Ukraine: Lebanon-Israel Connection

Global Voices Online
Friday, July 14, 2006

It may not seem so - but it's a very small world. To know that someone we hold dear is directly affected by what for us is nothing but a headline is one way to feel this smallness.

As the conflict in the Middle East escalates, a Ukrainian LJ user parasolya reacts to the sad news by telling the stories (UKR) of two of her friends: George, a Lebanese foreign student, and Polina, a Ukrainian-born Israeli.

What follows is lengthy and somewhat confusing

There were two Lebanese students at my department - a boy and a girl. They rarely interacted with each other. I think they belonged to different social strata and different religions.

The girl resembled an Italian: dark, curly hair, good-looking, dressed like a European. I think she was Muslim. When she finished the year, she got married to one of our classmates, the sweet Sean, a Canadian.

The boy's name was George, we all loved him. When I say "we" I mean the Slavic girls (Ukrainians and Russians). He was the only boy in the class, but we loved him not because he was a hot guy, but because he was really sweet. Sometimes we called him Zhora, sometimes Goga. He wanted to learn our words, was spending much time with the Slavs, used to go to museums with us. Once, when I put on a Ukrainian headscarf, he said it looked a lot like the headscarves worn by women in his country. and he was about to order a batch of these headscarves for his mama and sisters :). He was a very good friend. He looked a bit like a character out of [a famous Soviet film] "Mimino" - like someone from the Caucasus. He liked to brag. The way we brag about [brothers] Klitschko or Milla Jovovich, that they have a direct link to Ukraine - and he was bragging about Shakira like this :). He was Christian. Used to tell us about his country, said that Christians constitute nearly 50 percent of Lebanon's population. Was wondering why on holidays or on other occasions, the Slavs passed through police cordons without problems, but he always had his passport checked.

It hurt to listen to him when he was saying that in Lebanon, when he was little (and we are of the same age), there was war and kids couldn't walk in the street just like that. He was happy to live in his country in peace.



I finished high school in 1995. That same year, one of my classmates left for Israel. I didn't even know she was Jewish (no, I don't know how to "detect" it).

Her name was Polina. She was bright, cheerful and sincere.

She lived with her mama and grandma. Grandma died of cancer a year before we finished school. Her mama got married to our former co-citizen and left to join him. Even then they knew her mama had lung cancer. She was a music teacher. I remember that Polya came to our graduation ceremony just to get her certificate - in her thoughts, she must have left already. But she invited me to the good-bye dinner. Besides her and her mama, there was another classmate, Katya, and one more family - as far as I understood, they either bought their apartment or were arranging to sell it before their departure.

Polya left and then wrote a little to me, but more to Katya. The news wasn't very happy. In a year or two, her mama died. Polya worked and studied chemistry. She had begun to study the language while still in Ukraine. In Israel, she spent some time living in her stepfather's home, then went on to live on her own. Met Borya, also our former co-citizen. They got married some five years ago. They have a child. All's well, Polya works, Boris works, too. There's just one tiny problem - he is in the military.

What a strange life.

It seems that often all people have to do is look at their lives from aside. No political whim, [...] no national idea is worth fighting a war. Or, as Mr. [Tolstoy] used to say, tears of a child. Even though I am a militant atheist, but - we are all walking under god. [...]

Enough of the slogans. On to reading the news from Ukraine.

A lengthy, very informative and at times impassioned discussion of the Middle Eastern politics and history follows in the comments section [RUS]. Part of it will most likely be reposted to a Ukrainian LJ community svit_ukraini: "Meet the neighbors. Our neighbors - other countries of the world." LJ user parasolya, who currently lives in France, is one of the three "maintainers" of this community.

Here's the last comment, from LJ user tani_flint, a Ukrainian journalist (RUS):

I was in Lebanon this past winter. Such a nice country.

Unbearably painful.

They were rebuilding Beirut exactly the way it used to be before the bombings. By 2006, about 80 percent has been rebuilt. A very beautiful city.

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