witnessing destruction

Al-Dahiya, Beirut, Lebanon
Originally uploaded by marcynewman.

I arrived in Beirut late last night around 11PM. The Beirut airport has only one runway that is open and operational and only two airlines are allowed to fly here right now, Middle East Airlines (Lebanon’s national airline) and Royal Jordanian. All flights, for now, seem to have to pass through Amman first. Since we landed late at night I couldn’t really see anything, but I could get a sense of how quiet the airport and everything else was. Most of the people on the plane with me were Lebanese who either fled during the Israeli invasion or happened to be out of the country when the bombing began and were only now returning home.

The city streets, like the airport, were also eerily quiet. Especially so for a Saturday night. Along the road between the airport and downtown Beirut were billboards with large photographs from the war and with slogans on them such as “extremely accurate targets” or “the divine victory.”

Aside from the quiet and calm Beirut, at least in the upscale area of Hamra where I’m staying, seems to be somewhat normal. Things like electricity and water seem to be running fairly smoothly, though I know this is not true everywhere. The hotel where I’m staying for a few days until my apartment is ready is particularly quiet. I stayed here before, when I came for my job interview, and it was hustling and bustling. Now it seems empty except for a few reporters I noticed in the lobby. I was the only one at the complimentary buffet breakfast this morning, for instance.

I hired a taxi this morning to see some of the damage and to get a sense of its proximity to the rest of the city that I’m familiar with. My driver took me to the suburb of Al-Dahiya, which is home to thousands of poor Lebanese people. It’s also close to the Shatila refugee camp where Israel’s notorious massacre took place in 1982. Here, too, it was very quiet. There were Lebanese soldiers everywhere–stationed on the street at various intersections, on Jeeps. Laborers sat on the sidewalks lining the streets waiting and looking for work. It was also extremely quiet there. You could hear sounds of rebuilding taking place, but that is about it. You could also smell decaying bodies and many people wore masks over their nose and mouth to protect themselves from the stench. All of the destruction I saw was to apartment buildings and the small businesses on the first floors of these buildings. You could peer inside to the remnants of these buildings and see what’s left of the homes, as in the picture here. It was heartbreaking to say the least and yet amazing to see that rebuilding was already taking place–both the clearing away of rubble as well as the actual rebuilding of some structures.

This is just my first glimpse of the devastation from the war. Tomorrow I will begin work with Samidoun. I brought with me a box full of baby formula because women here who have been traumatized from the war have lost their breast milk. It’s not a lot, but it’s a start. I’m looking forward to helping with aid work. For those who want to help you can check out Samidoun’s website to see how to donate money and much needed supplies.



7 thoughts on “witnessing destruction

  1. I wonder how much time will arabs continue to lie to themself. Don’t you ever think that in order to understand the real world you have to to state the facts as they are. In Sabra the lebanese christians killed the palastinians, what is the point of inventing a new history? or is it simple ignorance?

  2. Your whole blog, every single posting is full of hatred and intolerance toward Israel and the Jewish people. You are so full of hate. You are part of the problem, not the solution.

    “We can forgive you for killing our sons. But we will never forgive you for making us kill yours.” Golda Meir

  3. A user commented this about you and it’s worth repeating here:
    “Have you seen the images of the young Palestinian children parading with fake bomb vests? Uh, maybe I missed your comment on that. In any case, the notion that all Israelis (or Palestinians) are combatants, including children, is loathsome beyond description. Either you have lost your soul or you are crazy. Ideology, of course, can do both. It drains humanity from the human heart. And you, my dear, seem as drained and devoid of common humanity as it is possible to be. It’s rather sickening to behold.”

  4. “It’s also close to the Sabra refugee camp where Israel’s notorious massacre took place in 1982.”

    Seems like you don’t get facts get in the way of a good lie!

    “On 16 September 1982, under the watchful eye of their Israeli allies who had encircled the area, Lebanese Christian militiamen entered Beirut’s Sabra and Shatila refugee camps bent on revenge for the assassination of their leader Bashir Gemayel.”
    So the massacre was in fact committed by Lebanese militiamen.
    You hateful b*stard, you would lie to make Israel look bad.

  5. Disingenuous commenters. Everyone knows Israel facilitated the massacre.

    Thanks for the info on Samidoun. I’m considering a trip to Beirut in the spring..

  6. I am an Israeli citizen, and I cast my eyes down in shame whenever I read of the deliberate and heartless destruction Israel is responsible for. As a state of Appartheid, and an agent for Americanism in the Middle East, Israel’s mission is quite simple: to make all neighbouring Arab nations (and the internal Arab population) bow down to the “great Empire”. Those who “dare” to refuse, will pay the price, be it in form of an American invasion and coup d’etat (Iraq) or heavy Israeli bombardments. Thank god today, with the internet and sattelite television broadcast, Israel and its master, the U.S., cannot keep misinforming the world, not even their own people. I will help circulate your blog, as you’re doing a fantastic job excavating the truth.

  7. Injustice and the cruelty of the Europe and the USA:-
    There has been a lot of injustice being done to the nations in the history and USA has broken all of the records by adopting a policy which is an open hypocrisy against the palestinian people who have been displaced from their own lands and the ones who been thrown out of the Europe were settled in the Palestine and they name it Israel, i mean this is a barbaric example of Injustice being done by the West, USA and Israel, anyways the creator of this whole unibverse is observing every thing and the time is very soon when a revolution will replace all crule and injst establishments with the righteous and the Just ones. Websites are always helpful in one way or the other, anyways, a good way to get started to renovate your dreams into the world of reality.

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