Wednesday, August 02, 2006

two women. one lebanese, one israeli.

these are emails i've received through a newsgroup i belong to.

the first one is from liza barki-harrington, a jewish woman living in israel. The second is from zena el-khalil, a lebanese woman living in lebanon.

interesting reading.

first, from liza in israel:


Thanks for everyone writing and asking about us. I decided to write an update of what it all looks like from my perspective (not a news agency). So I appologize that this is not a pesonal email.

First of all, I finally surrendered to ongoing pressure from the south and left Haifa for Beer Sheva tonight. This was after Haifa was hit by 10 rockets today, one of which hit a 3 story building. I was at the universityand heard them falling. The Haifa area is particularly dangerous because of the petro-chemical industries and oil refinery located right at the foot of Mt Carmel and surrounding area of over 270,000 people. Since people are being pretty obedient about entering the shelters, no one was killed today.

By the 6th day, the northern part of Israel has been hit by over 1500 rockets and missiles targeting dozens of cities and villages, Jewish and Arab alike. Up until now, our toll count is 13 civilians and 12 soldiers killed. In addition we have 3 kidnapped soldiers, one in Gaza (by Hamas) and 2 in Lebanon.

I think the Hizballah were very surprised by the force of retaliation of IDF. They said they identify a weakness in Israel and that is the "great regard for human life"and that is why they kidnap soldiers. They thought we'd immediately engage in negotiations and refrain from attacking them.

However, it seems that Olmert and Peretz ( P.M. and Minister of Defense), who are not former army generals for a change, are doing a good job at staying calm, quiet and are letting the army do its job. The army is attacking only Hizballah infrastructure and rocket/missiles launchers.

It must be understood that Hizballah are Shiites that use the locals' homes/schools, sport facilities etc to hide an arsenal of over 10,000 rockets and missles, some with a range of over 100 miles. IDF continually warns the local population of areas that are going to be targeted (bridges, Hizballah neighborhoods etc). None the less, any attemptsof the Lebanese or Syrian army to help Hizballah are stopped immediately.

It was the Lebanese Army that used their radars to give Hizballah the exact location of one of our ships, which led to the death of 4 soldiers. These radars do not exist any longer. This is a wide operation that we hope will put an end to the violence of Hizballah against Israel and against Lebanon. Not one country in the Arab world is supporting them because they bring harm not only to us but also to our neighbor. It is that clear understanding that "enough is enough" that brings Israel to refuse negotiations to release prisoners and to accept the on going assaults by Hizballah.

We have reached the point where we are all united in our understanding that we must endure the on going missile attacks on Haifa and other cities so that the army can do its job and make them understand that enough is enough. We are not cold blooded killers that target innocent people but we cannot and will not accept this any longer. So personally, we are ok. Now all of us are in Beer Sheva. I suppose living in the south of Israel has to be justified… however, having had a just a taste of what the habitants of the border cities in Israel are subject to throughout the years on a daily basis makes you appreciate them more. I hope these days will be over soon, with as little innocent casualties on both sides. However, we will endure whatever necessary so that Hizballah understands that this is not the way to talk to us.

Thanks again for writing and please stay in touch,



now, from zena in lebanon:

Dear Friends,
The account by Ms. Zena el-Khalil was sent to me via a Turkish-Lebanese friend of mine in Istanbul. She sent it on Friday, July 28th, several days before the unfortunate attack on Qana.

From Zena el-Khalil: I have started coughing, but I don't know why. I am not sick. I don't have a cold. I think it's a reaction I'm having to stress. My body feels weak. My mouth is always dry, no matter how much water I drink. And I'm afraid to drink too much water because I don't want it to run out!

Last night was probably the most frightful night I have ever experienced in my whole entire life. I was so tired and exhausted... have not slept in days. When there is finally a quiet moment, the tension in my stomach and heart prevents me from falling asleep.

