Saturday, July 22, 2006

Bombings in Lebanon... one member's reflection

I have only begun to recover from the initial shock of the fact that these bombings are going on in the last couple of days. The first day it started happening last week, I woke up at my usual time to get ready for work and turned on National Public Radio (NPR) which was playing BBC World News Radio reporting on the bombings. The first thought I had was "Heddy, wake up!" because surely, I thought it could only be a dream. Surely, all this political broo-ha-ha over the captured Israeli soldiers did not warrant killing of innocent lives. It was almost the same eery feeling I had when I was listening to NPR the morning that the September 11th attacks happened right here where I live. Being in NYC, obviously my life is not in danger or anything; nevertheless what's going on makes me incredibly sad and my heart goes out to all the Lebanese, especially those living in Beirut, and everyone in the MidEast that these bombings are going to cause further pain and heartache for... it just seems so senseless. Having worked on human rights violations and genocide issues for 5+ years, you think one would be able to adapt and get de-sensitized but I've never found that to be true in my case. I wonder sometimes whether that's a good or bad thing...

Although Amnesty (where I work) has put out statements and are conducting advocacy around this issue - I can't help but feel powerless to do anything to help, even being a part of an organization like Never Again. We've mostly been internally focused for awhile, or at least from where I sit. Marian and I have been talking about the need for us to internally equip ourselves to better respond to emergencies like Darfur and these bombings in Lebanon. Yes, we are doing a wonderful job given the time and resources we have, but it still doesn't let us off the hook in terms of responding to the needs of the world. How to accomplish all of this without letting the urgent and important tasks (like stopping violence in Darfur immediately) not crowd out the less urgent yet still important tasks (like post-conflict peacebuilding in Rwanda). More questions than answers these days, but at least beginning to search is part of the solution...

For the non-BBC, non-CNN version of things, read here:

Sorry if this post was not what folks were looking for... I just can't do the clinical, political, emotionally detached analysis right now with people dying and continuing to live under threat.


Unknown said...

This explosion of violence has been a complete shock and it has been very difficult to know how to respond. As you say, searching is part of the solution.
I feel very hopeless when hearing the statements by governments and one side and many peace activists on the other, both of whom are justifying the actions of one side. But i have felt more hopeful when reading many of the blogs at, where the internet has made continued dialogue between citizens in both countries possible.
Never Again may never have the capacity to respond to emergencies but we are just one of many organisations working for peace and we can support those who have the best solutions. We can keep shouting for peace and condemning the killing of civilians - the justification is always defence. We can challenge the assumptions that one side will ever 'win' this. We can try to show all the people living under threat that we are thinking about them, wherever they are and that there are millions of people around the world that want the violence stopped.
We can still be effective without becoming too clinical, I hope.

Anonymous said...

I went to a talk in Cambridge (UK) last night by an active member of an Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel, who had spent much time in Jerusalem assisting people in their every day struggle on both sides of conflict.
Watching a series of images focused mainly on the 25 ft concrete walls being constantly built in and around the city, dividing communities and their essential amenities, and all the different shocking stories that go with it, had this time filed me with a grief feeling of total helplessness, especially after hearing the news of military advances in the area.
As for you Heddy it all seems to me an unbelievable nightmare!

I do know that doing something towards improvement, no matter how tiny, IS better than doing nothing, but so hard at times to lift one’s spirit to carry on.

Thank you Heddy for your enthusiasm about what I would now call ‘Peace Wall’ rather than ‘boards’, and it would be great if you and friends could assemble something similar where you are.

I have been thinking what would be the best way for you to go about it. What sort of resources might you have?
I have stencils of letters I used in Stoke, I can post them to you, or email Word attachment of the particular font and size I used, which you could print and cut out, then glue or pin onto a board/wall and spray paint around them, then attach paper and permanent marker pens.
Depending on where the wall is situated, indoor or outdoor, you’ll need slightly different paper. For outdoor, thin display or pasting board with smoother side to write on as it withstands weather conditions quite well, for indoor anything will do, as long as is not too thin in either case. I used A1 sheets in London and Cambridge, and much larger ones in Stoke, as you can see on the attached photograph.
I could post examples of the method I used in attaching pens to the surface, which is easy and convenient way to change pens.
Also I would explain how best to attach and take down paper.
Are you ready?

