Israel, Palestine, World

Beirut, Lebanon: The Children and the Bloggers

It’s difficult for me to express my feelings about the current Middle East Crisis. Sometimes Ali hides the pictures from me of the children that have been blown up and sometimes I see them by accident. I cry a lot and feel a deep sadness. From here. In my nice London flat. Free from bombs and turmoil. I welcome things in my daily life to take me away from the realities that other people are living. And no longer living. Because, it is not my reality. But somehow, it’s very close to my heart.

As a teacher I work with children and build relationships with the future leaders of the world. As an Aunt, I treasure and cherish my nephews beyond words. As a human who is easily touched by sadness in the world, I find myself close to tears or sometimes crying when I read about, listen to, or watch what is happening to the families in Lebanon. It’s true, there are rockets landing in northern Israel too. And I fear for those that we know and care about there. One of the children that I taught in Nazareth lost two young cousins –aged five and nine– to a Hizbollah rocket which hit a couple of weeks ago. Many of these children see the rockets fall. Thankfully, they still have their homes. Their families. Their lives. The children in Lebanon? Not so lucky.

According to The Independent, “Of the 615 dead in Lebanon, 45% are children. Of the 3,225 injured, 33% are children. Of the 960,000 refugees, 45% are children.”

I don’t know what the newspapers look like in America. But here, it is pictures of children dead and maimed — lifted from the rubble of a newly bombed home, school or hospital — daily. It’s a lot to swallow back the tears and not even be there. What is happening to the people living through it? I cannot imagine. But I try to learn and understand. I have visited some powerful blogs based in Beirut this past week. Many of them are written by women my age. These women are artists. Wives. Daughters. Sisters. Mothers. Environmentalists. They are people like ourselves. They try to rise above the current situation, but sometimes, it’s exhausting and traumatic. I have linked one in my sidebar written by a woman named Zena, who was also interviewed recently on CNN: Beirut Update. I read her insights and reactions daily. She also writes about the enviornmental impact on the war, specifically the 15,000 ton oil spill which reaks havoc on the coast as a result from the Israeli air raid on the Jiyyeh power plant [southern Lebanon].

From her blog, I have found others to read: Little Paper Boat, From Beirut with Love, Raytch, and Lebanon Updates. More are linked on Zena’s blog that I have yet to read through. I’ve started with these.

My mom asked me why I am so torn up about this war versus the Iraqi war. This one feels much closer to home for me as we know people in northern Israel, but also as we have lived in Israel and traveled to the West Bank and seen the conditions the Israeli Army has put on the Palestinians. We have seen the Israeli tanks. We have met Israeli soldiers. We have waited at checkpoints. We have seen the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and have known/spoken with individuals on both sides. And we have seen the blind support from the US for Israel. We have seen what the IDF [Israeli Defence Forces] can do. Families are being displaced. There is no water, no food, no place to stay/hide. Innocent civilians are being killed. There are children that are being massacred. Massacred. What else is there to say?