The Lebanon we loved was a palace of myths, legends and lies. But it was, and is, the home we chase. In the Beirut blast, we all lost something. Some of us lost everything. Since then, overcome by loss and lostness, people have just fallen into sudden silences from time to time.
After the explosion last August, help poured in from volunteers and international organizations. The city has been healing slowly, but with the country’s economic and political crises, efforts are stalling.
In this podcast, a discussion of what it felt like a year ago before and after the blast; the challenges of reporting on a city that is both a global story and also home – and why living in Beirut sometimes feels like waiting for life to restart.
I think of the Lebanese lords, whose own generals now call “cruel, dishonorable, and shameless”; whose own advisers describe as “too stupid to understand or too selfish to care, or both”; and whose own intelligence hands believe are crooks who will only liberate Lebanon, and even then not certainly, when they die.
The work of Khamissy, Hadla, and others fills a huge gap and is crucial for any form of genuine reconciliation and sustainable state-building in Lebanon, a fragmented country constantly on the brink. However, the country’s ruling class — its warlords and businessmen-turned-politicians and their cronies — aren’t too pleased.
Hezbollah’s leader is a master of ceremonies and narrative. The head of arguably the world’s most powerful nonstate militant group is blessed with an auteur’s sense of theatrics and spectacle. He exemplified the tenaciousness of the Lebanese and their exceptionalism, capable of achieving what the world bet they could not.
The hours felt endless. Hours “where you wonder why they took your documents, kept your mobile phone, and then you realize, only a few weeks later, that it is their way of controlling you. They got you, they can blackmail you, you are their merchandise.”