Saturday, July 22, 2006

Letter from Lebanon: Update Friday, July 21, 2006

From Rosie
Dear Family and Friends,

First: We are safe. Although some fuel shortages are appearing in the mountain region, life “on the mountain” is pretty normal, other than it is accompanied by tattered nerves, tension and angst. Since Israel is targeting trucks, the garbage collectors are too afraid to make the rounds and garbage is starting to collect around the large communal garbage bins.

Second: Thank you all for your letters of concern and support. They are really appreciated.

I started this letter yesterday, but just didn’t have time to finish it. There was the first massive organization of evacuation for Americans. As a warden for the US Embassy, I am responsible for informing about 30 American families in my region. The US Embassy called me yesterday with directives for evacuation that was for 5:00 a.m. this morning. I received the call around 7:00 p.m. I, therefore, had to call all the families on my list and a few more. It took nearly three hours to contact and communicate the message to everyone, plus calls during the day I received from concerned families. I must have been on the phone at least four hours yesterday including one call I received after 11:00 p.m. Since the war started, I am in frequent contact with the families on my list, passing on emails that I receive from the Embassy as well as receiving nearly ten calls a day, to answer further questions and to share information with each other. Before 10 o'clock this morning I had already received a half dozen phone calls from those on my list.

Many people are extremely worried about the future. The main fear is that once the foreigners leave, the Israeli will double up their efforts against Lebanon.. Then what?

And why are so many foreigners leaving? It demonstrates that the Embassies realize that their citizens are in danger because the Israeli assault has not just focused on Hizbullah targets as they claim but civilian lives and infrastructure everywhere.

Listen carefully to the news. Listen to the words that the newscasters are now using. When is the last time you heard them talk about saving the two Israeli soldiers? The rhetoric has changed to “disarming Hizbullah,” which was the Israelis’ goal from the beginning. As I wrote before, this was never about the two soldiers. (I hope those poor soldiers sue their country for using them as bait.) Now Syria keeps being brought into the picture. I hope they are not as stupid as Hizbullah and get lured into this war.

Now getting back to Hizbullah. I want to make it very clear to my readers that in no way, shape or form am I a supporter of Hizbullah. I support the Lebanese as a unity. There are many Lebanese who have been fed up with Hizbullah for a long time, and who are furious that they got the Lebanese into this war. But as I see it, and as I have stated before, this is a well planned and executed war. This was going to happen sooner or later, whether Hizbullah took the two Israeli hostages or not. Israel was waiting to pounce. The Israelis are trying to enforce UN resolution 1559 requiring that all the militias in Lebanon disarm. But again, since when did Israel give itself the authority to enforce a UN resolution in another sovereign state? Can you political science majors help me out here? What gives Israel the legal right to do this? They have no legal right. They have military power. And that is what is speaking. And they have the backing of the West, namely the US and Britain. Israel is doing their dirty work.

Remember, Israel ILLEGALLY occupied the south of Lebanon for over ten years. How many times the Lebanese government went to the UN demanding their evacuation. Nothing was done. No one wants to realize how many illegal incursions and infractions Israel has done over the years with IMPUNITY. The US blindly backs Israel. For over ten years they were in Lebanon! Until the Hizbullah pushed them out. Now I ask you, if you are pushing a squatter, that murders your family, out of your land, are you a terrorist? Would you get the least bit irritated if someone was not letting you get to your own home, for ten years? Would you just relinquish your rights without a fight? And if you fight, would you like to be called “terrorist”? The West and Israelis now use the word “terrorist” for their convenience.

