Category Archives: Lebanon

Adib S Kawar – Lebanon Strikes: Politicizing Public Demands

David Welch, the US Near East Affairs emissary with Fouad Siniora. Lebanese labor unions called for a strike on May 7th for adjusting the salaries of the public and private sector employees and workers, as salaries and wages had not been adjusted for the last ten years, although the cost of living had more the doubled or tripled since then, especially prices had escalated almost by 100% compared to what they were at a year ago. The rise is mainly due to unprecedented increase in costs of energy sources and the depreciation of the U.S. Dollar compared to the Euro, which equally affected prices, noting that the Lebanese currency is tied with the U.S. dollar.

Just because those calling for the strike are in the opposition camp, the government and its so-called majority camp, took the opportunity to politicize the strike and hit against the opposition and the Lebanese resistance. The cabinet announced a rise of the minimum wage from LL 300,000 to LL 500,000. (U.S. $200 to $333) without announcing the mechanism of this increase for the minimum wage, noting that there are hardly any workers or employees whose wages or salaries are at the official minimum nor any mentioning of the adjustment of other salaries and wages which had been the case in all previous laws of adjustment of salaries.

On the occasion, the coalition of committees and popular unions issued a communiqué condemning the governmental and the majority party’s actions to abort the strike saying:

While the Lebanese are preparing for celebrating the liberation day and resistance on 25/5/2008, and while all Arabs are commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Arabs Nakbah of Palestine caused by the Zionist aggressor, the ruling group issued a number of unprecedented and grave decisions:

1 – These decisions aim at depriving the resistance of its legitimacy and will consider its leaders and fighters and probably its martyrs as outlaws, which is certainly in the service of the Zionist enemy and its American masters and tallies with their logic.

2 – These decisions clearly contradict the essence of the basis on which the present government (considered by the opposition as illegal) gained parliamentary legitimacy, which legitimized the right, presence and role of the Lebanese resistance in liberating the land and defending the Lebanese and Lebanon against the continuous Zionist aggression.

3 – These decisions are a stab in the heart of the Lebanese patriotic accord, and hits the sentiments and feelings a large sector of the Lebanese people and the Arab Nation, which considers the resistance as a child to defend Lebanon and Arab pride.

4 – These decisions are a clear proof of the involvement of the ruling gang in the project of creating internal sedition in Lebanon to give a cover for the failure of the Zionist/American project and its extensions, and an arrangement for an internal sedition, which the Zionist enemy failed to do. They actually work for the fulfilment of the ‘prophecy’ of C. David Welch, U.S. Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs, in which he announced during his last visit to Lebanon of a ‘hot summer’ in Lebanon and the region”.

5 – The decisions are in full contradiction of the head of the ruling gang, Fouad Siniora, at the end of President Lahoud’s presidency on 24/5/2008 that he shall not take decisions that are of basic characteristics before electing a new president of the Republic.

6 – These decisions reflect a clear lack sense of responsibility, because they don’t take into consideration the repercussions and results and their effects on the static patriotic options in relation to internal stability.

7 – These decisions reflect the ruling gang’s total slipping to involve the security and military establishments in the political maneuvers, which is a game that the Lebanese paid a heavy price for in the past.

8 – These decisions go beyond the simplest rules and administrative principles, because they are taken without legal or legislative basis. And they are a result of known political intentions with well known sources.

9 – These decisions increase the fears of a large sector of the Lebanese public of the existence of a Zionist-American plan to internationalize Lebanon starting with internationalization of the airport and other public facilities.

(The so-called majority ruling gang claims that Hezbollah put monitoring cameras around the airport to control the airport).

10 – These decisions start with the airport and its security and remind us that all the wars that were waged against Lebanon started from the airport, since the 28/12/1968 aggression that inaugurated the continuing Zionist war on Lebanon 40 years ago, up to the July 2006 war that started with the bombardment of the airport and its closure for several weeks after the end of the aggression.

The comments about the ruling gang decisions call on those who care for the unity, security and stability of Lebanon to rise up to reject these dangerous decisions, and demand the immediate retreat from their implementation, and not be a starting point for the anti-Lebanon plans.

Some factions of the ruling gang, by direct orders from what they call their American ally, order the sabotaging of resistance efforts for defending Lebanon against Zionist aggressions, which are directly or indirectly in the service of the Zionist enemy, and the ‘American ally’ takes no action which is not for Zionist interest. Certain parties are ‘complaining’ about the special means of communication (special telephone system) of the resistance that is vital for its operations and security.

In the meantime, Condy consoles the same Siniora

Justice for Lebanon! International Citizen’s Tribunal

I will be attending these sessions in Bruxelles this weekend on behalf of Gaza Vivrà. I will write a comprehensive report upon my return.

Proposal for setting up international citizen’s tribunal on deeds committed by Israeli army & secret services in Lebanon & occupied Palestinian territories

An international citizen’s tribunal on the crimes committed by the Israeli army in Lebanon JUSTICE FOR LEBANON! Feb. 22-24, 2008, Brussels Int’l Jury Schedule

The deeds committed by the Israeli army and secret services in Lebanon, as in the occupied Palestinian territories, is a violent affront to the universal human conscience. These are criminal acts, as many people feel instinctively. They are different from the acts that take place in all armed conflict committed by the aggressor as well as by the aggressed. But feeling is not enough. The facts must be established. They must then be assessed in light of existing international law. This should be done with the detachment and rigour of a process that excludes any a priori conclusions, the results of which will convince all people of good will.

The international community is not an autonomous political and juridical body. It is but a summation of positions adopted by a certain number of governments. In many situations it has proved incapable of applying existing law by distancing itself from geopolitical or ideological contingencies. This impunity has covered up the numerous war crimes and crimes against humanity that have been committed since the end of the second world war.

The unilateral attitude of the United States of America, like the double-speak of many European governments, make it necessary for those defending the law to take the place of failed political powers. The American administration is against any questioning of Israel’s role in acts committed in Lebanon as well as in the occupied Palestinian territories. Germany, Great Britain, Finland and France refuse to support a request formulated at the UN Human Rights Council to investigate the use by the Israeli armed forces of arms that are prohibited by international law. The systematic disinformation practised by an overwhelming majority of the media deprives Western public opinion of balanced information. All this justifies an initiative by the citizens themselves.

This initiative must aim at being of the same high quality as the tribunal initiated by Bertrand Russell during the Vietnam war. It should be carried out with the same rigour, the same credibility and the same concern to go beyond divisions which have no place when it is a question of the rights of people. It must bring together highly qualified experts and personalities who are universally recognized for their moral authority. It must not limit itself up to a restricted circle. For this reason I believe it should not follow in the footsteps of similar initiatives taken in the past, whatever the quality that such work has achieved in the past.

Such an action cannot be carried out properly in a hurry. It requires the formulation of a comprehensive project, together with a precise timetable, the mobilization of appropriate human and financial resources and an irreproachable moral framework. These requirements demand an international mobilization to support such an initiative.

For this purpose we propose that a preparatory committee be set up which will carry out as rapidly as possible all the tasks necessary for launching this initiative. We ask your active participation in creating this preparatory committee.

Coordinateurs:

Raoul Marc JENNA
Réchercheur URFIG / Fondation Copernic
consultant de la GUE/NGL au Parlement européen (bureau 4E202) 7
place du Château, F 66500 Mosset
Tél. (PE) : 00 32 2 283 10 43
Tel. : 00 33 468 05 84 25
Port. : 00 33 632 16 65 52

Leila Ghanem
Anthropologue
Forum Mondial des Alternatives
Lilia.ghanem@yahoo.fr
Tel Port: 06 15 26 31 14

JUSTICE FOR LEBANON! Feb. 22-24, 2008, Brussels Int’l Jury Schedule
INTERNATIONAL JURY OF CONSCIENCE FOR LEBANON

International Associations Center
Washington Street, 40
Brussels, February 22 – 23 – 24, 2008
Program
Friday February 22
8:30 to 11:15 p.m.:
· Opening, reception and general presentation (15 min)
· Declaration of the International Peoples Tribunal (15 min)
· Declaration of Jury on the decision to consider only the actions of the Israeli army (15 min)
· Reading the indictment (90 min)
· Reaction of the defendant (30min)
Saturday February 23:
The morning: victims
From 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.:
· 8 victims will testify (15 min each one)
From 11:30-to 11:45 a.m.: coffee/tea break
From 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.
· testimony from the mayor of a village (30 min)
· testimony from the mayor of a city (30 min)
From 12:45 to 2 p.m.: Lunch break
The afternoon: witnesses
From 2 to 4:30 p.m.:
· the Lebanese Red Cross (30 min)
· Green Peace Lebanon (30 min)
· A Lebanese economic institute (30 min)
· The international NGOs (20 min each one)
From 4:30 to 4:45 p.m.: coffee/tea break
From 4:45 to 6:45: statements by 4 Lebanese lawyers (30 min each one)
The evening: round table with Lebanese and international journalists
From 8:30 to 11 p.m.: four Lebanese journalists will dialog with a French journalist, a British journalist and a Belgian journalist. The debate will be chaired by a European member of Parliament.
Sunday February 24:
From 9:00 to 10:00 a.m.: statement of Dr Hugo RUIZ DIAZ BALBUENA, attorney and representative of The Association of American Attorneys at the Human Rights Council of the United Nations
From 10:00 to 10:45 a.m.: statement from a representative of Amnesty International and a representative of Human Rights Watch
From 10:45 to 11:00 a.m.: coffee/tea break
From 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.: statement from a representative of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations
From 12:30 to 2:00 p.m.: Lunch break
From 2:00 to 3:00 p.m.: indictment
From 3:00 to 4:00 p.m.: reaction of the defendant
Starting 4:00 p.m.: Jury deliberation
At 5:00 p.m.: Read the verdict

The jury is composed of five people, one from each inhabited continent, each of them judges by profession.

The entire hearing will be recorded and filmed. The debates will be translated simultaneously into English, Arabic and French.

Various documents and reports/ratios will be placed at the disposal of the public. A bookstore will be accessible.

The hearing will take place in a room holding 250 people. Videos will be shown in an adjoining room.

“The International Jury of Conscience for Lebanon” is a project which intends to develop the struggle against impunity regarding the crimes committed, which intends to promote international law and in particular human rights and which places the respect of fundamental human rights above any other consideration. The discussion will proceed in greatest serenity and the publicity that arises from it will reside exclusively within the framework of human rights. It will question only the facts that occurred during the conflict of July-August 2006 in connection with the respect of these rights. This project does not include a political debate on the question of the relationship between Israel and its neighbors, nor about the Palestinian question.

Some Human Beings are More Human than Others

Why ethnic campaigning can be unethical
by Mary Rizzo

This blog recently has had some attention from Tony Greenstein. Taking a detour from his general direction of activism (sic) which boils down to exclusively attacking a growing list of other Pro-Palestinian activists – posting the same article that has been proven to be a misrepresentation consisting of a series of out-of-context quotes and insinuations about Gilad Atzmon – he’s using the same method, wallpapering every spot he can think of with his rantings using an identical post (to get the most mileage out of it, I suppose) that my blog is an Anti-Semitic sewer because it had this:





He stated:

“Under a title ‘Peacepalestine Offers Prisoner Exchange’ are four photographs of Ariel Sharon, Gilad Shalit, David Hirsh and myself, with what presumably are supposed to be wanted posters bearing our names, photographs, the title ‘human being’ (presumably this is disputed) and then, in reverse video the word ‘JEW’. All that is missing is the yellow star, but I’m sure Rizzo will manage to find a graphic artist up to the task.”

He then emphasizes that this is “clearly racist and anti-Semitic”.

Well, finally Tony Greenstein and I can partially agree on something. Gilad Atzmon and I have been stressing for years now that asking people to take action or to influence them by merit of some ethnically-based criterion is simply a racist way of thinking and operating, and Tony finally admits as much. If we are people, it shouldn’t matter one iota what group we are born or raised into. Ideologies are mindsets that are not “genetically instilled” and can be adopted or cast off or used at will. We can’t accept an objective ethnic belonging that carries no merit or defect as such, as an ethical device or even a way to persuade people. Ideologies matter, ethnic belonging does not. Belonging to one group or another should be irrelevant when trying to persude people of the value of an argument and influence their opinions. We should move beyond the stage of focussing on a person according to race, sex, religion, nationality or political leaning, and listen to their arguments.

