Monday, September 18, 2006

Lebanon: Destruction and Reconstruction

Join Independent filmmaker and journalist W. Brandon Jourdan and documentary photographer Andrew Stern for a public screening and discussion of footage taken during and after the 34-day war in Lebanon.

When: Wednesday, September 20th 6:45 PM

Where: New School University, 55 W 13th St, Room 101-A

Below is a write up of the event:

*Lebanon: Resistance, Destruction, and Reconstruction*

*In the aftermath of the 34-day Israeli war in Lebanon, people emerged to find their homes and lives destroyed. After years of attempting to rebuild, Lebanon is once again in rubble. Much of the suburbs south of Beirut, the Bekaa area, the northern coastline, and many of the villages in South Lebanon were leveled by Israeli bombardment. The damage caused by the destruction of factories, energy plants, bridges, and roads affects all of Lebanon. The cost of repair is in the billions. Although Israel claimed to be fighting a war against Hezbollah, most of the victims are civilians, many of them children. *

Independent journalist and award-winning independent filmmaker, W.
Brandon Jourdan, went to Lebanon to document the destruction left by the offensive, cover the resilience of the Lebanese people, and to find the root causes of the conflict. His collected video provides in-depth analysis from experienced international journalists, activists, and academics, mixed with testimony from ordinary people who lived through the experience of this brutal war.

The video travels to areas hit hard by bombing; from Beirut's suburbs to
South Lebanon. It has rare interviews with survivors of the Qana massacre to leading Lebanese political analysts Sameh Idriss to Rima Fahkry of Hezbollah's Political Council. It follows families from throughout Lebanon and shows their untold story. In a multimedia-presentation using testimony and video, Jourdan shows the effects of war and the triumph of human will. The video is will be used as part of an upcoming Deep Dish TV series produced by Jourdan and several other documentary makers who worked in Lebanon.

In Samidoun, Andrew Stern, an award-winning documentary photographer, interweaves still photography and audio to take us on a heart-wrenching journey through the devastating thirty-four day war in Lebanon and its aftermath post cease-fire. It is a uniquely intimate look at the human cost of this bloody conflict that took the lives of at least 1600 people, wounded thousands, and displaced over one million. Stern's work takes us to the scene of massive bombings, travels through the desolation of Lebanon's destroyed landscape, bears witness as people emerge from the rubble to bury their dead, and ultimately reveals the steadfast determination of the Lebanese people to survive and rebuild their country in the face of unimaginable violence and national anguish. Stern's work is a reminder of the importance and power of independent journalism, in the face of a mainstream media that increasingly presents a one sided and superficial perspective.

"Samidoun" translates from Arabic to "steadfastness, or those who stay".
This presentation will also provide information on the Lebanese grassroots relief group, Samidoun, who provided desperately needed services to thousands of internally displaced peoples during the war and is now working to help people return and rebuild. For more information or to get involved or contribute, visit

About the Presenters:

William Brandon Jourdan:

Brandon is an independent filmmaker, journalist, and writer. He spent
time in Lebanon working with local NGOs and doing independent journalism following the 34-day Israeli offensive against Hezbollah. He was a coordinating producer, director, and editor for Deep Dish's award-winning series "Shocking and Awful: A Grassroots Response to War and Occupation" and "Fallujah", both of which played in the 2006 Whitney Biennial. He is co-founder of the North Carolina Independent Media Center and worked with the NYC Indymedia Video Team on over 80 episodes of the a nationally broadcasted half-hour weekly television show entitled Blacked-Out Media. He has contributed to Democracy Now!, Now with Bill Moyers, PBS's Foreign Exchange, Free Speech Television, the INN World Report, and to Amnesty International video projects. He worked with Academy-Award winning director Barbara Trent on two Empowerment Project documentaries.

Brandon Jourdan has spoken at various universities about the role of independent media and has been a guest on NPR's Talk of the Nation, Air
America's Laura Flanders Show, and WBAI's Wake Up Call.

He currently lives in Brooklyn, NY and works with the Not An Alternative arts collective.

For more information, visit or .

Andrew Stern:

Andrew Stern is a photographer whose work focuses on social and
political issues around the world. His work documenting the 34-day war in Lebanon and it's aftermath, the economic collapse and popular uprising in
Argentina, the war in Iraq, native land struggles in Greenland, the westernization of tribal East Africans, street kids in Calcutta, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, coca farmers in Bolivia, and the global protest movements has appeared in The Guardian, Harper's, La Jornada, Aftonbladet, Internazionale, Clamor, Yes!, Adbusters, Z, Dazed and Confused, Die Welt, and The New Internationalist as well as in galleries throughout the United States and Europe.

He is also co-author of We Are Everywhere: The Irresistible Rise of
Global Anticapitalism (Verso, 2003).

