Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Annemarie and Emily

i have been absent for a while.

the war ended. maya's condition grew worse. she passed away and i have been left with a stain on my heart. what now? i have been living the past few weeks in total darkness, not know what lies ahead. not knowing if things could get any worse.. if i was going to lose anyone else... and today it almost happened in Palestine. i almost lost two more friends.

below i have posted an email i just received from Annemarie Jacir:

>Four hours ago my sister, her curator Carolyn and I were shot at by the Israeli army. My nerves are still shaky. We’ve been drinking every since. My legs are weak. I feel I can’t stand on them.

Today in downtown Ramallah at around 4:15 pm as we were driving down Ramallah’s main street….we had just bought kanafa to eat ….after spending the day at ‘amari camp.

I was driving down the main street. A taxi driver cut me off. I rolled down the window and cursed at him. We pulled over and Emily and Mohammed jumped out to buy kanafa. Then we continued, dropping off Mohammed at his car…which he had left in the center of town. We agreed to meet at Mohammed’s place down the street.

I was alone in the front seat. Emily and Carolyn in the back. Suddenly there was a van directly in front of our car. He veered a bit towards our car. I slowed down, wondering how I was going to pass him. And then he emerged from his window…pointing an m-16 across the street and spraying bullets.

The three of us hit the floor of the car. All around us…shooting, shooting, shooting. So close. So close.

And then on the other side of the street, another van – looking exactly like the first….men with guns spraying bullets everywhere.

Next to us a man with his 5-year old daughter… Like us, stuck between all the shooting. He opened his door and tossed his daughter to the ground with him.

I lifted my head…the man shooting was around 6 feet from me. Shooting away. Israeli secret service…dressed up like an Arab. They do this all the time…so they come into town and no one notices. Then I saw tens of Israeli soldiers crawling the streets all around us. Did they come out of the vans? They were in full uniform, unlike the two van ‘drivers’ who had dressed as plain clothes Arab men. “Mustarabeen”…Israeli agents who dress like Arabs.

Shooting shooting. I covered my head. All I could think about was Emily in the backseat and Carolyn. Emily…my precious sister…my beautiful sister… Kamran in Scotland… the man who escaped with his daughter. I braced myself at the shooting continued. Told myself calmly that if the windows of the car were hit. Which they surely were about to be. That it was nothing. To remember that all that meant was the window was broken and not necessarily that one of us had been hit.

Mohammed called…I picked up the phone…my voice broke. Crumbled. I hadn’t realized my fear until that moment. Why couldn’t I speak? Why? I didn’t recognize my own voice. I knew I sounded hysterical. I didn’t want to sound like that.

Took another peak. Army everywhere. The men shooting shooting shooting shooting….god, that sound.

Emily. Emily in the back. We made eye contact. What could we do. We were stuck in the middle of a shoot out ..right in the middle of it…with no where to go.

We couldn’t even get out of the car and make a run for it. We’d have been shot down.

I wondered if they’d kill us. I wondered if someone on the street might duck into our car for cover. But the streets were empty.

We stayed on the floor of the car for 20 minutes like that. I thought, really truly felt I was going to die this way. And I didn’t want to die like that. Totally helpless. In a trapped car.

The more the shooting went on, the more I felt my nerves turn to jelly. And then…

Bam. Our car was hit. I heard glass break. I covered my head. My head was covered anyway I think. For fear of the car windows being hit.

We were ok. Emily was ok. Carolyn was safe.

More time passed. How stupid to have my hands on my head. what would that do? Where is Emily? I think i will die today. I am going to die today.

I peaked out. I saw the Israelis grab a man off the street and shove him into the other van.

Then the undercover Israeli closest to us, in the van, …decided to leave. Operation over. He pulled towards us. The criminal. I stared at his face, my head on the passenger seat…he didn’t have enough room to get by us,…so he smashed into our car and scraped his way by. The whole time I couldn’t take my eyes off his face. He didn’t even notice us I think. Three women so close to him, stuck to the floor of the car…

We are all ok. Nothing happened. There’s a bullet in the car. It hit the back of the car. It didn’t hit the gas tank. It didn’t hit the gas tank. We are ok. But three young men tonight are not. And many, many more are not. This is nothing new, nothing out of the ordinary.

