Saturday, August 05, 2006

On the bright side...

Well I was about to write up some depressing stuff again, mainly about my ride down to the CNN office and how unrecognizably desolate the streets of Beirut were on a Friday night-- actually I've been so dazed I didn't even know it was Friday until a couple of hours ago. Of course then there was the relentless buzzing of unmanned drones ringing in my ear drums all day, the ominous message about “obliteration” from the missing link, the awful pictures of our oil-slicked beaches I saw on TV—especially those of the ancient Phoenician port of Byblos, which is home to my favorite fish restaurant, and last but not least, holding my breath as I crossed one of the last remaining bridges in the country; my heart beat racing as we crossed it on the way to the interview and then again as we headed back home. But heck, you know what? Reading some of the comments from y’all got my spirits up. So here’s something a little more optimistic for a change. It’s about our dreams.
If you get a chance please check out this site: http://forum.skyscraperpage.com/showthread.php?t=104702
You’ll find pictures and artist impressions of what Beirut was supposed to look like over the next 5 to 10 years. In fact many of these spectacular offices and residences have already been sold, even if construction hasn’t started yet.
And for all the cynics out there, before you put your brainwaves in motion, hold on a sec. Trust me, I know we need much more than concrete and glass to build our futures. I just thought it would be nice for you to associate Beirut with something other than destruction for once.
Oh and one more thing. Cheers to Mr.TEZ and RS for convincing me to contribute to Beirut Live. Who would have thought that spewing mad thoughts about donkeys at 4 in the morning would land me a spot on CNN?

27 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read through some of the comments and they all seem a one-sided attack on you. I believe this is because the local news here in the U.S. only bring one-side: the israeli side. CNN is attempting to bring both sides but unfortunately much of the public only get local broadcasts.

these commenters want you to say what they want to hear. but your views are of what you are WITNESSING FIRST HAND!! I say stop the lies. Israel is the cancer spreading in the middle-east and causign all this chaos.

israel needs to get over the fact that they can not have palestine or jerusalem. unlike imperoialism of the past in which the enemy entered the land took over and the previous residents had to live with it, this is different. islam and muslims are different.. our lives and souls are for God almighty and to him we will return.

1:14 AM  
Blogger KAI said...

HB,

You should post some of these pictures on your blog from time to time to remind people that Beirut / Lebanon is a real place, with real people aspiring to be great. Not some basketcase thirdworld country with shelled buildings full of holes.

Beirut is destined to become a progressive city full of youth and drive and ambition. (already is in many ways) Posting some of these pix can also help to lighten up the blog every one in a while too and remind people of that. Not that we should forget about the harsh reality of what is going on right now.

Kk

1:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

`Americans keep coming on here and saying we are posting "against Lebanon"?? where do you get that? Eveyone is for Lebanon, but the split is on Hezbollah....two very different things.

Check the date on that, only four months ago, that is tragic. Truthfully we weren't hearing all that much about Lebanon here before this, but I read the ir was growing interest in Lebabons comeback, and people were starting to seek it out as a nice place to vacation...

1:23 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with all of us that read this blog. While Hezbollah's actions that led this this were reprehensible, Israel's reaction has been way over the top, and unfortunately will prevent peace from settling into your region anytime in the forseeable future. I am outraged with Israel and, as an American citizen, outraged with the U.S. government's blind support of the Israeli government. A political solution that would have been attainable at the outset of this crisis has evaporated, and while Hezbollah carries blame, Israel carries far more than they are willing to admit.

I pray for your safety, and for a true, lasting peace to come to your region.

1:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The U.S. doesn't give "blind support". We gain from the destruction of Hezbollah...bottom line. If Isreal bombed someone that would cost us anything, we would have stopped it the first day...I love my country, but you have to think logically.

1:55 AM  
Anonymous Danae said...

