Monday, July 17, 2006


Exactly a week ago I received a package from Beirut with books I ordered from the Institute for Palestine Studies. It was the first two volumes of the Sakakini diaries. It seems a long time ago now. I hope the people who sent me the books are safe.

I read the secretary general of Hizbulla, Hasan Nasrallah, who always reminded me of the smug cheshire cat from Alice. As always, his speech is lucid and challenging, but this time it rings dangerously megalomaniac. He is describing the current conflict in grand heroic terms as 'the model' for the Arab world, and seems to believe that the psychological gains, for example the hit Israeli gunship, are well worth the devastation of his country. Nasrallah speaks of Hizbullah's 'restraint' in targeting civilian population, which, 'unfortunately' it had had to break, (eight railway workers killed yesterday), and threatens to hit the chemical industry near Haifa. My brother lives not far.

In Israel they speak too of 'restraint' which had claimed so far 160 civilian lives, not to mention thousands of refugees, and a bombed airport. 'It is important to minimize the targeting of Lebanese civilians' is a sentence one comes across often. 'Minimize' not so much because they're innocent human beings (after all, they're Lebanese, and THEY STARTED) but because too many pictures of dead children could prompt the international community to stop the Israeli bombing binge before its objectives are met. The problem is that the main objective seems to be the bombing binge itself, as well as 'teaching them a lesson' (no doubt, a clearly defined military objective). I read Israeli websites and find little but gang-ho, almost jubilation. It's revolting.

So I turn back to Khalil Sakakini's diaries. On the 4th of April 1920 he went to watch the Nabi Musa procession at Jaffa Gate. It soon became an anti-Jewish riot, the first in the history of Modern Palestine. Sakakini watched in dismay as a Jewish shoe-polisher near him was savagely beaten up by a Hebronite, and Jewish shop windows smashed. Sakakini, a staunch Arab nationalist and anti-Zionist, had many Jewish friends and students.

He walked away, he wrote, his soul digusted and depressed from the madness of the human race.


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