A man disappeared this afternoon. Two men were killed. It won’t even make the news.


"Nothing much is happening in Beirut, we go on from day to day looking forward to that moment when we can come and go to our homeland without any restrictions or special permission. Regards to all in Bethlehem. Yours, Edward"

- June 12th, 1968 (letter from my uncle to his family)

Annemarie Jacir

Friday, October 27, 2006

goodbye maya.

1.26.1976 - 10.26.2006

i miss you so much already.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

i'm alive.

ceasefire does not happen overnight.

it's not like you wake up one morning and the birds are singing and the sun is shining and you go to work like nothing ever happened.

week of hell.
this past week has been slow and tough. it is almost as if last month was all played in fast forward and then since the ceasefire, we are moving in ultra slow motion. for the last month, i just wanted everything to end... now, i don't know where to begin. for the last month, i would purposefully try and numb myself because i was too afraid to feel everything... today i am begging for my feelings to return because without them, i can not live.

after a month of stress and living in fear, everything has caught up with throat hurts a lot and my stomach is in a perpetual mess. the knots have not gone yet and its beginning to cause physical damage. i am down, down, down. i couldn't lift a finger to type. i couldn't answer my phone calls. it was so difficult to wake up in the morning... (and i'm usually mrs. super positive!)

i guess it has all hit us one way or another- things are never going to be the same again. we can not live the lives we had a few months ago.

we have to live better. somehow... if that makes any sense.

i have been having the worst of nightmares... i don't know why i'm getting them now. before, i would give anything for a good nights rest. for a quiet night... now that i am sleeping, finally, i have allowed myself to return to the dreamworld... but, it's not a very nice place at the moment. it is full of fears and worries... and so many dead people.

i don't know if i could handle war again. i don't know how it is that i am still alive... i don't know if i could do it all over again. please, i don't want to.

the aftermath.
there were mass burials held this past week. so many bodies had been left to rot because no one could access them before. now they are being buried.

families are wondering why...? why....?

many people are getting sick. there is a new virus going around. i heard it has something to do with the toxins coming out of the damaged buildings plus the dead bodies... it could be from the oil spill.. from the tanks that burned for three weeks covering Beirut in a black smog... the virus lasts for a few days... its effects are vomiting, diarrhea and very high temperature.

on the day of the ceasefire, many people began the return to their homes. they crossed the rivers by foot when needed....they were so determined to get home.. to see if they still had a home. Nasrallah announced that he was going to fix all the houses for free... and that he would provide money to pay for accommodations for people who had lost their homes, while he fixed their old homes.

there are cluster bombs everywhere. they dropped cluster bombs on us... there are so many that didn't explode... they are so so dangerous.

in dahiye the other day, people put up banners on top of the rubble of the buildings. the banner read: made in USA.

the oil spill.
we have spent this last week trying to clean up our beaches. we were shovelling poluted sand and setting up absorbant "boomers" to capture the oil that is still spilling in from the water onto the beach. it has been physically demanding work. we went down wearing masks, gloves and protective clothing under the summer heat... shoveling sand off the beach and putting it into a big pile that would be later moved/contained. the ministry of environment has been slow to act. so, we, the civilians, as always, are taking care of our beautiful country.

the oil has been in our waters and on our beach for 5 weeks now. it is the worst environmental disaster Lebanon has ever seen. in most oil spills, the spill is cleaned up within 72 hours. it has been 5 weeks in Lebanon and we have yet to see a proper clean up process. a lot of the oil is now so deep into the sand and rocks, it will take years and years to clean up. a lot of the oil sunk and has now settled on the sea bed.. this is almost impossible to clean. a lot of the oil in the water has now broken into small globs... like a mirror that has been smashed into shards... making it also almost impossible to clean.

i wonder... why. why did the Israelies target a power plant? there were no Hizuballah fighters hiding there. it was no where near Hizuballah territory. this power plant is located only 30km south of Beirut in an area called Jiye. Jiye is where all our great beach spots are. Jiye is a touristic spot. Jiye is where all the girls flaunt their new g string bikinis and all the boys flex their hard earned muscles. Jiye is where we take Tapi to on Sundays to play with her ball on the beach. Jiye is where we somehow run into the same people we were hanging out with the night before. Jiye is where we somehow continue the conversations from the night before over an ice cold beer. Jiye today, however, is black, dark and toxic.