Hey Habib...It's Danae here again!
I just have to say that your are amazing..I have been throught Hurrican Katrina and watched my town of New Orleans destoryed and yet I am like to say that you attidude is awesome...please keep that smile, time are hard now be we here are praying for peace..And i think you country will once again become beautiful because it is filled with people like you who love it!! You writing the bright side shows I am aw of your inner strenght..And sorry that you had to change to Nelly's it's hot in here, but again I am sending love and prayers from me and my 5 year old son to you and your people!!!
I would love to tell you this quote i have on the back of my IPOD. And i think you are doing a wonderful job of this.
"WE MUST BE THE CHANGE WE WISH TO SEE IN THE WORLD......Gandi"
Again much love from us.......danae

2:28 AM  
Blogger funkyfantom said...

I don't agree with the Impassioned Plea.
It is childishly naive.

The violence will stop when Hezbollah is completely destroyed.

It is a shame that
Lebanese who don't support Hezbollah have to suffer, but that is the nature of guerilla warfare. It was all very predictable.

Perhaps other Lebanese should have fought Hezbollah themselves. Then they would not have Israel bombing their country. But they chose to look in the other direction as Hezbollah/Syria/Iran turned South Lebanon into a factory for missiles to kill Israeli civilians.

Non-Hezbollah Lebanese had several choices- fight Hezbollah, run away from Hezbollah, support them actively,
or pretend they were not there- the elephant in the closet that bourgeois people would rather not think about.

It looks like many Lebanese took the last option.

Too bad for them, but no
country on planet Earth would sit there passively and just accept a massive assault from a terrorist group on its border. Why would you expect Israel to?

2:30 AM  
Blogger JLB said...

Beirut is definitely a progressive city on the eastern Mediterranean, going back as far as 2000 years you’ll find that the entire coast of Lebanon was leaps and bounds ahead of its neighbors. The Phoenician’s busy with their trade to such far away ports located in South American, sailing around Africa, and as far north as England ---- a very progressive nation indeed!

Having spent the greater part of the last two-years developing a state-of-the-art communications network in Beirut, I found the city to be a bit our of sorts from time to time, but through all of this I found the population warm and friendly. I have traveled extensively across the globe in my career, never finding in any location a people that enjoy themselves more than the Lebanese. They love their freedom of expression, whether it be at the local Hubli Bubli café, or dancing on tables in the local nightclub in Beirut or Batroun ---- it is their demonstration of love for their culture and each other.

Beirut naturally is not the oldest city in Lebanon (Levant), but its colorful history and the wars it has suffered through for centuries gives it the record of having the most experience when it comes to sadness and joy. A city stuffed with streets with no names, street corners that during the business day become miniature battle zones for drivers, and corner cafes tables running over with laptops and everyone else with Ericsson’s against their ears strolling amongst the crowd shopping for the latest deal.

Banks that close at 1 PM, bakeries that open until 10 PM, some 24-hours a day with names like “Good Morning” --- was my favorite sugar place on the highway north of Beirut, near Halut. Lebanon, the country that goes to sleep 5 minutes before the sun rises on the weekend, is again caught in the middle of a Arab-Israeli conflict. This is nothing new, the response of the Israelis to an action taken by an Arab action is also not new!

On December 28th, 1968, Israeli commando’s arrived by helicopter at Beirut International Airport and destroyed 13 Lebanese aircraft, in retaliation for some Arab commando activities mounted from Lebanon. Premier Yaffi indicated that the government did not intend to abandon its restraint in the Arab-Israeli conflict, despite the anger and criticism in the Lebanese press – at the time there were 37 newspapers located in Lebanon. The government gave notice (however) on December 31st, that Lebanon would defend itself from all “attacks” in the future. The big difference that time was that Israel was universally “censured” for its action.

Beirut survived to rise again, and was lately in the midst of rebuilding itself after the previous civil unrest, stretching over a period of almost 30-years. After less than 25-days, parts of Beirut must again lift its head above the smoke and rubble to take its place as a very progressive city in the Middle East. It will, its people have a difficult time letting the city sleep.

2:36 AM  
Blogger KAI said...