It is too bad that Tony feels the need to continually insist on telling us that he was “The only Jewish speaker” at this meeting or that. Gosh, I didn’t know that there is a census made of the ethnic or religious belonging of the people who speak at meetings and that Tony was privy to that information. He also believes that Jews have special sensitivity to racism. “Jews, of all people, should be the first to oppose racism, whoever the victims and the perpetrators,” he says. While at the same time, he knows how (presumably all) Blacks must feel about it, refering to one of his interlocutors, so that he can be easily identified, apparently, as “a Black Sudanese guy”: “But again Black people have better understanding of racism than white ex-councillors”. (Following this logic, if the white ex-councillors are Jewish, they should be the first to oppose the racism, but other whites certainly are lacking in this moral characteristic.) If one were to judge the way he writes, it seems he does indeed think in racial stereotypes and categories and can’t resist mentioning it as if it were the normal thing to do. Yet, on the other hand, he insists that race does not exist, er… rather, it is a political construct. “Just to be clear. Zionism isn’t based on a race, nor is German anti-Semitism for the simple reason there are no such things as race. Race is a political construct.” (Alef message 5 January, 2008) Whether or not there is such a thing as race seems to be a matter of debate for geneticists, and we’ve all seen acceptable arguments from both sides of the debate. Tony is extremely “ethnically aware”, and this is absolutely crystal clear in almost every intervention he has on internet. One might say that it borders on an obsession. Whites, Blacks, Jews, Non-Jews, hardly a single thing he has written escapes this ethnic (or racial, if you like) labeling, complete with a categorical judgment of the sensitivity each group must have to racism issues a priori of their personal experiences. What DOES seem interesting is the fact that when TONY stresses his ethnicity, in his worldview, it’s a good and positive thing. When OTHER people do it, as the Shalit campaigners do, or those who spoof it, as Peacepalestine has done, it’s clearly racist and anti-Semitic. I wish he would make up his mind one way or the other.

I agree that the campaign for Gilad Shalit is clearly racist, but it is far from being anti-Semitic. They will have to presumably find someone to paste in that Yellow Star as Tony suggests, not because the campaign is anti-Semitic, but because it represents to perfection the Jewish Victim role, the only way we are supposed to feel about Jews, especially Israeli ones. To justify what Israel does, we have to know they are clearly victims of some irrational hatred based on the simple fact that they are Jews in an Arab world hostile to their very existence. The Yellow Star would be an apt symbol of the victim paradigm that we should never forget or place into any context, no matter what. Jews are and will be the eternal victim, and you better get the idea that they act only out of reasons of defense. Being victims, we have to empathise with their plight in all instances.

The identifying label of the righteous victim is used to influence people and suspend any other kind of rational thinking or judgment. The innocent victim status is used in the Shalit campaign to instill an idea that goes against reality. We have to suspend our judgment on the role that he fulfilled. We have to think that a soldier who was in an Occupation army, in occupied territory AS an occupier, not a journalist or excursionist, there to render the lives of the people under Occupation a hell on earth and endanger their very safety with his presence, was just an innocent child who needs to be returned to his worried parents. He has become the centre of a “humanitarian” campaign that has very little to do with humanity, despite the text one can read on the banner.

This campaign has been going on for a while. Anyone who has seen even one blog by Israel supporters has bumped into it. It’s really hard to remain indifferent to. Indeed, the graphic artists felt it NECESSARY to point out that Shalit is a Human being. Oh, yes, and a Jew as well. Generally, members of Homo Sapiens Sapiens ARE considered to be Human beings and we don’t need to be told, even though the pictures of Shalit bring more the idea of a lost puppy to mind.

And we all know that if Shalit was an IDF member, well, he could have been nothing other than Jewish. Tony was shocked at the horrible sort of racist labeling. As a matter of fact, he thought it was something I dreamed up myself and not a parody. He was unaware of this campaign. Where has he been hiding? The amount of posts he leaves around would indicate that he’s online a hell of a lot of hours in a day. A legitimate question to ask is what precisely does he do other than post his own repetitious text? He claims that he fights Zionism, but he has NEVER seen a Zionist site or blog since the day of the campaign??? That is longer than a year. How can one fight the enemy if one does not even know what the enemy is up to? Or maybe he’s seen it, but is pretending righteous indignation in order to influence people who may not be familiar with the propaganda tools of Zionism so that they come to think of my blog in the same jaundiced way he does. He obviously detests it, because it exposes his endless smear and silencing campaigns against Gilad Atzmon. Yet, to call it a rightwing blog with an anti-Semitic and conspiracist agenda is really pushing it. Apparently, he may need to convince himself more than he does others. And with the three-person following he has, he has to work harder on it, apparently.

But, leaving aside this provincial matter for the moment, I shall return to the issue of humanity and the Gilad Shalit campaign. I had the good fortune of working for several years in a major advertising agency as a copy editor and then copywriter. Our clients would show us their new product and we would have to come up with an appropriate campaign. The first thing one has to do is to “frame the target”. You have to know who you are trying to convince, and you have to use a language that will appeal to them on even a subconscious level. You have to reach them, then you have to influence them. Later, they will become an additional and correlated (not to mention cost-free) advertising element, by driving around on your motorcycle (in the case of the campaigns I managed).

Bringing that knowledge to the Shalit campaign, we see this: our target probably is NOT the group or individuals that hold Shalit. Most likely, they would not be overly sensitive to the fact that he is a Jew, or at least, this would not be the aspect of his being that would influence them the most. Perhaps those who created the campaign feel that those holding him in captivity are unaware that he is a human, so they have to spell it out, but I tend to believe that since the advert is in English and in Hebrew, our target is the Zio-blogosphere. So, the banner gets picked up and distributed on sites where people go who support Israel or at least aren’t blatantly or even latently pro-Palestinian. I have never seen the banner on a single pro-Palestinian site. Correct me, someone, if I am wrong and it is posted on some site of the sort.

The language then, has got to appeal to the crowd that follows the Zio-blogosphere. It is “normal” for them, I guess, to believe racial profiling is acceptable. If you are a Jew, anyway, and you are a Jew who is doing it, however. I doubt they would be convinced that Tony is right and that it is anti-Semitic. If I were still in advertising and worked on this campaign, I am pretty sure they would like the Yellow Star, though, and should consider integrating it into future versions of the campaign (all campaigns require a refresher in order to remain effective).

Now, what is the most interesting aspect of the entire campaign, attempting to appeal to the humanitarian aspect of the crisis, is we see just how the people who support this campaign think. Take a look at http://giladshalit.blogspot.com/ and see that there is a poll asking the following question:

Poll: One Year On. What should the Israeli Government do?
What action should the Israeli Government take now that Hamas has clear control of Gaza and it has been 1 year since Gilad Shalit was been kidnapped

Negotiate with Hamas

Negotiate with Hamas, release as many prisoners as it takes

Hold the Hamas Leadership directly accountable

Hold the Leadership accountable and give them one final deadline before military action

Hold Leadership accountable, give deadline for military action and total cessation of all Israeli supplied electricty and Water.

view results

Well, how do you think that the public answered as of today’s date?

