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Encouraging Story from Lebanon

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    A South Lebanon Village Peacefully Liberated by Students by Mary Abu-Saba 3 March 1999 Arnoun is a village in southern
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 15, 2006
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      A South Lebanon Village Peacefully Liberated by Students
      by Mary Abu-Saba
      < American University of Beirut >
      3 March 1999
      Arnoun is a village in southern Lebanon on the boundary of Lebanese
      land occupied by Israel since 1978. The Israelis have their gunners
      and tanks at Beaufort Castle 220 yards on a hill above the village.
      For seventeen years the villagers have been repeatedly bombed and
      strafed. They have had no electricity, running water, or cars. At
      least 5,000 villagers have left to live elsewhere, not being free to
      tend their land, or pursue a secure life. But they frequently return
      on week-ends and holidays, to examine their houses, and till their
      land as much as the brief time allows.
      This past December the Israelis refused to allow the water truck
      delivery anymore. More citizens left, and only a remaining 30 - 40
      tried to keep their faith that they could make the village survive.
      Periodically, the Israelis blew up empty houses, claiming that they
      contain caches of arms. On Wednesday night February 17, the Israelis
      came and placed barbed wire all around the village, and bull-dozed
      earth to block the only road leading to the town. The villagers were
      no longer able to walk to the nearby town of Nabatiyeh. They would
      have to go through the Israeli checkpoint, and their children would
      have to take a taxi to attend school 5 miles away.
      In the midst of the ensuing diplomatic and political muddle of how to
      deal with this, I watched the American University of Beirut students
      demonstrate on campus, and speak their minds about the injustices
      which have been perpetrated by the occupation of South Lebanon. On
      Friday, without notice, over 1,000 students swept down from Beirut to
      Arnoun. They came in busses, in private cars, and in taxis from the
      major universities in Lebanon. They said they did not have a plan,
      other than to walk the three miles from Nabatiyeh to the captured
      village, carrying wire cutters in hopes of slicing through the barbed
      wired as a symbolic gesture. They wanted to give support to the
      citizens of the 104th Lebanese village to fall, overnight, under
      Israeli occupation.
      As they walked en mass toward the village, the citizens called to
      them to stop, fearing reprisals from the Israelis who were in full
      view, watching the procession from Beaufort Castle. But the students
      kept moving slowly, and reached the rolls of barbed wire stacked in
      rows around the village. They shook the barbed wire in frustration,
      and noticed no evidence of land mines, as had been proclaimed by the
      Israelis, nor a response from the Israeli soldiers. Then they shook
      harder, and pulled out their wire clippers, and began clipping. The
      Israelis fired their machine guns over their heads, but the young
      people kept clipping. The barbed wire began to fall into pieces.
      Others grabbed it to pull it aside. More and more students began
      clipping and pulling, clipping and pulling. They pulled up the steel
      stakes which anchored the wire. The citizens behind the barbed wire
      began to urge them on, and finally the students rushed across the
      wire into the village space. There was cheering and jubilation,
      clapping and ululating, hugging and crying. One student climbed the
      electricity pole and planted the Lebanese flag at the top. More
      cheering, tears of joy, shrieks of passionate emotional release
      The news of pulling this long suffering village back into free
      Lebanese territory spread through the South, and immediately
      neighboring sheiks, and priests, called on their people to walk to
      Arnoun for support. The people responded and the crowd swelled
      quickly to hundreds more, as other nearby villagers came to witness
      and celebrate this non-violent miracle of emancipation.
      The whole of Lebanon was rejoicing by Saturday when the full story
      broke, and streams of people, including the politicians went swarming
      to the South. By Sunday, more people went to witness the celebration
      and the "Wedding Feast in South Lebanon" when Arnoun was joined again
      to its country. Prime Minister Salem Hoss was among the well-wishers,
      and made a speech congratulating the students. President Lahoud gave
      an order to the governor of the region to pave the road to Arnoun
      immediately. The crowd cheered while the bulldozers pushed the soil,
      and the tarmac spreader painted a connecting ribbon to the rest of
      Lebanon. The water engineers came and laid down piping for running
      water, the first in 17 years.
      By Monday, student representatives who had brought down the
      barricades peacefully with their bare hands had been invited to visit
      President Lahoud, who praised them for their courage, and the
      students, in turn, presented President Lahoud with a length of the
      barbed wire fence. Villagers from Arnoun received congratulations
      from the President, who agreed to their request to establish a clinic
      Without allegiance to religious sect or party affiliation, the
      students brought the Lebanese together in this act of non-violent
      resistance. "Arnoun has brought all of the ranks of Lebanon together,
      and our youth have had the courage to make this happen," said
      President Lahoud.
      All of Lebanon has swelled with pride in their youth this week-end.
      When the people act, and turn to peaceful power, what other
      liberation miracles could surely be wrought?

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      Every Church A Peace Church / PO Box 240 / Akron, PA 17501 /
      717.859.1958 / John Stoner (Coordinator)
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