For more information, visit or

Friday, September 01, 2006

Unexploded Ordinances In South Lebanon

On August 23, we returned to South Lebanon to document unexploded ordinances in civilian areas. We had our daily routine breakfast of coffees and knefes. Andrew, Rema, and I bid farewell to our delightful friend Alex and we got on the broken highway south. We would be going south to interview doctors, interview victims of cluster bomb explosions, and visit villages where unexploded bombs were still present.

According to a report from Ana Nogueira for the US nationally syndicated news program Democracy Now, Israel dropped thousands of cluster bombs on at least one hundred and seventy villages in south Lebanon during the 34-day war against Hezbollah. Small bomblets have created an incredibly dangerous situation for people returning to their villages. It is now reported that up to 4 million bomblets were left in Southern Lebanon. According to a story released by Reuters, Israel dropped 92 percent of their cluster bombs in the last 72 hours before the ceasefire. While some bombs are made to destroy tanks (which would not affect Hezbollah), others are specifically designed to kill or maim humans. Israel has been condemned by officials within the UN and by Human Rights Watch for its use of cluster bombs in civilian neighborhoods. Israel blamed Hezbollah for firing missiles from civilian neighborhoods, and used this as an excuse for dropping the cluster bombs right before accepting UN resolution 1701. The large amount of cluster bombs in the south has endangered the local population and left us concerned about our safety as we continued south.

Some of the wrecked bridges had been removed from the highway heading south, but the road was still treacherous. The drive took hours as was to be expected with the ravaged road. We pulled into a hospital in Tyre and went to see if any patients staying there were victims of the unexploded bombs. The doctor said that there have been many patients that had visited the hospital and that were transferred to hospitals in Beirut. He agreed to an interview and described the horror created by the leftover bombs. According to reports, unexploded bombs have killed at least 14 people and injured another 48. He claimed to have patients suffering from injuries from cluster bombs almost everyday after the ceasefire.

We left the hospital and decided to visit a parking lot where two destroyed ambulances were parked. We had heard about the ambulances being bombed by Israeli fighters during the war and wanted to see the ambulances first hand. I later saw that some blogs on the internet questioned whether the bombing of the ambulances had taken place. We arrived to look at the evidence firsthand. In the middle of the Red Cross symbol on one ambulance, there was a hole created by a bomb that had penetrated the vehicle and exploded inside. On the other ambulance, the cross was barely missed, but the vehicle was still destroyed. It would be hard to deny that these vehicles were targeted and hit by bombs. We documented the vehicles and left in disgust.

We moved on to the next hospital. There were three victims of cluster bomb explosions staying in the hospital, two young boys and a little girl. All had stumbled upon the bombs unexpectedly. One little boy, named Hassan Tahin, had his stomach ripped open from the bomblet. He moaned in agony as we interviewed him. He lifted his shirt and showed us the bandages covering his wounds.

I asked how he had been injured. Hassan replied, “I was staying with my grandfather and went walking. I didn’t see anything.”

The little girl was very shy in her short interview. Her wounds were less visible and she did not want to show us her injuries. Another young boy was sixteen years old and injured by a cluster bomb. The bomb explosion broke his leg.

We left the hospital and continued back through the annihilated village of Bint Jbeil to village of Yarnoun. Families, who were eager to show us their ruined homes, greeted us. An old lady showed us a car that now rested on the roof of her home. A missile had blasted the vehicle propelling into the air and onto her roof. The front of her home was also damaged. She was now afraid to enter her home, because of the fear that it might collapse. The old lady then showed us where several people had died in the attacks.

Each person in the village acted as a strange tour guide to the wrecked village. Many of the families had left after two weeks of the bombings and came back to see their houses destroyed. An old man with a wrinkled, weathered face showed us into his home. He warned us to careful. A small cluster bomb was still inside his kitchen door. We slowly stumbled through the rubble not knowing whether other bombs were left unexploded on the inside. A group of young village boys laughed at our hesitation and fear. They were used to this. This was their hometown. We saw were the cluster bomb had pierced the roof and landed inside his home. We learned that UN soldiers had cleared out some of the bombs, but many had been missed. The UN has estimated that it will take a year to 15 months to clear all of the unexploded bombs from the villages.

Outside the group of laughing boys showed us larger unexploded bombs throughout the village. Rocks and spray paint marked surrounded the bombs. This was a way to caution villagers to not step where bombs are. As I was shooting one of the bombs, an older man grabbed my attention and asked to be filmed. He pointed to the Israeli border and ranted about the United States and Israel. People are extremely upset. According to Aljazeera, Israel made agreements with the U.S. in return for being sold the cluster bombs that were now scattered throughout villages like Yanoun and other places throughout South Lebanon. On a couple of occasions, I must admit that I said that I was Canadian to avoid a long explanation.

After shooting for over an hour in Yanoun, we were invited by a family to have tea, but decided it would be best to continue back to Beirut before too late. We drove cautiously back up the war torn highway to our quaint little hostel in Beirut.