*Written for Global Voices Online
For the second week, Lebanese bloggers have posted anecdotes, reflections, updates, photos, videos, jokes, sarcasm and drawings on the issue that is taking precedence over all other topics. The issue is the ongoing violence which is taking the form of clashes in the north between the army and the militants and the terrorist explosions jumping from one location to another around the country.
So what are the bloggers saying?
Mazen Kerbaj drew this art piece. The Arabic words inscribed in it are saying: “me and the Gemmayzeh (a street in Beirut where people hang out in pubs, etc) and the beer are waiting for the explosion…
About the relief efforts
A new blog was set up to post updates on the The Nahr el Bared Relief Campaign. The founders of the campaign describe their work as spontaneously formed following the tragic events in Nahr el Bared Camp. They declare that they are a grouping of unaffiliated individuals working on relief and civil action to end the violence and offer aid to those injured and displaced due to the Nahr el Bared conflict.
Upon visiting the Baddawi camp, Dr Rami Zurayk shares with us a couple of things that he learned “On War” and “On Needs”:
I just got back from the Beddawi Refugee camp near Tripoli where most of the displaced from Nahr el Bared have found shelter. It is a tiny piece of land, no more than 1 km2, which, until May 22, used to be home to 18,000 people. Now they are 30,000. You can feel it in the streets: impossible to move by car without hitting someone.
Dr Marcy Newman along with the Nahr el Bared Relief Campaign were also at the Beddawi camp in an effort to help the civilians fleeing the fighting and had this to share:
When we arrived at the camp, we saw that the aid relief in Badawi has improved in some ways, but deteriorated in other ways quite seriously. Groups seem to be better coordinated, but now the camp is flooded with journalists and NGO workers as well as a refugee population that continues to swell. Aid still is not reaching most families in houses, although this is what our group is working on in collaboration with civil society organizations in Badawi.
Golaniya posted a list of the civilian deaths and injuries inside the camps as a result of the clashes.
On the jokes
Diamond mentions some of the jokes that are spreading and also attempts analyzing the phenomenon of humor during conflicts:
After all, we teach children to deal with bogeymen and other fears by putting them into perspective with daylight and laughter - and I think that now it is equally important not to be bowled under by fear of militancy, in whatever form it may come.
On the other hand, we don’t laugh at the graves of those who have died serving their countries, their families, or other ideals. As long as the laughter is life-affirming, rather than situation-denying, I think it can be a very healthy thing.
More jokes about the militants fighting the army can also be found at Liliane’s blog.
From inside of the camps
Dr Asa’ad Abu Khalil made a phone call to a friend who was still inside the Naher al Bared camp. Excerpts from the conversation regarding the situation and analysis of the causes and expected results of the fighting were posted by Sophia.
And Kadmous posted a number of recent videos shot during the crisis in the North.
Against the bombs
There are also posts with arguments against the bombing of the Palestinian refugee camps. Among them are Leila who said:
This bombing is not good for the future of Lebanon. If Fatah al-Islam is such a problem, aren’t there other ways to address it than by causing immense suffering among civilians, and thereby creating a whole new generation of future recruits to terrorism?
And Apokraphyte who wrote about the futility of such a measure as bombing the camps to get rid of terrorism:
I don’t care if Fatah al-Islam is evil incarnate. I don’t care if they are Hariri-funded or a front for Syrian mukhabarat or Islamaniacs from Tunis or aliens just landed from Mars. Artillery is NOT THE ANSWER. Worst of all, everyone knows this, especially the LAF. The problem of the camps (in its myriad forms) is not a mystery, not a new development. Direct military confrontation serves no purpose. In fact, if security and peace are the objectives, one can easily argue that such an assault is horribly counter-productive as it only increases the militance-misery quotient.
About the explosions
EDB and her friends thought that leaving one part of Beirut for another would keep them far from the expected terror bombs. But the explosion followed and occurred on the street that her friend passed several times during that day:
Now they have consecutively targeted both the upper crust Christian and Muslim areas in Beirut. I bet over in Achrafiye they’re relieved its not in their neighborhood again,” I remarked. “I passed by there twice today,” L. muttered as we watched a chaotic scene unfold on TV.
Jamal satirizes what he terms as the “anonymization of the perpetrators of crime”:
Part of the noise factor and the dangerous speculation battles taking place is the anonymization of the perpetrators of crime. So while Abou Hurayra, Abou Yazan, Abou Jandal, Abou Adass and Sejaan Saadeh are neck deep in accusations or dead; the people with faces who actually answer to registered triple names and might be involved in this mess remain unscathed and even run for office.
On worries of a new civil war
Maya[at]NYC starts her post by using the slogan of the anti–civil war campaigners which calls for the remembrance of the war so it can be avoided. She writes that that the civil war should be remembered because it will be repeated.
We are a country of poor people who think they can afford to indulge in great ideological beliefs. We define ourselves in our “moral” ideological ethical belonging. If there was a competition of gullible people, we would win the race. We each have chosen to believe in a different fight, in a cause “with our soul with our blood”. An emotional morass of immature followers. We are all followers. Not questioners. Of course: it’s easier.
On questions and answers
Here is Sean trying to make sense of some of the puzzles involved:
A few things don’t make sense, though. If these guys were really pro-Syrian, why would they have splintered off from the very pro-Syrian Fatah al-Intifada? And if they were really a tool of Hariri, why would they be fighting the ISF? Of course both of these questions assume that whoever financed these guys is still in control — which may not be the case at all.
And MFL answers and analyzes some of the questions and issues raised during the past weeks in this post that is titled: “Fatah el Islam and Lebanon: Between Reality and Conspiracy Theory.”
Till next week, stay well.