Beautiful Dispatch From Beirut

This comes from a diary entry sent by visual artist Zena el-Khalil to the website Electronic Intifada

She is maintaining a blog at:

I found it incredibly moving and a straight shot of humanity and dignity from the ugly zone of slaughter that the Israelis have turned Beirut into. Because of people with courage and vision like Ms. el-Khalil, there is hope and dignity still in Beirut.

Today I drove through downtown on my way to visit my
parents. I was driving alone and was a bit nervous.
First time in a car alone since this whole thing
started … But I had to see my parents.

I came across a red light and stopped. The streets were
empty, and I caught myself wondering why I stopped and
didn’t just go through. Streets were totally empty – no
other cars, no traffic police. Then I remembered my
latest policy that is helping to keep me sane; that
even under attack, we should not lose our manners. That
even under attack, there are still some regulations we
should abide by. Somehow, by not crossing the red
light, I was able to maintain some dignity.

Then I looked into my rearview mirror and saw other
cars approaching. I closed my eyes and in a fit of
prayer wished that they would stop too. That somehow,
if they didn’t cross the light, it would indicate that
somehow we are all thinking the same. I know most of
you have heard about Lebanese drivers … They never
stop at red lights! Ladies and gentlemen, today, they

I opened my eyes and then burst into tears. All the
cars had stopped. Everyone was behaving. It was a ray
of hope today. It’s the little things that make you
happy. I turned and smiled and nodded my head to the
other drivers. Maybe they thought this bleached blond
was flirting with them.

I don’t want to write about all the miserable moments I
had today. They were too many. And how can I find the
words to really express my despair?

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