Shooting at the Neighbors

Three years ago I interviewed an Israeli man on the Golan Heights who fought in Lebanon in the 1980s.

“I can’t understand that place,” he told me. “The Christians and Druze were shooting each other. They weren’t shooting at us, they were shooting each other. Most of the time they seemed to get along perfectly fine, but then Thursday or Monday would come along and they’d fight. Why? Why did they think their lives would get better if they shot at the neighbors?”   

Some things never change.

Lebanon’s Christians and Druze aren’t shooting each other today. Now it’s Lebanon’s Sunnis and Alawites who are shooting each other as the Syrian civil war sends shock waves through the region.

My pal Darius Bazargan produced and narrated a BBC documentary about the fighting in Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli, the second largest in the country. Tripoli has none of the polish and cosmopolitanism of Beirut, yet it’s rife with the sectarian violence and darkness and rising Islamism of Syria.

Darius and I argue sometimes, and we’ve argued right here in the comment section of this blog, but he’s a good guy and he does good work and I urge everyone to watch his new film. Don’t hope for a happy ending, though, because there is not one.

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