The War Gets Personal

July 20th, 2006 by Alex

To all of you coming over today from HuffPo, welcome. Hope you’ll take a look around. In his post at HuffPo, our editor, Larry, was talking about “Shooting War,” our webcomic about a blogger covering the war in Iraq as imagined in the near future.

There is, sadly, a real war going on right now in Israel, Palestine and Lebanon. And, like Shooting War’s hero, Jimmy Burns, there are bloggers in the middle of it. We here at SMITH are all about personal media, so we wanted to bring you some of the stories told by those experiencing the war right now. To that end, I’ve culled a few of the best I could find. (For a comprehensive list of bloggers covering the war, check out The Truth Laid Bear.)

After the jump, some of the voices we’ve chosen to feature here. Forgive the sentimentality, but you don’t want to miss these — just culling and posting them was heartwrenching.

From blogger Bashir at

Lebanon: bent but not broken

Pictures of destruction saturate the media.

I thought I’ll post different photos today. I took a stroll today in some of the areas in Beirut that are not shelled (not yet and hopefully not).

The first three pictures are in the neighborhood of my house (yesterday before the shelling at 2AM this morning).
The rest are in the neighborhood of where I am now: Bristol Area, Hamra St, Rouche and the Corniche.

I miss the crowds (and I mean these areas used to be really crowded), I miss the noise pollution, the traffic jams, the crazy Lebanese way of driving and the insults of the cab drivers. These were characteristics of the Beirut we grew used to.

There were others strolling, fishing or playing tennis.

Bashir has posted several pictures; this one’s my favorite.


So peaceful.

From blogger “Frustrated Arab American,” who was visiting Lebanon when the bombing started and began a blog called “Stuck in Beirut“:

The gloves are off

Greetings from the mountains of Lebanon. Although I am technically no longer stuck in Beirut, the adventure continues. To my friends, co-workers, neighbors and family who have been following my notes, I apologize for not posting anything sooner. We were a little busy the last couple of days trying to find a new base away from the sounds of war. The kids were getting scared and asking questions we could not answer. Anyway, we are fine and have everything we need for now, Thank God.

… I now have an idea of how the people of New Orleans must have felt after Katrina devastated their city and the government took its time to help them. The Lebanese government knew that the price to force HizbAllah to disarm was going to be pretty steep, and that they could not afford it. It was like a tumor on your hand, and you want to keep postponing the operation. Israel was ready to act and it is now cutting off the arm at the shoulder while everyone else watches from the sidelines. I hope things will calm down again soon, that the hostages are safe, that this war stops in Lebanon and does not expand to the entire region.

The people here in our adopted mountain village are very nice. The owners of the building where we are now staying gave us their parking spot (a luxury in tight spaces) and have bent over backward to ensure we have everything we need. Still, I would not wish this situation on my worst enemy. It was difficult to find any sleep last night. Too many thoughts running through my mind. We are waiting for the US goverment to tells us what the evacuation plan is going to be, and we decided to wait it out right here for now. Many people who fled to Damascus are stuck there waiting for flights to Europe, so I still consider us very lucky. I saw hundreds of people drive by on their way from Southern lebanon to the Bekaa valley, only to hear later that the Bekaa was heavily hit that night. A trip that normally would take 2 hours is now requiring 10 or even 12 hours to complete. May God lift this condition on everyone and may they find peace and happiness wherever they end-up.

I am looking forward to getting back to work. I don’t think I will have any difficulty making tough decisions anymore. My projects will be delivered ahead of time, under budget and above expectations. That will be a very welcomed return to my routine.

On the Israeli side, from an email to blogger Imshin by Reuven Daitch:

An Introduction to War


I’m acting as your surrogate this weekend, as I am a bachelor with no dependents to worry about. When the situation started heating up in the north, I called my cousin in Moshav Beit Hillel (near Kiryat Shemona) and said I would like to come up for Shabbat. So that I would be fully informed about what I was getting into, my cousin told me that a Katyusha had hit the moshav the previous day, not far from their home. She said that if I came, I should expect a lot of noise.

Well, I haven’t been disappointed. The first sign that this was not going to be the sort of mellow Hula Valley weekend that has enchanted my on so many previous visits was when the 963 pulled out of Rosh Pina. I looked out the window and gasped when I saw billowing clouds of white smoke covering much of the hillside to the west of the town.

Twenty minutes later, we pulled into the Kiryat Shemona bus station, where my cousin’s husband had arranged to pick me up. I sat on a bench, alongside three cab drivers, who were having a seemingly endless discussion about the “matzav.” Suddenly, I heard a “boom.” “Katyusha?” I asked. “No, that was from our side,” said the cabbie. A second later, another “boom.” “That’s a Katyusha,” he said. A few seconds seconds later, again there was a “boom” followed by a second “boom.” This time, two of the cab drivers raced across the street into a “secure” building and the third cabbie, wearing a kippah, dove into the flimsy taxi station next to the bench and sank to his knees. I followed and sank to my knees with him.

After a pause in the booms, we joined the other cabbies in the secure building. Shortly thereafter, we heard a third pair of booms, followed by the sirens of a Mogen David Adom. One of the cab drivers, who was clearly experienced in these matters, said the Katyusha had fallen close to the Kiryat Shemona mall. After a five minute pause, I heard one more boom - this one according to one of the bystanders had fallen on Moshav Beit Hillel. “Oy gevalt,” I shouted, and the bystander started muttering some unpleasant sounding words that were beyond my limited Hebrew, about the millionaire tourists who come to Beit Hillel.

In the meantime, I contacted my cousin’s husband, emphasized the danger, and we both agreed that it would be best to for me take a cab to the Moshav. As eager as I was to get going, however, the cab drivers didn’t feel safe about leaving the secure building for another 20 minutes. When I finally got my cab, as we entered Beit Hillel, I saw smoke rising from a field just off the highway, which was apparently the result of the last boom I had heard from Kiryat Shemona.

As I am concluding this message, yet another tremendous boom has sent my young cousin scurrying out of the house to join her parents who are calmly sitting outside relaxing and reading the newspaper by the barbeque.

So this has been my introduction to wartime in Israel.

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