A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

Archive for the ‘Paris’ Category

the Lebanese takeover begins with skincare

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on May 5, 2009

Last night I was talking with H about a number of things, all somewhat Lebanese’y, when the conversation took an unusually cosmetic turn.

I forgot to mention to you before, H said, but last night I saw this infomercial for a new Cindy Crawford lotion, and her secret Hollywood facialist was a “French” guy called Jean Louis Sebagh. One more piece of the puzzle is now in place for the eventual Lebanese domination of the world.

Let’s leave aside the larger puzzle of just why H was watching an American infomercial rather than the Arabic news broadcasts he usually favors, and ignore entirely the fact that this was an infomercial addressed to middle-aged women looking for ‘hope in a jar’. My initial reaction was to laugh: after all, who tries to take over the world through skincare?

But when I turned back to the magazine I had been reading, I saw this advertisement:

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There was another Lebanese man, Dr. F. Frederic Khoury, advising me that “Your cosmetic surgery is only as good as your cosmetic plastic surgeon.”

I’m not in the market for any of his services, thankfully (“ear plasty?”). But I am starting to wonder now whether H’s comment was less of a jest, and more of a warning :).

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Posted in advertising, Arab world, Beirut, citizenship, fashion, Lebanon, Paris | 3 Comments »

the things that foreigners do

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on January 10, 2008

As I have mentioned before, I love walking. One of the characteristics that distinguishes the great cities of the world from those that are merely good, as far as I am concerned, is their walkability.

Paris, London, New York, Rome, Tokyo: Storied cities. Cities with uncommon vibrancy. Cities whose residents walk, and which as a result have a dynamic vivacity at street level.

Beirut should be one of the world’s great cities. It should be a city peopled with pedestrians. It should pulse with the colorful humanity of its inhabitants.

Instead, it pulses with me. To be fair, Hamra gathers a fairly sizable group of promenaders on weekend afternoons, and on weekend nights clumps of revelers … well .. clump on the sidewalks in front of the more popular bars.

But when I walk – going from one place to another, with the purpose of running an errand, going to work, meeting friends, and so on – I frequently find myself with almost zero competition for sidewalk space.

This was the case last Friday evening, when I decided to walk to the Monroe Hotel, where I was meeting a few friends for a “final, really final” showing of Haki Niswen, the Lebanese Arabic-language adaptation of The Vagina Monologues.

(More on that in a future post. If I stood out on the street while walking to the hotel, it was nothing compared to the degree to which I stood out – the only, and very obviously, non-Lebanese – at the theater.)

I chose to walk because it was a beautiful evening and because it would be short – ten minutes, fifteen minutes at the most. And it was a lovely walk: the air was fresh and the night sky was breathtaking.

But logistically speaking, the walk was a total pain. I’m not talking about the checkpoints, the armored personnel carriers or the Internal Security Forces stationed here and there. Yes, they were interested in me – but as a curiosity, not a security threat.

The challenge was much more literal: the sidewalks leading down to the hotel were cordoned off with cement barricades connected by chain linked metal “ropes”. So each time I came to the end (or the start) of a block, I had to hop over the metal “rope” in order to continue on my way.

I’m not much of a damsel in distress, even in three-inch heels. So delicately picking my way through the barricades was really no trouble.

But in terms of adding force to my campaign to make Beirut a great city – in terms of demonstrating the joys (and the virtues) of walking to the Beirutis passing by in cars and taxis … well … I suspect that it was at best a wash.

Instead, I imagine that most of the people who drove past me shook their heads, smiled, and said to one another:

Look – there goes another foreigner, doing those funny things that foreigners do.

Posted in Americans, Arab world, Beirut, New York, Paris, traffic, travel, women, words | 1 Comment »

coming home

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on December 30, 2007

I arrived back in Beirut this afternoon, on the Middle East Airlines flight from Paris. Ordinarily, I hate flying MEA. The attendants are nice, but rarely up to the task of managing the egos of their passengers.

