Sunday, September 17, 2006

Eyewitness Lebanon - Delegation from Campaign for Accountability

September 11, 2006

Campaign for Accountability
Fact-Finding & Solidarity Delegation in Lebanon

Today, a fact-finding delegation organized by Ramsey Clark and the Campaign for Accountability arrived in Beirut, Lebanon. The delegation will be visiting the devastated country throughout the coming week and filing daily reports.

This fact-finding and solidarity delegation is the next step after the very successful August 30th opening session of the Campaign for Accountability. This meeting, held at the UN Church Center in NYC, drew more than 250 people for a program that included
eyewitness and expert testimony, video, and written evidence. For an initial report and to download some of the materials from the meeting, go to

The delegation is planning to head to southern Lebanon tomorrow, to view some of the areas hit hardest by the U.S./Israeli attacks. It is vital that the people of the U.S. let the people of Lebanon know that we do not support the brutal foreign policy of George W. Bush. This delegation is a concrete way to demonstrate our solidarity with the people of Lebanon, and with all of the people of the region who struggle against U.S./Israeli oppression and occupation.

The delegation will also be meeting with political leaders and community organizers in Lebanon. We cannot leave it to the State Department to decide what voices can be heard, and we cannot allow them to criminalize as 'terrorists' anyone who defies Bush's plans for a 'New Middle East.'

The delegation will be filing daily written reports, as well as photos and audio interviews. For updates, see the Eyewitness Lebanon blog at

We need your help to continue to build this Campaign for Accountability. With the materials gathered by the delegation and assembled in the initial forum of the Campaign for Accountability, we plan to assist and organize meetings, teach-ins, and forums across the U.S. We need your help to do this. Please contact us if you are interested in organizing a local meeting. We also need help with the enormous costs of this campaign--renting meeting spaces, printing literature, producing multimedia presentations, etc. Please consider making a donation to help build this campaign.




Report from Lebanon

Day 1
Leilani Dowell

"The Lebanese people are not against the people of the United States. We know the difference between the people of the U.S. and its government, and it is its terrorist government that we are against."

We arrived in Beirut, Lebanon today after flying into Amman, Jordan yesterday--where the first signs as we walked into the terminal in Amman were those of greeters waiting to receive people off our flight from DynCorp and Black Water--the same mercenary corporations that the rich hired in New Orleans to protect their property after Katrina. These free-lance mercenaries were most likely headed to Iraq.

Today, we went to the neighborhood of Haret el Hreik in South Beirut, a large Shiite community, where Hezbollah has strong support and Hezbollah television station Al Manar was housed. Israel razed the station in their first days of bombing, as well as most of the neighborhood of seven or eight story apartment buildings, to the ground. Huge craters were all that remain of many buildings--craters created not by the excavation of the debris, but by the magnitude and force of the bombs dropped.

The woman we are staying with told us that Israeli planes dropped flyers telling the people to flee their homes before the bombing began. When we asked her whether she had copies of the flyer, she said no--like others, she was too afraid to leave the house because Israel was randomly targeting people on the street.

Under a rain of thousands of bombs targeting hundreds of buildings, people fled the neighborhood. Today we could see men, women and children returning to the area to sort through the rubble for anything they could find that remained of their homes. The destruction is devastating in a way that I can't even put into words.

And yet the work of cleaning out the debris -- a monumental task -- has already been undertaken by Hezbollah. The resistance movement has crews in the area, loading debris onto trucks and cleaning out shattered apartments. We watched several workers carefully removing furniture from an apartment on the fifth floor of a ruined building, as a service to the family that resided there. And with all this work going on, workers today had hosed down a large area and were setting up plastic lawn chairs and speakers for a religious event they were having tonight--we were told that Hezbollah organized it so that the neighborhood could feel like it was getting back to its life.

On our way, we passed one of the many highway overpasses that had been bombed during the Israeli assault. While traffic was definitely slower because of the damage, what we noticed was that the area beneath the break had already been cleaned, and people were sitting around it leisurely, even selling their wares to cars that passed by. The images of a trip I took to New Orleans after Katrina came to my mind over and over today--where, in the same amount of time, nothing had been done to restore the area for the people who lived there; and where, I know, one year later, little-to-nothing has been done.

We were able to talk to some of the workers and neighborhood residents. What struck me the most about our conversations is that every single person told us, "The Lebanese people are not against the people of the United States. We know the difference between the people of the U.S. and its government, and it is its terrorist government that we are against." There was a clear understanding that this most recent attack of Israel on Lebanon was sanctioned and funded by the U.S.

Hezbollah has adopted the slogan "The Divine Victory," and beautiful signs can be seen throughout Beirut with this message in English and Arabic--some emblazoned with pictures of katuschkas, some of Sheik Hassan Nasrallah. Other billboards emphasized the overwhelming civilian toll with pictures of wounded children and the Israeli term that they only struck, "extremely precise targets." On top of the ruins of bombed out apartments and other buildings, signs read "Made in U.S.A." and "The New Middle Beast." It appears that the "Divine Victory" slogan serves not only as a reminder of the great triumph that the Lebanese resistance movement has just won; but also as motivation for the ongoing struggle, the struggle against imperialism that the resistance movement here is confident will be won.

Tony Blair was in Beirut today, and protests were scheduled. There is also a demonstration being called to mark the anniversary of the massacre at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps, here in Beirut, on Friday. Stay posted.

Daily updates will be posted at

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