April 23, 2002
By Maggie Porter
What's going on here? I wake up and go to sleep each and
every night with a sense of dread. Never mind the fact that
I've seen bombs, heard the thunder of shells in the early
morning hours, landing a short distance from my home in Southern
Lebanon. Never mind all that. Never mind that during my summer
vacation in 1993 I was made into a refugee by Israeli gunships
and bombs. Never mind that I keep a piece of shrapnel in my
philodendron, the piece that almost took my daughter's life.
All that was just the prelude. It's as if I have always known
this was coming to me. Something like fate, something that
brought me to live in the Middle East as opposed to Kitt or
Lisa or Brenda, my childhood pals. Why me?
I want to believe that I am someone who can make a difference.
I cherish this silly thought and post endless streams of rhetoric
and argument on message boards hoping that somewhere out there,
someone who really can make a difference will see my words
and do something. I realize now, have come to the stunning
conclusion that this is utter nonsense. I realize that this
is nothing more than a coping strategy that I employ in order
to get hold of some really powerful circumstances and emotions,
to control them.
I have lived in Saudi Arabia for ten years now. My husband
is from Lebanon, my children are part Arab. What does this
make me? From what I see in the media, if I were to return
to the US, we would be under constant scrutiny and my children
might one day, face belligerent discrimination. It's like
overnight, I've become an African American, only I am the
When the WTC was hit, my first thoughts were, "If the Arabs
didn't do this, certainly they will be blamed." I stocked
up on rice, beans, sugar.
Let's go back a little though. Two weeks before the attack,
I had literally given up on any improvement in the situation
in Palestine. I only began educating myself regarding their
plight in 1999 or so. It became quite clear to me, two weeks
before WTC, that the situation was hopeless, on all sides.
I decided to stop reading the news about Palestine.
I won't lie to you and say that I support the State of Israel.
Like most Americans however, I never really had a handle on
Palestine or the formation of the Israeli state. I believed
what I'd been told, that those people had been fighting for
2,000 years, that it was an 'unsolveable' situation. As well,
even though my husband is from Lebanon, I never understood
that war either. Did anyone? It was known in the mainstream
media as the Lebanese Civil War. I know now how dreadfully
mislabelled it was.
The truth is, it was a Proxy War between Palestine and Israel.
It had nothing whatsoever to do with Lebanese people, only
they were drawn into it against their will. I remember many
of our Lebanese friends back in college complaining, "Everyone
brings their trouble into Lebanon." I had not idea what they
meant, perhaps I thought it a case of collective scapegoating.
Back in those days, my husband was a real demon. I realize
now the sense of guilt he felt when he saw countless Lebanese
killed in mortar attacks, car bombs, assassination attempts.
Now, it all makes sense.
What really makes me angry is the fact that people still
accept these simple lies about a country, one that out of
all the Arab countries, has demonstrated a resolve and solidarity
never before witnessed in the dictatorial world of the ME,
where puppet regimes and weapons of mass destruction are the
norm. What does Lebanon get? It gets labelled as a terrorist
nation. Why? Because, even without US dollars and US weapons,
they were able to beat the oppressor.
The oppressor that employed Lebanese citizens, even coerced
them, plying them with jobs in Israel or threats of exile
from their villages, so that they would torture other Lebanese
citizens in the name of security for the State of Israel.
A state that is based on the beliefs of one religious group
to the exclusion of the indigenous Palestinian population.
Israel destroyed Lebanese infrastructure over and over and
over. I can't tell you how many nights I've had to cook by
candlelight or how many huge pots of water I've had to boil
in order to take a warm bath or bathe my children. These repeated
destructions mind you, are war crimes.
I am tired now. What tires me more than anything is the fact
that many, many Americans confuse the WTC attack with Palestine.
The same way the Lebanese Civil War was portrayed as a civil
war as opposed to Israel's Proxy War against Palestine. I
talk to alot of Saudis about WTC. I will confess, very few
people here believe Osama did it. Unfortunately, Americans
translate that to mean that they indeed support Osama if he
What is clear is that Americans, average people like you
and me, have lost their ability to reason. Either that or
American Nationalistic fervor is morphing into fascism. I
prefer to think the former as opposed to the latter. I am
comforted that so many people are marching in Washington.
That so many people are trying to report the news. I remind
myself of an article I read recently about Nero, the one who
fiddled while Rome burned. The evidence suggests he didn't
burn Rome at all! Lo! Yet we still associate his name with
one of the worst acts of state terror in written history.
Did Osama do it? Who knows, perhaps we will never know. If
he did, then he has hurt Islam more than any other muslim
in history. With that in mind, realize he cannot be considered
a muslim. I personally, do not feel anything has been proven.
Indeed, much evidence to the contrary points at a much wider
conspiracy than our work-a-day minds can process. We seemingly
live in a state of denial.
I remember a story about a man and a group of his friends
that went swimming at Canyon Lake in Phoenix, Arizona some
years back. Around 20 of them stood calmly on a boat as the
man waved his arms frantically in the water until he drowned,
right there in full view of his good friends. No one wanted
to believe that someone could drown while they looked on.