Here in Lebanon
By: Nathalie Malhame, in Beirut, Lebanon.‎
Beirut, Lebanon
‏18‏th of July ‎‏2006‏
Here in Lebanon, the atmosphere is grim and sad. The airport has been bombed several ‎times, there is an air and sea blocade, the Syrian border has been bombed, we cannot ‎leave the country easily- if at all. Bridges, oil stations, the airport, entire villages (Haret ‎Hreik, Chtaura, Saida, Tyre, Dahiye, Kfarshima…) and most of our infrastructure has ‎been targeted at and destroyed. Lebanon has indeed been taken ten years back in time. ‎This summer was expected to be a ‘golden summer’ for Lebanon. Hotels were booked, ‎tickets for festivals and concerts were sold out, and tourism was finally beginning to ‎boom again in the country. Lebanon was finally beginning to show its true colors and ‎break away from its war-torn image. All that, has been destroyed in just a matter of days- ‎if not hours. But we can and will rebuild our infrastructure.

We have done it before and ‎we will do it again. Lebanese and their friends in all four corners of the world, from ‎Brazil and North America to Cyprus and Nigeria can send money later and help rebuild ‎the country. Saudi Arabia has already done so.‎

But what about the innocent lives that have been lost? Starting with the eight Lebanese ‎Canadians- my fellow citizens on both sides, I being both Lebanese and Canadian? ‎Continuing with the ‎‏12‏‎ members of family trying to leave their village? To the other ‎‏180‏‎ ‎‎(and still counting) lives that were carelessly taken? To the four Brazilian lives that were ‎taken too? Their lives cannot be rebuilt ….their lives were taken without a second ‎thought. So far, only innocent lives have been taken. No, their lives have not been ‎sparred. Children’s lives have not been sparred. Friends fleeing through the Syrian ‎borders had to see dead bodies being pushed away in a trolley. These images will stay ‎with them for life.‎
‎ Hearing bombs and seeing our villages destroyed one after the other, we are afraid to ‎sleep. We are afraid to have a quick shower, worrying that we have to rush down to the ‎shelters at any instant-these shelters being no more than the garages of our buildings. ‎How safe are they? You tell me. ‎

‎ People like me, in areas that are still relatively safe, have been rushing to the ‎supermarkets to buy food stocks. Gas is running short as gas stations are closing down. ‎Back to electricity cuts, we are scared to take the elevator. Bread in some bakeries have ‎started to be rationed. Food is still abundant for people who can afford it in supermarkets ‎in these safe areas but it is no longer abundant in South Beirut or in the Southern villages ‎that have been bombed. Hundreds of jobs have been lost. Hundreds of homes have been ‎destroyed. With bomb threats reigning in the air, we are scared to drive anywhere or go ‎anywhere. Even in our very own homes, we do not feel safe.

 I personally have stopped ‎going to work and am hibernating at home. Are my loved ones or friends going to die ‎today? You tell me. Is my friend stuck in Saida safe? Those supposed flyers that fall out ‎of the Israeli planes to warn Lebanese villagers to flee their villages fall at most, ‎‏60‏‎ ‎minutes before these villages are wiped away. How much time does that give people to ‎run away? What about the people who cannot read or the tourists or second or third ‎generation returnees who cannot read Arabic? And how can they run away if their roads ‎and bridges have been destroyed? You tell me.‎
‎ No…. Hizbollah should not have kidnapped those two Israeli soldiers. They did that ‎without the Lebanese population’s or the Lebanese government’s knowledge. Indeed, ‎those two soldiers should be sent back to Israel. But that does not give the Israeli army ‎the right to go and destroy entire villages and take away innocent lives or the right to ‎bombard our whole infrastructure.

They did not even try to negotiate before starting to ‎destroy our infrastructure. Yes, Hizbollah should be disarmed. An immediate cease fire ‎must take place now and the international community must intervene to help do that so ‎that the Lebanese government can take control again. Prime Minister Siniora is a good ‎man, with his heart in the right place. We must give him the chance to take control. He ‎cannot do so if there is no immediate cease-fire.

This conflict has gone beyond the ‎capture of the two soldiers. It has spilled over, way over into the danger zone. Do we ‎really want to see the start of world war three? You tell me, is that what you want? Do we ‎really want to ignore the value of human life? Day by day, more tears and blood are ‎spilled….mainly in Lebanon right now but also on all sides. In Haifa, in Gaza, in ‎Beirut…. In Palestine, Israel and Lebanon, let’s not forget in Iraq…. Is this really what ‎you want? What for? What for? Please, just tell me what for. ‎

‎Tell me you will not stand idly by, tell me that you will not close your eyes, tell me that ‎you will not give up.
Tell me that you will raise your voice of peace and help intervene ‎now, fast and urgently before more human- HUMAN- lives are lost.‎

Thank you for listening, from Lebanon with tears.‎

Nathalie Malhame
Beirut, Lebanon
‏18‏th of July ‎‏2006‏