Nasreen was a few weeks shy of her sixth birthday when nearly everyone she’d grown up with was murdered.Her family narrowly escaped the brutal massacre at the Shatlia refugee camp in Beirut where more than 3,000 Palestinians were slaughtered by a Lebanese Christian militia during a drug-hyped weekend in 1982 in what remains the bloodiest single incident in the Palestinian/Israeli “conflict.” During the civil war and Israel’s occupation, Nasreen’s father drove a cab. The night before the onslaught, he overheard two soldiers discussing what was coming. He packed up his family, warned his neighbors who called him crazy, and fled. He returned the following week to salvage what he could. The Christian militia had brutally slaughtered nearly everyone in the camp and bombed what they could. The Israeli Army, under the command of Arial Sharon, who directed the bloodbath from the Kuwaiti Embassy across the street, initially refused to allow international medical teams in to search for survivors. By the time they were allowed in, bodies were bloated in the sun. This sordid chapter in history is a chapter in my book. My friend Dorothy Whittaker was a volunteer nurse with the Palestinian Red Crescent during the civil war and evacuated patients to Damascus just days before the massacre, in anticipation of it. I learned that later, after my last trip to Lebanon when I participated in the 25th commemoration of the massacre. On this trip, I’d wanted to revisit the camp and the community “garden”
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that commemorated the slaughter, but hadn’t expected to meet a survivor. At the commemoration garden, Nasreen points to a banner photo of the bloated bodies.“No one talks about the smell,” she says. “The smell stayed a long time.” # # # # #