did they do this on purpose? part of the plan to wreck economical damage on the country? ruin our tourist season... knowing that at this time of the year, the current moves North...away from Israel.

please, this is just too much. today, as i was on the beach, redistributing the boomers that are soaked in this heavy fuel oil... dragging them across the beach... i caught myself wondering how on Earth i was ever going to get pregnant now.

maya had her chemotherapy session and she did really well with it. she has been very positive and is determined to stay in Lebanon now more than ever.

not friends.
there has already been a breach of the ceasefire from the Israeli side... i wonder if it was reported, out there in the West? there was an air raid on Baalbeck a few days ago... this UN resolution is really fragile.

imagine it was the other way around... imagine the Lebanese army was occupying Israel, blowing up the country... conducting air raids as it sees fit, even after a ceasefire has been called.... imagine it was that way around... imagine what the world would be saying and doing.

why is it that Israel has a green light for everything?

why is it that Israel identifies itself through violence and terror?

after thought:
our generation is a beautiful one. we are all connected. somehow. online, at least. we have tools our father and mothers did not have. these tools should help us to understand each other better. i really believe that we have the power to change things. we are living in a beautiful era of telecommunications and global understanding.

a cold war can not exist anymore.

to all who have been posting comments.
i am sorry i have not been able to respond to you all ... i guess i'm not much of a "blogger", but rather see this as a sort of online diary. it is difficult for me to respond to most of your questions. i am not a politician. i don't understand how their minds work.

for those leaving beautiful messages, i thank you from the bottom of my heart. you have become part of my everyday being. i have come to recognize so many of you now... and often look forward to your comments. they give me strength. thank you.

i may not be posting as often as i was before because really, there is so much work to be done now. being online these days is a sort of luxury. i am sorry if any of you were worried by my absence. thank you so much for thinking of me.

with love, always,

Sunday, August 13, 2006

on the eve of ceasefire

this morning, i woke up with a smile on my face. my husband had jumped on top of me, kissing me all over my face, saying that the war was going to end.. that the UN voted... that things were going to get better now. i had only fallen asleep two hours earlier, but jumped out of bed with a kind of energy i hadn't had in over a month. it was a good morning.

everything changes this weekend.

things are supposed to come to some kind of end. one way or another.

on the eve of ceasefire, i have mixed emotions.

i am grateful that things are coming to and end.

however, the real work now lies ahead of us. its not just about rebuilding.. lives, country and moral. but, it's also about moving forward positively on all sides.

war instils hatred in people. we as human beings have to make sure that we don't fall into the vicious cycle of hate.

we have to rise above the politics and speak as citizens of beautiful Mother Earth.

i don't believe that we are born to hate. i believe that it is conditioned through things like fear, violence, oppression and misunderstanding.

one should not have to live in fear. one should not have to be subjected to violence.

it seems these days that violence and fear govern our lives. it is all over the tv and in the news... but we should not let it. it is a disguise people use for their own selfish gains. the reality of life is love not fear. we have to remember that.

life is beautiful... it is like the never ending possibilities of youth... it is like the first kiss...

remember that scene in The Matrix (the 3rd one), right at the end, when Neo and Trinity enter the Machine World... they are flying their plane, holding hands... love is guiding them through the war zone. then they shoot up into the sky, cutting away from the darkness, into the electric clouds... fighting for their life... then suddenly they get through it and they see Earth for what it really is: beautiful clear skies... and then Trinity says "beautiful."

i wonder if we can do that too.

if there is one thing i have learned this past month, it is that life is so precious. in one second, your whole life could change. one day i was taking artwork down from a gallery about to send the paintings to their new respective owners... the next morning, our airport was bombed and we were at war. just like that.

my life had been so hectic at the start of the year... i was busy preparing for my first solo exhibit in Lebanon to take place in May. i was working hard in my studio every day. simultaneously, i was organizing an exhibit to take place in June. it was a big one. 21 artists and a whole month of events to go with it. i put so many things in my life on hold. i kept saying to myself and everyone else around me (including my husband) " in July, i will take a vacation. in July i will have my old life back. we will hang out in July. we will go to the beach in July. yeah, maybe i might even finally decide to get pregnant! i just can't do anything until July..."

and look what happened in July.... and i certainly don't think i will get to go to the beach again for a long long time. several years, at least.

life is so so precious.

