Twenty five years… to be in Beirut
Fadi Abu Sada
I was six years old, when I started to know a bit what is going on around me. I knew that my father had completed his university education in Beirut. I knew that while he was showing me some pictures of Lebanon.
I catch that picture where my father was standing on a beautiful rock of the sea; he told me it’s the “Rousheh” rock, in Beirut. Thus began my story.
I no longer dream since that moment. Only in this wonderful scene, and how I can get there, to the same place, Beirut, where my father was.
Wars broke out there, and this is what it increases my pain, not only because the brothers where fighting together, but because it is making my dream difficult to come true, to be in Lebanon.
Tried every way, I constantly ask about the possibility of allowing Palestinians to enter Lebanon without avail. I traveled a lot and I saw a lot, but I only have the same dream. Beirut.
Twenty-five years passed, when I received an invitation from the Reuters news agency, about a journalism training course, in the Lebanese capital of Beirut. What makes things go for me upside down, back to hope despite the difficulty of the matter, because Reuters said that visa issue to enter Lebanon is my responsibility.
I had learned a few months ago that he was opening a formal office of the Palestinian Liberation Organization in Beirut. What gave me more hope.
I started researching for telephone numbers for the PLO officials in Beirut, until I got it. I contacted them immediately, I had one question only. Can Palestinian residents of the territories to enter Lebanon? The answer was yes, but we want a formal invitation letter and photo copy of the passport before at least ten days ahead of schedule.
I began preparing the papers, having sent via fax to Beirut. I’ve been asked for a paper from the Ministry of the Interior provided to the Lebanese security, as it’s requested for a visa, here I began feeling that hope disappeared, the reason for this is that the strike of the Palestinian Authority employees was in the draw, and of course, this applies to the Ministry of the Interior.
Luck was with me that time that the representative of the PLO in Beirut was visiting the Palestinian territories at the time, he helped me and the paper already issued by the Interior Ministry in Ramallah and sent to Beirut from his office.
I’ve been asked to transfer the visa fees to the bank account of the PLO there. So I went immediately to the Arab Bank, with the account number and details, the response from the bank were no banking relationship with Lebanon at all.
Finally, I was able to shift the amount required through money transfer service Western Union, then I have to wait to know if I will get the visa or not. I finally got a visa.
I left to Jordan on Friday that boarded the plane to Beirut on Sunday evening, reached Queen Alia International Airport, I found the ticket there, and the aircraft entered preparation for the expected meeting.
I felt very scared when landed at the Beirut International Airport, as it’s my first time. Looking back at history, the Lebanese and Palestinian relations, I did not know what I will face when shown the Palestinian Authority passport to the Lebanese security at the airport.
The moment came and showed the passport, I found respect and appreciations, It was known that I erred too, I left the airport, to find who’s waiting me, and got the car to the hotel in Hamra Street in downtown Beirut.
My feelings were mixed immediately after starting the car from the airport to Beirut. I feel strongly that I want to cry, to achieve what I dreamed of for a quarter century ago, I feel that I want to scream around me started to see the beauty of this country.
This is not everything, I went to the Rousheh. It is the place of the picture I saw it, where my father was before the twenty-five years, since then started to know what Beirut. I found a Rock, which I saw in the picture, what a glorious sight, unfortunately, what I felt at that moment.
Last day in Beirut we were on a visit to Tyr city, and there on the seashore, opposite the headquarters of the United Nations, a tent, and banners against the massacre of Beit Hanoun, I wasn’t able to prevent myself from going there and talking to them.
Entered the tent, and asked what they are doing, they were on hunger strike for four days against the Israeli occupation crimes against the Palestinians, They were girl of Akkar in North Lebanon, Syrian guy, two Irish people, and three Palestinian from the Rashidieh camp.
I told them I come from the occupied territories. For the first time ever to Lebanon, they were shocked and started asking questions about everything there. We all have mixed feelings, I felt important and timely to feel the pain of exile. And to the homeland, and the dream they have for their home. I left them and took the bus back to Beirut.
Saturday afternoon, I left Beirut towards Amman, my way to the Palestinian territories, with lots of things to talk about, full of feelings that I got their and will never forget.
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