In the news 17/9/07

The Fatah al-Islam saga continues: the Lebanese army and local citizens have now arrested at least 30 members and killed 20. Shakir al-Abssi remains at large. Although his wife continues to assert she did identify his body, the DNA results contradict her.

The Lebanese ministry of telecommunications, led by Marwan Hamadeh, which has still not been able to provide serious internet connections in Lebanon and continues exerting itself to invent the most lame excuses for the frequent breakdowns in mobile phone traffic (‘it’s because Israeli planes bombed Syrian targets near the Turkish border 2000 km away’ is just not convincing), is now proudly announcing it is ROOTING UP cables because they were installed by Hezbollah! Wait a minute, aren’t they supposed to be LAYING cables? Couldn’t they just INTEGRATE those Hezbollah cables into the national grid, or at least spend their time improving their own network instead of destroying another one? Or is that just too logical an idea for this country?

On friday there was a memorial service for Bashir Gemayyel, killed 25 years ago, shortly after being elected president by parliament (under heavy Israeli pressure). His death, almost certainly at the hands of the Syrian mukhabarat or their Lebanese cronies, wa immediately blamed on the Palestinians and sparked the Sabra and Chatilla massacre a day later by Gemayyel’s Phalangist militia, aided by Lebanese Forces and SLA, as well as, of course, the Israeli army. (As Begin was saying later: ‘Goyim were killing goyim. Why should we be hanged for that?’) Whereas the Lebanese media are full of Gemayyel’s murder, there is only marginal attention for the anniversary of the mass murder a day later. Gathered at Gemayyel’s service were thousands of mostly very young Phalangist kids, marching to the loudly blasted ultra-nationalist songs of the Kata’ib, which bear a striking resemblance to the Hizbollah propaganda music (i.e. Wagner goes Arabic with a Slavic choir). So did the scenes of mass hypnosis with the young kids scrambling to touch Gemayyel (junior, i.e. Amin) when he was leaving the church – very reminiscent of the moment Nasrallah appeared on the screen at the Divine Victory-celebration, although the numbers involved here are a lot smaller. At the Chatila memorial, on the other hand, there were far fewer people, most of them, apart from the Palestinians, Italian and French.

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