Travel Log Part 3

Hello Hello! I wish I could post pictures for you. For whatever reason, I can’t access photobucket, even though the site is not blocked. If you are on facebook and would like to see pictures, I recently posted pictures from Damascus and Istanbul. I will post pictures from Lebanon soon.

Anyway, Wednesday I went to Shatila Palestinian refugee camp, one of two sites of the notorious Israeli-backed Phalangist massacre in 1982. According to the security guide, it was built after Israel was established on the ruins of Palestine and thorough the ethnic cleansing operation that drove out more than 700,000 Palestinians in 1948. In other words, the camp is 60 years and it was really disturbing to see the camp in such a state. I mean, there was a total lack of civilian infrastracture. It was a ghetto, no doubt. The camp’s continued existence and condition reminds me that nobody, and I mean nobody, cares about the Palestinians, not the Arab World, not the Muslim World, not the Palestinian Authority, and certainly not Israel, the creator of the world’s largest refugee population.

We talked to a doctor at the Red Crescent at the camp and she told me two things: they need an x-ray machine and that she loved Ahmadinejad. Seriously, almost every person who learns I’m Iranian begins praising Iran and Ahmadinejad. They will certainly be disappointed if he turns out to be a one-term president.  I was buying souvenirs with some American friends and another lady was overcharging them, but when she realized I was Iranian, she insisted that the items were free of charge for me. I paid anyway. Also, when people hear that I’m Iranian but from the states, many ask me who I support when it comes to the rising tension between the US and Iran. My answer always is that I support who is right. The US is the only country that has used nuclear weapons not once, but twice, has thousands of nuclear bombs, and brags about many of them being more powerful 3rd generation bombs, but denies Iran the right to nuclear technology, even though Israel and Iran’s neighbor Pakistan are armed to the teeth.

Thursday, was a huge day in Lebanon because of the prisoner exchange. It is one of many recent Hizbullah political victories. Samir Quntar was convicted in Israeli courts in 1979 for killing 3 Israelis (one of them being a little girl). If Lebanon or Palestine would convict Israelis for killing civilians especially children, half of Israel would be in prison, I bet. Anyway, he’s been in prison for 30 years and he is neither Shia nor Hizbullah, as he predates Hizbullah’s emergence. Nevertheless, he is the most famous Lebanese prisoner in Israel and although many groups have sought his release, for better or worse, it was Hizbullah that achieved what is considered here in Lebanon a national victory.  

Literally hundreds of thousands of people gathered in south Beirut to mark the occassion. Nasrallah hasn’t been seen in public since his victory speech at the end of the 2006 war but there was a rumor that he may make an appearance at Thursday’s rally. I feel like he’s a celebrity for many here. Anyway, people thronged at the celebration site and when the prisoners arrived, they cheered. But when Nasrallah showed up, they went wild. In other words, the release of the prisoners seemed secondary in importance than when it came to seeing Nasrallah in person after 2 years. They chanted in unison: “Abu Hadi” (“Father of Hadi” which referenced his older son who died fighting the Zionist occupation in the south in 1997.)

Many of the attendees brought flags with them. Although most of the flags there were Lebanese and Hizbullah, obviously, there were also many flags belonging to Hizbullah’s allies, namely Amal and the Syrian Socialist National Party. The Iranian ambassador to Lebanon was also present.

Nasrallah was only there for a couple of minutes then left for security reasons (the Israeli gov’t has sworn to kill him). He gave his speech via broadcast. I didn’t understand most of it but friends translated bits and pieces. The last part of the speech paid much praise to Imam Musa as-Sadr, the father of the Shia Revival in Lebanon.

The rally was highly organized and sophisticated. After many victories, they’ve mastered the ability to capture the gravity of the occasion.

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