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Last Updated: 06/09/2003Diary from the Lebanon
Sina Rahmani continues his thoughts on living among the Palestinian refugees and includes a comment on the new middle east Road Map to peace.
In the Mountains
The Koura Plateau is a mountain range that is home to predominantly Christian Lebanese. The region is known for its beautiful lakes and the source of some of the finest olive oil in the world. I stayed with a friend from university in a small village, which was mostly Greek Orthodox--a minority in the predominately Maronite Christian community
Back in the Bourj
Everyone here smokes. Convenience stores abound and whole shops dedicated to cigarettes. The smoke competes with the smell of garbage as to who has supremacy over the camp. A film begins to collect on your clothes that creates a beautiful blend of B.O. and cigarette smoke. The long-term effects of the cigarettes become clear when the
While they hate America and all her politics, they sing along quite amazingly (considering their English skills) to America's biggest cultural exports. They wear Gap jeans and Nike shoes. They watch (bootleg) Hollywood movies while drinking Coca-Cola and Pepsi. In this place, where nothing seems to make sense, why bother keeping track of these paradoxes?
The inability to buy fun is understood implicitly. The internet cafes are ridiculously cheap (even compared to Lebanon), with one hour of computer usage costing about 90 Canadian cents. One internet shop that I have been frequenting (in the camp) is consistently filled with kids, even as midnight. Parents coming to grab the kids by the ear drag themnaway from their games. The older kids then move in, and play network games until the wee hours of the morning. (One of the oddest moments I had here in camps consisted of a network computer game that took place in a Jordanian marketplace.) No one actually pays very much for the service, and thus the shops don't make all that much money. Making money would imply a permanence, a stability, that the camp itself
On the whole, people are doubtful that the Road Map will accomplish anything. They feel betrayed and forgotten, and the Road Map is another American and Israeli ploy to answer the question Palestine without any real justice for these refugees.