After reading Letter from Beirut here at 3QD, a producer from Radio Open Source got in touch with us and wanted to know more about the writer of that letter, Rasha. We put them in touch with Rasha, and she has agreed to write and report from Beirut for them. This is from Radio Open Source:
Rasha’s letter from Beirut on 3 Quarks Daily last week floored us. She’s a Lebanese/Palestinian/Syrian/Turkish/Bosnian writer, now living in a suburb of Beirut. “I’m a product of the Ottoman empire,” she says, “and I say it with pride.” She’s generously agreed to string for us now. Here’s her first installment:
Today was a particularly strange day for me because I was granted an opportunity to leave tomorrow morning. I hold a Canadian passport, I was born in Toronto when my parents were students there. I left at age two. I have never gone back, for lack of opportunity and occasion, no other reason. …For days I have been battling ambivalence towards this war, estranged from the passions it has roused around me and from engagement in a cause. And yet when the phone call came informing me that I had to be ready at 7:00 am the next morning, I asked for a pause to think. I was torn. The landscape of the human and physical ravages of Israel’s genial strategy at implementing UN Resolution 1559, the depth of destruction, the toll of nearly 250 deaths, more than 800 injured and 400,000 displaced, had bound me to a sense of duty. It was not even patriotism, it was actually the will to defy Israel. They cannot do this and drive me away. They will not drive me away.
The roads to Damascus are not safe. Its many different ways are shelled everyday. Drivers know what “calculated” risks to take, I am assured, but one never knows. Everyday the way out becomes more difficult. I decided to stay, I don’t know when I will have another opportunity to leave.
–Rasha, in an email to Open Source, July 20, 2006