Saturday, June 19, 2004

Yesterday, I was at the Burj Al-Barajnah Refugee Camp. It is now important for me to speak at one refugee camp during every visit to Lebanon. It is a world away from the ostentation and flashiness of downtown Beirut. The setup (my sister's idea) was original: it was in a small street (a little alley really) inside the camp. The audience ranged in age from youngsters to people in their 80s. It always makes me sad to meet old Palestinians because I know that they know that they may never see their homeland again. One old man came to me and said that he worked on the estate of my uncle (after whom I was named) in Tyre. He said that I was nothing like him, which he meant as a compliment. (My uncle died from alcohol abuse). I spoke on the US strategic stance in the Middle East. The people in the audience (and in the camp) belonged to many Palestinian factions: PFLP, DFLP, Fath, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, etc.). I was not happy that the seated audience was entirely male, although there were females listening and watching from..balconies of their apartments. I saw two pictures of Saddam on the wall next to me. That did not please me, and I made sure to go on about what I think about Saddam and his horrific record, and his exploitation of the Palestinian problem for his own ends. Interestingly, there was a nice Lebanese student from S.F. who videotaped the whole thing. After my talk, a person in the audience protested that I made fun of the Taliban. He said that the Taliban were "an exemplary Islamic model" for Muslims. He was the first Taliban fan I ever met. I replied to that, of course, and said that I do not meet admirers of the Taliban, and listed their records of abuse and oppression. The audience, typical of Palestinian of all ages, were very interested in world affair and political analysis. Kids were running around while I was talking. That was funny. It was hot too. Now I read some of the comments in reaction to my criticisms of Tariq Ali. I stand by my criticisms of him. He does not know what he is talking about when he speaks about Iraq. I also did not know that there are fans of car bombs among visitors to this site. Attacks on civilians can NOT, and should NOT, be supported in my dictionary. And I did not learn about the Wahhabi fanatics from Newsweek magazine. I learned about that here in Lebanon from people who should know, including from Hasan Nasrallah. I do not understand why one cannot support the right of people to oppose and fight occupation, without having to support the kooks of Wahhabi groups who specialize in attacks on civilians and in horrific beheading. That is not my idea of "resistance," nor was it the idea of Che or Jiab or George Habash (the real one, not the one using his name here). The Wahhabi fanatics have an agenda that does not overlap with mine, and should not overlap with anybody's who cares about justice and liberty. This should not affect one's firm rejection of US occupation of Iraq, of course.