Meanwhile, back in Lebanon ...
The Canadian government's response has been flaccid, if something approaching criminal. Our prime minister has simply echoed the American president who has given Israel the green light to go on committing war crimes for, oh, let's say the next week or so, however long the Israelis need -- not to break Hezbollah, which would be impossible in so short a time, but to turn the whole of Lebanon into a beggar state.
The evacuation has been clumsy. The debates at home over the evacuation have revealed just how superficial and brittle our commitment to equality for all citizens is in some parts -- some dual citizens are ok, it seems, but others maybe not.
However the evacuation goes, though, it has been a godsend for much of the media. Simply covering the mass slaughter and devastation going on in Gaza, the West Bank, and Lebanon, much less analysing it, would be a hard slog, and perhaps not popular among heavily propagandized audiences at home. The misery of the evacuees -- and genuine misery it obviously is for many of them -- is still easier to sentimentalize, and besides, it will be finite. It will end soon. It will not make a permanent, burning demand on anyone's conscience:
Ben Brown [of the BBC] also told us that it was “understandable” that the British evacuees were “pretty scared” because they were not accustomed to this kind of bombing. Not like, he added, war correspondents such as himself or the people of Beirut, who had grown used to such assaults.
The outrageous racism implicit in this comment was clear the moment one paused to consider its possible meanings. Did Brown mean that the Lebanese do not mind being bombed? Did he mean that Lebanese children understand from birth that it is their fate to be attacked by Israel, that they get used to the explosions around them? Did he mean that their parents are less terrified than a British mother and father by the thought that their family might be obliterated at any moment? Or did he mean that Lebanon’s civilians will not be as traumatised by their experiences as other human beings would be?
This is the racist subtext of the foreign media’s evacuations story. That once the foreigners have been moved to safety, we in the West can leave those who understand only the language of violence -- the Israeli army and, apparently, the whole population of Lebanon -- to carry on with their unfinished business.
And we can be sure that this is exactly what will happen as soon as Israel’s “window” is shut. When the foreign powers no longer have even a small vested interest in the safety of Beirut, can we expect the coverage to improve? Don’t hold your breath.