The current US State Department’s “Lebanon Travel Advisory”, updated June 6, calls on US citizens to “reconsider traveling” to the tiny Middle Eastern country “due to crime, terrorism, armed conflict, civil unrest, kidnappings and limited embassy capacity in Beirut to support US citizens.” Three significant stretches of “high risk” Lebanese territory were given an even harsher “Do Not Travel” warning: the Lebanese-Syrian border, the Lebanese-Israeli border, and refugee settlements.
As a US citizen, I can definitely say that the biggest danger I experienced during my recent 10-day stay in a country where I have been a frequent visitor since 2006 was at the top of a seaside Ferris wheel in Beirut, which somehow thus continues to make rounds despite the infamous power shortage in Lebanon, which has plunged much of the landscape into darkness.
A few years ago, a Ferris wheel operator told me that the only time the giant wheel stopped working for an extended period of time was during the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon. This invasion killed tens of thousands of Lebanese and Palestinians, mostly civilians. and culminated in the Israeli-supported massacre of several thousand unarmed people in the Beirut refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila, which speaks of the “danger” of the refugee settlements.
As it happened, the US gave the Israeli government the green light for the whole 1982 affair. Twenty-four years later, shortly before my inaugural visit in 2006, there was another bloody Israeli attack on Lebanon, with significant support from the imperial hegemon, who hastily delivered precision-guided bombs to the Israeli military while attempting (ultimately unsuccessfully) to collect huge fees from its citizens for such luxuries as evacuation from Lebanon.
Makes you think about US priorities and about the “limited ability of the embassy in Beirut to provide support to US citizens.”
In any case, it turns out that the State Department does not need to warn about “terrorism” and “armed conflict” in Lebanon when it has supported the literal terrorization of the country by Israel for several decades. Yet the only mention of Israel in the traveler’s newsletter occurs in the context of the “Do Not Travel” specification: “There have been sporadic rocket attacks on Israel from southern Lebanon in connection with the violence between Israel and Hezbollah,” the Lebanese said. political party and armed group that emerged from the 1982 invasion.
To be sure, Lebanon has the unfortunate quality of being constantly associated with the phenomenon of “terrorism” – it’s a universal excuse for the US to keep it constantly at war and for the military industry to never starve. The general US public, however, has never been aware of the exact details of the situation in Lebanon beyond the often fabricated…