OCTOBER 1, 2020


A catastrophic fire in Beirut attracted well-deserved attention to the tragedy of its suffering residents. Even those distanced from the explosion were wounded by shattered glass. Lebanese at home and abroad shared profound sorrow about their most valuable Beirut, which has already faced other difficult challenges including Coronavirus, banking limitations, and of course, a corrupt political system.

Golden Beirut was an international capital of cosmopolitan joy and human dignity. It suffered an outdated political secretariat system that allowed armed militia chiefs to loot public funds and transfer millions to their private accounts abroad while decent dignified Lebanese had to suffer every day. Hundreds of thousands of protestors last year took to the streets, demanding the end of that political system. There was a popular saying that there were eighteen religious sects yet the most influential was the nineteenth: apportioned politicians exploiting all sects.

Answers to questions about what actually happened at the port explosion remain a mystery. In reference to the explosives: why did the explosives remain for over 7 years? Who paid for them? Who paid to store them? Who made money off adverting their clearance elsewhere? Was it merely an accidental fire from welding a nearby door? Perhaps a bomb from elsewhere, a missile? So many questions. Very few clear facts except that ordinary people are suffering while the governing team is still making claims of a potential internal investigation. The current president announced he was against an international independent one. It was noticed that another president rather than any other Lebanese official visited the suffering people in the nearby neighborhoods -- to the credit of French President Emanual Macron. He arrived in Beirut the day following the explosion, went straight to the most distressed neighborhood where inhabitants surrounded and hugged him as they are mostly Francophones. People shouted "Vive la France". President Macron also sponsored a fundraising conference with presidents of the United States, Brazil, Spain, Germany, Egypt, Kuwait and other countries, raising over a quarter billion dollars in one day. He stressed that the assistance money will go straight to the people through organizations and society groups, not through the government, which is generally declared corrupt.

The United Nations remains a reflection of the international community and has a positive role to play in collaborating with donors, coordinating assistance groups and providing support.

One point is clear. Lebanon has gone through many challenges before. Its people are resilient in their attachment to freedom and dedication to the value of dignified life. They went through several conflicts inspired between outsiders on Lebanese territory. Like the Phoenicians that originally rose from that land, they are determined to rise again.