[News] For Israel's Security?

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Mon Aug 28 15:30:50 EDT 2006


August 28, 2006

For Israel's Security?

Zainab Fawqi-Sleem and the Question of Lebanon


Houla, Lebanon.

Yesterday, I shed my first tears for Lebanon.

Yesterday, I visited Houla, a stone's throw from the Israeli border.

Yesterday, I was discovered by Zainab Fawqi-Sleem - a young, Lebanese 
woman who was killed in Houla, alongside her sister-in-law, Selma, on 
July 15th. Zainab is but one of over 1,300 innocents killed in this 
war, but she is the one who found me.

On October 31st, 1948, in one of the few massacres of the Nakba to 
occur inside Lebanon, proto-Israeli militas seized the town of Houla, 
setting off bombs and burning down several houses. They took 
eighty-five people captive, and summarily executed eighty-two of the 
them. There's a memorial to the massacre in the center of town, not 
far from homes smashed flat by this current war.

According to news reports, Israel bombed and shelled Houla on at 
least ten separate occasions during this last war. Israeli soldiers 
repeatedly invaded the town and occupied people's homes. They remain, 
in one home, in one corner of the village, to this day. If I had run 
across those soldiers, I wonder what I could have said to them? What 
might they have said to me?

I was in Houla yesterday with LebanonSolidarity, a local relief and 
resistance organization. I was in Houla to assess how we might be 
able to help the people living there. We brought medicines, and 
arranged for a doctor to come by and give free medical exams. We took 
down the names and ages of the people made homeless by the bombings, 
so we might bring them some donated clothes.

Throughout South Lebanon, there are thousands of destroyed homes and 
buildings, and tens- of-thousands of homeless. Some towns, like Bint 
Jbeil and Khiam, are more rubble than anything else. Traveling 
through South Lebanon today, I am reminded so much of Palestine, of 
Nablus and Jenin and Gaza.

For Israel's security, Arabs must not possess functioning towns or 
secure homes.

More than anything, the people of Houla need drinking water. The 
town's main pump was destroyed during the war, and the $20,000 needed 
to replace it is beyond the scope of our group's resources. And, 
again, I am reminded of Palestine and the theft of local water 
sources, taken in the West Bank to supply Israeli settlements with 
lush, green, desert lawns and private swimming pools.

For Israel's security, Arabs must not possess secure access to potable water.

Short hours before Zainab was killed in Houla, Israel bombed a 
powerplant in al-Jieh, just south of Beirut. Al-Jieh was one of 
several powerplants across Lebanon that were destroyed during this war.

For Israel's security, Arabs must not possess electricity.

As in Gaza, where Israel has repeatedly shot at and shelled 
Palestinian beachgoers, the al -Jieh bombing has stolen Lebanon's 
oceanfront. The bombing destroyed the powerplant's oil tanks, and 
ruptured the berm built to protect against a spill. Millions of 
gallons of heavy fuel oil has leaked into the Mediterranean, ruining 
Lebanon's once pristine beaches.

For Israel's security, Arabs must not possess beaches.

The ancient port city of Tyre, some twenty-five kilometers from 
Houla, has one of Lebanon's last, remaining, usable beaches. Some 
Lebanese still go there, to swim and visit with family or friends 
and, for a while, escape the disaster that is South Lebanon today. 
Young men with slicked-back brush cuts pass a beer among themselves, 
as they watch women in French bikinis jump in and out of the surf. In 
the heart of "Hezbollah" country, at the center of George Bush's 
"Islamo-Facist state-within-a-state", you can still see children 
building sandcastles here.

But, farther out in the ocean, the Israeli navy maintains its 
blockade of Lebanon. Nothing is allowed in or out. In Washington 
D.C., Congressman Tom Lantos has blocked all U.S. humanitarian aid 
until Lebanon's government agrees to deploy UN troops along the 
border with Syria, to stop and search all cross-border traffic - 
something that Syria has already said it will not permit. Farther 
south, Israel's long-running blockade of Gaza has caused, in the UN's 
words, a "humanitarian catastrophe" as malnutrition rates there skyrocket.