Friday, August 11, 2006

thank you, patti

thank you for your music. thank you for your song about Qana. you can listen to it here.

its raining bombs...

last night, i counted at least 12 explosions. it was a difficult night. they just wouldn't stop. i only heard 12, others say there were at least 18... they just kept going. the Israeli army announced yesterday that they were expanding their attacks into Beirut... and indeed they did, hitting areas in central Beirut!

today has been difficult getting online. electricity is less and less. we are down to about 2 hours a day. because there is a fuel and diesel shortage, it has become difficult to keep the generators going.

you know in Beirut, everyone lives in apartment buildings.. with the electricity shortage, it has become hard for the elderly to move in and out of their homes. no one wants to get stuck having to climb stairs to the 12th floor they live on.

my grandma lives on the 6th floor. she is currently bed ridden. i went to see her yesterday.. or was it the day before. she is doing well.. i told her to enjoy her stay in bed because there was nothing much going on for her to see outside, and that anyways it was waaaaaaay too hot. i am not sure if she really knows about what is going on. we don't let her watch the news and we tell her the bomb sounds are fireworks! she lived the civil war in Lebanon, and definitely knows what bombs sound like... so, i think she is just playing along with us to keep us happy. my grand ma was my first muse. i used to paint her a lot when i was younger.

today, i had some errands to run... along the way, i ran into some friends i hadn't seen in over a month! i drove though roads i haven't been on in weeks! wow. it felt so gooooooood. so funny how the simplest things can make you so happy now.

as the situation is getting worse, health and sanitation is deteriorating. the streets of Beirut smell bad. but her citizens are trying hard to stay on top of things. so many people have volunteered their time to help. even the garbage collectors have recruited some volunteers.

we have finally decided that we can no longer wait for a ceasefire to start the oil spill clean up. the oil has been sitting on our beaches for almost a month now. we have been working on putting together a team of civilian volunteers and NGOs to go down to the beach and at least start with what we can do. ie: shoveling the oil off the sand, finding machinery that can suck oil out of the bays and ports... we are all worried about safety though. the Israeli army has been targeting civilians, UN, Red Cross, etc... they have been blowing things up mercilessly. how do we know we won't be targeted? more to come on this soon.

i saw the news about the Heathrow bombing plot... don't know what to say... such devastating news... we don't have to live like this. things could be so much better. they could be so much simpler. seeing the passengers stranded...they reminded me of the displaced people here in Lebanon. i hope they are ok.

Call for Action

Call for Action
August 7th, 2006
‘Lebanon: An Open Country for Civil Resistance’
Civilian Resistance: Call For Action & Solidarity For Lebanon

Website for more info, official press release, media contacts, and language versions:

Endorse this call for nonviolent action!

We, the people of Lebanon, call upon the local and international community to join a campaign of civil resistance to Israel’s war against our country and our people. We declare Lebanon an open country for civil resistance.

In the face of Israel’s systematic killing of our people, the indiscriminate bombing of our towns, the scorching of our villages, and the attempted destruction of our civil infrastructure, we say NO!

In the face of the forced expulsion of a quarter of our population from their homes throughout Lebanon, and the complicity of governments and international bodies, we re-affirm the acts of civil resistance that began from the first day of the Israeli assault, and we stress and add the urgent need TO ACT!

We urge you to join us in defying Israel’s aggression against our country and in defending the rights of the inhabitants throughout Lebanon, and particularly in the South, to live on their land. When the United Nations, created to preserve peace and security in the world, is paralyzed; when governments become complicit in war crimes, then people must show their strength and rise up. When justice and human rights are scorned, those who care must unite in their defense.