Basia, 22/23 07.06

marian said...

This is an email from a friend of a friend of a friend who is living in Lebanon:

Fri, 14 Jul 2006 05:43:43 +0300
For the last half hour or so, I have been watching the skyline outside my balcony. It is on fire. It's 4:14am.

At 3:28am this morning, I woke up to the sound of Israeli jets flying low over our skies in Beirut. I was just beginning to finally fall asleep, had racing thoughts in my mind all night, cramps in my stomach, fear... Just as I thought I was going to fall asleep, I heard the sound of jets, followed by one explosion after another.

It has calmed down now. I hear morning prayers in the distance.

I am at home with some friends who have taken refugee with us. A lot of them foreigners. We are trying to explain... Who, what, why.. But, we're also
trying to be normal. Because being normal is what got Lebanese through 20 some years of war. We are joking about how the airport is on fire because of
all the alcohol in the duty free. We are trying to be normal.

Up until now, Israel has done the following:

-blown up our international airport, run ways, gas reserves for planes (no
one can leave or enter the country.)
-blown up small military domestic airports (both in the north and south)
-blown up all bridges and roads linking beirut to the south
-blown up areas/villages of the south, everything from the deep south to
-blown up ... As I type this now, another jet is flying by, it is so loud
-... Continue... Blown up the suburbs (Dahiye).. Three missiles
-blown up the beirut-damascus road at several points
-we are surrounded at sea as well, there are military ships launching attacks
... Not watching tv anymore, but I know there is so much more going on.

Thousands evacuated their homes from the south today. They had to walk for miles because their cars could not cross the highway.

Another jet and another explosion. This is all going into Dahiyeh. I can see the red anti aircraft "bullets" being shot in retaliation. Pointless. The weapons Hizbullah have are so old and out dated (World War II left overs from Russia).. No match for Israeli technology.

Newest update, it's 4:26am, Israelis are attacking the city, "Saida" from sea. They are targeting the bridge that connects to Saida.

Another really loud bomb. My heart is racing. I can only pretend to be brave.

Everything that is happening now is because Israel is trying to wipe out any trace of Hizuballah in Lebanon. In the process of doing all this, they have
wiped out our infrastructures. Our roads, bridges, etc. civilian homes, innocent lives.

It's 4:32am and I have a knot in my stomach. I am praying they don't hit the electricity. I want my internet. I think it's the only thing that will help
me stay normal.

Latest update; 9 missile raids into Dahiyeh in the last hour. There are now several parts of Beirut without electricity. The sky is glowing red.

I am praying for the people in Dahiyeh .. Another really really loud bomb. I guess that makes it 10 now.

I am angry now. the things that cross your mind... I just set up a new installation last week, now, no one will get to see it. I was just about ready to launch an international residency program here.. Not going to
happen now. was just planning to start a family, who wants to get pregnant now?

Ladies and gentlemen, I did not want to burden you with the troubles of war, but I think it is really important that the world knows what is going on. We are under attack by israel. It is unjust and unfair. I wonder what the media coverage is like out there. All this must end. Israel must be stopped. This is so unjust and unfair. Everything we've worked on for the past 10 years is gone now. so, so so, unjust and unfair. We had so many cultural events planned for the summer... Exhibits... Concerts... Plays.. Etc. all gone.

Israel can not keep going into where ever they choose to go to and blow it up!

Lebanon can not be occupied again by Israel.

Dear friends, pray for us. For this madness to end. Pray for the Lebanese people to stick through this together and not lose their cool.

With love,
Zena 5:02am

Believe it or not, the sun is beginning to rise and I actually hear birds chirping.

"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle."
......Albert Einstein

"Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realise we cannot eat money."
........Cree Indian Saying