Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Meeting the Need/Needing the Meeting

13 August, 2006

As a solidarity volunteer, I expect to share the suffering of the Lebanese, but seven hours of meetings in one day seems a bit much. I deferred on the committee meeting and will return soon for another at 10:00 p.m. I am awed by the stamina of the Lebanese people.

Our neighbors to the south provided a brief interlude during the second afternoon meeting with an unusually intense bombardment of the southern Beirut suburb of Haret Hreik, shown live on the projection television screen at Thé Marbuta, an as-yet-unopened café in the Pavillon Hotel building now serving as the center of Samidoun, a coalition of Lebanese civilian volunteer organizations formed to deal with a fraction of the million refugees of the Lebanese nakba (catastrophe). We speculate that Israel was using the new gifts from its American uncle, bunker busters that shook the ground even several kilometers away. A good Geiger counter to measure inhaleable uranium dust should be able to determine whether we are right.

If so, it probably marks a desperate effort to assassinate Hassan Nasrullah, the Hezbollah leader, before the ceasefire supposedly goes into effect at seven o'clock tomorrow morning local time. If they succeed, there will obviously be no ceasefire, which is probably what they have in mind. If not, they will have to find another way to sabotage it, but probably not before it already begins. They are very resourceful.

One of the jobs of the committee that is meeting as I write this is to explore the possibility of going south after the ceasefire takes effect but before the international forces arrive. I think it's an ideal time to confront the Israeli military directly with a civilian action aimed at being in the way, returning Lebanese civilians to the south, and bringing relief supplies to the population that never left. During that time, Israel will have committed itself to refrain from military action, so it becomes possible to become a nonviolent pain in the butt, something in which the ISM specializes. We would have to be sure that we're not in the way of armed resistance forces, because that would be dangerous, and we never place ourselves directly between parties engaged in combat. The decision rests with our Lebanese colleagues, but I'm crossing my fingers.

I can't say that I'm optimistic about having a quiet night. I'm sure Israel will try to get in its last licks before the ceasefire is due to start. Still, it will be easier for me than for those who are more directly exposed.

Have to head back for the meeting. I try to sleep in between, but sometimes it's easier to succumb during.



Post a Comment

<< Home