Building on our belief in our country, the efforts of the civil resistance, and on the arrival of the internationals coming to Lebanon for solidarity, we declare that Lebanon is an open country for civil resistance, starting from August 12.

On August 12 at 7 am, we will gather in Martyrs’ Square to form a civilian convoy to the south of Lebanon. Hundreds of Lebanese and international civilians will carry relief as an expression of solidarity for the inhabitants of the heavily destroyed south who have been bravely withstanding the assault of the Israeli military.

After August 12th, the campaign will continue with a series of civil actions for which your presence and participation is needed. Working together in solidarity we will overcome the complacency, inaction, and complicity of the international community and we will deny Israel its goal of removing Lebanese from their land and destroying the fabric of our country.

To sign up to join the convoy, send an email to one of the following addresses:

If you are in Lebanon
Email Rania Masri:

If you are an international
Email Adam Shapiro:

If you are Spanish speaking
Email Alberto Arce:

If you are outside Lebanon and want to sign up and join the convoy, you should know:

You need to obtain a visa for Lebanon and for Syria if your plan is to enter Lebanon from Syria.
We don’t have the funds to cover for the cost of your travel, however we can help with finding accomodations.
Please check the website of this campaign regularly:

This campaign is thus far endorsed by more than 200 organizations, including:
The Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND), International Solidarity Movement (ISM), Cultural Center for Southern Lebanon, Norwegian People’s Aid, Lebanese Center for Policy Studies, Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections, Frontiers, Kafa, Nahwa al-Muwatiniya, Spring Hints, Hayya Bina, Lebanese Transparency Association, Amam05, Lebanese Center for Civic Education, Let’s Build Trust, CRTD-A, Solida, National Association for Vocational Training and Social Services, Lebanese Development Pioneers, Nadi Li Koul Alnas, Lecorvaw, Samidoun, and The Cultural Movement-Antelias.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

1 month anniversary

it has been one month now.

for one month, lebanon has had bombs drop on her.

in one month, i have aged 50 years.

for one month, i have cried everyday.

as the days unfold, the news is only getting worse. i find myself sinking... it has become so hard to write.

how many times can i keep repeating..."help, israel is targeting civilians... israel is blowing up the whole country... infrastructure has been hit...all the highways have been hit... roads and bridges, hit... food and wheat storages, gas and fuel supplies, communication towers, ports...all hit...hospitals shutting down because they have run out of fuel... the whole country is slowly being choked to death.

how many times can i keep repeating that the israeli army is hitting trucks carrying food and aid... they are hitting the red cross... the un...

how many times can i write that war crimes are being committed. that phosphorous bombs are being dropped on children...

how many times can i say that the oil spill has wrecked our coast and marine life... it has now spread to syria, by the way... even after the clean up, it will be 6 years before the environment can stabilize again.

how many times can i keep saying that the planes are getting louder.. the bombs are getting louder!

over 1 million displaced civilians now.
over 1,000 civilians killed.

how many times do i have to say that my country is being destroyed piece by piece. entire neighborhoods in my city no longer exist. entire families have disappeared. the south of lebanon is one fire.

for one month, i have seen lebanon brutalized. her citizens crushed under the rubble of their own homes.

you can not make peace through bombs.

in a week, if we do not get fuel into the country, the hospital that maya goes to will be shut down. she will not be able to get her chemotherapy. that is a few days from now.

a great friend sent me a song. it has become my mantra. every time i think i'm going to break down, panic, etc.. i put this song on full blast... and it somehow gets me to smile :) if there is no electricity, then i sing it out loud to myself.. and to my sister.. and brother.. and dogs.. and neighbors... hahaha...never thought i'd say this, but, long live happy music!!

here are some of the lyrics:

why must our children play in the streets,
broken hearts and faded dreams,
peace and love to everyone that you meet,
don't you worry, it could be so sweet,
just look to the rainbow, you will see
sun will shine till eternity,
i've got so much love in my heart,
no-one can tear it apart,

feel the love generation,
yeah, yeah, yeah,
feel the love generation,
c'mon c'mon c'mon c'mon yeah,


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

i love beirut

i love beirut. i love her deep blue sea...
inspired by all the i love beirut stickers popping up around the world.