Last night we counted at least 15 bombs falling into Dahiyeh (Beirut Suburbs).. and these were just the ones we heard. At some point during the night, I said to myself that if I didn't at least try to get some sleep that I was going to go crazy from fatigue; and that that was what was going to kill me. Haven't been able to eat either, so am losing physical strength. It's all psychological at this point. I know I have to be strong, and I will be, but I can't deny what I’m going through.

And I think it's important that people hear about the downside as well as the bravery. So many of us are already working hard to fix things, we are running around Beirut trying to get food and water and medicine to people, we are doing things online, etc, but it doesn't mean we are not scared, sick or tired.So, last night amidst the worst shelling we've had so far, I realized that I was not afraid of the noise anymore; how quickly you get used to it. I realized what was hurting the most was the "UNKNOWN". What is going to happen tomorrow? When will this all end? How are we going to start re-building again? Are the refugees going to be ok? How are the people in the south? And why punish a whole country? What is the real plan behind all of this? How much worse is it going to get?

My husband and I have been housing foreign "refugees" helping them to find their way out of the country. Two managed to leave this morning, a German and Swiss. The other two are British and American. The craziest thing is that out of all people, the American embassy has been the LEAST helpful to its citizens here. The phone line to the embassy has been practically out of service. My friend, Amanda, (whom I just met a few days ago, by the way) had to hire a cab to take her to the embassy (which is a ride out of Beirut) and all they could tell her was that they didn’t know what they were going to do and to keep checking the website. Only thing she has gotten on the website is that she now knows that there is going to be an evacuation (5 days later), but when it happens, she is going to have to pay for it! Yes, they are saying to their citizens that they are going to bill them for their ride out! Can you believe that?!

Trying to evacuate people has put me under stress. The question is what am I to do if I had the opportunity to leave? Would I leave? What do I do with my friends? My family? My art studio? I have a British passport; I could be evacuated with my husband. But what would happen to my best friend Maya? She has a very rare and bad case of CANCER! I have been taking care of her since she was diagnosed a few months ago and I know that my care for her is what has helped her do so well. Her type of cancer is "untreatable", but ironically, the day the shelling started, her doctor told us her tumors had shrunk! Unbelievable- a true miracle. I can't leave Maya!What about art work in my studio? What about all my brushes and paints and glitter and books! All my books! Again- the crazy things that cross your mind. What about our photo albums? All our family pictures? The memories...What about the doodles I drew on my balcony a few summers ago when I was suffering from a bad break up? What about all the love letters I have saved? Letters that document my youth that I wanted to some day give to my daughter.

What about my other best friend? My dog, Tampopo? My beautiful Jack Russel Terrier who has never let me down. Who has always been a source of purity and compassion... Who has eyes of an angle... Dogs are not allowed to evacuate. My American friend Christine is going to have to leave her dog with me; a black pug named Baousi (means Kiss in Arabic). She is heartbroken! She almost didn't want to evacuate. She went to so many embassies to try and register with them and see if they would take her dog. Don't worry Christine, I will take great care of Baousi.

My sister has been volunteering to help the refugees who are being sheltered in public schools. Right now they are calling on Lebanese citizens to help out with money, medicine, food, water, blankets and mattresses. She has been going to people and asking for money and then going out to buy medicines for refugees- her own initiative! My mom has joined in too. A friend has put together a website for accepting donations:

Biggest cynical statement of the day: I

srael has told people to evacuate from the south because they are going to annihilate the south of Lebanon. However, the people can not leave because all the roads have been destroyed/blocked. And yesterday when people did try and leave, the Israelis opened fire on them! A massacre is happening!

Update on the attacks, as of yesterday:

- Israelis have been bombing the south of Lebanon with phosphorus and other chemical bombs.
- Israelis have bombed all ports along the coastline of Lebanon.
- Israelis have bombed all our local army radars and some outposts
- Israelis have bombed/attacked the fire fighting brigade and the Search and Rescue Brigade in the South. Innocent civilian lives were lost. It was a massacre - the buildings were also housing refugees.
- Israelis have continued to bomb the suburb of Beirut, Dahiyeh & Haret Hreik
- Israelis have now killed over 100 civilians and there are several hundreds wounded - and they continue to bomb the south
- Israelis have started hitting roads that lead to the mountains. They hit a main one leading to the Shouf.
- Israelis have hit a gas plant in the mountains... I can't keep up with what they have hit. ***

Israel has begun to target Lebanese army outposts. They have killed Lebanese soldiers. They are no longer just targeting Hizuballah. They mean to kill all of Lebanon.

