Light a Candle for Beirut…. and the World

Beirut is anything but a stranger to violence, yet the world (and even some Lebanese) have gotten used to Beirut being a synonym for bombs and destruction. However, when the violence hits other parts of the world, the world listens more closely, condemns more strongly and pledges to fight the source of this terror with even greater resolve.

It has been a particularly bloody and tragic week around the world – without forgetting the tragedy that has become impossible to keep track of in the Middle East during the past four years (from Tunisia passing through Syria, Palestine, all the way to Yemen and more recently the Russian plane tragedy over Egypt). But this week, it was about Baghdad, Beirut and Paris. Paris has, not surprisingly, overshadowed all the other tragedies perhaps because such acts of terror “aren’t meant to happen there” but in the Middle East and Arab World, it is just the way it has been and will continue to be. Perhaps there is some truth to that, that some violence is because of the indifference to our internal problems, the free rein we give to those who govern us and the good fortune they have of being backed by those who can protect them from the will of their people. And then there is people’s blind and unquestionable religious worship that propagates violence before a devotion to something much more simple and basic: humanity. But that’s not the entire story and not what matters today…

What matters is that we in the Middle East understand the pain of Paris more than anybody else and we also condemn that tragedy because we know how it feels.Will it now be clear to the world that we, before anybody else, want an end to the violence and want the destruction of this violence at its source. So today, it is about ISIS, an enemy that is hitting us all and has vowed to continue. Talking about what pushed this monster into being is important but what needs to be done now is to destroy it, physically and financially, directly and indirectly through those (individuals, regimes and organizations) that support it, militarily and physiologically, basically, with whatever it takes. Of course there will be a backlash against the thousands of refugees that flee from the countries where ISIS operates (mainly Syria, Iraq and Lebanon). They are the softest of targets for those who will claim to be fighting terrorism, because some terrorists are indeed exploiting the welcome given to refugees to enter countries and commit their terror. As someone wrote in the past couple of days however, and I paraphrase, why would one reasonably believe refugees are responsible for the terror, when it is exactly this same terror that they are escaping from?

Terror is terror no matter where it happens and death is to be condemned no matter who it targets. But today, and for me, it is about Beirut and the latest terror attack in Burj al Barajneh that killed 43 innocent civilians on November 12. Below is a re-post of what I wrote and posted on Eye on the East’s Facebook page the day after attack.

Today, Eye on the East wears black, mourning the innocent civilians that perished in last night’s terrorist attack in Burj al Barajneh in Beirut’s southern suburbs, mourning a city that has seen enough bloodshed and mourning a country that seems condemned to never live in peace. For over four years, Eye on the East has written almost every time something similar has happened, crying, condemning and defying (including “This is Tripoli” “Lebanon: A Gloomy Look Ahead” “Beirut, yet Again” “Tripoli: In Memory of a Lost Generation” “On Resilience and Perpetual Violence”) and hates to do so again today…

But what really hurts is to read over those same posts, because absolutely nothing has changed to prevent future attacks or unite us as a nation to make us come out truly stronger in the face of what tears us apart. On the contrary, a certain degree of popular resignation seems to increase with every bomb. The ever-growing arrogance by so-called political leaders and politicians of pretending they aren’t part of the problem, their criminal indifference to the status quo, to the political paralysis of their own making (and that of their masters) that helps perpetuate violence, their thirst for power to keep on exploiting their people’s misery for their personal, sectarian and political gain seems endless. And this is what truly crashes our hope for even being hopeful. They are even trying to steal our right to hope.

But they still haven’t been able to kill that hope altogether, as witnessed by the popular demonstrations that erupted last July, thanks to the government’s own mismanagement, corruption, failure to provide basic services and once again, arrogance and pure and simple greed. So there’s still some hope left and it’s going to be hard to take that away from us too.

But today, it is hard to hope, just because we are human. Because there is so much optimism we can handle without looking like naive idealists, so many dreams we can have after each is shattered one after the other. And because there is so much sadness and despair our souls can handle to be able to start hoping and restart the fight for this country all over again.

So today most of us will write, tomorrow we hope and after tomorrow we get up and fight again. I hope.

(November 13, 2015 – Eye on the East’s Facebook Page)

I hope.

3 Replies to “Light a Candle for Beirut…. and the World”

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