Let me show you the results:

What action should the Israeli Government take now that Hamas has clear control of Gaza and it has been 1 year since Gilad Shalit has been kidnapped

Negotiate with Hamas 18% 127

Negotiate with Hamas, release as many prisoners as it takes 14% 97

Hold the Hamas Leadership directly accountable 10% 72

Hold the Leadership accountable and give them another final deadline before military action 10% 73

Hold Leadership accountable, give deadline for military action and total cessation of all Israeli supplied electricty and Water. 47% 327

total votes: 696

More than half of them (58%) demand that there be military action taken (raids, presumably resulting in deaths of innocent civilians, as is often the case), and a whopping 47% call for total cessation of Israeli-supplied electricty (sic) and Water. (As if it comes from someplace else).

What would the result of such a call be? It isn’t too hard to comprehend, given that Israel has already begun the cessation of supply to the people they keep confined in Gaza. It means treating human beings like their lives are expendable, and actually turning a deaf ear as one hears their cries that they are dying. I would hope that people who care about Shalit would think before they push a little button to state their opinion, and consider that it is very inhumane to cut off basic utilities services of the people who you have made depend on them. It is a form of torture and duress. It certainly is how a complete sadist would operate. Animals in a zoo are treated better than that.

Are the people who are so concerned to show the world that the IDF soldier captured while he was in operative duty is a Human being (oh, and a Jew too), able to even see or feel that the more than one million men, women and children in Gaza are Human beings as well? Or does the fact that there are no longer any Jews in Gaza mean that genocide and collective punishment is acceptable? Was the last human removed from Gaza with the unilateral withdrawal?

But, I don’t know why any of this surprises me. We all have heard that the reason for the breakout of the so-called Second Lebanon War was the capture of two IDF soldiers and the killing of eight in the border zone between Lebanon and Israel. This is the Israeli Government version of the war. Therefore, untold death and devastation is a normal and acceptable price to pay for the lives of a Human being (and Jew) wearing an IDF uniform? We know how many innocent Human beings were killed in the war Israel started. This is the page of the Israeli deaths, and this is a listing of all the casualties. Take a look at it carefully. The civilian casualties are 1,233+ (the plus meaning countless and unknown numbers of those whose death was not immediate, and we can probably add a great deal more to this list, given the situation of utter devastation that Israel created in Lebanon. The civilian wounded tops 5,089 people. The military deaths are 438 – 888+ (given the variable reports) and more than 512 wounded. The situation of devastation caused over one million people (human beings, as far as I know) to have been temporarily made into refugees, “with an unknown number of missing civilians in the south”, as was stated in several articles referenced but no longer available in an online version. It is important to mention that the southern zone of Lebanon, a residential area, was cluster bombed, meaning, the resettlement of humans is quite unlikely, due to the remote possibilities of returning to a land that has been wilfully disseminated with unconventional (and illegal, even in an activity as unholy as war) weapons that will bring about devastation for years to come. These weapons were dropped there precisely for that inhumane purpose by the Israeli army.

So, are we to deduce from all of this that you are only a Human being if you wear an IDF uniform? Or if you are a Jew? Is calling for carnage and devastation to other Human beings a proper response to the capture of a soldier? Judging by the “humanitarian” mode of thinking by those who support the Free Gilad Shalit campaign, I think we can come to some of our own conclusions.

One thing is clear, and that is that we are anaesthetized into thinking that if it is a Jewish activist, campaigning as such, calling for action, be it to “fight anti-Semitism”, “bring down Zionism” or to collectively punish millions of non-Jews (non-Humans?) it is something “normal”. It is indeed not something normal, and it is about time we started to stop expecting people to think in pre-masticated ways, expecting them to assume that a Jew certainly should know better or act in a way that is beyond judgment. This is a call for the end, once and for all, of ethnically based campaigning. It’s just another aspect of racist campaigning, and it treats us all like we are racists and need to be told what is right and what is wrong.

Gilad Atzmon – The Primacy of the Ear

The Road from Music to Ethics
An alternative take on the Israeli Palestinian conflict and peace activism
(Postscript by Manuel Talens)

Rather often I face the same question when interviewed by Arab media outlets: “Gilad, how is it that you observe that which so many Israelis fail to see?” Indeed, not many Israelis interpret the Israeli ethical failure as an inherent symptom. For many years I didn’t have any answer to offer. However, recently I realised that it must have something to do with my Saxophone. It is music that has shaped my views of the Israeli Palestinian conflict and formed my criticism of Jewish identity.

Today I will talk about the road from music to ethics.

It is known that life looks like a meaningful event when reviewed retrospectively from its end to its very beginning. Accordingly, I will try to scrutinise my own battle with Zionism through my late evolvement as a musician. I will explore my struggle with Arabic music. I will try to elaborate retrospectively on the role of music on my understanding of the world that surrounds me. To a certain extent, this is the story of my life to date (at least one of them).

I grew up in Israel in a rather Zionist secular family. My Grandfather was a charismatic poetic veteran terrorist, an ex prominent commander in the right wing Irgun terror organisation. I may admit that he had a tremendous influence on me in my early days. His hatred towards anything that failed to be Jewish was a major inspiration. He hated Germans; consequently he didn’t allow my dad to buy a German car. He also despised the Brits for colonising his ‘promised land’. I assume that he didn’t detest the Brits as much as he hated the Germans because he allowed my father to drive an old Vauxhall Viva. He was also pretty cross with the Palestinians for dwelling on the land he was sure belonged to him and his people. Rather often he used to wonder about the Palestinians: “these Arabs have so many countries, why do they have to live exactly in the land we want to live in?” But more than anything, my grandfather hated Jewish Leftists. However, it is important to mention that since Jewish leftists have never produced any cars, this specific loathing didn’t mature into a conflict of interests between himself and my dad. Being a follower of Zeev Jabotinsky, my Grandfather obviously realised that Leftist philosophy and the Jewish value system is a contradiction in terms. Being a veteran right wing terrorist as well a proud tribal Jew, he knew very well that tribalism can never live in peace with humanism and universalism. Following his mentor Jabotinsky, he believed in the “Iron Wall” philosophy. He supposed that Arabs in general and Palestinians in particular should be confronted fearlessly and fiercely. Quoting Betar’s anthem he repeatedly said, “in blood and sweat, we would erect our race”.