Anonymous,

Your logic is failed. The U. S. has rarely been able to curb Israel's brazen defense initiatives. They move autonomously in this regard. (armed to the hilt with American hardware) Everyone gains from Hezbollah's disappearance, but not at the outrageous cost of innocent people in Lebanon. There is no strategy in bombing Lebanon's suburbs and infrastructure. This tactic does VIRTUALLY NOTHING to stop Hezbollah. Instead it unfairly punishes the Lebanese people. It victimizes them and attempts to hold them responsible for a terrorist group whom they cannot control. Yes, Israel is fed up with Hezbollah lobbing missiles into their cities, and rightfully so. But the way to eliminate Hezbollah is a highly complex one that requires multiple, unified governments taking action..not a unilateral, heavy-handed militaristic action taken by one.

You say that 'If Israel bombed someone that would cost us anything, we would have stopped it the first day...' This is the kind of logic that should put a chill into every American citizen. The reality is, that our not pressing Israel to stop is already costing us dearly. We are loosing the last shreds of credibility that may have been remaining of our foreign policy. Not just in the Arab world. (we obviously lost their support long ago) But rather, we are once again straining our ties with industrialized countries. Much of the E. U., Russia and many others. Moreover, we are exascerbating Arab resentment all over, and dare I say, setting the stage for more fundamentalist to act out in violence.

We MUST stop this viscious, ugly circle. Violence begets violence. And ignorance breeds hate. It is time for real American foreign policy. It is time for REAL leadership in America to quell the tragedy in the Mideast.

Kk

2:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that Beirut was one of the most advanced cities in the world and will soon regain its glory. I will visit soon!

Thanks for this blog.

Gagan

2:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kai--exactly.

HZ will never step down and disarm this way, and even if they do, a new generation is feeding off of the suffering inflicted on the Lebanese/Palestinian people.

their strategy is flawed on so many levels, its disgusting.

2:52 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Kk is right, violence begets violence. It always has, and it always will. In some cases that may be very well justified, and I do believe that the U.S. had the right and responsibility to invade Afghanistan as a response to 9/11. But we also had a responsibility to do the job right, in which case we are still not done. I won't even get into the illegal war in Iraq...

In this case it is very clear that Israel squandered away political capital it could have garnered from the Hezbollah attacks in order to drop a few bombs and murder some children. Have they stopped Hezbollah? Not by a long shot. In fact, every Hezbollah man lost will be replaced threefold. This strategy simply does not make sense.

3:03 AM  
Blogger daooch said...

But, you know, why does it have to fall so hard on the shoulders of the US to suppress this latest spat of Middle East violence? I'm not saying we shouldn't(I'm from Wash DC) but I don't get the impression that the other Middle East countries are motivated at all to get involved. Not militarily, but I mean politically, right?

I thought Saudi Arabia had some major sway in the region...are they pressuring Syria or Iran or Jordan? Are any of the Arab societies pressuring Hizbullah to just return the Isreali soldiers? Seems like that would be the best start to a ceasefire and put Isreal on the political defensive.

Just some ignorant questions from an ignorant yet concerned American...

Ooch

3:09 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

I don't know that it is the U.S. responsibility to stop the Israelis. But I do know we shouldn't be in such a hurry to support it. Had we joined in the condemnation of this slaughter, Israel would be far less likely to continue as it has.

I am just stunned at the Israeli arrogance in this situation (not all Israelis, just the government); had they showed temperance or any restraint in response to the attacks on them, they would have been in a far better position to win sympathy and force a political resolution. Now all they have done is create more hatred.

3:22 AM  
Blogger KAI said...

Daooch and Rick, I think I feel like the responsibility to lead the region to lasting peace lies predominantly on the shoulders of the U.S. for several reasons:

First, it is the U.S. that has attempted to maintain a foothold on the only true democratic country in that region, namely Israel. We have vigorously leveraged this position by supplying Israel with American made / designed military hardware. We, of course, have also supplied plenty of hardware to any country or militia in the Mideast that happened to be willing to fight against our enemy-du-jour. Just ask Rumsfeld how this works.

Second, we have attempted to convert Iraq into a democratic, soverign nation...persuaded by the end of an M-16.

Third, we are still the worlds number one superpower. Love it or hate it, it is a reality. As such, we are obligated to lead the world when it comes mediating serious conflict. Now our track record in this department is pretty lousy. But I think the argument can be made that we bear the majority of responsibility in this case.

