Friday, July 28, 2006

Letter from Lebanon: Update July 26, 2006

This is another insightful letter from Rosie. An American, living in Beirut. In her email, Rosie attached a PowerPoint presentation containing images of the atrocities in Lebanon, and an image (a diagram representing the location of the bombings in Lebanon); I am just posting the image.

Dear Family and Friends,

Yes, we’re still in
Lebanon and doing fine. Been sleeping much better in the last few days. I started working on this letter this morning at 7:00 a.m. until the electricity was cut at 10:00 a.m. When the electricity came back we were having lunch and then I had to take Tanya to dance lessons, which she resumed yesterday. And so more than 12 hours later from when I started, I now am trying to wrap this up.

The last American evacuation boat left Wednesday, July 26. Less than twenty percent of those on my warden list decided to evacuate, although I understand that over 12,000 A
mericans did leave, (out of 25,000). The road to Damascus is relatively safe now, although riddled with holes from Israel’s attacks. MEA (Middle East Airlines), Lebanon’s airline carrier, is doing its best to honor its flight reservations from the Damascus and Larnaca (Cyprus) airports.

I had the pleasure to participate on Monday evening on the BBC Radio live panel discussion, “Have Your Say,” discussing the current Middle East crisis. I had received a call from the BBC in the late afternoon Monday to arrange for them to call me back at 8:00 p.m.
for the show. There were many participants, so each only had a short time in which to speak, but I was happy that I had that opportunity. At least they try to have all sides represented to openly present and discuss different point of views. We had a bit of a reprieve during Condoleezza Rice’s visit. That’s about the only positive outcome of her visit. As I had mentioned in a prior letter by the time she would have come, the country would have already been ravaged. Israel made sure to do the maximum amount of damage before they would be obliged to stop. Not that they have to stop. The United States has given them the green light to continue its barbaric bombardments. For the last few days the pounding has been focused in the south of Lebanon and the southern suburbs of Beirut.

Let’s see what is/was Israel’s goal? First to retrieve the captured soldiers, one Druze, one Jew. Then they said they wouldn’t stop bombarding until Hizbullah is disarmed. Now they are saying that they want Hizbullah to retreat at least 20 kilometers from the frontier to create a buffer zone.

Let’s recap some of what the Israelis have done in two weeks’ time: Destroyed at least 42 bridges, 38 roads. Bombed repeatedly Beirut International Airport, bombed Lebanon’s other airports, blasted two army caserns although they said the Lebanese army was not a target. Blasted two dairies (both Christian owned), a wood factory, and a plastics factory. Bombed nearly all the ports. Targeted the silos at the port. Bombed television and communications facilities, many of which are Christian owned. Bombed hospitals and ambulances. Warned the people in the south of Lebanon to evacuate their homes and villages and then when they were fleeing, they bombed their cars, using chemical weapons which either killed or badly burned many, including children. The Israeli Defense Department claimed that the chemicals were within international standards; tell that to the children whose faces are nearly burned off. A horrific sight. Destroyed hundreds of homes. Bombed in many Christian neighborhoods. Threatening areas in Tyre and Baalbeck that are protected by the United Nations (UNESCO) as recognized heritage sites. Today, a well marked UN observation post was hit “accidentally,” yet conveniently, killing four UN soldiers.….Lebanese killed pass 380 people with more than 1500 wounded, mostly civilians.

I guess you could liken this to two feuding neighbors. One neighbor smashes the other’s mailbox. The second neighbor retaliates by first smashing the first neighbor’s car. And realizing that is not enough pummels the house then blows up the front and backyards. Killing 5 and wounding two. But then I guess that would be an appropriate response for knocking down the mailbox.

Now please tell me what is wrong with the picture. Unfortunately, I can’t draw it, and therefore will describe it. But that should be easy: Picture a Big Smiling United States. One Hand is handing out a pile of intelligent bombs to a ‘poor’ Israel, whose F-16’s and nuclear warheads are tucked in their back pocket; the Other Hand has a tad of foodstuffs and medicines to distribute to the nearly 1 million distraught displaced Lebanese.

How do you think the Lebanese can accept the United States as an independent, impartial broker in negotiating peace? If you have ever been selected for jury duty you know the process. Those who have the slightest bias or prejudice surrounding the case to be tried are eliminated from the jury panel, because the lawyers want a jury that is open-minded and can review the facts fairly. When the United States provides Israel with over $3 billion in aid annually, supplies most of its military arsenal, provides on demand more bombs to Israel, how can one think they will be impartial when it comes to peace negotiations? Not only does the United States not act as an impartial broker, but they act as Israel’s advocate. Can the Lebanese really stand up to that? Time and again, they acquiesce to the bigger powers. Why isn’t another uninvolved country or countries selected to truly negotiate a peace settlement, like Japan, India or Argentina, without any influence from the United States or Britain? The July 21, 2006 cover page of the British journal “The Independent” displayed on one side the flags of the Israel, the United States and the United Kingdom. On the other side of the page, all the other flags of the world. The question posed: Who supports a cease-fire?

On Saturday, July 22, 2006, ten days after the start of the war, The Daily Start reported: “…the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) on Friday accused both Israel and Hizbullah of war crimes. The ICJ said Israel’s “disproportionate and indiscriminate” use of force against civilian targets amounted to “collective punishment.” The Geneva-based organization called for an immediate halt to the violence and accused the international community of not doing enough to restrain Israeli actions in both Lebanon and Gaza.”1

Since 1968, Israel has staged over 5,000 military attacks on Lebanon, including five invasions or major campaigns, causing nearly $3 billion in damages. A preliminary estimate of the toll on the infrastructure thus far from their recent barrage of bombs is over $3 billion, in less than two
weeks.2 And we have not even spoken about the human lives lost or economic damage that Lebanon has suffered and will suffer, peoples homes, buildings, offices, etc. All this under the guise of “Hizbullah only targets.” I would like to see the equivalent statistics for

I remind my readers that at the end of June this year, Lebanon was issuing a formal complaint to the United Nations about a Mossad cell (like the CIA) in Lebanon, “Lebanon’s friends at the UN should support us against Israeli operations [assassinations] on our territory,” a source stated.3 Tension and provocation at the border is nothing new and it has been going on both ways, for years. The only difference is that Israel has the military might and the backing of the United States. So they get to bomb when and how they feel like it. How nice.

And as usual, pass this along to friends and family… or does it go without saying now? Have I got you trained now? Don’t forget to check out the attachments showing pictures of the atrocities as well as a map indicating areas hit. Thanks a million!

Rosie AKL

1. The Daily Star, July 22, 2006, page 2
2. The Daily Star, July 24, 2006, page 6
3. The Daily Star, June 21, 2006, cover page



At 8:21 AM, Blogger arch.memory said...

I am always amazed at such graphics; they are so capable of stripping the human dimension of any crisis and present it as a purely analytical predicament... That is their power and danger.

At 4:51 PM, Blogger Pie said...

There has to come a point when countries should ask themselves why they are the only ones on one side of the page, why their opinion is opposed by almost every other nation. Britain and the US don't seem to have done this - but then it didn't stop them in other recent events.

As for chemical weapons, there can't ever be any excuse for using them. Their use almost always results in horrific injuries to innocent people. Just because they don't quite cross certain guidelines doesn't make them excusable.

At 6:22 PM, Blogger _z. said...

This retaliation is very cruel pie... very cruel.


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