Thursday, April 13, 2006

13 turns 31

What do you remember of the war? Do you remember it?
Is it really over for it to be a memory?

I remember my parents not being able to go to my school because they feared for their lifes. My school was 10 minutes from home yet people there were of a different.... species, Nope,..... race, nah, ....... nationality, definitely not ....... religion, not necessarily, .......Sect , that's what it was.

I remember Israeli warplanes raiding the SNSP office in Chtaura; the destroyed building is still there. I remember a lot of israeli raids. I remember a Syrian anti-air missile striking the building next to ours during one of the raids. Soooo close to bring the plane down.

I remember people rushing to raise the volume on the radio when they heard "Maktab El Tahreer fi Khabarin Jadid."

I remember lots of assassinations. The days Karami and Muawwad got assassinated stand out the most.

I remember the "mukhabarat" checkpoint insulting people. I remember Ghazi Kenaan standing there while people kissed his ass.

I remember militias collecting tolls on the roads.

I remember Amal and Hezbollah fighting in Saadnayel, wait aren't they the same sect?

I remember we had to take Tareek El Karame to get to Beirut because of some event at Galerie Semaan, must've been a Sale.

I remember Aoun and/or Geagea shelling the same building that was hit by the Syrian missile. i wonder what the Layoun family did to piss everybody off.

I remember all the neighbors gathering at our place since it the was the safest, wait again, weren't we all of different sects? Shouldn't we have been killing each other? I remember we played these games; guess if it's being fired or landing? Guess if it's a 155mm or a 240mm. Normal children's games.

I remember collecting shrapnel when things calmed down. A rocket's tail was the highest valued collectible.

I remember Aoun and/or Geagea stopped firing our way and turned the guns on each other.

I remember October 13th, 1990 I woke up to see a different kind of warplanes in the sky. These ran on diesel.

I remember El Jalbout making an old woman cry at the Beit Yahoun crossing so he could feel like a MAN. I remember hating him for it and wanting him to die. He did.

Then I remember telling 2 visitors in their first day in Beirut who's motorcade just sped by us a minute before a loud explosion and glass shattering all around us.


Abdul Rahman Hilmi said...

No, you should never forget what happened. In Europe they're still moaning and groaning about the Second World War like as if it happened yesterday. I honestly believe the tragedy of Lebanon is much greater and deserves more respect. Once the Zionist porkers stop whinning about the holocaust then you can consider letting go of the past.

sam said...

Ya abd ul-rahman, Jamal didn't whine, and neither do most European historians when describing the horrors of World War 2.
For me, I can't say that I need to remember, but to discover.

JoseyWales said...

I remember a woman who lost FOUR children on a school bus hit by RPG (many or all died on that bus) because some militia wanted to make a point or close a road, or because some party wanted to strike a pose. or because some 16 year old was going through a rite of passage or...

PS Israeli planes appear a bit early in your (good) piece Jamal, and Hilmi lay off the zionists for one day, can you?

Anonymous said...

"Once the Zionist porkers stop whinning about the holocaust then you can consider letting go of the past."

That is just rich, abdurrahman! A true testimony to your idiotic narrow-minded world view. In other words, it's the usual sophomoric-arab tit for tat universe that you want to perpetuate, isn't it? "I'll let go if YOU let go first." No wonder your culture has been wallowing in mediocrity for the past 1000 years! Oh, and NO, it's not the Zionists that brought this state of affairs upon you! It's your own, sad, pathetic inadequacies, cultural bankrupty, and inability to lQQk at yourselves critically!!

When are you people going to come to terms with the fact that tragedies DO (and did) happen to others; that Palestinians ARE NOT the only victims in this world; that Arabs and their groupies ARE THEMSELVES TYRANTS and OPPRESSORS (as much as they perceive themselves to be the oppressed.)

When will this sad culture of yours grow up and show some cultural sociological and psychological maleability?
I wonder, how would you expect others to respect you and recognize your plights if you persist in adamantly refusing the "other" and his own narratives and plights!?.

But I suppose that's too much to ask!

With regards to memory and forgetfulness, check out Ernest Renan's "Qu'est-ce qu'une nation?"
What he says about collective amnesia (with regards to the Saint-Barthélémy massacres) can be enlightening in your case.

Ecce Libanus said...

I remember Lebanese ingenuity under very severe conditions!

