I drove to Beirut this morning from Syria to take advantage of the 'lull in bombing' that Israel is no longer recognizing. After a brief scare by a psychotic security officer (telling us the route we were taking was insecure and advising us to take a road through the Beqaa valley that was being bombed as we spoke), we decided to take the route from Tartus, Syria through Tripoli, Lebanon and down into Beirut. it was>uneventful, boring, even.
In order to allay any possible anti-UN or US sentiment, Kristele, my Lebanese colleague, made me wear a head scarf (I work my blue bandana) and sunglasses and take off my earrings and wear a long sleeve blouse to cross the border. She did not follow these precautions so I looked like a schlub and she>looked glamourous. Sigh.
There was also a candlelight vigil in Damascus last night near the restaurant we were in but noone looked at me twice. I almost feel that I should play the role of 'good American' and explain to people that not everyone in the US supports the bombing and some of us are trying to help. While all of the Syrians I have met have been incredibly hospitable and kind, the anti-Israel rhetoric is starting to get to me. I understand the rage and I feel it too as Israeli spokespersons come on CNN and mouth platitudes. Meanwhile the almost 600 dead in Lebanon vs the about 20 dead in Israel show the real story. It's a bloodbath and disproportionate.
There's also a lot of anti US talk but since I feel the same way as everyone else here does about Condi and Bush, it is not difficult to hear. They listen to my explanations about why Americans voted for Bush with respect. I hate what the Israelis are doing. I believe its a war crime and I cringe when I hear their explanations and apologies on the news but I still see them as a legitimate country with a legitimate right to exist. That's controversial over here. Like many Americans, I've mostly ignored the middle east crisis because it is too difficult to resolve or understand.
There are bad guys on both sides and the people who suffer are the innocents. Anyway, we've got wifi in the room, chilled beers in>the mini bar and a pool in the hotel. We are not suffering. We even got a "UN discount" at the hotel which is disgusting since the UN make SO much more than us. They should have to pay more than the rest of the world. I am hoping to head to THE HOTEL in Beirut to find Anderson Cooper tonight.