For example, on my flight out of Beirut last week, the woman seated behind me decided that I was not allowed to recline my seat. When shoving my seat forward proved ineffective – and telling me “you cannot put your seat back” equally so – she called a flight attendant. (I do try not to be unreasonable – I don’t put my seat back when meals are served, and I don’t put it back all the way during daytime flights or when the person behind me is particularly long-legged. But the seats are made to recline …)

It took the personal intervention of the purser to … well … if not convince her … at least bring the active shoving down to a manageable series of kicks. And no, she wasn’t a teenager – in fact, the two teenage children accompanying her were much better behaved. I’m not one to praise the world’s airlines for shortening the pitch of their seats, but I don’t think it beyond the pale to try to catch a few zzzz’s on a 2 am flight.

What really makes me roll my eyes about MEA flights, though, is the fact that everyone claps when the plane lands. I am all for clapping when the pilot has done an exceptional job – I clapped heartily in July 2001, when the plane I was on made a successful emergency landing in Detroit after losing its mechanical brain. And I clapped long and hard in November 1996 when my post-Thanksgiving flight landed, skidding but safe, on our third approach into Albany during a white-out blizzard. But clapping for every ordinary landing? This is the outcome I expect for a commercial flight. Otherwise, what’s the point of having pilot’s licenses?

So I was delightfully surprised this afternoon when no one clapped. Besides myself and one newly hired professional basketball player from Rhode Island (who unfortunately could not pronounce the name of his new team), the plane was full of Lebanese from Venezuela and other points south. Perhaps their years abroad have made them more discerning flyers.

Anyway, bravo aleikon, fellow flyers! I arrived back home to find that karma once again dictated that I should arrive on a 3-6 power cut day. So I started my unpacking by candlelight, which might have been more romantic if I were less of a klutz.

Once the power came back on, I spent a few minutes picking up everything that had fallen while I roamed around in the dark, and a few more minutes sorting out everything that I had “put away” in the wrong place. I’m still missing a bottle of Whole Foods’ organic peanut sauce – I’ve checked my toiletries supply, my laundry pile, and the kitchen shelves, but it is nowhere to be found. Its alright, though. Based on years of past experience with my own absent-mindedness, I am confident that it will turn up, when (and certainly where) I least expect it.

I also decided to try out my new surge protector, a very welcome Christmas gift from Santa.

surge-protector.jpg

The idea is that I plug this into the wall and it will protect up to five appliances from the surges of electrical power that occur when the power goes off, comes on, or has any number of daily hiccups.

But the surge protector has a three-prong plug, and my electrical sockets (which are dual North American/European and 220v) only take two-pronged plugs. So I plugged the protector into a universal converter, plugged the two together into the wall, and BOOM.

It wasn’t exactly a surge, and it certainly wasn’t protection – it blew my apartment’s fuses and the general fuse for the building’s floor, to boot. I guess Beirut’s power supply has a mind of its own 😛 .

Posted in Beirut, childhood, Lebanon, Paris, travel, vanity, women, words | Leave a Comment »

A New Look at Lebanon: Yezid Sayigh on Paris III

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on January 31, 2007

A very thoughtful piece by Professor Yezid Sayigh of King’s College, London, has been making its way around the world’s English language newspapers.

I doubt it will find a home in the US, the UK, or the Gulf – his analysis of Lebanon’s political situation does not mesh well with the Lebanon storyline already in play there.

Here it is, a reflective and analytic piece that focuses on Lebanon’s real crisis – its economic state – rather than the media-friendly specter of civil war:

Navigating Lebanon’s Political Minefield

On the face of it, the donor conference of Western and oil-rich Arab nations in Paris this week merely continues the work of two previous multilateral conferences in 2001 and 2002, aimed at helping Lebanon to rebuild its infrastructure after years of civil war and Israeli occupation and to tackle its massive debt. This time, donors will additionally help offset the $3.5 billion in direct and indirect losses caused by last summer’s war between Israel and Hezbollah, and the further rise of debt to $40.6 billion, a staggering 180% of Lebanon’s GDP.

The agenda appears straightforward, but “Paris III” has acquired a barely concealed political purpose: to bolster the government of Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora in the face of a powerful domestic challenge led by Hezbollah, and by extension to curb the influence of Hezbollah’s regional backers, Syria and Iran.

The West should tread carefully. There is a real risk that it will become entangled as a partisan actor in Lebanese domestic politics. Nor should it seek to play into the regional agendas of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan – hardly paragons of democracy – which are anxious to confront what they portray as a menacing “arc” of Shi’a Muslim power extending from Iran to Lebanon via Syria, and in Iraq.

