when is a target not a target?
Posted by adiamondinsunlight on January 16, 2008
A little past 4:30 yesterday afternoon, H and I were chatting online about the usual idle topics: upcoming travel, Fairouz singing in Damascus, and a soon-to-arrive production of The Middle Beast, which enjoyed good reviews in New York.
Hang on, H said suddenly. I heard an explosion a few moments ago, and now we can see it.
And so it began: another ordinary afternoon torn into bits by an explosion.
The news coverage, in both Arabic and English, has been fairly decisive: the road-side bomb was “targeting” the US Embassy convoy.
The US Embassy’s warden message, which was kindly forwarded to me by a friend (since – and despite the personal assurances of an embassy staffer that he had indeed added my name to the email list – I still receive no updates), is more ambiguous:
The U.S. Embassy in Lebanon has limited movement of its personnel after an explosion north of Beirut. An Embassy vehicle was damaged and one Lebanese employee was slightly injured in the explosion. There are reports that passersby were killed. The Embassy is monitoring the situation closely and reminds all Americans residing in Lebanon to maintain a high level of vigilance, especially when planning travel. Americans are also advised to avoid popular gathering spots and to report any suspicious activity to local law enforcement officials.
A message both terse and vague – and with no suggestion that the Embassy vehicle was the target of the bomb.
Does the Embassy know something we do not – or is it simply trying to contain the political fallout at home if Americans once again become targets in Lebanon? I’m certainly trying to contain the fallout – my parents just booked tickets to come here in March, and I would much rather meet them here than in blustery lion-weather Europe.
As for me, I spent the afternoon wondering, as I always do when a bomb explodes, what I was doing when the bombers were making their final preparations. Was I making a cup of tea? Was I sending an email to my sister? Was I starting my day at work?
And then I multiply that by all the people here in Lebanon who also spent the day doing deeply ordinary things – and the contrast breaks my heart.