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Civil War in Lebanon
Developed by Michael Lassiter, Highland Park High/Middle School

Lebanon:
Select Journal Entries from Daud Khouri (translated from Arabic)

November 19, 1958

My second son is born! May Jirius enjoy his family well.† I am sure that Maroun will be happy to have a brother.† The two of them will have a lot of fun chasing the cattle and goats in our fields.† My wife Esther and my daughter Latifeh are happy to have a new baby in the house.† They say a childís cry is actually soothing at times.† They like to be needed.† For me, relaxation is not crying.† I enjoy the land: the mountains, the valleys, and the rivers.† Marjayoun has such beautiful countryside here near the Litani River.† My family has made its living off of coexistence with the land of Lebanon.† With two boys now, I will be able to one day take over my fatherís tannery and run it profitably as he has done with Allam, Solomon, and me. We Maronites have survived here in Marjayoun despite all of the turmoil in Lebanon.† The Shia Muslims that work for my father collecting the skins have not been happy for quite some time.† I am glad that the Americans decided to intervene between the Palestinians and Israelis.† I do not think Lebanon will ever exist without some outside interference or intervention.† Maybe Jirius will actually grow up in a time of peace.† At the very least, he will be baptized by Father Andre soon and will one day have peace in heaven.

January 28, 1971

Maroun has written from Saint Joseph University that his economics classes are going well.† He can not wait until graduation so that he can use them to expand our business.† He says he has some ideas on distribution and marketing that could be used to help us develop a factory for production of luggage or wallets.† I guess I have raised a capitalist who wants to fill his wallet.† Anyway, I enjoy our business.† Since my fatherís mass last month, it has been difficult to focus on my work, and even more difficult to get my Shia workers to put in their hours.† Ramadan always causes them to decrease their time at work.† My father used to give them extra time off during their holy month, but Maroun is helping me to see that is not as profitable.† We have had to increase our production lately and it is difficult to fill orders.† The government has actually placed orders for leather goods like boots for the military.† There is a fear that the Palestinian refugees may provoke some tensions.† It is difficult to survive as a nation when outsiders keep draining our resources.

Oh, I guess I am just looking for people to blame for my troubles.† I miss my father.† I hope the relationship between my sons and I is as strong.† Maroun is beginning to meet others who are having a greater effect on him than I ever have.† He keeps telling me of Bashir Gemayel, and that this man will be a great leader for Lebanon some day.† Maroun has even joined the Kataeb party to work for the strengthening of Lebanon.† Hah!† Our government has been good to us Maronites, but it has not done enough to unify all of the Lebanese people including our Muslims.† If only the Palestinians would leave, they stir up too much trouble.

April 14, 1975

Jirius has decided to join Maroun in Bashir Gemayelís Brigade of the Lebanese Front.† He feels compelled to help now because he believes the claim that the Palestinians killed four innocent Maronites while trying to assassinate Pierre Gemayal, the Phalangist party leader and Bashirís father.† I can not justify the Phalangistís response of killing 26 innocent Palestinians, but this act of revenge is certain to escalate.† Esther and Latifeh want me to forbid Jirius from going.† He is too young they say.† My brothers Solomon and Allam stress that we are just businessmen, and we should try to stay out of this conflict, but with more and more Palestinians in Southern Lebanon, it is not safe here in Marjayoun.† My workers have abandoned their jobs anyway.† They felt they could no longer work for a Maronite and cross the battle lines that are forming between our separate communities, and they did not want to take it out on our family considering our history.† There was almost a scene when they decided to leave.† I hope that Maroun does not encounter them in battle with the Lebanese National Movement.† My workers always had too many Palestinian friends.† Iím sure praying together binds people closer than work.

I pray to Saint Anthony that I can find the right answer.† I do not want to lose my sons and do not want to lose my home.† What choice can I make?† Should I leave my home and move to Beirut so I can watch over my sons while they fight this war?