Consider this. The United States and France, which have taken the West’s lead on Lebanon, have both confirmed the “democratic and constitutional nature” of the Siniora government. This is true, but only up to a point, for Lebanon’s confessional-based political system assigns the Shi’a, who make up close to 40% of the population, only 21% of parliamentary seats. The Sunnis, who comprise at most 20% of the population, are given the state office with the greatest executive power, that of prime minister.

Furthermore, the Sunni-based, anti-Syrian Future Movement to which Siniora belongs effectively extended this inequity into the present parliament when it overrode the opposition and insisted on conducting the 2005 general elections on the basis of the Electoral Law gerrymandered by Syria in 2000.

The West should therefore be wary of dismissing the Lebanese opposition out of hand as the cat’s paw of Syria and Iran. Rather, it should welcome proposals by Arab League mediators for immediate electoral reform and early parliamentary elections. At the same time, it should expect the opposition to endorse the establishment of an international tribunal to adjudicate the matter of the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, albeit after clarifying and narrowing the current excessively broad United Nations rules governing the investigation.

The West should also recognize that the constituencies of Hezbollah and its allied, largely Christian, Free Patriotic Movement, led by presidential contender Michel Aoun, will be hit hardest by many of Siniora’s proposed economic and administrative reforms, such as lifting fuel subsidies and sharply raising value added tax. Already the 200,000-member Federation of Labour Unions has joined the opposition bandwagon, and Siniora’s proposals will further fuel grassroots populist nationalism.

All this might be seen as a predictable, conservative reaction to urgently needed reforms, were it not for the poor track record of the Sunni economic establishment, which for many years adapted well enough to Syrian domination. Part of Hariri’s legacy was the award of quasi-monopolistic licences to cronies – for mobile telephones, for example – and the sale of government debt at highly profitable rates to local banks in which had a direct interest. So were the profligate borrow-and-spend policies and the use of public-sector hiring to co-opt political factions, both of which resulted in Lebanon’s massive debt problem.

Yet the real challenge for Western policy in Lebanon is neither constitutional reform nor establishment of the Hariri tribunal. The Siniora government and the opposition are likely to reach a compromise within the next few months, probably on the basis of some variant of Arab League proposals. The tougher challenge is to solve the Gordian knot that binds Hezbollah (and the issue of its disarmament), Syria, and Israel together in a fateful triangle.

In short, the West needs to pre-empt a resumption of hostilities in Lebanon by seeking unconditional talks between Syria and Israel over the Golan Heights. Failing that, Paris III will represent a sidestepping of the key political issues that must be addressed, and thus merely stock up trouble for the future.

Posted in economics, Lebanon, media, news, Paris, politics | 2 Comments »

adding insult to injury: jund al-Sham and the Lebanese Army in Taamir

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on January 25, 2007

Having grown bored with both Radio Orient’s live coverage of the Paris III conference and the re-broadcast of Nasrallah’s post-strike speech on al-Nour (the two are in a neck-and-neck competition for longest on-air speech time), I have turned to Radio Sawa and its effervescent pop broadcasts.

Sawa’s carefully calibrated mixture of Arabic pop and American R&B must be inspiring – I’ve been working straight for the past three hours, which naturally means that a blogging break is over.

Pre-Nasrallah, Radio Nour was broadcasting live from Ain el-Hilweh, a Palestinian refugee camp near Sidon. The camp is evidently such a morass of militias that foreigners have to receive special permission – and sign waivers – from the Lebanese government before going there.

The seemingly ubiquitous Jund al-Sham took up residence in Ain el-Hilweh some time ago, along with a number of equally unsavory paramilitary groups. When not organizing attacks on the US embassy in Damascus and other sensitive Syrian targets, the jund likes to go after the Lebanese army. Sometimes, as earlier this month, they do so under the pretext of preserving an “Islamic” morality:

Lebanese army, Islamic militants clash after soldiers search veiled school-girls

(from the International Herald Tribune, January 11, 2007)

SIDON, Lebanon: Armed Islamic militants and Lebanese troops clashed Thursday in south Lebanon, forcing hundreds of residents to flee for safety, security officials said.

Officials said two soldiers were injured in the exchange that was triggered when gunmen belonging to the Jund al-Sham militant group opened fire on the soldiers for searching a van full of veiled schoolgirls. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

The clashes also were sparked by the army’s search of a wanted militant in the Taamir neighborhood of the southern city of Sidon, close to the Palestinian refugee camp of Ein el-Hilweh, the officials said.