Even when life was no picnic, and schooling was perhaps the last thing on the minds of people dodging falling bombs, I remember Telé-Liban starting daytime TV programs that continued with most school curricula for most levels, in settings resembling very closely those of a traditional classroom. This, at a time when TV broadcasts in Lebanon ordinarily ran from 6ish in the evening until midnight. Waaaaaaay before Sesame Street and Dora the Explorah! I remember being woken up by my mother to go to school in my pajamas, in my own living-room, "bid-daar", bowl of steaming hot milk (with a shmear of coffee) and a chocomax sandwich in hand.

This marked my first encounters with the English language as a school topic and a language of instruction.

Riz2allah!! Even though many friends and loved ones didn't make it, some of my recollections of this retched war are fuzzy and fond ones.

Oh, and Hilmi, lay off the zionist sauce some, and get a life!

Ecce Libanus said...

Anyone remembers "atché, atché Abu-Khalil!!!"???
I remember this phrase, as a going joke perhaps in those years?!, but I can't remember the context. Anyone??

Yesterday said...

Great blog, history is never more beautiful and poignant than when someone who actually lived it tells about it.

Abdul Rahman Hilmi said...

I didn't say Jamal is whinning, although rereading my post I can see how you could conclude that I did. I didn't mean to say that, so I apologise for that one.

As for the WW2 thing, yes they do whine. I live in the UK myself and god dammit, they even have a "history" channel dedicated for WW2. This is not to mention all the movies and games that they keep throwing in your face.

You got all that out of a one sentence quote? Aint that very cute. Do you have those couple of paragraphs saved in some word file that you copy and paste it whenever the word 'zionist' comes up? Because there is no where in my post (or any of my previous posts in absolutly any blog for that matter)do I say anything that suggest that Palestinians are the only oppressed people in the world. As a matter of fact, I still didn't mention anything about Palestinians in my blog (which is a strictly political blog). So scurry along little doggy and learn how to read before you reply to anything.

Josey & Ecce:
Jamal asked whether we should forget the tragedy of Lebanon. Both of you seem to remember something of the civil war and decided to share it. Why are you asking me to forget the a tragedy that is not in past, but is still happening until this very day? If you think we should "lay off" the zionists and the plight of the Palestinians, then hey, what happened in Lebanon (with all due respect) happened several years ago and is over. I would have a stronger position to tell YOU to let go of the civil war.

nothing cute about war said...

abd el rihman, try living in America where their civil war which happened in the 1800 is still a hot topic today as if it happened yesterday. There are actually people who reenact battles of the civil war EVERY YEAR, and for what purpose I have no clue! I think that they think that their civil war was quaint, you know, as in cute or something.

Ecce Libanus said...

Hilmi, it wasn't my intention to offend you. If I have, please accept my apologies.
I've simply had just about enough of every ill in the ME being blamed on the Zionists. That's just too easy a pretext for the lazy and faint-hearted who are unwilling to look at themselves critically.

JoseyWales said...


I don't want to let go of the civil war, especially when its destruction is still with us.

It was my civil war, and our (Lebanese) civil war. My tragedy and my people's tragedy.

There are many other tragedies, worse or not, but they are not MINE.

As to the Palestinian tragedy, it is not mine. It was made mine, destroyed Lebanon for no gain whatsover. So no more mixing of tragedies. This post had to do with April 13, the day the LEBANESE civil war started. Commemorate your tragedy on ITS day.

PS If you are Palestinian, it is your story understandably, but stop bugging me with it at every occasion. If you are not Palestinian but a concerned Arab, why always mention Palestine and Darfur never?

JoseyWales said...


I remember "Atche Abu khalil" referring to yelled-out requests for porn clips in movie theaters.

With less controlling authority, the need to drum up business, and the mostly male audience in the less reputable theaters, the projectionists would run an occasional (at random) 1-2 minutes of porn in the middle of a western or kung-fu flick, and go straight back to his movie. Surreal.

Vox said...

I received so much shells on my house (most of them Syrian-made, though I think that some were PSP, LF and others) that I can't recall the exact numbers we had to rebuild the walls of my room.

I also remember sleeping at the school because the shelling prevented us from going back home. This is a good memory, I could stay with my friends at school and that there was no studying.

I remember being a refugee living in my relatives' house in Saida and later Aamchit, which meant that there were no school to me for almost a year.