The reality: Israel is trying to bring Lebanon to its knees. Israel is trying to destroy Lebanon and the Lebanese spirit. Israel is trying to turn Lebanese against each other. Israel is trying to turn us into animals scrounging for food, water and shelter.

Israel and the United States of America are trying to drag Syria and Iran into this too. They are using Lebanon as bait. Lebanon is stuck in the middle. The Americans and Israelis are trying to launch a regional war!!

Please help in any way you can.

Please pass on the message, this email - reprint if you wish.

Please tell people what is going on.

Please put pressure on your respective governments to step in and do something.

Lebanon is a peaceful country. We are the only country in the region in which people of all religions co-exist peacefully.It is unbelievable how biased the news is. They are not reporting the real damage being caused. They don’t report that the Israelis are killing innocent civilians. It seems from this end that all they are focusing on is G8!

Are the Israeli & US government really just trying to wipe us all out?? Well, you can tell them that I'm not leaving. And there are many of us who are not leaving. We love Lebanon. We love what we have spent our lives building. Tell them about people like me.. who build culture and tolerance. Who work for peace and understanding. Who work to educate. Who work to promote love and compassion. There are thousands like me here. What about us?Tell them about people like me, that despite all of this, I have still not learnt to hate. They can take everything from me, but not my dignity. Not my morals and beliefs.

They will never never break my spirit.

Tell the Israeli citizens what their government is doing to us. Tell them that violence begets violence. Remind them that Lebanon is their neighbor and that co-existence is possible. How are we going to ever reach an understanding through violence? We were so close... We were so close...

Please stop this brutality!

Still with love, Zena el-Khalil.


Anonymous said...

43 comments on underwear and 0 comments on the carnage in the Middle-East; at least we've got our priorities right! Maybe everyone is just shocked in to silence??

Tammiodo said...

I heard Michael Franti talking on the radio this morning, and he was saying that the most startling thing for him, and the thing that is most often forgotten about war, is the impact it has on ordinary, every day people in war-zones, just trying to go about their lives with some sense of normalcy. I'm ashamed to realise that it's not something I think about very often either.

Melba said...

exactly what i was thinking, groverjones. this is something i've noticed with my posts. talk about orgasms etc. get heaps of comments. talk about political stuff, no one wants to comment. but that's ok. i understand people don't want to put their views out there, necessarily cause then someone else might come along and shoot them down.

i like to try to cover a range of stuff that i care about. including orgasms AND wars.

tammiodo. hey! it's always the ordinary every day people who suffer the most. they don't "sign up" for this shit, although some might argue when we vote certain political parties into power, we are "signing up" for shit.

i just don't know. but it makes my heart very very heavy at the moment.

i think a natural self-protective instinct is to turn away from the pain and suffering. i am trying not to do that, trying to be open to other people's suffering. that's a buddhist thing to do and i guess i am trying to do that. but it's really hard sometimes.

peace to you both.

Tammiodo said...

Heya :) Long time no comment. I've been bizzy-bee.

I think it's good to think of those people, and how they and their families and friends suffer, but I think you're right about the natural instinct to turn away. I find that if I dwell on their situation too much, I end up getting depressed about something that realistically I cannot have much effect on... I feel just awful for them, but I can hardly help them. And i know that if everybody says, well I can't help, then nobody will ever BE helped... but what can we do?

Mars said...

I think this war is a bit of a lost cause. Both side are pretty much assholes, it's just unfair really, that one side has considerably more resources to be able to 'retaliate'.

That region is stuffed, and i for one don't profess to have a solution for it.

Bloody religion, it's a waste of time and effort.

So there, don't let it be said that i never comment on the real issues (even if my comments aren't much more than sweeping statements!)

I did really enjoy this post though.

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