My Grandfather believed in the Jewish race, and so did I in my very early days. Like my peers, I didn’t see the Palestinians around me. They were no doubt there, they fixed my father’s car for half the price, they built our houses, they cleaned the mess we left behind, they were schlepping boxes in the local food store, but they always disappeared just before sunset and appeared again around dawn. They had never socialised with us. We didn’t really understand who they were and what they stood for. Supremacy was no doubt brewed in our being, we gazed at the world via a racist, chauvinist binocular.

When I was seventeen, I was preparing myself for my compulsory IDF service. Being a well-built teenager fuelled with Zionist spirit and soaked in self-righteousness, I was due to join an air force special rescuing unit. But then the unexpected happened. On an especially late night Jazz program, I heard Bird (Charlie Parker) with Strings .

I was knocked down. It was by far more organic, poetic, sentimental and yet wilder than anything I had ever heard before. My father used to listen to Bennie Goodman and Artie Shaw, these two were entertaining, they could play the clarinet, but Bird was a different story altogether. He was a fierce libidinal extravaganza of wit and energy. The morning after, I decided to skip school, I rushed to ‘Piccadilly Record’, Jerusalem’s No 1 music shop. I found the jazz section and bought every bebop album they had on the shelves (probably two albums). On the bus, on the way home, I realised that Bird was actually a Black man. It didn’t take me by complete surprise, but it was kind of a revelation, in my world, it was only Jews who were associated with anything good. Bird was a beginning of a journey.

***

At the time, like my peers, I was pretty convinced that Jews were indeed the chosen people. My generation was raised on the Six Day War magical victory, we were totally sure of ourselves. Since we were secular, we associated every success with our omnipotent qualities. We didn’t believe in divine intervention, we believed in ourselves. We believed that our might is brewed in our resurrected Hebraic soul and flesh. The Palestinians, on their part, were serving us obediently and it didn’t seem at the time as if this was ever going to change. They didn’t show any real signs of collective resistance. The sporadic so-called ‘terror’ attacks made us feel righteous, it filled us with some eagerness to get revenge. But somehow within this extravaganza of omnipotence, to my great surprise, I learned to realize that the people who excited me the most were actually a bunch of Black Americans. People who have nothing to do with the Zionist miracle. People that had nothing to do with my own chauvinist exclusive tribe.

It didn’t take more than two days before I hired my first saxophone. The saxophone is a very easy instrument to start with, and if you don’t believe me you better ask Bill Clinton. However, as much as the saxophone was an easy instrument to pick up, playing like Bird or Cannonball looked like an impossible mission. I started to practice day and night, and the more I practiced, the more I was overwhelmed with the tremendous achievement of that great family of Black American musicians, a family I was then starting to know closely. Within a month I learned about Sonny Rollins, Joe Henderson, Hank Mobley, Monk, Oscar Peterson and Duke, and the more I listened the more I realised that my initial Judeo-centric upbringing was totally wrong. After one month with a saxophone shoved up my mouth, my Zionist enthusiasm disappeared completely. Instead, of flying choppers behind enemy lines, I started to fantasize about living in NYC, London or Paris. All I wanted was a chance to listen to the great names of Jazz and in the late 1970’s, many of them were still around.

Nowadays, youngsters who want to play Jazz tend to enroll in a music college, in my days it was very different. Those who wanted to play classical music would enroll in a college or a music academy, however, those who wanted to play for the sake of music would stay at home and swing around the clock. Nonetheless, in the late 1970’s there was no Jazz education in Israel and in my hometown Jerusalem there was just a single Jazz club. It was called Pargod and it was set in an old converted pictorial Turkish Bath. Every Friday afternoon they ran a jam session and for my first two years in jazz, these jams were the essence of my life. Literally speaking, I stopped everything else, I just practiced day and night preparing myself for the next ‘Friday Jam’. I listened to music, I transcribed some great solos, I even practiced while sleeping. I decided to dedicate my life to Jazz accepting the fact that as a white Israeli, my chances to make it to the top were rather slim. Without realising it at the time, my emerging devotion to jazz had overwhelmed my Zionist exclusive tendencies. Without being aware, I left the chosenness behind. I had become an ordinary human being. Years later, I realised that Jazz was my escape route. Within months I felt less and less connected to my surrounding reality, I saw myself as part of a far broader and greater family. A family of music lovers, a bunch of adorable people who were concerned with beauty and spirit rather than land and occupation.

However, I still had to join the IDF. Though later generations of Israeli young Jazz musicians just escaped the army and ran away to the Jazz Mecca NYC, for me, a young lad of Zionist origin in Jerusalem, such an option wasn’t available, a possibility as such didn’t even occur to me.

In July 1981 I joined the Israeli Army but, I may suggest proudly, that from my first day in the army I was doing my very best to avoid any call of duty. Not because I was a pacifist, not because I cared that much about the Palestinians or subject to a latent peace enthusiasm, I just loved to be alone with my saxophone.

When the 1st Lebanon war broke, I was a soldier for one year. It didn’t take a genius to know the truth, I knew that our leaders were lying. Every Israeli soldier realised that this war was an Israeli aggression. Personally I couldn’t feel anymore any attachment to the Zionist cause. I didn’t feel part of it. Yet, it still wasn’t the politics or ethics that moved alienated me, but rather my craving to be alone with my horn. Playing scales at the speed of light seemed to me far more important for than killing Arabs in the name of Jewish redemption. Thus, instead of becoming a qualified killer I spent every possible effort trying to join one of the military bands. It took a few months, but I eventually landed safely at the Israeli Air Force Orchestra (IAFO).

The IAFO was made of a unique social setting, you could join in either for being an excellent promising Jazz talent or just for being a son of a dead pilot. The fact that I was accepted, knowing that my Dad was amongst the living reassured me for the first time that I may be a musical talent. To my great surprise, none of the orchestra members took the army seriously. We were all concerned about one thing, our very personal musical development. We hated the army and it didn’t take time before I started to hate the state that had such a big army with such a big air force that needed a band that stopped me from practicing 24/7. When we were called to play in a military event, we always tried to play as bad as we could just to make sure that we would never get invited again. In the IAFO orchestra I learned for the first time how to be subversive. How to destroy the system in order to achieve immaculate personal perfection.

