This has probably been the longest while since I’ve updated my weblog. My apologies. I’m in a 6 week intensive intermediate Arabic program and it’s been hard trying to keep up with course work while at the same time trying to enjoy Lebanon. The program, however, is coming to an end, in which case I will leave Lebanon 12 days later for Jordan and then Egypt. Before I leave Lebanon, I plan on going to the south of country which bore the brunt of Israel’s ruthless bombardment 2 years ago.
Without a doubt, it will be difficult to say good-bye to this place. Besides the US and Iran, I’ve never felt at home anywhere else until I came here. I’ve had the good fortune of making good friends here at AUB as well as in my program. Lebanon itself has much to offer and I will post pictures as soon as I get a chance.
Anyway, I’ve spent some time in the south of Beirut, the other location that absorbed its fair share of Israeli missile strikes in 2006. The Israeli authorities tried to justify the attacks by alleging that Hizbullah “hid” amongst the civilian populace and that the organization had offices in residential buildings. But after going there, you realize that Israel wasn’t targeting Hizbullah “offices” but was trying to punish the Shi’i for supporting Hizbullah. In other words, Israel was sending a clear message, “If you support Hizbullah, these are the consequences.” I mean, Israel targeted entire buildings, neighborhoods, and streets.
Amongst the countless Israeli miscalculations and failures in the 2006 war, none is more evident than the fact that instead of trying to convince the Shi’i to end their support for Hizbullah through punishing missile attacks, the precise opposite has happened. Support for Hizbullah here has hardened and they, in my opinion, are more powerful now than ever before. I never found cab drivers reflective of any society, especially in Iran, but I spoke with one and he told me about what he has endured since ’06. Accordingly, his entire building was destroyed and he lost his home. Nobody, not even the government has helped them, except for Hizbullah. The organization found his family temporary housing, provided him with basic funds, and has been reconstructing the building ever since. Indeed, Hizbullah has a very efficient construction arm and much has either been rebuilt or is in the process of being rebuilt in Lebanon. Furthermore, the cab driver told me that when his sons reach adulthood they will join Hizbullah, “no ifs ands or buts.”