FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Making of Issa

Beirut.

In 1982, Issa was five years-old. That year, Israel invaded Lebanon killing over 19,000 Lebanese civilians and more than 9,000 Palestinians in Lebanon. It was then that Israel watered the seeds of resistance in Lebanon–the seeds that led to Hezbollah’s formation, the seeds from which Issa would grow and from which 14 years later he would die resisting another Israeli invasion of Lebanon.

I knew Issa for 12 years and I will always remember him smiling shyly as he spoke of his new bride when he married two years ago, and how he would eagerly share pictures of his new daughter Fatimah, with pride radiating from every pore in his body. Issa was from southern Lebanon. He lived most of his life under Israeli occupation. He witnessed every day its reckless cruelty against his family, his people, his Lebanon. Like most southern Lebanese, he lost family members and homes to Israeli bombs.

Since 1968 Israel has killed some 33,630 Lebanese civilians and wounded 49,385 more.

While it was almost always the South that bore the brunt of Israel’s wrath, no Lebanese is untouched by this brutality. And no Lebanese is unaware that the international community has stood by, callously looking on as Israel kills with impunity.

Israel’s abductions of both Lebanese and Palestinian civilians also pass largely unnoticed, drawing no condemnation from world leaders.

Palestinian guerrillas abducted an Israeli soldier on June 25 in response to Israel’s abduction of two Palestinian civilians the previous day. As the world rallied behind Israel, that detail was hardly mentioned. There were no calls for their release, no acknowledgement that Palestinians had a right to defend themselves. Instead, as Israel unleashed it wrath on the civilians of Gaza, President Bush stood behind Israel and announced that it had a right to “defend” itself.

Today, with some 9,200 Palestinians wallowing in Israeli jails, most without trial or charges against them, Israel continues its assault on Palestinian cities and towns in the occupied West Bank and Gaza and continues to abduct Palestinian civilians, including senior political figures from the democratically-elected Hamas government and Palestinian Legislative Council members. The silence from the world is deafening.

When on July 12, Hezbollah fighters captured two Israeli soldiers hoping to exchange them for the six Lebanese held in Israeli prisons, Israel, again with America’s support, inflicted massive damage on the whole of Lebanon, destroying its fragile economy and killing upwards of 1,400 innocent civilians and injuring some 4,000.

Though Israel’s crimes are whitewashed as “self-defense”, their scars are burned into the memories of all Lebanese.

In 1982, Israel set up a militia that arrested, tortured and imprisoned Shiites in southern Lebanon. Most were held in the notorious Khiam Prison. When Israel was finally driven out of Lebanon 18 years later, Hezbollah opened Khiam to the public. It was a damning monument to the savagery of the prison that was run under the direction of Israel’s Shin Bet security force.

Hezbollah gave guided tours, often led by former prisoners who knew Khiam like the backs of their hands. They would stop outside each room to describe, in painful detail, the torture and cruelty that took place inside its walls. The solitary confinement rooms were particularly unsettling. After the prison was opened, the stench of human feces and urine was overwhelming–the human suffering palpable.

During this last war, Israel made sure to destroy the prison, flattening the evidence. It lies in ruins today. Another shred of the grim and damning evidence of Israel’s cruelty in Lebanon gone. But the scars of Khiam too are burned into the memories of the Lebanese.

When Israel invaded Lebanon this time, pounding the country and promising to take it back 20 years, Issa took up arms to fight; his will to live free or die trying far bigger than any label slapped onto him by the invaders. He came home to his wife and daughter one day to spend a few hours with them. He was killed the following day by an Israeli missile dropped from an un-manned drone.

Issa was the birth child of Israel. For every one Issa that dies unjustly and unnoticed by the international community, ten more are born. There is another way–justice.

RANA EL-KHATIB is a Palestinian/Lebanese poet and writer living in Beirut.

 

 

More articles by:

Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
A Tale of Two Cities
Peter Linebaugh
The Significance of The Common Wind
Bruce E. Levine
The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
Kathy Deacon
Coffee, Social Stratification and the Retail Sector in a Small Maritime Village
Nick Pemberton
Praise For America’s Second Leading Intellectual
Robert Hunziker
The Yellow Vest Insurgency – What’s Next?
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael F. Duggan
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
Victor Grossman
Sighs of Relief in Germany
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Robert Fantina
What Does Beto Have Against the Palestinians?
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Sartre, Said, Chomsky and the Meaning of the Public Intellectual
Andrew Glikson
Crimes Against the Earth
Robert Fisk
The Parasitic Relationship Between Power and the American Media
Stephen Cooper
When Will Journalism Grapple With the Ethics of Interviewing Mentally Ill Arrestees?
Jill Richardson
A War on Science, Morals and Law
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Evaggelos Vallianatos
It’s Not Easy Being Greek
Nomi Prins 
The Inequality Gap on a Planet Growing More Extreme
John W. Whitehead
Know Your Rights or You Will Lose Them
David Swanson
The Abolition of War Requires New Thoughts, Words, and Actions
J.P. Linstroth
Primates Are Us
Bill Willers
The War Against Cash
Jonah Raskin
Doris Lessing: What’s There to Celebrate?
Ralph Nader
Are the New Congressional Progressives Real? Use These Yardsticks to Find Out
Binoy Kampmark
William Blum: Anti-Imperial Advocate
Medea Benjamin – Alice Slater
Green New Deal Advocates Should Address Militarism
John Feffer
Review: Season 2 of Trump Presidency
Rich Whitney
General Motors’ Factories Should Not Be Closed. They Should Be Turned Over to the Workers
Christopher Brauchli
Deported for Christmas
Kerri Kennedy
This Holiday Season, I’m Standing With Migrants
Mel Gurtov
Weaponizing Humanitarian Aid
Thomas Knapp
Lame Duck Shutdown Theater Time: Pride Goeth Before a Wall?
George Wuerthner
The Thrill Bike Threat to the Elkhorn Mountains
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Selfhood and Her Ability to Act in the Public Domain: Resilience of Nadia Murad
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
On the Killing of an Ash Tree
Graham Peebles
Britain’s Homeless Crisis
Louis Proyect
America: a Breeding Ground for Maladjustment
Steve Carlson
A Hell of a Time
Dan Corjescu
America and The Last Ship
Jeffrey St. Clair
Booked Up: the 25 Best Books of 2018
David Yearsley
Bikini by Rita, Voice by Anita
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail