Diana Moukalled
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on : Tuesday, 20 Aug, 2013
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Opinion: Their identities were taken with their lives

“Hezbollah Stronghold in Bir Al-Abed, southern Beirut, bombarded.”

Some media outlets thought nothing of summing up an attack that killed 30 people and injured more than 200 under that title.

Many stories have been neglected: The story of the limbs torn off unidentified people, the missing remains of a father and his two daughters, and the stories of others who were killed just because they were passing by at the moment of the attack.

The stories of the dead seemed to be of no value because the bombardment occurred at a moment when feelings of hatred were at their peak. The victims’ souls evaporated, unseen among the flames. This even pushed some to be overtly overjoyed at what was happening, and they even failed to conceal their desire for revenge.

There have been crazy calls for more killings around us. The scenes coming from the streets of Egypt, Iraq and Syria are full of anonymous victims. Now it is Beirut’s turn, and the title this time is Hezbollah, not those whose bodies were torn into pieces by the explosives.

In light of all this death, there is no room, or even a slight desire, to distinguish between targeting innocent civilians and political quarrels. This happens every day, until we all became desensitized and the desire for revenge and anticipation of the death of our opponents have surpassed any other human value. We saw this in our approaches to the bombings in Iraq, the blind violence committed by the Syrian regime and its extremists, and in what is happening in the streets of Cairo.

As for Lebanon, while it is true that southern Lebanon is Hezbollah’s stronghold and that Hezbollah is standing side-by-side with the Syrian regime in an immoral war, it is also true that those who were killed in the Bir El-Abed bombings were all civilians. Condemning Hezbollah’s role in Syria will be of no value unless we adopt a decisive stance against targeting civilians, in southern Beirut and elsewhere.

This responsibility must be placed on us all, as societies and as the media—as well as on Hezbollah.

In fact, Hezbollah exerted no effort to keep pace with the victims. Just as Hezbollah’s opponents found it facile to consider Hezbollah and the Lebanese Shi’ites as one, Hezbollah is seeking to further establish this idea. From the first moment of the bombardment, live broadcast was limited to Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV, and media coverage was confined to the crime scene and hospitals. It was not possible to tell the stories of the victims or of those who went missing without Hezbollah intruding with its own discourse.

Civilians are caught between the image Hezbollah made for them and the stereotyped image their opponents have perpetuated. The victims are paying multiple prices. There are stories that remained untold, for example, about someone who went to have his hair cut and ended up a burned body and another story about a child who was killed by bomb shrapnel to the head.

The media this time came closer to showing the true faces of victims in the southern district, yet it remains a prisoner of political divisions.

Diana Moukalled

Diana Moukalled

Diana Moukalled is a prominent and well-respected TV journalist in the Arab world thanks to her phenomenal show Bil Ayn Al-Mojarada (By The Naked Eye), a series of documentaries on controversial areas and topics which airs on Lebanon's leading local and satelite channel, Future Television. Diana also is a veteran war correspondent, having covered both the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan, as well as the Israeli "Grapes of Wrath" massacre in southern Lebanon. Ms. Moukalled has gained worldwide recognition and was named one of the most influential women in a special feature that ran in Time Magazine in 2004.

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