Sunday, March 11, 2007

Hezbollah’s getting a free lunch

Today was another day of demonstrations, dubbed Appetite for Life. The March 11 Movement (11 as in: right between March 8 and March 14, get it, get it?) is supposedly neutral and their point is that both the government and the Opposition should get their act together and should start working towards solving the current problems. This is a sympathetic idea, of course. Too bad, though, that they leave the actual implementation of their position as an exercise for the reader, but unfortunately that’s a common trend nowadays among Lebanese politicians.

Today’s demonstration was intended to make a statement that life must go on. Being truly Lebanese, they decided the best way to symbolize this appetite for life: a good Sunday lunch in Downtown. Such lunches are the core of family life in Lebanon and can easily take the whole afternoon. March 11 was therefore spot on with their implicit message that without a decent Sunday Lunch, Lebanon would cease to be Lebanon.

Just like the other two March movements, March 11 didn’t want to risk having a low turnout. Remember the day of strike the Opposition announced, and then blocked off all major roads, just in case people wouldn’t listen to them and would try to get to work anyway? Right, March 11 wasn’t stupid either, so they offered a free lunch to all participants and sure enough, quite a few people showed up. After all, who would turn down a free lunch?

Not the Opposition people in the tents anyway. They have been occupying the center of Beirut since December 1 and have caused the closing down of almost all restaurants in Downtown Beirut. Logically, you would think that they would be against the March 11 initiative to revive Downtown that they almost choked to death. But no, a substantial part of the people and their extended family enjoying the free lunch was from the tents. After they finished, they went back to the camp to continue their tent-in. It was a nice break from an otherwise boring routine. After all, there’s not much to do in the tents except playing back gammon and smoking nargileh, the famous water pipe.

Nasrallah said in a speech Friday that they will continue the tents as long as there is no solution, so he’s not softening up. Too bad for all the employees who lost their jobs in the restaurants and shops: no one’s buying lunches for them.