Praise Allah, Sarah is back safely in New York after evacuating Beirut amid the clashes and imminent Civil War. She did not have to escape via Syria as previously thought, instead she was able to leave through a window when the airport was open. She took a plane routed through Greece. She is shaken but safe, and very sad. I’m hoping she publishes about her experiences, particularly ones walking through the streets with a German journalist and talking to 19-year-old Sunni militia groups, wearing masks, patrolling neighborhoods, armed with machine guns, ready to kill and to die to protect their families. And using pick-up lines: “Hezbollah would come here in a minute and I could kill them if they knew what a beautiful girl I was talking to.” Humor, it seems, gets real high in times of crisis. She brought me back an amazing lighter with an attached flashlight that projects Nasrallah’s face. She told me a story of a man she had met who had been kidnapped and tortured by Sunnis and, upon return, killed three Syrian guest workers for no reason but, presumably, post traumatic stress. “I know what kinds of sounds come from different types of weapons now,” she told me. “Machine guns sound different from rocket launchers, which make a pop and a swoosh as the missle goes through the air.”
But the thing is, she explained, Hezbollah aren’t terrorists–they provide very well for the Shiites in a way that the government never had (problem being: they only provide for the Shiites)–and given that there has not even been a president of Lebanon for months, not to mention a decapitated government that wasn’t very good at doing much in the first place, obviously there’s going to be more strife after a point, particularly since the Sunnis and Shiites have been beefing over particulars of the Qur’an for nigh eons. It is all very complicated, and very sad. She said as she was leaving her neighborhood, a Christian neighborhood (cause you are allowed to wear skirts and not be a virgin), she saw many neighbors on motorcycles carrying gun-shaped bags and boxes. They are arming themselves for what is coming.
I’m so glad she was able to get home in time. Today, we walked the 5th avenue street fair and she ate fatoosh and halal chicken shishkabobs (“you just got back from the middle east and you want to eat middle eastern food?”) and then we got pedicures for my birthday and she tried, I presume, not to think about it.

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One Response to BACK FROM BEIRUT

  1. Sarah says:

    Kick ass reporting on the M.E.
    You are one 19 year old and a pair of boating pants away from becoming Robert Fisk.

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