times less wealth, are 20% more likely to be unemployed, and make 78% as much in weekly wages as whites.

Major surveys all exclude the more than two million Americans who are incarcerated and 90% of inmates are men. Since black Americans are six times more likely to be incarcerated than whites, and twice as likely as Hispanics, this has the effect of making it appear that African Americans are better off financially than they really are.

Is it a matter of perception on Loneliness? Some people need extended periods of time alone to recharge, others would rather give themselves electric shocks than spend a few minutes with their thoughts.

“If you don’t spend a dime, free entry, drinks, and dinners… and you got a lot of money and you spend a lot…that’s power. It signal recognition of a person’s social worth”. Thus, only the common people have to pay for the VIP clan?

How many years must a slave toil, be humiliated and degraded before a colonial power sinks in the gutter?

Mama. I can’t breath…Last words of George Floyd before he suffocated

These are the last words of George Floyd, a 46-year-old man who died as a US police officer pinned him down, kneeling on his neck for 7 minutes, until he suffocated:

“It’s my face man
I didn’t do nothing serious man
please
please
please I can’t breathe
please man
please somebody
please man
I can’t breathe
I can’t breathe
please
(inaudible)
man can’t breathe, my face
just get up
I can’t breathe
please (inaudible)
I can’t breathe sh*t
I will
I can’t move
mama
mama
I can’t
my knee
my nuts
I’m through
I’m through
I’m claustrophobic
my stomach hurt
my neck hurts
everything hurts
some water or something
please
please
I can’t breathe officer
don’t kill me
they gon’ kill me man
come on man
I cannot breathe
I cannot breathe
they gon’ kill me
they gon’ kill me
I can’t breathe
I can’t breathe
please sir
please
please
please I can’t breathe”

Then his eyes shut and the pleas stop. George Floyd was pronounced dead shortly after.

Right now, we have a choice. This can just be one more tragic death at the hands of US police — or the moment for change.

Note 1: George didn’t commit anything wrong. He just asked a girl to put a leash on her dog. The girl called the police…

Note 2: This time around, it is civil war until the entire Trump administration resign and an early election is decided.

How happy are those who were “saved” from a civil war?

Note: Re-edit of “Very happy I am; very lucky, indeed! (January 5, 2009)”

Note:  This article is extracted from the epilogue of “Thus Spoken the Killer” by Nasri Sayegh; the epilogue is entitled “Fuck it

Very happy the individual who emerges from a civil war with a simple insult on barricades; who received just a slap, a box, or a vengeful wait on barricades.

Very happy who escaped a civil war and was robbed a bundle of bread or his car trunk was vandalized.

Very happy whose wife’s body was just checked by fretful fingers, who was threatened to be beaten but was spared a beating, or by death or by kidnapping but these threats never materialized.

Very happy who was warned to vacate his house and obeyed gladly.

Very happy who was just fired from a job on confessional basis but survived a civil war.

Terribly lucky that you were kidnapped or made prisoner and returned safe and sound to your family.

Terribly lucky who you were estimated on any value for prisoner exchange, or because you were utterly worthless to waste a bullet in your head.

Terribly lucky that a bomb went off or a car explosion and it spared you of shrapnel.

Awfully lucky that you kept your property intact by bribing the appropriate leader.

Awfully lucky that only one of the members of your family was injured.

How lucky you were that a family lived in your vacated property and kept it decently maintained.

How lucky that you were out with your family when a missile hit your home.

How lucky that you found someone to whisk you out of a dangerous zone or you were a foreign national and were shipped out safely with your compatriots in identity paper.

You should have been grateful that you were allowed to be handed the body of a relative and that you managed to give him a proper burial.

How courageous you were when you demanded to know the name of the killer.

You must have been one of the rare courageous men to have just asked that you personal rights for freedom be respected, that embezzlements by militias are not part of human rights.

Thank your “God” that you escaped alive with an intact passport and a current visa, or valuable document to your properties, of cherished photos and souvenirs of those who died to safeguard “freedom, honor, and self autonomy”.

You have to be thankful a thousand times that you survived to re-experience another civil war as a meek sheep.

(Fuck it all; there are no grounds to be happy or thankful to have survived a civil war, where no party even won the war! No victor!)

