A Quiet School Day

I pulled an attendance report this morning, curious how low our numbers would be; around a third of students absent, not inclusive of the ones that would leave later on in the day.

For those not up on Lebanon’s latest news, the UN tribunal investigating Rafik Hariri’s assasination some years ago has placed various political factions on edge, specifically Hezbollah, the entity who many speculated would be pointed at as responsible for the car bomb that killed Hariri and 22 others.  Two weeks ago tomorrow, the government technically collapsed.  Lebanon is a parlimentary system so the fallout from such a sensational-sounding event does not actually have the same impact as it would in a democracy-based government; in truth, not much seemed to change in the day to day realities of the city, though I cannot speak for other areas of the country.  Since last Friday and through the weekend, speculation about who would be nominated for prime minister ran thick, along with the “what if” scenarios attached to various figures.  In the past 24 hours, a Hezbollah-backed candidate has been given the nod by many factions.  The news feed today notes road closures, sit ins by members of opposing factions, demonstrations, warnings that residents of Tripoli and Sidon excercise caution, etc.  There seems to be a running thread of optimism that violence will not errupt, yet, for a country bearing a long and drawn out history of civil strife, such optimism seems to be viewed with a wary eye.

The question I was asked in bulk before coming to Beirut was “Is it safe?”; my answer then was “yes”.  I don’t think that answer really changes dramatically for me personally, even in light of recent events.  If things get too hairy, my US citzenship gauruntees a ticket out, even if only off shore to Cyprus to wait out whatever might ocurr.  So the school remains open, even if very few students are present, and I anticipate my discussions in the coming days and weeks will be rich, and tinged.  Not to make light, but it is a trip on many levels, a bit surreal feeling….

So, simply put, things are interesting…
Cheers, from a fairly quiet school…