Thursday, July 20, 2006

July 20, 2006

As ship after ship passes by my window, some military vessels, some civilian evacuating foreign citizens, I hear news of good things happening in Lebanon amid all the violence. Ordinary Lebanese families are opening their homes for displaced, even across sectarian divides. People may disagree on the issue of Hizballah’s arms, and even on who is to blame for the current situation, but the humanitarian need remains the same, regardless of one’s position on these issues.

I received another text message from the Swedish foreign ministry last night. It said that one boat would leave today, Thursday, and one tomorrow. I’m not sure if this is my last chance or not, but as I see it, I have no choice but to get on one of those boats. I’ll wait till tomorrow though, no need to rush. It may even be the ship I see outside my window right now; it looks like the one I’ve seen in pictures from the Swedish evacuation yesterday. At any rate, I’m highly conflicted about leaving, but I’m not doing anything useful here, and I think my family has worried enough.

So I prepare to bid Lebanon farewell. I wonder when I will get to walk the streets of Beirut again and under what circumstances. Hopefully, it will be a Beirut thriving in peace. The last heavy explosions I heard was sometime after nightfall last night. I think it was the attack on the alleged Hizballah leadership bunker in the southern suburbs. It must have been some serious firepower to make my building shake like that, considering the distance between me and the target.

There is actually some activity in the streets today. Constant hammering is echoing in the corridors of the AUB dorms; it would seem the renovation that was put to a halt last week has been resumed. More cars are in the streets, and even a few of the restaurants that closed have reopened. I would probably be optimistic if it weren’t for the activities outside my window, where helicopters and ships are involved in a massive evacuation effort of foreign nationals.

How ironic that the efforts to actually save people can make me so depressed. I guess it is because there is no sign of either Hizballah or Israel backing down from their original demands for accepting a ceasefire. Against that backdrop, the evacuation almost feels like a clearing of the field before the final showdown. Like in the old Western movies, where the main street would clear out at high noon; people scurrying off to safety in just in time before the shootout. It is ominous and very, very depressing. What will happen once the foreigners are out? I fear for the future of the people of Lebanon and this troubled nation-state, as well as the future for the region. I think I will have even more trouble sleeping once I have left Lebanese soil.

7 Comments:

Blogger Aaron said...

Hi, I am writing from The Sun newspaper in the UK. We are looking for bloggers on the ground in Beirut.
We would like to use your updates on our site.
Mail my editor marc.webber@thesun.co.uk if this is of interest.
Regards Aaron

5:11 AM  
Blogger CCR said...

I, too, wonder when we will stroll the beautiful streets of Beirut and if the Palestinian refugee family I befriended over the past couple of years is OK. I haven't heard anything in the news about the Palestinian population, most of whom are stuck in refugee camps that Israeli targeted in the past. Obviously there is noone to eveacuate them anywhere because they have no country.

Maybe part of your depression is looking out your window as they save foreign nationals and leave the Lebanese to fend for themselves against one of the most advanced military forces in the world. What I don't understand is either a) Israel has amazing military capabilities and can carry out "surgical strikes in which case there is no excuse for the 300+ civilians who have died and the targeting of ciivilian infrastructure with no links, even remotely, to Hezbollah or their military is out of practice and not nearly as advanced and fearsome as people in the Middle East and elsewhere seem to think.

I'm trying to collect info on protests on by blog http://arab-media.blogspot.com/
so let me know if you see anything while you're still in Beirut or when you get back to Sweden.

5:33 AM  
Blogger Tim Levell said...

Hi Hardig, I am also from the UK media and wondered if you could contact me as we'd like to talk to you. Email me at tim dot levell at bskyb dot com if you're interested. Best wishes, Tim

6:34 AM  
Blogger Kam Ling said...

Hi, I am from HK. Thanks for your news and wish you good luck. Pray for you.

8:54 AM  
Blogger Judy said...

Hardig,
Thank you for posting each day what is happening and your thoughts and concerns. I married my Lebanese husband 22 years ago, we have four children, and we are all Lebanese/American citizens. I wish more Americans realized that a lot of the Israeli bombing is senseless to their mission. Americans are so ignorant to what is really happening, the destruction of a country. Please don't ever be silent to what you have witnessed, because it has nothing to do with religion or "a country's right to defend itself." A person who is knowledgeable about mideast and Lebanon's struggle to rebuild after the devastatin of the Civil War would question Israel's motives as more than defense of their country, Peace and God bless you as you leave.

11:09 AM  
Blogger Judy said...

Hardig,
Thank you for posting each day what is happening and your thoughts and concerns. I married my Lebanese husband 22 years ago, we have four children, and we are all Lebanese/American citizens. I wish more Americans realized that a lot of the Israeli bombing is senseless to their mission. Americans are so ignorant to what is really happening, the destruction of a country. Please don't ever be silent to what you have witnessed, because it has nothing to do with religion or "a country's right to defend itself." A person who is knowledgeable about mideast and Lebanon's struggle to rebuild after the devastatin of the Civil War would question Israel's motives as more than defense of their country, Peace and God bless you as you leave.

11:09 AM  
Blogger DhiaK said...

Andy... whichever boat you decide to get on, i wish you a very safe journey back to Sweden. Thanks for sharing all your thoughts, experiences and all that you've seen. Your understanding, from a political point of view, has been refreshing and timely for these eyes. Take care and I hope one day you will return to a beautiful Lebanon, as you saw it the day you arrived a few weeks back...

All my best.

7:39 PM  

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