Between the Intifada and Asia Cup
By Ismail Zaaroura

It happened that the first days of the Israeli air raids on the West Bank and Gaza fell with the opening of Asia Cup in Beirut. Shatila, my camp, was living a state of war. Everybody, young children old, were following news moment by moment on different TV Channels. National songs were on loudspeakers all over the camp. Israeli tanks bombarded the Police station in Nablus; Israeli helicopters bombarded a house in Ramallah… Suddenly we heard helicopters over our camp, then we heard bombings, fear crept in our hearts and a state of terror overshadowed the camp. It is Israel!!!! The Israeli helicopters are there above us! People ran to their homes, and crying was all over…Helicopters and shooting sounds, it should be Israel. Terror rained for sometime to be only erased when loudspeakers in the mosque announced that the helicopters are not Israelis but Lebanese celebrating the Asia cup opening, and that the shooting are fireworks for that same opening… Everybody returned to the alleys to sit behind the TV screen trying to live what our people in Palestine are living…

I left the camp and headed home close to the Sports City. The Lebanese army was all over and Lebanese tanks filled the streets. It felt like war but during the war they were not a many as they are now I thought. From home I started to watch the spectators passing happily handing in their tickets and getting in the field were the opening ceremony is. I thought how could they be happy and Israelis are bombing Israel and the children are dying there. Wouldn't be better if they had paid their tickets money to back up the intifada? Would not that be better? My curiosity to watch the celebration made me move between the veranda where I can see the celebration and the TV room to follow the news in Palestine. I tired to sit on the roof of our building but I was stopped by a sniper who would not allow me up.

When the ceremony started I thought that ok they are celebrating but for sure they will say something about the Intifada. The president of Lebanon will come for sure, I thought, and they will stand a moment of silence for the Palestinian martyrs before the celebration... But then the three presidents came to the ceremony that started with no silent moment.

I was still moving between the TV room and the veranda to see the army that filled the place. When Marcel started to sing, my sister called me "come Marcel will sing for Palestine for sure this time.” We waited, he started to sing “the south cry.”  I hear so my sister said now he would say" the cry of Palestine” I hear, instead. But he did not and then when that song was over my sister said he would sing for Palestine now... But Marcel finished singing and nothing was sung for Palestine…

As I was watching the Asia Cup 2000 ceremony I thought how the Lebanese felt when the Israelis felt when the world was celebrating the world cup while the Israelis were hitting Beirut from the sea, the land and the air in 1982. I am sure they felt as I do now, LONELY AND SAD. Then I thought that the Lebanese have their own world. While the children are dying in Palestine they are celebrating the Asia cup here.

Clap! Don’t stop to Asia 2000… to Palestinian martyrs…