Yesterday (8/3/2006), the Israeli Defense Forces dropped leaflets over Beirut — especially the Dahieh area — for the second time, asking its residents to leave their homes in anticipation of Israeli bombardment. I was in Dahieh in May 2000 (contrary to the date on the pictures: the camera's date was not set correctly) and took many pictures of this community and larger Beirut. I have not had time to share these pictures. The current Israeli bombardment of the district makes it necessary to pull them out and share them with the public
Having leveled Southern Lebanese villages, the Israeli forces have now begun bombing Dahieh again. Located in southern Beirut, Dahieh is a very poor Shia community benefiting from welfare services offered by Hezbollah.
From what Israeli officials say publicly, it seems that they believe the destruction of these communities will sever their relationships with Hezbollah and contribute to the security of the state of Israel. Aside from the tremendous suffering and colossal damage such a view has brought to Lebanon and its people in the past three weeks, a close look at these pictures will demonstrate why Hezbollah emerged in the first place. This is a poor community that had been ignored for such a long time by the affluent, confessionally-oriented Lebanese.
By offering assistance to these communities and involving them in the fight to liberate Lebanon from 18 years of Israeli occupation, Hezbollah was able to give them pride, self-worth, and means for survival. Could the New Middle East of Dr. Rice have provided these people the same without bombing their homes, children, and country?
As you notice in these pictures, at the time many buildings still had bullet holes left in them from the civil war. Though damaged and debilitated, the structures were still in a shape to be repaired or used by those who could not afford housing. This time, it is the Israelis who are leveling them and sending close to a million Lebanese to the “nowhere land” of the New Middle East.
Ali Akbar Mahdi is Professor at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology in Ohio Wesleyan University.