Lebanon: Art, Water and Tensions

This week was marred by the kidnapping and killing of two Lebanese youth, bringing back memories from the dark years of the Lebanese civil war. This was the topic updated and analysed by most Lebanese bloggers. In addition to this sad event, there are blog posts featuring paintings, poetry and political analysis about the expected water crisis in the Middle East as well as the huge billboard with photos of the captured Israeli soldiers that was place on the southern Lebanese borders.

Below is one of Maroun Kassab’s series of 33 paintings addressing the subject of the Israeli July 2006 war against Lebanon. The number 33 has its significance, as he mentioned in his blog: “30 of them addressing the Lebanese victims, and 3 of them to the Israeli victims of the 33 days of the war”.

This is a painting out of a series I am working on. It explores the effects of the war machine on the human element. It is entitled “Marwaheen” for the massacre that was committed by the Israeli war machine in Lebanon last year.

Boubeyeh has this poem where she compares some one’s request for a lover that satisfies certain materialistic standards:

You ask for a lover with a frame of gold,
To hang on my social wall of achievements.
You ask for a lover with a full package,
An economic status of comfort,
A man-given title of significance,
And a God-given gift of reproduction.

and her more romantic, passionate and dreamy lover with non-materialistic values:

When my lover smiles,
Time ceases to exist.
When my lover talks,
The planets halt to listen.
When my lover holds my body tight,
Freedom beats underneath my ribs,
Passion pulses inside my veins,
My eyes grow blind,
And my ears are deaf.
My lover is my final destination,
The cradle of civilization,
The essence of existence,
The only society to which I belong.

Water and billboards inSouth Lebanon
Dr. Rami Zurayk discusses the dangers expected if the plans to privatize water in Lebanon and the Middle East is implemented. In addition to the expected water–crisis, he writes about why the poor are more susceptible to bad eating habits and to obesity than others.

Bech interprets the placing of a large billboard on the borders South of Lebanon, displaying images of the two Israeli soldiers held by Hezbollah, as one of the ways that the party uses to maintain the support of its followers or enthusiasts.

One of many examples showing that Hizbullah has been meeting a huge challenge to convince the population that it still made sense to support the party, especially after the huge losses suffered. This shows the extent to which the party is in a constant battle to construct its legitimacy, and that constituencies are not monolithic rigid entities that follow just because they're “brain-washed” by some ideas that are somehow everlastingly marking.

Kidnap and Murder
The abhorrent crime of the kidnapping and killing of the two Lebanese youth, Ziad Ghandour (12) and Ziad Kabalan (25) threatened to stir violence in a country already experiencing high sectarian tensions. MFL explains why such an act is so dangerous in a country that has just experienced death on a massive scale:

Then of course, we have the memories of the clashes with the Israelis. The Israelis always claim to fight Hezbollah, but end up bombing 80% of Lebanon, and no one can ever forget the 1300 victims, and 5000 wounded. Yet, the death of the two Ziads (with one who is only 12 years old) shock the very foundations of Lebanese social life. The barrier of kidnapping and killing was revived, despite the fact if the kidnappings were “vengeance kidnappings” or not, the terror was there, and two kids paid for it.

On the same day that Lebanon was burying the two victims and in national mourning with schools and universities closed, Miss Lebanon pageant took place and was broadcast to the Arab world and beyond by one of the TV stations hosting the event. Joumana Mattar Moukarzel saw this as a sign of courage and resilience:

A few days ago, 2 young men were kidnapped and murdered; and yesterday, Miss Lebanon pageant was underway and a new representative of Lebanese beauty was chosen…
It takes courage to vacillate between the extremes of the emotional sphere… between joy and sadness, happiness and fear, love and hate…
We are a resilient people, bordering on insensitivity, for over-exposure renders our senses numb, our hearts colder, and our compassion weaker.

While Jeha had another take on the same subject of the mourning and pageant taking place the same day considering it as adding insult to murder:

Not in my country. At least, not in the Lebanon I grew up in. Common human decency requires that they postponed the pageant, at least for the day of the funeral. I have no doubt that they would have done so for any of our inconsequential politicians.

That will be it for this week. See you next week.

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