BootsnAll Travel Network

Violating Sanctions

An American Woman’s Listening Tour Through the Axis of Evil

Archive for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee ( Category

Miracles Know No Borders

September 13th, 2007 | Username By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | Comments 4 Comments »

While feeding her infant son dinner, a shot came through her window, piercing her son’s head. For the next 9 years, Imad el-Ali lived with the bullet lodged precariously, paralyzing his right side and threatening to send him into seizures should he fall wrong.

Today, at 26, his engaging smile belies the years of surgeries and therapy that have miraculously restored most of his motor functions.
Martin and Imad
A Palestinian refugee living in Burj al-Shamali after his family fled their home in Sidon where Imad’s father had been rounded up, imprisoned and beaten so badly he died from internal bleeding, Imad had little chance of surviving the random bullet fired by the Israeli army during the 1982 war.

Unable to get medical care, the infant was patched up and sent home with little hope.

Until Hugh Storey stepped in. (more…)

Bombed Out Family Camps at School

September 12th, 2007 | Username By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | Comments No Comments »

As we drove slowly over the hill along Lebanon’s main highway toward Syria, the concrete city rose in the distance from the surrounding lush green orange trees like Oz from the poppy fields. Ghostly quiet, these concrete homes were abandoned now, the top floors demolished, destroyed from horizon to horizon. Smoke twisted eerily toward the sky and a Lebanese flag perched at the top of the highest rubble mound, like a victor’s foot on the throat of its fallen opponent.

Since June, when the Lebanese Army began bombing Nahr el-Bared, the 31,000 families who called Lebanon’s oldest refugee camp home, fled. More than half trudged to nearby Beddawi, another of the 12 Palestinian refugee camps whose electricity, water, sewage, trash and medical services only anemically served its own residents. Within a meager few weeks, Beddawi’s overcrowded population nearly doubled from 16,000 people to 29,000.
Abdullah Ali Awad
Abdullah Ali AwadFamilies live in 12 x 9 foot areas in the elementary school, their space cordoned off by blue tarps and blankets hung precariously from the ceiling. Or they live in storefronts that have shut down to provide emergency housing. Some live with relatives or friends, cramming into every nook and cranny. (more…)

Soldiers, Terrorists and the Children Caught in Between

September 12th, 2007 | Username By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | Comments No Comments »

Last week, I spent my first day in Lebanon at a parade for soldiers returning triumphantly from the north, where they had successfully ameliorated a terrorist cell – and the homes of 31,000 people. Emotions were high at the parade, with teenage girls crying, women shoving homemade cookies into the soldiers laps, patriotic music blaring through gigantic loudspeakers, and fireworks set off at each bridge as the soldiers passed.

Today, we head up to northern Lebanon, toward Nahr el-Bared, that Palestinian refugee camp the Lebanese Army bombed during most of the summer. This all started last fall when Syria released an assassin, Shaker Abssi, who fled to Lebanon and established a terrorist cell at the camp. The Lebanese Army successfully flushed out the Fatah al-Islam cell (although there were news reports yesterday that Abssi is still alive), but destroyed the camp – home to those 31,000 innocent people.

We’ll be meeting today with some of these displaced families in Beddawi, a nearby refugee camp.

Grief is Sept 11th’s Common Language

September 11th, 2007 | Username By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | Comments 2 Comments »

The black-clad woman only stood as tall as my chest, her imploring dark eyes piercing my heart, her relentless Arabic revealing a deep pain I hope I never know, her hand clutching mine stiffly from elbow to knuckles, refusing to let go until she believed I understood.

She wants her slaughtered family remembered.
Samila Abass Hijazi
Today is September 11th, and no doubt America is remembering the 3,000 people who died, some innocently, some bravely, all unnecessarily, 6 years ago.
 Kamal MaroufMilani Burji
Today, in Shatilla, a refugee camp in Beirut, I participated in a commemoration of a similar sort: the horrifying, brutal slaying of nearly 3,000 innocent Palestinians by conservative Christian Maronite forces during Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982.

