I have just learned that my friend X, who is Palestinian was stopped today arbitrarily and beaten by the Internal Security Forces, the official police force of Lebanon. I haven't been able to talk to him but the story I have heard from a reliable source is that he was stopped by a patrol in Hamra, near Barbar, one of the busiest spots in Beirut. I think he was stopped because he is dark skinned, and there is a common perception among racist Lebanese (a significant proportion of the country) that the Palestinians are "dark" while the true Lebanese are fair. Everyone knows the Phoenicians descended from the Norse: they were both sea faring people.
He was asked for his ID, and when they found out that he is Palestinian, they forced him to lie on the gound for half an hour after which they beat him and kicked him and then told him to go. Just like that, in the middle of the day, in the middle of the busiest district in Beirut. His crime: he is Palestinian.
Many people have forgotten how the Lebanese war started in 1975. All that remains in the selective memory of the Lebanese is that the Palestinians started a war to take over Lebanon and make it into Palestine, and that the Lebanese were getting along fine till the Palestinians forced them to fight each others. People actually believe that. But I remember otherwise. I remember when being a Palestinian in Lebanon was the worst thing that could happen to you, when they were stopped and beaten by the Lebanese police for no reason beside their being Palestinians. I remember this incident I witnessed in 1973, in a service (shared taxis) that was bringing me back from school. I was 15. There was a young man next to me and the car was stopped by a police checkpoint. The young man was asked for his ID and he said in a heavy Palestinian accent that he didn't have it and that he had left it in the pocket of his other trousers. The policeman started shouting: "you damn liar, you are Palestinian and you say you have two trousers! Who do you you think you are lying to?" And they beat him and took him away.
When the war started in 1975, I was not surprised when the Palestinians and their Lebanese allies vented their frustration on the police and took their cars and burned them and ridiculed them.
For a people that is always bragging about its unsurpassed contribution to humanity, I find many Lebanese surprisingly lacking in one of the most essential determinants of intelligence: the ability to learn.
Excuse me if I have lost my appetite.