the friend online
21 July 2006

News from Lebanon
Dear Friends,

This is my second newsletter at the end of the second week of the "War on Lebanon". So far the death toll is about 400 people mostly children and aged or immobile and 700 thousand Lebanese refugees filling up public schools in safe or relatively safe areas all over Lebanon. Some who can afford it are in hotels or rented flats in safe and extra safe areas (although eventually there may not be anywhere safe if this
dirty war goes on). Some desparate Lebanese refugees are in open areas like public gardens and forests. The situation of those in public schools and gardens, and these are the overwhelming majority, is deplorable.

Living on one meal a day, limited water supply, 15 to 40 per room, 100 people per toilet, very limited medical care if any, no medications specially for the elderly with chronic diseases and short of practically
everything.

I visited three public schools yesterday with a group of private helpers and what I saw was heartbreaking and similar to an animal farm. Spreading fungal infections, diarrhea, intestinal infections and upper respiratory infections..all indicative of extremely poor hygiene and living conditions. You can use your wildest imagination to figure out what the worst refugee camp can be like. The Lebanese government is overwhelmed by the political, economic and security implications of this war which renders it helpless faced with this tragedy. The Lebanese people who had forgotten the war mode are bewildered and stunned and
dont know where to start. The 15 years of rebuilding a modern country have now tumbeled and disheartenment reigns. Totally lost and stunned.

The destruction is collosal. While the first week of Israeli attacks destryed most of the major roads and bridges along with the airport, ports and int'l roads, the second week saw the destruction of more of the
above plus major telecommunications posts and antennaes relaying Lebanon to the rest of the world.

We are now on standby telecom equipment that can fail anytime. One wonders why all that destruction. More villages in the south of Lebanon have been raised to the ground and so are some areas of southern Beirut where it is a Shiaite majority. Israel is reminding the Arabs of its strategy: If an Israeli is stung by a bee, they will destroy not only the hive but will burn the forest where it feeds. All sectors of the society,
all confessions are badly hit or hurt. The economy is at a standstill, vital distribution of food and fuel is running with difficulty depending on availability.

Economic toll: More than 3 billion dollars in infrastructure damage in 2 weeks. It will take years to rebuild. Except this time there is no Hariri (PM assasinated in Feb 2005) who was a born rebuilder and lover of Lebanese peace and prosperity. Banks ran out of hard currencies and a limit of $500 per account can be withdrawn, with some exceptiopns. The once bustling Beirut Central District and hotels are now empty and lifeless. Circulation on the roads is about 50% till noon and drops to 5-10% thereafter. At night it is ghostland.

Ex-pat evacuation is mostly done including most of the domestic helpers and field and garbage laborers of Sri Lankan and Philippino nationality. Those remaining here are delirious with fear. The promised President
Chirac route of survival for the Lebanese is still seeking Israeli approval on the logistics.

Tempers are fidgety. People are worried and scared. Not only of the war but also of the future and what it hides. Questions like: what next? who will rebuild? How will this end? will there still be food? how long will the fuel last? who will win? these are the hot topics. In this atmosphere, it is hard not to take sides. The Lebanese population is split down the middle, I think, with 50% blaming Hizballa and they want it dismanteled while the others blame Israel fully and believe it is destroying lebanon as part of
its plan of "burnt land" strategy. Exactly like what happened and is still happening in the Gaza Strip. My impression is that Lebanon is still a young country that Syria overburdened economically and politically.
It spread the culture of war and terror in it and sucked on its finances to the bone. It has althroughout, nurtured, supplied and sponsored radicals in this part of the Middle East along with Iran. In the East:West conflict Syria and Iran are using Hizballa to fight their war against the west. A
proxy war. This, in my opinion will not end without one destroying the other. Hizballa knew very well that Israel will respond to any hostile act with a sledgehammer, yet Hizballa went ahead and did what they did and here we are suffering from the consequences. Israel here is destrying the forest and not the beehive. Why? It takes 2 to tango.

What is next?

Dr. Rice's trip to the area was, as expected, only to re-affirm the initial US position of a new Middle East free of terrorism. This implies that Israel will keep pounding Lebanon till Hizballa surrenders or is destroyed. This may mean that Iran and Syria, faced with a total loss of popularity and power in the area, and with nothing to lose, may join in the fight and
declare full scale war. They would have been sucked into the war. If we get that far then it is something else. No one can prdict what arms will be used and what the losses will be. I think it will be hell-like.

Dr. Rice also arranged for humanitarian liflines to be permitted by Israel to ease Lebanese suffering. Thank you.

In the meantime, poor people, poor Lebanon and poor prognosis. Lucky are those that will come out alive. Will negotiations and peaceful resolution help? I don't see how but we can try. Again I say: There aren't
enough people working for peace. Not in Iran nor in Israel. There is total misunderstanding and mistrust between the two. No cultural bridging has taken place since the US Embassy was seized in Iran in 1980. They
hate each other to death. Their playing field is Lebanon and their tools are civilians.

The peace marches and vigils in Europe and the US are nice but only nice. We need to go further. Lobbying in the US is needed to make them understand that they are creating a new wave of Arab hatred. A new generation of Arabs will grow now on another defeat. Therefore
new suicide bombers and more hostility.

A more soothing approach has to take place. Like when a father sees his 2 sons quarelling. He has to be fair and solve the problem with love, care and tact. He shouldnt take sides and use his power to smash one. He
is a father.

Who is the father in this war?
Whose side is God on? Is there one God for all?
Do all those leaders have families and loved ones?

In Friendship and Love
Tony Manasseh
Beirut, 25 July 2006

Tony Mannaseh, Beirut


 


This week's .pdf
In this week's online edition... rss edition
Music on a June Evening
Reg Snowdon
Training - The thin end of the wedge
Wendy Meaford, Hereford PM
Cover

Rowntree Foundation reveals child poverty shortfall
news@thefriend.org
News round-up
news@thefriend.org
Fuelling the future
Laurie Michaelis
‘A vulnerable victim?’
Jonathan Hodgkin
Letters
editorial@thefriend.org
Voices of dissent
Janet Hyland
Animal testing: developing humane alternatives
Marian Hussenbux & Feargus O’ Connor
Why did Kiyan die?
Jeff Austin
News from Lebanon
Tony Mannaseh, Beirut
q-eye
eye@thefriend.org

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