Because we have continously made it known that we would rather supplant forced democracy for the wisdom of Clerics, ancient religions, fractioned tribes and the complexities that go along with that, makes it our responsibility when conflicts like these arise.

We have continously played with the fire in this region, without ever really doing the homework...without truly understanding all of the dynamics. As such, we will have to make a much stronger effort to remedy this conflict before it spirals into a larger conflict.

Kk

4:47 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Kk....well said and good points. And I think you hit the nail on the head with respect to our government. Thanks for that post.

5:02 AM  
Blogger KAI said...

Just my perspective on things, Rick. I'm always concerned that I may come off as being somone who hates their own country. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I owe so much to the U.S. I have been really lucky as a Lebanaese-American to have a first rate education as well as a really successful business.

I really believe in the core values of this country...that we are all created equal, that we have the freedom to be, do or have whatever we want. And that we are a colorful nation of Immigrants. I never, ever forget that. I am reminded of that every day here in the Lower East side of Manhattan. This is where all of the immigrants first came after they were processed at Ellis Island.

That's also why I am so critical of the U. S. Because I expect so much and I believe in being held accountable for your actions. I do have faith that the U. S. will ultimately lead in bringing peace to the Mideast.

Kk

5:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am Lebanese living in the US and I just wanted to say that I caught you on CNN today . . . you did Lebanon and the Lebanese proud. You were articulate and dared to say what the media deems unsayable. Thank you.

Rima

6:37 AM  
Anonymous another voice from Lebanon said...

i'm so fed up with the claim that the Lebanese people "let" Hezbollah do this and therefore, all Lebanese people deserve to be killed. I'm talking to you, funkyfantom. You're using the same logic that Al Qaeda used to create 9/11-- i.e. because Americans "let" the US conduct its foreign policy as such, all Americans deserve to be killed.

And incidentally,
How do you propose that the Lebanese people disarm Hezbollah? Perhaps that little baby girl in the rubble should have gone up to Nasrallah and asked him nicely. Maybe then, her life would have been spared.

Perhaps after the IDF has razed the country to the ground, they can start dictating our national policies.
In the meantime, perhaps you should read a book about Lebanese history in preparation.

9:36 AM  
Anonymous Kevin said...

Kai - you seem like a hunk, good looker..... I like your logic on here, thanks

12:13 PM  
Blogger KAI said...

'Another Voice'...your critique of 'Funkyfantom' is a solid and just one. Thank you for addressing their disturbing post so articulately.

Kk

4:36 PM  
Blogger KAI said...

Kevin,

Thanks for the compliments. I never fancied myself as a hunk...but I'll own that...just for a day or so. : )

Kk

4:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

for those who say hizballah is killing civalians just read the numbers 1 last time to c that israel killed over 900 civilians...

5:02 PM  
Anonymous another voice from Lebanon said...

thanks kai,
isn't it amazing how being "innocent"--i.e. uninvolved politically or militarily-- has now become a justification for being punished?

and i second the hunk comment by kevin (apologies to mrtez for degenerating into an online pickup joint. it won't happen again)

7:36 PM  
Anonymous Maria D said...

Hi
I was watching CNN yesterday at the hospital (in US) whilst waiting for surgery - and I couldn't take my eyes away from the TV for a second - even to worry about the surgery!!! (and that's saying something). Your contribution was absolutely riveting and I was amazed how the "relatively" liberal US reporter allowed you to talk for so long! I was annoyed by her ending the interview just when you were becoming interesting regarding the US support of Israel and the US media's subjective reporting of the issue - obviously her liberal reserve tank was drained. Keep reporting, keep blogging and I know your message will reach more people than you realize.

5:58 AM  
Anonymous mariad said...

Forgot to say..thank you for bringing home just what a real place Beirut is and just what real people the inhabitants are.. genius move to mention Snoop..which rocked the socks off here.

6:01 AM  
Anonymous King midas said...

New beirut checklist

barbed wire
extra guard dogs
new sri lankieh
100 cartons of 6 x 2l nestle bottles
shotgun lots of bullets
a blow up doll
a TV and lots of soap

5:07 PM  

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