For Israel's security, Arabs must not possess open borders, or engage 
in free trade with the world.

Like so many places in South Lebanon, the roads in and around Houla 
are severely damaged from the war. South Lebanon's streets have 
suddenly come to resemble their sister thoroughfares in Palestine. 
There, Israeli bulldozers have combined with decades of enforced 
neglect and the violence to birth a network of degraded and barely 
passable roads. Here in Lebanon, the same thing has been accomplished 
in a matter of weeks by dropping over a billion dollars worth of 
bombs and shells and tanks and soldiers on the South.

For Israel's security, Arabs must not possess modern roads.

 From the hills of Houla, one can see Israel/Palestine. Just over the 
border, and even before the war, Israel had permanently tethered a 
videodrone blimp, visible for all to see. The drone is constantly 
filming Houla, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Overhead, 
the low, humming sounds of Israel's unmanned reconnaissance planes 
have become another permanent part of the landscape.

For Israel's security, Arabs must not possess privacy.

On July 14th, 2006, Ibrahim Sleem owned a modest ranch house in 
Houla. Within the walls of his home now lay a surreal jumble of 
charred furniture, clothes and children's toys, broken glass, 
scattered fragments of wood, and chunks of concrete fallen from the 
walls and ceiling. Sixteen members of his family, including five 
children, gathered in this home on July 15th, for a quiet meal. As 
they were visiting after dinner, a bomb or shell exploded among them, 
killing Ibrahim's daughter Selma and his daughter-in-law, Zainab. It 
was an American ordinance that destroyed this home, and killed Zainab 
and Selma. The writing on the bomb's fragments is in English, not 
Hebrew. It happened at precisely 8:28pm. The clock that used to hang 
on the wall is now forever frozen at that moment.

Outside the home is a small shed, with tools hanging on its walls. 
Next to the shed is a modest flower garden, and a beautiful 
Eucalyptus tree. More than all of the destruction I have seen in 
these past weeks, much more than simply the damage I saw inside the 
Sleem family home-- that shed, that garden, and that tree tore a hole 
inside of me.

Someone lived in this place. Someone used those tools to maintain 
their home. Someone planted that garden, and carefully tended it. 
Someone sat beneath that tree in the afternoons and enjoyed a cup of 
tea. Someone loved this place.

Zainab Fawqi-Sleem was twenty-two years old and two months pregant 
when, for Israel's security, she was killed. Zainab's nine month old 
daughter, Nadine, will never know her mother's love. Zainab's unborn 
child will never know life at all.

Living in Lebanon today, I am left with a single, unanswered 
question. It's a terribly important question. It is a vitally 
important question.

The United States speaks for Israel's security from all we 
Islamo-Facist terrorist Arabs living throughout the Middle East. The 
United Nations Interim Force speaks for Israel's security here in 
Lebanon. During the war, Hosni Mubarak, the dictator of Egypt, spoke 
for Israel's security. During the war, King Abdullah, the dictator of 
Jordan, spoke for Israel's security. In Marjayoun, a mostly Christian 
village in South Lebanon, the Lebanese Army even offered the Israelis 
tea when they invaded.

For the West, and for all its pet Arab dictators, this is the proper 
moral response to Israeli terror. We Arabs must not only accept all 
of the bombs and the blockades. We must not only accept the 
destruction of our homes and dreams. We must, in fact, rejoice in our 
own devastation. This is, after all, the joyous "birth-pangs of a new 
Middle East."

My question, our question, Lebanon's question, is simply this: Who 
will speak for Zainab Fawqi-Sleem?

----- Ramzi Kysia is a Lebanese-American essayist and activist. He is 
currently working with LebanonSolidarity.org to resist war and renew 
shattered communities in South Lebanon.

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