Several hundred residents fled the neighborhood, some taking refuge in nearby mosques.

The security officials said the schoolgirls’ van had stopped at an army checkpoint, and the girls were asked to lift their face veils during a security search.

Sometimes, like this morning, the jund’s attacks seem entirely opportunistic:

Militants fight Lebanese troops outside refugee camp in southern Lebanon

(from the International Herald Tribune, January 25, 2007)

SIDON, Lebanon: Islamic militants on Thursday fired mortars and rocket-propelled grenades at Lebanese troops as they deployed outside a Palestinian refugee camp in southern Lebanon, forcing hundreds of civilians to flee, security officials said.

The soldiers fired back at the Jund al-Sham militants in an exchange that lasted about 10 minutes outside the Ein el-Hilweh refugee camp near the southern port of Sidon, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the media.

There was no immediate word of casualties.

It was not clear why the Jund al-Sham, an extremist Muslim group, opened fire. Two weeks previously there was a similar exchange between members of Jund al-Sham and the national army near Ein el-Hilweh in which two soldiers were wounded.

Who knows what they hope to accomplish. Their actions only mean more chaos for a country already subject to the whims of too many men with guns at their disposal.

The Radio Nour reporter was speaking over the sounds of gunfire and distressed civilians; it was quite sad to hear. Palestinians are largely un-loved in Lebanon (unlike in Syria, where support for the Palestinian cause is automatic but sincere), where they face not only discrimination but legal prohibitions on their employment in most private and public sector spheres.

Skirmishes like this do nothing to make the Lebanese more welcoming.

Posted in Americans, Beirut, Lebanon, media, music, news, Paris, politics, radio, religion | Leave a Comment »

all the news one can use: listening in on the strike

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on January 24, 2007

After Siniora spoke yesterday evening, the neighborhood behind mine erupted in volleys of gunfire.

The rat-tat-tats and deeper booms went on for nearly forty minutes, long enough for my forgotten supper to go from “lentil soup” to “cajun [blackened] lentil pate” while I stood in my garden and watched the tracers in the sky and the flashes lighting up the nearby high-rises.

My aunt Intlxpatr has said that she and my uncle lead not exciting lives but ordinary lives in exciting places. Yesterday was a bit too exciting for quiet me.

When not blithering on about my recent pleasure reading, I spent much of yesterday working to the sounds of local radio stations.

Lebanese news channels are not like those in the United States or Europe, where each channel attempts to present a holistic view of events. Here each party, each interest group, each religious faction has a television news channel (or, in the case of Michel Aoun and, most recently, the Future Party, wants one) to present their view of events.

Many also have radio stations. So to get the full, or at least a fuller, story, I spent the day alternating between Hizbullah’s al-Nour and the Future Party’s Radio Orient. My little system worked quite well, and I felt rather smugly ‘in-the-know’ all day.

Then the evening gunfire started, and I found myself abandoned by both stations just when I really needed to know what was going on.

Radio Orient was broadcasting a paean to Jacques Chirac, while al-Nour was ushering in Ashura with a retelling of the Karbala story.

On the one hand, it was good to know that nothing urgent was happening. On the other hand, … pfft. I wanted news.

In the end, the first news I had of the strike’s ending came from a totally unexpected source: the Bahrain News Agency. A tantalizing headline reporting Lebanese Opposition Strike Ends was posted at 9:21. I read it moments later, while talking on Skype with a friend in forbidden lands, and thought: silly Bahrainis, reporting on rumors as if they are news.

Happily, I was the silly one, as Reuters and Jazeera soon pointed out.

This morning was blissfully normal, and I am back to my usual ordinary routines: stocking up on chewing gum and tuna, and working away on my laptop, cup of tea at the ready.

No grey polluting the skies (I smiled when I saw last night that Cyberia had changed its Beirut forecast back from “smoky” to “clear” after news of the strike’s halt had spread) , no pursed lips on passersby in the streets, and no gunshots in the air. Oh, what a beautiful morning.

Sietske in Beiroet has posted a fascinating account of her day out and about in the striking city. I don’t know her personally, but I read her blog religiously. I adore the way her writing blends sharp wit with her keen affection for this place.

Posted in Americans, Arabic, Beirut, Lebanon, media, music, news, Paris, politics, radio, religion, time | 1 Comment »

books around the world, one flight at a time (iii)

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on January 23, 2007

Today seems like a good day to stay inside. Not to be indelicate, but when I cough or require a tissue, I see visible evidence of the morning’s air quality, though the skies outside my window remain clear and bright.

As I write, the muezzin at my neighborhood (Sunni) mosque is giving the call to prayer. He has a particularly beautiful voice, and today he has decided to add a number of vocal flourishes to the shahada (leaving the Allahu akbar a straight call). I have heard him do this before, and the effect is breath-taking.

I love this mosque anyway, because it is small but lovely, a newly built edifice next to a late Ottoman facade shot to bits by the civil war. The two share a sweetly poignant, if pointed, banner hanging in front of the latter, which says:

As we remained with the resistance during the days of the Israeli aggressions,

So we will remain with the government and its president, Fouad Siniora, during the period of the rebuilding.

The parallel structure (kama bqaina m3a al-muqawama … sanabqa m3a al-7hukuma wa ra2siha Fu2ad Saniyora) makes it even lovelier in Arabic – and, for emphasis, the words “resistance” and “Fouad Siniora” are written in red.

I will put in a photograph later, but I fear that going out with a camera now might vex the Interior Ministry’s gendarmerie.

Back to books …

After reading de Bellaigue’s In The Rose Garden of the Martyrs, I decided to continue the theme by reading another, rather different book on pre- to post- revolutionary Iran: Farah Pahlavi’s An Enduring Love: My Life With the Shah.

enduringlove.jpg

I know – who reads this stuff? I do – and not because it is all a bunch of fluff.

Enduring Love, like Queen Noor’s Leap of Faith: Memoirs of an Unexpected Life, was written by a smart woman. Farah’s self-control and her ability to stay “on message” are evident throughout the book – even in her unfortunate defense of SAVAK as a well-intentioned but perhaps ‘over-eager’ institution.

What interests me about books like this is how the men whose public roles defined these ‘women in black’, to borrow a phrase used here to describe Lebanon’s women in Parliament (all of whom entered politics as the wife, sister, or daughter of a dead politician) could inspire such loyalty in them.

Farah’s life was so deeply invested in the shah – whether she believed his reign was as uniformly progressive as she presents it, to challenge this view would mean challenging the value of the course of her own life, as well as the legacy she and her husband have given their children. Hence she is a very careful writer, leaving no loose ends, and no hook for anti-shah or pro-Islamic Republic readers to seize upon.

And she is a good writer. The stories she tells of her childhood are as engaging as the sad tale she tells of the shah’s last days, reviled and refused entry by country after country. In short, a perfect airplane book, if you can bear the smirks you imagine on the faces of your fellow travelers.

Posted in Americans, Arabic, Beirut, books, family, Iran, Islam, Lebanon, media, Paris, politics, religion, Seattle, travel, women | 3 Comments »

“of course its good – its from Lebanon!”

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on December 27, 2006

A recent conversation with a Lebanese-American about the tastes of milks around the world (when I was little my favorite first thing to do when returning home from a trip was to pour myself a big glass of milk, milk with the “right”, i.e., central Iowa, Anderson Erickson Dairy, flavor) reminded me of my own experiences with “Lebanese” milk.

When I am in Damascus, I buy Bongiorno “diet” (i.e., skim) milk. Despite the total lack of attractive packaging – the milk comes in flat sky blue boxes with “Bongiorno” printed in red – I prefer it to Fayhaa, which to me tastes too creamy to be truly skim. (Just as those who were raised on whole milk find skim too watery to satisfy, we who were raised on skim milk find anything thicker too thick.)

Not every shop carries Bongiorno, but I know the ones that do, and I amuse the shopkeepers by buying them three at a time. I would buy more, but three is the most I can carry while still maintaining a dignified, not completely bent-over, posture while walking on the street.

One Thursday evening, having just realized that we would run out of milk on Friday, when all our (mostly Sunni) neighborhood’s shops were closed, I rushed to my favorite everything shop to buy another box.

The boy behind the counter handed me … something else. A colorfully designed box of milk with the brand name Silhouette. “But what is this?” I asked, panicking to see something so unfamiliar. “Don’t you have any Bongiorno milk?”

“Don’t worry”, he told me, smiling. “Its good – its from Lebanon!”

It was good – and once I had brought it home, I realized that I had indeed drunk this milk before – at my friend M’s mother’s condo up in Jounieh. M’s mother, a brilliant philosopher whose leather-bound Boston University doctoral dissertation on Heidegger terrified me with its erudition whenever I stayed in their study-cum-guest room, had told me cheerfully: “you can drink as much as you want – its fat-free”. (At the time, I worried that she had detected some displeasing change to my usually petite self. After learning how much time she had spent in France as well as the U.S., I realized that she was making a much-appreciated deduction that while the French might enjoy whole milk, Americans drank skim.)

That fall, I moved to Paris for a research fellowship. Jet-lagged on my first evening, I nevertheless decided to make my first grocery run – to the nearby Geant. I wandered up and down the aisles, taking in the array of products through my decalage-fogged brain. Finally, I reached the milk aisle and … there it was. a taste of ‘home’: Silhouette milk.

Wow, my beleaguered brain cells thought: this really must be good milk, if the French import it from Lebanon. I took a six-pack, made my stumbling way home, put the groceries away and tucked myself into bed.

When I woke the next morning, I made tea. While drinking it, I examined the Sihouette box more closely, curious to see where these Lebanese cows were located.

As it turned out, Silhouette’s cows were actually … French, and belonged to the British conglomerate Candia Farms. What a pity – I was much less enchanted by the idea of drinking British milk in Paris than I would have by the idea of drinking 7halib lubneini.

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Posted in Americans, Beirut, Damascus, food, Lebanon, Paris, travel | 1 Comment »

see no evil: the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s advice on fly-overs

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on November 17, 2006

Once again the French are proving surprisingly fearless and (even more surprising) effective in combating Israel’s flyovers in southern Lebanon.

French government (and, in particular, Chirac’s) support for Mustaqbal, the March 14’ers, and the Lebanese intifada more broadly has been discomfiting – sharing the United States’ suspiciously sudden interest in Lebanese ‘democracy’ and ‘sovereignty’ (why were these non-issues for the past 20+ years?), but with a hint of smug self-satisfaction that la patrie was again in a position to protect her erstwhile colony.

bravo, regardless, to the French for continuing their non-aggressive but firm insistence that the flyovers stop. and the same to the Foreign Ministry, for recognizing how counterproductive they have become. (and bravo to Ynetnews for printing such a neutral article – modeling the virtues of a free press for a region sore in need of them.) its a pity that Ministry officials have yet to realize that jets unseen are not jets unheard, and that removing them from les yeux francais will reduce the intensity of the offense, but will not put an end to it.

“Foreign Ministry: Lebanon flyovers harmful

Officials say flights resulted in confrontations with friendly nations that warn of withdrawing forces from south Lebanon; ‘if you must then fly, but make every effort not to be seen,’ they tell IDF

Itamar Eichner
Published: 11.17.06, 10:01

Sources in the Foreign Ministry warn that the continued Air Force flights over Lebanon may prompt the international community to limit Israel’s activity.

Ministry officials have recently held talks with senior IDF officers to explain the diplomatic damage caused by the flyovers, saying the flights have resulted in confrontations with friendly nations that may respond by withdrawing their forces from south Lebanon.

The officials added that the international community views some of the flyovers as sheer provocation on Israel’s part and a breach of the ceasefire.

“If you must then fly, but make every effort not to be seen,” one official told the officers.

‘Catastrophe avoided’
Meanwhile, tensions between Israel and France over the flyovers have increased in the past few days, with senior French army officers not ruling out the possibility that their forces would open fire at any IAF warplane conducting another mock aerial attack at their outposts in Lebanon.

“We believe that opening fire in such a scenario is legitimate,” a French officer recently told a foreign diplomat.

About a week ago French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said in parliament that French United Nations troops were “two seconds” away recently from firing at Israeli aircraft diving towards their position in southern Lebanon.

“Two seconds later there would have been a shot against the aircraft which were directly menacing our forces,” Alliot-Marie said.

“A catastrophe was avoided thanks to the judiciousness of our troops,” she added.”

This article can be found at: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3329309,00.html

Posted in Beirut, Lebanon, media, neighbors, news, Paris, politics, travel, words | 1 Comment »