February 10, 1976

We had to move to East Beirut in January.† We thought the cease-fire organized by Syria might make Beirut safer than the Fatahland of the Palestinians where our home in Marjayoun is now.† Solomon tried to stay behind and keep it safe with the help of some our friends, but he was killed and our livestock were slaughtered to feed the hungry Palestinians.† I have been able to keep Jirius out of the war, but Maroun is still fighting, and I fear that if fighting escalates in East Beirut and the Lebanese army breaks apart as it seems to be doing, Jirius will join the Lebanese Front.† It is not safe anywhere anymore.

Our savings are beginning to run out, not that there is much to buy in the stores because prices are so high.† I thought provisions would be more plentiful here.† We have very little water and no electricity. We pray often that we should have the things we need not realizing that our family has become closer because of these hardships.† I have begun to understand the difficulty and sacrifice of Ramadan more, and I thought Lent was challenging being such a meat lover.† What I wouldnít do for a nice beef kebab!

Enough, this isnít helping.† Neither of the women in my family complains like I do.† Their faith is so much stronger.† Esther and Latifeh have been so strong, but I fear for Latifehís heart.† She has fallen in love with one of Marounís friends.† In between fighting, he has stayed in our modest apartment.† Assad is a Maronite, but he is from Mount Lebanon not Marjayoun.† If he dies, she will be crushed.† She is ready to marry since she is already 22.† All of her Muslim friends in Marjayoun were married much younger.† Love is so precious during war.† I donít know what I would do without Esther. She has been there for me during the loss of my father and brother.† We have not heard from her family in quite some time.† I hope for her sake that they are safe.

March 18, 1977

Esther, Jirius, Latifeh and I have survived the war.† Maroun is dead.† Why did God take him?† He had so much promise.† Iím not sure what he died for.† Lebanon is in ruins.† Beirut is a fragment of what it used to be.† We now live in a small house in East Beirut outside of the ďGreen LineĒ.† It is so strange to see a city so destroyed that weeds are a sign of life to us.† They are also a sign of death.† Maroun is buried there along with the bodies of countless others who died needlessly in the war.† I could not give him a proper burial.† We all pray that he has rest in heaven.

There is no rest for us.† We must find a way to rebuild our lives.† I do not think my business will ever be regained.† Southern Lebanon is still not safe.† Our old ranch and tannery will probably never be secured from the Palestinians.† Allam has actually left Lebanon altogether.† He says with Syriaís occupying forces here now and President Sarkisís dependence on them to keep the peace and restore control of the army, a truly Lebanese Lebanon could not exist.† We have too many factions.† Unity between the Christian and Muslim may never exist here.† He went to the United States of America.† Some place called Dayton, Ohio where some other Lebanese people live.† He said he was going to sell shoes to people who could probably never walk a mile in his, nor would he want them to.

My family is so much smaller now.† Assad survived the war though so maybe when he and Latifeh marry, Esther and I will see our family grow again.† I am looking for work with Jirius at a place called Salem Tannery in Beirut.† It has been there many years, but I am not comfortable with the owner.† He does not appear to be very religious.† I hope that Esther will understand since we need the money now.

August 22, 1982

It seems that Maroun must have had some divine guidance in choosing to befriend Bashir Gemayel.† Tomorrow it seems he will become our next President!† He is representing the National Salvation Front and has support from Christians and Muslims alike.† I know he will be elected by our parliament.† He is our best hope for the future right now.† He has done more than I realized.† He has organized the popular Committees of which Latifeh and Assad have become members.† They say that it is important to get involved in the government so that the rights and privileges of their son Maroun will be protected.† They have looked to get involved in the strengthening of schools here in Beirut. My Maroun would be proud! Given the opportunity, his nephew will be as talented as he was.

Bashir also has done a lot that has helped Lebanonís businesses.† Salem Tannery has profited because of his efforts with Hamat Airport and Achrafieh Merchants Committee.† The tannery has been able to increase its exports to France and has sold the manufactured leather goods from France at a leather product store that Esther and I now run for Salem.† We actually made a commercial last month for Radio 102!† I think Maroun has actually been watching over us through his nephew!

