13 July 2007

Details Of A Disaster

"This victory is too big to be comprehended by us. The next weeks, months, and years will confirm this." - Hassan Nasrallah, "Divine Victory" Speech, September 22, 2006

"There is no longer a state within a state. There is no longer sponsorship for a terror organization by a state. And no longer is a terror organization allowed to operate within Lebanon, as the long arm of the axis of evil..." -Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Knesset Speech, August 14, 2006

What is there to say about the anniversary of the July War? Lebanon lost much of what it had to lose: its national cohesion, its economic growth, its citizens' lives. Approximately 1,200 civilians were killed, 118,000 housing units were destroyed, $2.4 billion of Lebanese economic infrastructure was destroyed, 12,000 tons of oil were spilled -- the facts go on. Politically, external actors have found it even easier to infringe on Lebanese weakened sovereignty. In the past year, Israel drones have repeatedly violated Lebanese airspace, Palestinian militants have battled the Lebanese army for almost two months around Tripoli, and Syria invaded 3 kilometers into Lebanon in the Bekaa.

And what political gains justify this destruction? The war even failed to produce a decisive victor -- it will be refought soon, with even more destruction. Olmert's statements ring as false as Nasrallah's. A year later, this is still the legacy of the July War: declarations devoid of substance, and deaths devoid of meaning.(D.Kenner)

No comments:

Lebanon Time-Line

Introducing Lebanon

Coolly combining the ancient with the ultramodern, Lebanon is one of the most captivating countries in the Middle East. From the Phoenician findings of Tyre (Sour) and Roman Baalbek's tremendous temple to Beirut's BO18 and Bernard Khoury's modern movement, the span of Lebanon's history leaves many visitors spinning. Tripoli (Trablous) is considered to have the best souk in the country and is famous for its Mamluk architecture. It's well equipped with a taste of modernity as well; Jounieh, formerly a sleepy fishing village, is a town alive with nightclubs and glitz on summer weekends.

With all of the Middle East's best bits - warm and welcoming people, mind-blowing history and considerable culture, Lebanon is also the antithesis of many people's imaginings of the Middle East: mostly mountainous with skiing to boot, it's also laid-back, liberal and fun. While Beirut is fast becoming the region's party place, Lebanon is working hard to recapture its crown as the 'Paris of the Orient'.

The rejuvenation of the Beirut Central District is one of the largest, most ambitious urban redevelopment projects ever undertaken. Travellers will find the excitement surrounding this and other developments and designs palpable - and very infectious.

Finally, Lebanon's cuisine is considered the richest of the region. From hummus to hommard (lobster), you'll dine like a king. With legendary sights, hospitality, food and nightlife, what more could a traveller want?

Introducing Beirut

What Beirut is depends entirely on where you are. If you’re gazing at the beautifully reconstructed colonial relics and mosques of central Beirut’s Downtown, the city is a triumph of rejuvenation over disaster.

If you’re in the young, vibrant neighbourhoods of Gemmayzeh or Achrafiye, Beirut is about living for the moment: partying, eating and drinking as if there’s no tomorrow. If you’re standing in the shadow of buildings still peppered with bullet holes, or walking the Green Line with an elderly resident, it’s a city of bitter memories and a dark past. If you’re with Beirut’s Armenians, Beirut is about salvation; if you’re with its handful of Jews, it’s about hiding your true identity. Here you’ll find the freest gay scene in the Arab Middle East, yet homosexuality is still illegal. If you’re in one of Beirut’s southern refugee camps, Beirut is about sorrow and displacement; other southern districts are considered a base for paramilitary operations and south Beirut is home to infamous Hezbollah secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah. For some, it’s a city of fear; for others, freedom.

Throw in maniacal drivers, air pollution from old, smoking Mercedes taxis, world-class universities, bars to rival Soho and coffee thicker than mud, political demonstrations, and swimming pools awash with more silicone than Miami. Add people so friendly you’ll swear it can’t be true, a political situation existing on a knife-edge, internationally renowned museums and gallery openings that continue in the face of explosions, assassinations and power cuts, and you’ll find that you’ve never experienced a capital city quite so alive and kicking – despite its frequent volatility.