And I remind my readers, that at the same time Israel is illegally enforcing a UN resolution, they are DESTROYING Lebanon, against the Geneva convention which forbids the destruction of infrastructure. So again, with their military might and hiding everything under the guise of “disarming Hizbullah,” and “Hizbullah targets,” they are destroying the essential fabric of Lebanon. Lebanon built itself up after a deadly war with blood, sweat and tears, plenty of tears. While Lebanon received some aid for reconstructionin the form of soft loans-- from the Arab League and other international organizations, they don’t have a sugar daddy like the United States to plump up their bank accounts with grants. Since World Word II, Israel has received from the United States aid (that means it’s free) equal to $140 Billion. That’s American taxpayer's money. Israel would be nothing, but a dirt hole (it’s primarily a desert compared to the lush land of Lebanon) if they hadn’t received this aid as well as other loans, many of which were forgiven, grants, and direct foreign investments, from the United States. And thanks to the United States, Israel is a major nuclear power. The Lebanese army was not even allowed to rearm; they have some helicopters dating back to the Vietnam era. Does this seem balanced to you? Do you see perhaps just a little, why there is so much tension in the Middle East?. The United States has created its own Frankenstein.

I am a firm believer in peace. The smart Arabs know that they must reconcile with Israel. This war has set the Lebanese back 20 years and the peace process back a century. But this war as with most conflicts with Israel, the injustices, the wrongs, the beliefs run deep. It’s hard to give up on your beliefs.

A short update on some recent destruction caused by Israeli bombardments and other repercussions of the war:
The Israelis bombed silos that are near the port. What, are the Hizbullah hiding arms there? They bombed a bridge in Mdeirij, the tiny village where my husband lived as a child. We recently drove by the bridge a couple of months ago on our way to a luncheon at some friends’ of ours. The Israelis had bombed portions of it before, but they came back for its near total destruction in two further raids. For what purpose?

July 19, they killed 55 civilians, the single most casualties in one day since the war started. The death toll has risen to more than 325, mostly civilians, with a 1,000 wounded. Israeli deaths 29, fourteen of them were soldiers.

Today the Israelis bombed Baabda, a Maronite (Christian) community, not a Hizbullah target!

Israel had stopped the passage of an Australian ship carrying evacuees. Later they were allowed to continue, but it halted further Australians boarding a second ship until the sea was free.

In the south of Lebanon, Israeli warplanes are targeting all civilian or military cars, including UN bulldozers and forklifts needed to remove heavy rubble.

In Tyre, an ancient port city in the south of Lebanon, they hit the French Cultural Center, killing a relative of a friend of mine. My friend’s family had thought the French Center would have been a safe place…

Most stores in Beirut and the suburbs are open for short periods, closing by 12 noon. The streets are almost barren. The middle of summer, when the roads are normally jammed pack, now a few cars pass.

As many of you know, Lebanon deals with both the Lebanese lira and the US dollar. There has been such a demand on the dollar that banks are now limiting the daily amount you can withdraw, sometimes only $200, other banks up to $1000.

People are still taking the precarious route to Damascus. The ride normally would cost $100; now it’s jumped to $1,000.

The French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Douste-Blazy, arrived in Lebanon appealing to the United Nations to force Israel to allow a humanitarian corridor into Lebanon to provide fuel, food and medications. As of this writing, it is not clear whether it will be granted.

“UN Secretary General Kofi Annan criticized Hizbullah for triggering the latest outbreak of violence but he also condemned Israel’s excessive use of force in Lebanon and collective punishment of the Lebanese people, saying the conflict had triggered a humanitarian crisis.” (The Daily Star, July 21, 2006)

I agree. In the meantime, the United States is still waiting to pull the strings on Israel. Of course, there is no guarantee that Israel will listen to the United States when the moment comes. Then the United States will say it cannot control Israel. And the barbaric attacks on innocent lives will continue.

Please keep posting these emails and forwarding them to your friends and family. The Lebanese are suffering more and more each day.

Thank you.

Rosie AKL

P.S.: 11:30 p.m. and I think I heard the garbage trucks. Maybe they decided to sneak out during the night… Will know tomorrow.



At 10:47 PM, Blogger Paul said...

thank you for sharing this with us.
thank you for opening your heart.
your thoughts and feelings are more genuine and authentic than any newspaper article.

At 2:07 AM, Blogger _z. said...

you made me smile... i needed it, thank you.z

At 2:26 PM, Blogger Mirvat said...



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