"There Is No Room for Any Palestinian in Lebanon"

by A Special Correspondent
published in MER118

Abu Arz (“father of the cedar”) is the symbolic name taken by Etienne Saqr, born in Haifa to Lebanese parents, leader and commander-in-chief of the Guardians of the Cedars. The Guardians of the Cedars were born with the Lebanese civil war, out of the Party of Lebanese Renewal, itself established in 1969 as part of the Christian right. At that time, the Phalangists and the National Liberal Party (Ahrar), which were old established parties, did not want to avow openly some of their own orientations. This might have damaged their relations with other Lebanese political forces and hurt their standing with Arab countries. The more extreme elements, such as the poet Sa‘id ‘Aql, founded the Party of Lebanese Renewal.

A Lebanon Primer

by Tom Russell
published in MER133

Lebanon is a microcosm of the peoples, cultures and religions found in the Middle East region as a whole. Under Ottoman rule from the 16th century until World War I, that province of mountainous eastern Syria known as Mt. Lebanon was home and refuge for various religious and ethnic communities. Lebanon has a long history of foreign intervention. In the 19th century, European powers established their trade and investment interests under the guise of “protecting” one or another group within Lebanon. The French adopted the Maronite Catholics and Russia the Orthodox Christians of Syria and Palestine, while the British favored the Druze. This insertion of foreign interests occurred in the course of a protracted shift of power in the Mt. Lebanon area from Druze to Maronites and contributed to the tensions among the various communities and ruling clans.

"People are suffering tremendously"

Interview with Dan Connell

by James Paul
published in MER133

Dan Connell, a contributing editor to this magazine, is executive director of Grassroots International, a relief agency working in Lebanon and the Horn of Africa. Jim Paul spoke with him in New York on June 17, 1985.

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The War of the Camps, the War of the Hostages

by Joe Stork
published in MER133

June 19,1985. In Beirut, TWA flight 847 stands desolate on the empty tarmac, a huge hulk of white metal shimmering in the heat, a picture off the cover of some bungled tourism brochure. Some 40 Americans are unwilling guests in the southern shantytowns known as the “suburbs” of Beirut. More than a hundred other passengers have been released. One, a young US Navy underwater construction expert, was beaten and executed. The two original hijackers are now said to be adherents of the Hizb Ullah (Party of God).

Khalidi, Under Siege

by Yezid Sayigh
published in MER142

Rashid Khalidi, Under Siege: PLO Decisionmaking During the 1982 War (New York: Columbia University Press, 1986).

Among the many books dealing with the 1982 war in Lebanon, Rashid Khalidi’s stands out by focusing on the perceptions and decisions of that campaign’s main target: the PLO. The book asks a series of questions in order to get to those at the core: Why did the PLO leave Beirut? What were the main pressures influencing the decision first to stand and fight and then to evacuate the city? Which pressures proved successful and which ineffective?

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Recording "Real Life" in Wadi Zayna

by Rosemary Sayigh
published in MER173

Neither a village nor a suburb, Wadi Zayna is a collection of gray tenements straggling between two roads leading up from the coast road into the hills of Iqlim al-Kharoub, just north of Sidon. Palestinians displaced from camps in the south and Beirut during battles with the Shi‘i Amal movement (1985-1987) have gathered here. Some are old-time residents, people who bought apartments before the 1982 Israeli invasion, investing lifetime savings to have somewhere to retire to outside the camps. Others are muhajirin (war refugees) who rent, or stay with relatives, or “squat” in unfinished buildings.

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Lebanon's Palestinians

by
published in MER186

This article was written by a special correspondent.

Residents of Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon have been cautiously peeking out of their prison-like camps after nearly a decade of sieges and assaults. But looking out is now fraught with anxiety. There is no future in the camps, residents complain, and few means of earning an income where unemployment for Palestinian refugees may be as high as 40 percent.

The dismal outlook is only compounded by the recent PLO-Israel peace accord, which unambiguously signals the final abandonment of the refugees in Lebanon. Ironically, it is this same community that credentialized Arafat and the PLO’s representation of the Palestinian people and were the mass base supporting its operations in exile.

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Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon

by Muhammad Ali Khalidi
published in MER197

Palestinians have endured military occupation, deportation, torture, land confiscation, massacre, siege, aerial bombardment and internecine conflict but until this year they had been spared the experience of being boat people. That has now changed with the recent odyssey of a boatload of some 650 Palestinians stranded off the coast of Cyprus.

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Palestinians in Post-War Lebanon

From Refugees to Minority

by Julie Peteet
published in MER200

As Lebanon’s elite strategizes post-war reconstruction and national reconciliation, the future of the Palestinian community in the country hinges on the outcome of the Arab-Israeli peace talks, particularly the multilateral talks on refugees. [1] Popular sentiment holds that “peace” will not produce the conditions for return or compensation. In the meantime, Palestinians living in camps in Lebanon face insurmountable odds, including poverty, unemployment and political disenfranchisement.

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Disappearances

Syrian Impunity in Lebanon

by Virginia N. Sherry
published in MER203

Some of the cases are old but certainly not forgotten. The most recent inquiry that I received about a “disappearance” in Lebanon came in April 1997 from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The caller was a Palestinian whose brother, Rushdi Rashid Hamdan Shihab, “disappeared” in Sidon in October 1987. “At 10 am, he left his car with a mechanic at a gas station, saying that he would return in the evening to pick it up,” his brother said. Shihab, the father of three who was 42 at the time, did not return to the station that evening. And he was never seen again in Lebanon. Family members traveled to Jordan and Syria, seeking information about his whereabouts, but came up with nothing solid.

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