In the summer of 1984, just 3 weeks before I took off my military uniform, we were sent to Lebanon for a tour of concerts. At the time, Lebanon was a very dangerous place to be in and the Israeli army was dug deep in bunkers and trenches avoiding any confrontation with the local population. On the 2nd day we arrived at Ansar, a notorious Israeli concentration camp on Lebanese soil. This event changed my life.

It was a boiling day in early July. On a dusty dirt track we arrived at hell on earth. A huge detention centre surrounded by barbed wire. On the way to the camp headquarters we drove through the view of thousands of inmates being scorched under the sun. It is hard to believe, but military bands are always treated as VIPs. Once we landed at the officer command barracks we were taken for a guided tour in the camp. We were walking along the endless barbed wire and the post guard towers. I couldn’t believe my eyes. “Who are these people?” I asked the officer. “They are Palestinians” he said, here are the PLO on the left and here on the right are the Ahmed Jibril’s ones, they are far more dangerous (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine PFLP-GC) so we keep them isolated.

I looked at the detainees and they looked very different to the Palestinians I saw in Jerusalem. The ones I saw in Ansar were angry. They were not defeated and they were many. As we moved along the barbed wire and I was gazing at the inmates, I realised that unbearable truth, I was walking there in Israeli military uniform. While I was still contemplating about my uniform, trying to deal with some severe sense of emerging shame, we arrived at a large flat ground in the middle of the camp. We stood there around the guide officer and learned more from him, some more lies about the current war to defend our Jewish haven. While he was boring us to death with some irrelevant lies I noticed that we were surrounded by two dozen concrete blocks the size of one square meter and around 1.30 cm high. They had a small metal door and I was horrified by the fact that my army may have decided to lock the guard dogs in these constructions for the night. Putting my Israeli Chutzpah into action, I asked the guide officer what these horrible concrete cubes were. He was fast to answer. “These are our solitary confinement blocks, after two days in one of these you become a devoted Zionist”.

This was enough for me. I realised already then in 1984 that my affair with the Israeli state and Zionism was over. Yet, I knew very little about Palestine, about the Nakba or even about Judaism and Jewishness. I just realized that as far as I was concerned, Israel was bad news and I didn’t want to have anything to do with it. Two weeks later, I gave my uniform back, I grabbed my alto sax, took the bus to Ben Gurion airport and left for Europe for a few months. I was basking in the street. At the age of 21, I was free for the first time. In December it was too cold and I went back home with a clear intention to make it back to Europe.

***

It took me another 10 years before I could leave Israel for good. In these years I started to learn closely about the Israeli Palestinian conflict, about oppression. I started to accept that I was actually living on someone else’s land. I started to take in that devastating fact that in 1948 the Palestinians didn’t really leave willingly but were rather brutally ethnically cleansed by my Grandfather and his ilk. I started to realize that ethnic cleansing has never stopped in Israel, it just took different shapes and forms. I started to acknowledge the fact that the Israeli legal system was totally racially orientated. A good example was obviously the ‘Law of Return’, a law that welcomes Jews to come ‘home’ after 2000 years but stops Palestinians from returning to their land and villages after 2 years abroad. All that time I had been developing as a musician, I had become a major session player and a musical producer. Yet, I wasn’t really involved in any political activity. I scrutinised the Israeli left discourse and realized that it was very much a social club rather than an ideological setting motivated by ethical awareness.

At the time of Oslo agreement (1994), I just couldn’t take it anymore. I realized that Israeli ‘peace making’ equals ‘piss taking’. It wasn’t there to reconcile with the Palestinians or to confront the Zionist original sin. Instead it was there to reassure the secure existence of the Jewish state at the expense of the Palestinians. The Palestinian Right of Return wasn’t an option at all. I decided to leave my home, to leave my career. I left everything behind including my wife Tali, who joined me later. All I took with me was my Tenor Saxophone, my true eternal friend.

I moved to London and attended postgraduate studies in Philosophy at Essex University. Within a week in London I managed to get a residency at the Black Lion, a legendary Irish pub in Kilburn High Road. At the time I didn’t understand how lucky I was. I didn’t know how difficult it is to get a gig in London. In fact this was the beginning of my international career as a Jazz musician. Within a year I had become very popular in the UK playing bebop and post bop. Within three years I was playing with my band all over Europe.

However, it didn’t take long before I started to feel some homesickness. To my great surprise, it wasn’t Israel that I missed. It wasn’t Tel Aviv, Haifa or Jerusalem. It was actually Palestine. It wasn’t the rude taxi driver in Ben Gurion airport, or a shopping center in Ramat Gan, it was the little Humus place in Yafo at Yesfet/Salasa streets. It was the Palestinian villages that are stretched on the hills between the olive trees and the Sabbar cactuses. I realized that whenever I felt like visiting home, I would end up in Edgware Road, I would spend the evening in a Lebanese restaurant. However, once I started to explore my thoughts about Israel in public, it soon became clear to me that Edgware Road was probably as close as I could ever get to my homeland.

***

I may admit that In Israel, I wasn’t at all interested in Arabic music. Supremacist colonials are never interested in the culture of the indigenous. I always loved folk music. I was already established in Europe as a leading Klezmer player. Throughout the years I started to play Turkish and Greek music. However, I completely skipped Arabic music and Palestinian music in particular. Once in London, in these Lebanese restaurants, I started to realise that I have never really explored the music of my neighbors. More concerning, I just ignored it, though I heard it all the time. It was all around me, I never really listened. It was there in every corner of my life, the call for prayers from the Mosques over the hills. Um Kalthoum’, Farid El Atrash, Abdel Halim Hafez, were there in every corner of my life, in the street, on the TV, in the small cafes in old city Jerusalem, in the restaurants. They were all around me but I dismissed them disrespectfully.

In my mid thirties, away from my homeland, I was drawn into the indeginous music of my homeland. It wasn’t easy. It was on the verge of unfeasible. As much as Jazz was easy for me to take in, Arabic music was almost impossible. I would put the music on, I would grab my saxophone or clarinet, I would try to integrate and I would sound foreign. I soon realized that Arabic music was a completely different language altogether. I didn’t know where to start and how to approach it.

Jazz music is a western product. It evolved in the 20th century and developed in the margins of the cultural industry. Bebop, the music I grew up on is made of relatively short fragments of music. The tunes are short because they had to fit into the 1940’s record format (3 min). Western music can be easily transcribed into some visual content within standard notation and chord symbols.