It is said that Ariel Sharon, then the head of the Israeli military forces, watched the 2 ½ day slaughter from the roof of a nearby office building.
Iftikar Abo Chelih
One after another, mothers and fathers, daughters and sons rose and told their stories – stories of lovers lost, trusted companions killed, children dismembered. They brought framed photos and booklets of xeroxed id papers – anything to make their family member real for a group of strangers.
Samila Abass Hijazi
The old woman leaned on me, heavily, as if trying to transfer the weight on her heart. Once a year, she trots out her very deep, very private grief publicly to motivate a delegation of international activists who are determined to hold Israel accountable for its atrocities.

She kisses me, not the customary 3-cheek kiss, but adds a 4th unexpected kiss, as if to seal my commitment to remember.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Toilet Paper Perspective: “Palestinians Will Bomb Themselves Anywhere”

September 10th, 2007 | Username By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | Comments No Comments »

When junior high schoolers ask me why I go to the Middle East, I hold up an empty toilet paper roll to my eye, peering telescope-like through the middle. I explain that TV and photo cameras see the world through just such a myopic window. I tell them that when I watch the news or read a newspaper, I ask myself 2 questions: Why are they showing me what’s in this particular limited circle of the camera lens, and what are they not showing me out of the camera’s range?Khaled Araf

“Palestinians will bomb themselves anywhere,” a prominent PLO leader told our group today.

What a great come-on, huh? Gotcha to read this far. Looking through just that hole… (more…)

PLO Leader Vows to Fight Terrorism in Lebanese Refugee Camps

September 9th, 2007 | Username By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | Comments No Comments »

“We may need 10 years to heal the wounds created by the Fatah al-Islam group,” PLO leader Col. Sultan Abu Al-Ainain told our American and European delegation, referring to the terrorist organization that rooted itself in Nahr el-Bared, Lebanon’s largest Palestinian refugee camp.Sultan Abu Al-Ainain
Last May, the Lebanese Army laid siege to the 40,000-person refugee camp after the Fatah al-Islam militants robbed a bank and ambushed Lebanese police, touching off the worst conflict in the 17 years since Lebanon’s civil war ended.

Abu Al-Ainain addressed our delegation at the southern Lebanon refugee camp of Burj El-Shamali, angrily and emphatically reaffirming his organization’s desire to maintain peace with its host country.

“We’re here in Lebanon, and we are against any [illegal activity in the camps] that compromises our legitimate right of return [to Palestine].”

The PLO, he claimed, had met with Lebanese leaders and had agreed to go into the northern Lebanon refugee camp to eliminate Fatah al-Islam forces, but internal bickering within the Palestinian factions delayed action.

The dapper leader did not directly address the actions by the Lebanese Army, which Palestinian eyewitnesses described as indiscriminate shelling.

“It was a horrible level of devastation,” Abu Al-Ainain said, shaking his head. “I am ashamed. It is a tragedy and a catastrophe,” he said of the 35,000 Palestinian refugees who fled or were evacuated to nearby Beddawi refugee camp. [Our delegation will be meeting with refugees from Nahr el-Bared this Wednesday.]

When asked about the justification for the Lebanese Army’s raid to route out weapons caches, the PLO leader leveled his cool, piercing gaze on his audience: (more…)

Arriving In Lebanon: Visting A Refugee Camp

September 9th, 2007 | Username By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | Comments 2 Comments »

“Are you married?” asked the precocious 10-year-old in clipped, flawless English.

“No,” I answered, laughing with her gleeful entourage who surrounded me.
Palestinian Girls Teasing in Lebanon
“Why!” she demanded, incredulous.

“I never found the right man.” I wondered how this Palestinian girl living in a refugee camp in Lebanon might understand my matrimonial pickiness.

“Good!” she exclaimed to nods all around.

“Are you married?” I asked her.

“NO!” she said emphatically, hand waving over to her pre-pubescent flat chest.

“Good!” I said, cementing our sisterly bond.
Burj al-Shamali
After skirting the Golan Heights and Israel’s well-fortified border, we arrived at Burj al-Shamali (, a refugee camp of 20,000 Palestinians. (more…)

Monthly Archives
Travel links
My Links