Here in Lebanon
By: Nathalie Malhame, in 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.
No. I stand up and calmly cry out with dignity and love for humanity: NO. NO
MORE VIOLENCE. NO MORE VIOLENCE. PLEASE PEOPLE OF ALL NATIONS FROM LEBANON AND
ISRAEL TO CANADA AND FRANCE TO THE REST OF THE WORLD, STAND UP AND SAY NO.
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.
18th of July 2006