Jazz, like every other Western art form, is partially digital. Arabic music, on the other hand, is analogue, it cannot be transcribed. Once transcribed, its authenticity evaporates. By the time I achieved enough humane maturity to face the music of my homeland, my musical knowledge stood in the way.

I couldn’t understand what was it that stopped me from encompassing Arabic music. I couldn’t understand why it didn’t sound right. I spent enough time listening and practicing. But it just didn’t sound right. As time went by, music journalists in Europe started to appreciate my new sound, they started to regard me as a new Jazz hero who crossed the divide as well as an expert of Arabic music. I knew that they were wrong, as much as I tried to cross the so-called ‘divide’, I could easily notice that my sound and interpretation was foreign to the Arabic true colour.

But then, I found an easy trick. In my gigs, when trying to emulate the oriental sound, I would first sing a line that reminded me the sound I ignored in my childhood, I would try to recall echoes of the Muezzin sneaking into our streets from the valleys around. I would try to recall the astonishing haunting sound of my friends Dhafer Youssef and Nizar Al Issa. I would hear myself the low lasting voice of Abel Halim Hafez. Initially I would just close my eyes and listen to my internal ear, but without realizing I started gradually to open my mouth and sing loudly. I then realised that if I sing while having the saxophone in my mouth I would achieve a sound that was very close to the mosques’ metal horns. Originally I tried to get closer to the Arabic sound but at a certain stage, I just forgot what I was trying to achieve; I started to enjoy myself.

Last year, while recording an album in Switzerland, I realized suddenly that my Arabic sound wasn’t embarrassing anymore. Once listening to some takes in the control room I suddenly noticed that the echos of Jenin, Al Quds and Ramallah popped naturally out of the speakers. I tried to ask myself what happened, why did it suddenly started to sound genuine. I realized that I have given up on the primacy of the eye and reverted to the primacy of the ear. I didn’t look for an inspiration in the manuscript, in the music notes or the chord symbol. Instead, I was listening to my internal voice. Struggling with Arabic music reminded me why I did start to play music in the first place. At the end of the day, I heard Bird in the radio rather seeing him on MTV.

I would like to end this talk by saying that it is about time we learn to listen to the people we care for. It is about time we listen to the Palestinians rather than following some decaying textbooks. It is about time. Only recently I grasped that ethics comes into play when the eyes shut and the echoes of conscience are forming a tune within one’s soul. To empathise is to accept the primacy of the ear.

AN AUDIO VERSION OF THIS PRESENTATION CAN BE HEARD BY FOLLOWING THIS LINK! (or this one)

Postscript by Manuel Talens:

Gilad Atzmon or Exile’s redemption

Ever since I met Gilad Atzmon a few years back for a lengthy interview I’ve been convinced that this man listens to the world with the ears of an artist. It wasn’t by chance that I entitled it Beauty as a political weapon, as both his music and his writings always exude a profound and beautiful poetry, even if they deal – as they usually do – with the unrelenting Palestinian tragedy caused by Israel. This paper, which is the core of a talk he delivered recently at Brighton, UK, is no exception to this rule. Yet, instead of treating the subject from the outside – a literary technique that establishes a distance and “cools it down” – here the former Israeli Atzmon adopts the painful role of a subject who places himself at the thick of things and tells us his own itinerary from the racist hell of the Zionist state, where he was born, to the only ethical escape he had in front of him once he heard the light through the miracle of music: voluntary exile. Exile, as well-informed readers of this great jazzman already know, is one of his finest albums. To me, it is also the main argument of this current piece. It is not by chance if other Israelis as honest as Ilan Pappe have also chosen exile – like Atzmon – as the only way to redeem themselves from the shame of belonging to a state where indigenous population are treated as if they were despicable beasts. But Atzmon’s recapitulation has a wonderful plus in itself – at least for music lovers – and it is the sharp narration of his awakening from the sinful Israeli nightmare he was immersed in to the liberation of ceasing to belong, all this thanks to Charlie Parker’s art. Art is the communicating vessel uniting Parker and Atzmon. But there is more: the fact that Parker was Black – a race as looked down by all-time colonialists as Palestinians by today’s Zionists – serves symbolically to the purpose of Atzmon’s redemption: embracing the cause of Black music meant for him to kill two birds with one stone, as he simultaneously embraced the cause of liberating Palestinians through political activism. Texts like this one, written by people like Atzmon who have decided to join mankind without tribal discriminations and who define themselves as ex-Zionists help us to maintain the hope that one day the land of Palestine will be free of this racist post-modern plague and all its inhabitants will live in peace regardless of religion or ethnicity.

Adib S Kawar – No one can claim both land and peace

In response to a letter to the editor in the NYT, Adib S Kawar offers a very reasoned response. Too bad the NYT doesn’t like to print the truth. So here it is!

RE: So Much to Juggle in the Middle East (letters)
Dear Editor,
Re Bruce Dov Krulwich’s letter to the editor, he who lives on a land stolen from my people in general, and probably on my own private property in particular, said, “… but misses the pain felt by Israelis on the subject…” and proceeds to write, “If America or anyone else can persuade the Palestinians to stop the rockets and commit to peace without violence, Israelis will be more than happy to take steps toward peace. But it must be true peace, not peace with rockets”, noting that this rogue state is practicing state terrorism on the indigenous population in all occupied Arab land and beyond that.

1st, Israel rejected all Arab peace initiatives including the Arab League initiative given a few years ago during the Beirut Arab summit (Land for peace).

2nd, Let’s for argument’s sake say they had a right to what was given to the Jews by the 1949 partition plan – 55% of historic Palestine, they exceeded that to occupy 78% of the land.

3rd, In 1967 they occupied the remaining 22% plus the Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula and 10% of Lebanon for 20 years and only vacated South Lebanon and the Gaza strip as a result of armed resistance to its occupation.

4th, Zionists are still in the West Bank, the Golan Heights and a part of Lebanon, and they are continuously proceeding with their colonization, and meanwhile pretending to be negotiating peace!!!
No one can claim both land and peace!!!

Sincerely
Adib S. Kawar
An uprooted Palestinian Arab
Beirut – Lebanon




Related
Op-Ed Columnist: Present at the Creation (November 6, 2007)
Re “Present at the Creation” (column, Nov. 6):
David Brooks probably reflects the thinking of political leaders and thinkers, but misses the pain felt by Israelis on the subject: We want peace desperately, and will do anything to move toward a life without rockets being shot at us. But such a path doesn’t appear to exist.

