"Salam-shalom" : Civil war under the cedars

Six years after the civil war in Lebanon began, I found myself in a divided Beirut where Christians still held the eastern districts and Muslim fighters were holding positions at the western side of the Green Line. Yet, in between the artillery exchanges, beaches were overcrowded and the dazzling night-life recalled the old days in this Paris of the East. The complete anarchy had driven banks and financial institutions to Bahrain and Cyprus, where a Lebanese Diaspora flourished and offshore banking found a refuge. My short stay in war-ridden Beirut could in no way be compared to the many years that some colleagues, such as Terry Anderson and Robert Fisk, have courageously worked and lived in this city. AP-Bureau Chief Terry Anderson was held hostage for six and a half years. At one time, The Independent's Robert Fisk (formerly The Times) was one of only four remaining western journalists that stayed in Beirut. I have always admired Fisk's reporting in Lebanon, on the Balkans, in the Gulf Wars, or with the Kurds (where I and other colleagues signed a petition for his release, after Turkish authorities had wrongfully arrested him). As a tribute to his shining example of balanced and courageous reporting, I include a review of his "Pity the Nation" which I wrote shortly after the publication in 1990.