Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Letter from Beirut III

3 Quarks has the email. Two others precede this one.

This is not exactly a "bloody shirt" (see below) but close. The difference is that this piece is not exploitative. Instead it is more a muffled scream for help from beneath the rubble. Allow yourself to read it at your own risk.

For a very long time I have wondered what the equation is between the death of brown people and a single "white" life. There must be some sort of a secret arithmetic someplace in someone's drawyer that guides "outrage" in the western world. Off course Rwanda came to shatter all notions of an arithmetic. Then came the killing of Rachel Corrie, a white face with a brown heart. She did not count. Or at least it took a lot of pull to make her death a reason for outrage in the mainstream of the western world. In this war, other equations have emerged, for the still breathing life of a single Israeli soldier, the deaths in Gaza are enough to crowd a cemetary.
My Palestinian friends are irked again that because Lebanon is "sexy", the world watches Lebanon while Gaza is being sliced and bled. This is due to the ruthlessness and savvyness of the western media. On the Arab media, there is as much coverage of the Israeli horrors in Gaza as there is of the dose administered to Lebanon. In all cases, as Israel is now waging a war on these two fronts (in addition to its adventures in Nablus), something unexpected has happened. The two fronts are now inexorably linked. Gaza is nothing like the entire geography of Lebanon, politically, sociologically, culturally the two geographies could not be more different, and yet, as the same shells explode and kill there and here, and the flow of images from there and here is uninterrupted, the geographies have merged. The tacit alliance between Hamas and Hezbollah could not have achieved this proxiness. Their dead are now our own, our siege is theirs, there is a tandem of solidarity, of tragedy, of resilience, of defiance.

I have stopped accompanying journalists, I started to hang around the schools and other sites where the displaced have been relocated. I go from disappointment to outright rage at the governments' failure at responding appropriately to the humanitarian crisis....Not a single appointed official has had the guts or displayed the resolution to tend to the problem appropriately. If a crisis will erupt and I believe it will, they will have to be held accountable.

They parade on TV and in the streets, with their neat hair and pressed suits, moving from their air-conditioned meeting rooms to restaurants for "power lunches" and so-called coordination meetings, while hundreds and hundreds of volunteers are actually carrying the burden of this problem. What a shame this political class has proven to be. To make matters worse, they whimper and nag about how the Lebanese state has to be "reinforced" to diplomats and foreign envoys, while their OWN people sleep on mattresses (if they are lucky to have been given one) and walk around barefoot in circles wondering how they are expected to make a living.

It's long. It's full of passion. Angry rage. This is what war does. These are the living who will be expected to come to terms with whatever passes for "peace." I don't know what balm will heal this wound in Gilead.

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