The Ground Zeros in Beirut–and a New Synagogue

Israeli bombing of Beirut, 2006

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The Ground Zero Synagogue–Lebanon Becoming More American than America

“There should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia. The time for double standards that allow Islamists to behave aggressively toward us while they demand our weakness and submission is over.”— Newt Gingrich

Has Lebanon officially become more tolerant and progressive than the United States?

Let’s talk about Lebanon’s Ground Zero and you can decide for yourself.  One must first understand what “Ground Zero” means to most Lebanese.

In a country with about the same land mass as Los Angeles County which has been at war off and on for nearly four decades, “Ground Zero” for the Lebanese is arguably their entire country—and at the center of their Ground Zero is downtown Beirut, captured and occupied by the Israeli Defense Force in 1982 and which was almost entirely reduced to rubble from Muslim West Beirut to Christian East Beirut, and all points in between.

Israeli bombing of Beirut, 1982

Once upon a time not too long ago, there was scarcely a building left standing or unscarred by shrapnel in all of Beirut.  I know, because I was in Beirut in 1991, and witnessed first hand a city once described as “the Paris of  the Middle East” reduced to ruins, pock marked with unexploded munitions and a haphazard “network” of open sewers. Continue reading