Amoula il Majnoona

Amoula's blog from Ramallah

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

American Evacuations in Lebanon

Dear all
I received the below email from my friend Lynn. I have a whole slew of similar emails from other friends who are American citizens in Lebanon.
American citizens are the least likely people to receive support or help from their government in conflict zones. Let it be known.

The American Government seems to have as little care for their citizens in Lebanon as they do for their citizens in West Bank and Gaza. Lynn's email reminded me of the invasions (... never-ending) in Palestine. An example: in Ramallah during the 2002 invasion, I also called the consulate and asked for help. What a joke that was!
While the Canadians, Swedes, Italians and everyone else was shuttled out of Bethlehem/Ramallah/Bayt Jalla the Americans were stuck. (OH! Important to note that dual nationals at that time were not allowed in the convoys by order of the Israelis - so Europe was happy to comply to leave Palestinian-Swedes, Palestinian-Italians etc under bombardment).
In my first phone call to the consulate I was told that there were 45,000 American citizens living in the West Bank so there was nothing they could do.

Two weeks later I called and was told that if I could get to Kalandia checkpoint they would pick me up on the other side. To which I responded the roads around my house have been blown up, there are snipers everywhere, we are under curfew, and there is an Apache overhead, IF I make it to Kalandia I wont need you on the other fucking side!

An American named C., who has been living and working in Ramallah since 1998 was called and told that the Americans had coordinated with the Israeli Military commander and they could send the Israelis in to pick her up in a tank! Imagine! Obviously, C stayed for the entire duration of the 40 day siege in which they destroyed, bombed and damaged our entire infrastructure, all we had built, our art institutions, civil society organizations, buildings, everything everyone had worked so hard to build throughout the 90's

Oh! now the Americans don't have to PAY their way out (if they can get out) see this:
The Arab American Institute applauds Arab American members of Congress for their leadership and advocacy on the issue of American evacuation from Lebanon. Senator John E. Sununu and Congressmen Nick Rahall (D-WV), Ray LaHood (R-IL), Darrell Issa (R-CA), and Charles Boustany (R-LA) met yesterday, July 17, with David Welch, Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs. Among the issues raised with Welch was the reported evacuation fee charged to American citizens fleeing Lebanon. The next day, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice informed Sununu that the fees would be waived.

How kind of them.

From: lynn
Subject: Re: whats the word?
Date: July 19, 2006 2:48:18 AM EDT
To: ejacir

Dear Emily: I heard last night that the Amreicans evacuated students at AUB. This makes sense given their location and their political currency. Every single bit of gossip I have heard has it that Americans inside Lebanon are wildly frustrated. I haven't heard a single story of the American embassy actually being helpful in the past week. I heard that the French embassy started calling every registered national last Wednesday afternoon. They kept the embassy open 24 hours from Thursday and evacuated on Monday.

I'm not saying that I expected the U.S. embassy to open their doors and start serving me tea beginning last Wednesday. On the contrary. But basic courtesy and CONTACT once we registered would have been nice. Plus I already told you how humiliated I was when the American embassy official came on television here and completely ignored the fact that Lebanon itself was being systematically destroyed and (at the time) close to 100 civilians had been killed. No sensitivity whatsoever.

So our story is that I faxed our info to the embassy on Saturday, then on Sunday I registered us again via the state department's website. On Monday after dialing for over an hour, and being told by a rude embassy employee that there is no way to confirm that we are registered, he gave me an e-mail address at the embassy and suggested I try registering us again. I then e-mailed them our registration information directly. Each of those three transmissions included phone numbers and e-mail where they can contact us. I stated emphatically each time that we want to be evacuated. I've heard nothing. I also cc'd a woman called Juliet Wurr on the e-mail I sent on Monday. A Daily Star reporter here gave me her contact information. Wurr is the "spokeswoman" for the embassy. She is based either in NYC or D.C. Yesterday she was quoted in the LA Times to this effect: after saying that the U.S. embassy is doing the best it can do in Lebanon and that there will be an evacuation, she then said: "anyway, all of those Americans now in Lebanon did not heed the state department warning not to travel to Lebanon."

Hmm. So we deserve what we got? So we have no right to expect to be treated with basic courtesy and for the American administration here to respect the Lebanese? We have no right to expect an efficient, safe and responsible evacuation? There are 25,000 Americans here. What the fuck?

We heard from an NBC producer friend this morning that anchors of the major networks are being sent to Lebanon to emphasize the importance of the story. (!) Basically, I'm telling you this because it is ironic that the U.S. is going to start shipping a whole bunch more journalists in to the country but they can't get the Americans who want to leave out of the country.




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