Two years ago, Israel did what should have been the first step on a definite path to peace: we withdrew from Gaza, without any promise of anything in return. Plans were put in place about subsequent withdrawals from West Bank areas. But instead of bringing peace, it brought thousands of rockets fired from Gaza into the nearby Israeli civilian town of Sderot.

Rockets are not peace. The Palestinians have made it clear that Israeli withdrawals bring rockets.

The Israeli government has a duty to its citizens not to invite more rockets. If America or anyone else can persuade the Palestinians to stop the rockets and commit to peace without violence, Israelis will be more than happy to take steps toward peace. But it must be true peace, not peace with rockets.

Bruce Dov Krulwich
Beit Shemesh, Israel, Nov. 6, 2007

Remember Sabra & Shatila

A quarter century ago, acknowledged Israeli war criminal Ariel Sharon, commander of Israeli occupation forces occupying southern Lebanon, allowed Lebanese fascists to massacre up to 3,000 Palestinian civilians of all ages in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps.

Tel Aviv had carried out an invasion of Lebanon in June of 1982 with the complete backing of the Ronald Reagan government of the U.S. It continued its war of aggression against Palestinians and Lebanese with the backing of U.S. imperialism and the powerful interests of finance capital that drive it to seek domination of the oil-rich and strategic Middle East.

During the summer of 1982, the Israeli military mercilessly bombed Beirut, killing more than 20,000 people, mostly civilians. In September 1982, a ceasefire agreement was forced upon the Lebanese and Palestinians resisting the assault, which resulted in moving most Palestinian fighting forces out of Lebanon.

Israeli forces surrounded the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila in Lebanon. Under Sharon’s orders, the Israeli forces backed up the entrance of Lebanese fascist forces on that Sept. 15. These forces carried out the mass slaughter—mass lynchings really—of the Palestinian civilians in the camp. The killers were Lebanese fascists; their physical support came from the Israelis; their bullets were made in the USA.

The attack on Sabra and Shatila was meant to instill terror. Yet the struggle of the Palestinian people continues today, as does the brutal repression by the nuclear-armed Israeli state.

Today, anti-war activism has focused a spotlight on the phony “debate” among Democrats and Republicans on Congressional Hill over a vague plan to gradually reduce troop deployment in Iraq. But both sides of the aisle on Congressional Hill have funded that brutal war as well as the occupation in Palestine.

Billions in financial and military support, without which Tel Aviv’s occupation of Palestine could not last a day, have been quietly rubberstamped by Democrats and Republicans—no matter which party of big business occupied the Oval Office.

The struggle of the Palestinian people deserves the support of the entire anti-war movement, which can raise—in one loud, clear voice—support for the right of Palestinian self-determination, sovereignty and right of return to their historic homeland.

The Palestinian people have fought for these rights for more than half a century, and now, as they commemorate Sabra and Shatila, they continue that struggle today. Long live Palestine.

Articles copyright 1995-2007 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

Nahr el-Bared refugee camp, double-refugees will disappear from the public eye

What’s Next for Nahr el-Bared?
Electronic Lebanon
Opinion/Editorial
Jamal Ghosn / Electronic Lebanon / Sep 6, 2007

Victory celebrations are dominating the Lebanese airwaves for the foreseeable future and presidential election “campaigns” here are in full swing.

The issue of reconstructing the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp will never see the light of day in any of the Lebanese media outlets, whether pro-government or opposition — just like the humanitarian crisis at Baddawi refugee camp has failed to capture any front page headlines over the past three months. The sole exception being when the disgruntled double-refugees attempted to return home, only to find themselves accused of attacking the Lebanese army. Shots from unidentified sources resulted in the death of three returning Palestinian refugees. Apparently human suffering with no potential political gain is not newsworthy.

Living conditions in the Palestinian refugee camps have never been easy. Lack of basic amenities, sub-par health care, and overcrowded schools are the common denominators between all the camps on Lebanese territory. None of the densely populated camps are in a condition to host a sudden influx of tens of thousands of twice-displaced refugees. Naturally, the overflowing Baddawi will not be a viable home for the Nahr al-Bared residents who will move back to their homes (reconstructed or not). The skeletons of buildings will be patched up, most likely by the refugees themselves with the help of the handful of activists that still care about the plight of Palestinians. These death-infested, bomb-riddled structures will make for a more dignified living than the pre-fabricated cardboard boxes, designed for nuclear families rather than traditional Palestinian extended ones, that have surfaced as alternative homes courtesy of some generous donors. Of course, the sea-front strip of the camp will be kept off-limits by the Lebanese army for questionable future development.

Hopes for real aid materializing from the Lebanese or other Arab governments for the reconstruction of Nahr al-Bared are delusional. The precedent was set by the snail-paced reconstruction of south Lebanon following the 2006 Israeli war on Lebanon. And unlike the residents of south Lebanon, the Palestinian refugees do not enjoy the strong political backing of any major Lebanese or regional power. No propaganda machines will be mobilized for their sake. History shows that media coverage of the camps only occurs when it means casting Palestinians in a negative light. Never has a media campaign been dedicated to addressing the cyclical victimhood of the residents of the camps. They are on their own and at the mercy of often failed, albeit generous, promises.

Sadly, the repopulation without proper reconstruction of Nahr al-Bared would not lead to standards of living much different than those in Ein al-Hilwe or Sabra. The lack of utilities and infrastructure will not be missed much as the residents of Nahr al-Bared faced the same problems even before the birth of Fatah al-Islam and the destruction of the camp. Over the years, Palestinian refugee camps have been decked with a constant dose of heavy artillery of Lebanese government, Arab, and international neglect. Neglect as ravaging as the half-ton bombs airlifted from the US and other third-party allies like Jordan to be dropped on Nahr al-Bared. The attention given to Nahr al-Bared will rapidly wane, and as always none of the humanitarian or political issues associated with the Palestinian camps will be addressed. Meanwhile, a new generation of Palestinians can now claim their own painful memories of the ongoing struggle for existence. The refugees from Nahr al-Bared and elsewhere are left, until further notice, with only hopes and prayers that the next incident involving one of their camps will not be as bloody and devastating as previous episodes.

Jamal Ghosn is a 28-year-old strategy consultant from Beirut. He has covered Lebanese affairs on his blog http://jamalghosn.blogspot.com/ for over two years.