And all the militia/mafia “leaders” returned to rule Lebanon for 30 years after this war ended

In Context: Lebanon civil war didn’t end yet

Note: Re-edit of  2012 article “Civil war didn’t End yet? This time around…Part 2”

You have this desolate second largest city in north Lebanon: Tripoli means the Three Cities where three separate quarters were governed by the kings of Byblos (Jubeil), Saida (Sidon) and Tyr (sour) in antiquity.

Tripoli is currently ignored by the government, and has been for many decades.

The inhabitants of Tripoli are practically living in the Mamluk period, when the Near-East was ruled from Egypt, 7 centuries ago, and they wear the white “Arabic” jelabiyya, as if they were part of the “Arab” Gulf Emirates, or an extension of Saudi kingdom, without the these headgears (3igal), just carrying long beards and stuff…

You may read details on Tripoli and how it fared during the 17-year civil war, https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2008/10/22/testimonials-of-a-civil-war-in-lebanon-continue-6/

The adjacent province is the Akkar on the borders with Syria.

Akkar is another part of Lebanon totally ignored by the successive governments of this pseudo-State. Most of the soldiers and lower files and ranks are from Akkar, an agricultural area and lacking all kinds of facilities.

The US, Saudi kingdom, and Qatar are pouring in war money and weapons into the northern districts by Syria borders in order to support the armed Syrian insurgents against the Assad regime.  The weapons are shipped to the port of Tripoli and sent from Libya…

And the UN German ships controlling the arrival of ships loaded with weapons, a task assigned by the UN resolution to tighten the embargo on Gaza, has failed in its mission…The latest demonstration of force showed the emergence of heavy weapons in the streets of Tripoli…

The Lebanese  army is doing its best to counter this volatile situation and to control the influx of armed Syrian infiltrators into Lebanon and the exit of armed people from Lebanon into Syria.

Mind you the government has been queasy of extending a forceful and a resolute order to the army to do its jobs.

While fighting was raging in Tripoli, a couple hundred of social platforms connected people gathered in silence on Martyr Square in Downtown Beirut

It looks as a rerun of the conditions of 1968, which resulted in the civil war of 1975.

After Israel occupied all of the West Bank, Gaza, and Jerusalem in the preemptive war of 1967, thousands of Palestinians experienced another wave of refugees into Lebanon.

In 1968, Lebanon allowed the military wing of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) to set bases in the Arcoub region (south-east of Lebanon) and as a self-autonomous area where the Lebanese army would Not venture to enter and control.

In 1970, late King Hussein of Jordan crushed the PLO and the armed Palestinians flocked to the Arcoub Safe Zone, and gradually controlled most of South Lebanon.

A year later, the Capital Beirut became the main headquarter for all Palestinian factions. Lebanon was politically reduced to a de-facto Palestinian dictate.

In 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon and entered Beirut and forced the military wings of the PLO to vacate Lebanon.

And you have the same elements who sided with the armed Palestinians supporting the armed Syrian insurgents…

And you have the same kind of confused and perturbed weak government proclaiming that its policy is Not to intervene in troubled Syria or to strictly control the influx of armed Syrian insurgents…

Interchange armed Palestinian movements with Syrian armed insurgents, and north Lebanon will become another “Arcoub” of Safe Zone for launching military attacks on Syria instead of Israel…and another civil war will befall Lebanon…

Implicitly, what the youth are saying:
1. We don’t care what the radical Islamists wants to impose on us: We want them to stay clear from our safe zone neighborhoods in part of Lebanon…
2. We don’t care of the government motto of “staying clear from the troubles in the neighboring States, such as Syria..: All that we want is potable water, electricity, and not meddling in our life-style…
3. We don’t care what regime in Syria will replace the Assad clan…
4. We are so totally apolitical…We are frankly too ignorant in world affairs…we are the vegetarian kind, the doing good for the environment and climate, the youth not meddling in our own internal political affairs, we are the worldwide connected zombies…
And that is the problem: they don’t give a fuck and leave the fuckers decide for them…as if the war will never reach them…
They prefer to wait for the calamity to struck, but they won’t wake up…They are apolitical…and so is war?

adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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