I'm writing from my mom's home in Ashland, OR, watching the latest news on the Middle East. I saw my mom out the window for the first time in a year as the Greyhound pulled into the Medford station. My first thought was, "Wow. Mom's gotten fat!" Thankfully, it was someone who looked suprisingly like my mom, with a few extra pounds. Now I know what she'd look like in that case.
I have friends who were living in Sour (Tyre) that finally made it out, headed toward Beirut to be evacuated on a ship to Cyprus. Sour is now a ghost town, bombed as it was so extensively. This is the first time there's been a war in a place I've been to. I've seen Jbail (Byblos), bombed in the extreme North of Lebanon. I've been to Baalbeck in the East, with it's ancient ruins, where missiles have been dropped. I've been to Beirut, returned to it's ancient path of destruction. I've visited the more conservative Sour, where no one but geurillas now live. I've talked with Hezb'allah, and had a good time with them, finding we were quite in agreement on which US presidents we preferred. (I'll leave it sufficiently vague as to which ones that was.)
I used to live in Dearborn, Michigan, home to the largest concentration of Arabs in North America. It's a town of 93,000, with over half being Arab- 90% Yemeni in the South End, and 60% Lebanese in the East End. In the course of two years, one particular night stands out clearly, where I saw more joy on the street than ever before.
Almost all of the Lebanese there coming from the town of Bint Jbail (also written Bint Jbeil) in Southern Lebanon. The Israeli Offense Forces, after 20 years of invasion and civil strife, had just pulled out and retreated to Israel. Political experts interpreted this as a victory for Hezballah, with their repeated geurilla attacks on Israel. Politics can be debated. On the streets of Dearborn, it was widely interpreted as a victory for the lives of Lebanese individuals and families. There was a spontaneous celebration as men, women, and children poured on to the main thoroughfare, Michigan Ave. Cars wormed their way through blocked streets filled with people, honking and yelling out in praise at the freedom from violence and the freedom to live their lives again. Everywhere Lebanese flags were waved and shouts of spontaneous joy exchanged. My girlfriend at the time put her head through the sunroof of the car to wave her head scarf as we went up and down the drag. Everywhere there were smiles. People could be safe again. They could go home again. Their families would live normal lives again- or be able to live at all.
The local news reported there were "riots in Dearborn" in response to the Israeli withdrawal.
Last night the news reported that Israel had reinvaded Bint Jbail, there was door-to-door fighting, and most of the residents had fled.