I remember when my father taught me to avoid some street to escape from the snipers, the electricity cuts that lasted days if not more, the lamps that were powered by gas (they had a name, but I forgot), the queue at the gaz station, the water that we bought in tanks to take showers etc...

But I also remember the spirit of solidarity between the inhabitants of my neighbourhood, a spirit that still lives.

Jamal said...

Sorry about all the spelling mistakes and all the words i ate while typing, i need to learn to use spell check.

Thanks all for sharing your memories. It's clear we all were in different places at different times, or were we?

What's with idiots? said...

I had to stop here for a minute because I am going insane. Some Lebanese guy wrote a blog about a guy telling his girlfriend not to call him habibi in front of his parents so that they won't guess that they are dating and the comments by airbrained females reading it are certifiably nuts with "how sweet", "how cute", "ooooooh".... Is this insane or what? Sorry to bother this blog but I needed a dose of sanity!

End racism said...

I remember lots of things.

I remember running to the shelter, and I remember the tanks in the streets, flattening the cars that were in their way. I remember blood. Lots of blood. Too many bombs hit our neighbourhood.

Ghassan said...

I am honestly flabergasted when I hear that some are questioning whether we should remember the past and others are complaining about having remembered the past. It would be tragic when people do not remember their history in order to learn from it and hopefully avoid making the same mistakes.

I am in full agreement with your remarks regarding Hilmis gratuitous reference to "Zionist porkers". Hilmis remark was uncalled for, out of place , insulting and reflects a mind set that insists on denegrating the other.

hillz said...

tareee2 karameh?? bitakkarah mazboot webtzakkar saff essiyyarat!! dakhlak wein sarit ha ttari2? it's like a flash from my memories!!
by the way i remember ll flashes' introductory music: sawt libnen, lebnein el7orr, sawt esha3b, sawt elwa6an!!

End racism said...

I remember the sawt Lbnen music and the "ding-dong"!

Eve said...

I remember armed men, breaking into our house, while my father was absent.
I remember a time where each one in my family had to spend the night in a different place. I spent it in school.
I remember the entrance of that same "malja2", the sight of those many mattresses on the ground... oh well, I may have to make my own post about it...

AbdulKarim said...

I remember Tripoli 1985 (Syrians vs Tawheed & PLO). I was six at the time but i remeber very well the following. Our bedroom corridors were turned to shelter by furnishing it with all the cushions from living room. And the gas lamps, i remember those very well Vox.They were called Lux. I remember the neighbures taking shelter in our corridor as well. We had to relocate to my Aunty's house for few days because it was safer. We then rented a chalet at Palma in Bahsas. I then remember fleeing from there in the night time. We went to our village in Akkar where we had to share one house with all the approximately 30 members of the family who fleed Tripoli like us. For a 6 years old, the village was fun specially living with all my cousins in the same house.

john said...

1976, around mid summer, I was all of 16 years of age when my 19 year old neighbour gave me money to buy gateaux ( baba rum) from a patisserie in achrafiye’, a 10 minute walk. I picked up the stuff and was on my way back when all of a sudden I heard a distant sound like that of a piece of artillery being fired. A few seconds later the shell exploded behind some building some distance away. Another shell being fired and then another and then another and then the explosions, one after another closer and closer and I’m still holding onto the box of sweets. Shaking like a leaf and running scared until I got home. When my neighbour saw me she started sobbing because she was so relieved. She opened the box and everything was upside down and sarcastically said “well, I can’t eat this !”.

This is one of many memories I hold on to this day.


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Margaret said...

I lived in Lebanon for 8 years until 1981. I basically grew up there.

As a middle-class anglo american, I feel that there must be a reason that I lived in Lebanon during its civil war.

I have yet to completely know what that reason is, perhaps it was just a flook with no reason. I do know that it has a lot to do with why I am a social worker committed to non-violence today.

I remember spending days in bomb shelters, and collecting shell shards. I still have them.

Anonymous said...

I can relate to you crying on the phone. I had the exact same reaction when I heard my parents on the phone... after the road between the school and home got cut off by fights. And me and some friends had to sleep for several days at our aunts place in jounieh, until my father would find a way to reach us through a huge and dangerous detour.
When I was handed the phone, I thought this would be a normal converstation... but when I heard their faint voice I was unexpectedly overwhelmed by emotions and cried. I think war marks you without you knowing... We thought we didnt care... but I think a part of us got deeply affected by war.
And regarding current politics in lebanon, this is my message to all of them: