When I first came across this slogan, a less than subtle twist on the ‘We Love Life’ pro-government campaign in Lebanon, I smiled… thinking it was the brainchild of Lebanese youth disaffected with the current political deadlock threatening their future. Reading further the original article in the Lebanese daily I smiled again when I realised the authors were actually Palestinians claiming to represent some of those affected by the tragic events in Nahr-El-Bared. As expected in the traditionally Pan-Arabist Assafir the writer went on to condemn these slogans, in the name of the illusive Arab cause, as the work of traitors and cowards.
I personally found it refreshing to hear of Palestinians as individuals with feelings, desires, aspirations beyond the symbolism of their national plight .A change from the usual over inflated patriotic zeal of Abbas Zaki and other PLO officials. This discourse is not isolated and echoes in part the cry of fellow Palestinians in the occupied territories through the lyrics of the excellent West Bank rap Group’ Ramallah Underground’. In essence: resistance is good but what about the basic requirements for a decent life. The situation of the refugees in Lebanon is untenable and the Lebanese authorities cannot continue to ignore the social disaster brewing slowly on national soil under the lame excuse that they oppose forced settlement. Qatari money might clear the rubble and rebuild the camp but 60 years of personal and commercial relations between the inhabitants and local villagers have been damaged possibly irreversibly.
My words in no way exonerate the different Palestinian factions from their responsibility in turning a blind eye to the growth of various Jihadists groups over the years or to their unwillingness to deal with the consequences following the events of 20th May. But while I am in no position to ask for their accountability, as a Lebanese citizen I ask my government to give the ordinary Palestinian refugees their human right to work and make a decent living. This also is a condition to the building of a modern, fair and Democratic Lebanese state.