Friday, June 8, 2007

Driving While Palestinian in Lebanon; That is a Crime...

Three Flat Tires

Dr. Marcy Newman writing from Beirut, Live from Lebanon, 8 June 2007

"......I asked why our truck was getting flats while the other trucks taking shipments up the highway were not. The answer was simple. Palestinians are not allowed to drive trucks which have two tires on each corner of the vehicle like the regular delivery trucks do.

The laws in Lebanon affecting Palestinians' freedom and mobility (economic or physical) are extensive. It is a favorite argument used by Zionists in the U.S. to argue that Israel is not the only state repressing Palestinians as if that somehow absolves them of their brutal regime and illegal occupation. But it somehow feels more painful here in Lebanon given the discourse of brotherly Arab love that exists side-by-side such laws. This week all Palestinians living in refugee camps received a letter from Fouad Siniora and the Committee for Lebanese Palestinian Dialogue. This letter -- which should actually have gone out to Lebanese citizens instead -- was addressed to "My Palestinian Brothers and Sisters." It tells Palestinians that "the raid on Nahr al-Bared refugee camp is not a raid on Palestinians" and that the army is merely practicing "self defense." It tells them "the Lebanese soldier is your brother" and that he is "only after the terrorists who threaten your security." As if Palestinians need reminding that Fatah al-Islam has nothing to do with the Palestinian civilians from the camps or Palestinian resistance more generally, it reiterates this point, a point that ironically should be made to Lebanese people. The series of ironies spelled out in this letter tells the people of Nahr al-Bared that "it is for your protection and your families' protection" that the army is bombing the camp "to stop you from becoming hostages to these terrorists."......

The anti-Palestinian rhetoric one hears in Lebanon these days compounds the situation of the Nahr al-Bared and now Ein al-Helweh refugees moving from camp to camp in search of a safe space. After the massacre in Shatila refugee camp and neighboring Sabra, African American poet June Jordan found it difficult to speak about the unspeakable atrocities she read about in the newspaper in her poem "Moving Towards Home." She ends the poem by telling us she does need to speak, especially about "home" and about "living room":

I need to speak about living room
where my children will grow without horror
I need to speak about living room where the men of my family between the ages of six and sixty-five
are not
marched into a roundup that leads to the grave
I need to talk about living room
where I can sit without grief without wailing aloud
for my loved ones
where I must not ask where is Abu Fadi
because he will be there beside me
I need to talk about living room
because I need to talk about home......"

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