Maybe he also has helped keep us safe during the latest struggles between the Israelis and the Palestinians.† There have been so many bombs exploding over the last 7 years, I have lost some of my hearing.† I thought I would hear the silence of peace when the American ambassador Habib was able to get a cease-fire last summer, but this time it was the Israelis who started another series of bombings in West Beirut.† They couldnít stand the Palestinians shooting rockets at them from inside Lebanonís borders anymore.† Neither can I!† But what right did they have to invade our country to stop them?† Lebanon would be peaceful if it were not for the Palestinians.† Israel should compromise with them some how so that they leave Lebanon.† God forgive me for my feelings against them, but I find it hard to love my neighbor in these times!† At least this time it appears the PLO will have to leave Beirut.† The Americans, French, and Italians are going to evacuate them from West Beirut along with the Syrian soldiers who obviously werenít keeping the peace.† I donít think that this will end here though.† The Palestinians are sure to cause Lebanon more trouble for which some outsider will have to intervene.† If only our government was unified enough to take care of them with our own army once and for all.

September 17, 1982

President Bashir Gemayal was assassinated 3 days ago, and it appears that the Israelis and some of our soldiers have decided to get rid of the Palestinians.† Assad is fighting in West Beirut with them.† I hope that he is not killing the civilian refugees in the Sabra and Shatila camps.† I was wrong to wish to be rid of the Palestinians.† They are not all responsible for the actions of a few.† I had hoped Gemayal could rebuild Lebanon, but his death should not mean the destruction of innocent lives!† If I learn that Assad was part of these massacres, I do not know what Iíll do.† Latifeh should not be married to a murderer.† Little Maroun should not have him as a father!

October 30, 1983

Allam called me today from Ohio.† He says he has gotten some threats from neighbors who know he is Lebanese.† They actually blame him for the bombing of the Marine headquarters in Beirut.† He had the same problem back in April as well, when the U.S. embassy was bombed.† He doesnít understand how he can be blamed for something he could not possibly have done.† I understand it well though.† I blamed Assad for the Sabra and Shatila massacres when he returned to our home over a year ago now.† He had told me then that he had tried to stop some of his fellow soldiers from committing the atrocities but had not succeeded because their hatred of the Palestinians was so intense.† I was so glad to know that Latifeh and Maroun had such a moral man in their life.† Morality is so hard to come by in Lebanon.† Suicide car bombings must be seen by the outside world as ghastly simple-mindedness.† I am sure that the Americans and probably the French and Italians will abandon us to our factions.† Why risk their men for a hopeless cause?

I do not know if the idea of a unified Lebanon is hopeless, but I can see from Allamís situation that Palestinians, Shias, Sunnis, Druzes, Greek Orthodox, and Maronites are all seen as Lebanese by average Americans.† We all are then responsible for the actions of the Palestinians who I believe carried out the bombings.† In a way, this point of view would be right.† If we are to be a nation, Lebanon must provide for the needs of all and everyone must find a way to be content living and working in Lebanon.† Allam could not be content here, and unless he finds a way to be accepted as an American in his new community, he will not be content selling shoes to people who do not trust him.

His business is doing poorly now.† He says that people are avoiding his store.† I am having the reverse of fortunes.† When it has been safe, a lot of people have been in to buy luggage lately.† There are many people leaving Lebanon to find lives elsewhere.† I can not say that they are wrong, but they may experience the same prejudices Allam has come to expect.†† Prejudice, fear, and poverty: all of these have become very common in Lebanon, so I am sure that those who leave will manage.

Maybe it is time that I take what is left of my family elsewhere.† Esther, Latifeh, Assad, and little Maroun deserve lives free of misery.† Oh, but to leave Lebanon!† What of the lands I love in Marjayoun?† My life there holds so many memories.† What will become of Lebanon if so many people leave?† Who will struggle to make our nation strong? Should my family move to Dayton to help Allam in his store?

Is it time to leave Lebanon?



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