Sonntag, 13. August 2006

Civilized Discrimination!

Eine weitere Email von unserem Freund Dr. Riad Khassis:

Imagine a Red Cross worker saying to a severely wounded person agonizing under the rubbles of a destroyed building: “Show me your passport. If you hold a foreign passport I will help you, if not go to hell!” Such a response from a Red Cross worker is unimaginable, but this is similar to what took place in Lebanon.

Tens of thousands of foreign nationals have been evacuated as the war on Lebanon started on July 12, 2006. Their embassies worked hard to ensure successful evacuation. Many of my friends left among those who have been evacuated. I do fully understand the terrible situation that they experienced during the first days of war. I realize that it is an unwise behavior to stay, particularly with children, in a country that is being under siege and war if you have the chance to flee. However, my real dilemma is two folded. It is the irony of human value that is based on one’s nationality, not to say one’s race! It is also with the attitude of one’s own government.

Through newspapers, TV and radio stations foreign embassies in Beirut issued instructions concerning evacuation procedures. I admire what these governments were doing to help their people. It is the thirtieth day of the terrible war on Lebanon and I have not heard my Lebanese government issuing any safety measures for its citizens! Today when we approached the Lebanese authorities asking for cooking liquid gas so our kitchen can provide hot meals to the hundreds of displaced people we take care of we went into the complicated routine of bureaucracy with no avail. I do not wonder why many Lebanese are waiting on the doors of many embassies to immigrate.

On the other hand, not all foreign embassies were able to evacuate their citizens. This depended heavily on the richness of the nation. Rich nations evacuated their citizens first; poor ones were unable to do so. The government of the Philippines is just thinking to evacuate its citizens after several weeks of war. The Sri Lankan government started to evacuate, but then halted the process due to lack of funding and difficult logistics. Other poor nations did not even entertain the thought of evacuation!

I wonder what the children of the city of Tyre and nearby villages were saying to themselves when they saw other children holding their teddy bears and walking peacefully to a ship or a bus to be evacuated only because they hold a foreign passport of a particular country. I wonder what was the feeling of a foreign child who, after arriving to a safe destination, hears that his/her friend was killed by an air strike because his/her friend holds a Lebanese passport and was unable to leave the country!

A news article on a website carried the heading: “Christian foreigners depart war-torn Lebanon, but leave behind thousands changed and being changed by the Gospel.” In reality, not all Christian foreigners departed war-torn Lebanon. Several decided to stay in the country to be identified with the sufferings of the people they came to serve. Some stayed even in dangerous areas like the south and West Beqaa. An example of those courageous people is a Swiss friend of mine. He is currently offering a “glass of cold water” in the name of Jesus Christ to the sisters and brothers of Jesus, the displaced Shiites! (I hope that his case is not to be considered an act of disobedience to his mission organization, but an act of heroism).

During the evacuation process the Israelis halted their operations to ease the evacuation. When the UN asked for a 72 hour humanitarian cessation of hostilities for the burial of the dead and the evacuation of the injured the Israelis, backed by several western governments, objected! Those who hold foreign passports will be evacuated, but down to hell to those who hold Lebanese passports! A statement from one foreign embassy stated that “pets would not be evacuated”. Yes, pets should stay with the Lebanese children to face the “smart bombs” air strikes and the shelling. Yes, pets and Lebanese children should stay together. They should drink polluted water, face hunger, and get ready to die. Is this civilized discrimination, civilized racism, or what?

The Revd Riad Kassis, PhD
Executive Director & Chaplain at J. L. Schneller Institute, West Beqaa, Lebanon
Lecturer in Old Testament studies, Near East School of Theology, Beirut, Lebanon

Keine Kommentare: