Beirut Explosion: 368 Days Later

It has been a year and three days since the Beirut, Lebanon port explosion rocked the city and the country, leaving over 100 dead and some 6,000+ injured.

The blast that followed the explosion shook Beirut with a force akin to that of a 3.3 magnitude earthquake. Witnesses in the Eastern Mediterranean Island of Cyprus, more than 250 kilometers across the waters, felt the tremors.

The destruction of the port, many city landmarks, and large swaths of Beirut’s downtown neighborhoods has left an indelible mark on the lives of Lebanon’s traumatized population.

Add to this calamitous explosion an ailing economy, the spread of COVID, and a corrupt government led by ideological leaders who’ve lined their pockets with bakhshish and barteel, Lebanon’s descent into chaos and insolvency should not be a surprise.

The once-upon-a-time Switzerland of the Middle East is today a failed state not unlike the many failed states in the region. Had it not been for the largesse of US foreign aid to Israel, Egypt, and Jordan and Gulf oil wealth, the region’s politically corrupt nation states would be in the same economic and political turmoil.

Even to this day Lebanese politicians are sabotaging any attempts to investigate the causes of the explosion.

Footage of thermal imaging showing a direct missile hit right before the explosion and reports of drones and military jets flying in the vicinity have not been fully investigated. One would think that with all the intelligence eaves dropping capabilities the US possesses in the region, a report denying or confirming a deliberate assault would be forthcoming. No such official reports have been issued.

A tiny country with no natural resources, a pawn of Western (US and European) and regional (Syrian and Israeli) hegemonic designs, a once-playground of the oil-rich thugs of the region, an archaic confessional political system concocted by La Mère France, a rabid religious and ideological tribalism, and corruption at every level have doomed the country into perpetual bedlam.

In addition to the afore mentioned, the influx of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees post the 1948 Nakba, as well as the influx of over a million Syrian and Iraqi refugees in recent years, Lebanon’s paucity of material resources and non-existent political clout in the international arena have forced the tiny country to swim in a sea of power and resource-grabbing nations that include Israel, Syria, and the many subservient clients of the US, EU, and Russia.

Furthermore, Israel’s repeated genocidal assaults on Lebanon (1978, 1982, 1993, 2006) in which tens of thousands of civilians have been killed and hundreds of thousands maimed, including the massive destruction of entire neighborhoods and infrastructure/s have given rise to the emergence of a heretofore Shiite trodden minority that has emerged (with Iranian help) as a powerful Hezbollah political party that has been the only military deterrence to Israeli adventurism.

Hardly a week goes by without Israel’s invading Lebanese air space on their way to bomb Syrian or Iranian positions. Lebanese appeals to the UN and the US to stop these flagrant violations of its air space have gone, and will continue to go on, unheeded.

One of the most pathetically sinister, hateful, baneful, and vengeful comments to have emerged within two days of the 2020 explosion was, unsurprisingly, from the rabidly sick racist mind of a former member of Israel’s parliament.

Moshe Feiglin, on August 8, 2020, the leader of Israel’s fascistic ultra-right Zehut party posted the following on Facebook: “Today is Tu B’Av, a day of joy, and a true and huge thank you to God and all the geniuses and heroes really(!) who organized for us this wonderful celebration in honor of the day of love.”  In the Jewish tradition Tu B’Av is a holiday akin to Valentine’s Day. He further added that “Marking Tu B’Av holiday, we’ve got a fantastic fireworks show from Beirut’s port, …  He also suggested the explosions were not caused by an industrial accident and reportedly told a local radio station later that Israel ‘should be proud’ if it was somehow responsible.”

What is it about Israeli rabbis who preach Jewish superiority over others (“gentiles are born to serve Jews”) and politicians who egg on fanatic Jewish settlers to kill, maim, and evict Palestinians from their ancestral lands?

Have the victims of Christian Europe’s banal 20th genocide against Jews, Romas, and others, an orgy of killing of some 11 million civilians, not learned anything from the extermination camps?

And what is it about America’s subservient politicians? Not a single condemnation of this anti-Semitic reduction of human calamity to a romantic Valentine Day expression?

Yes, boys and girls, the Lebanese are also Semitic.

The aftermath and reverberations of the Beirut blast that shuddered Lebanon and shattered the lives of its resilient citizens in the rebuilt beautiful city of Beirut will no doubt be felt for years to come.


Raouf J. Halaby is a Professor Emeritus of English and Art. He is a writer, photographer, sculptor, an avid gardener, and a peace activist.