This was the story I understood. (My initial reaction here.) But as it turns out, our dear friend Christopher didn't just decide to deface any old poster. In fact, it wasn't really a poster at all. Anyone heard of Khalid Alwan?
(This is an old picture I was able to dig up of Khalid Alwan from the "Our Martyrs" website of the SSNP.)
Alwan was the SSNP member who shot two Israeli soldiers in Beirut after the 1982 Israeli invasion. In researching his name, I’ve found a lot of conflicting information on what actually happened. Thus, the following is what I have put together from local shopkeepers and online sources.
First off, let us remember that in the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, the IDF drove all the way up to Beirut. Allegedly, two Israeli soldiers were sitting at the Wimply Cafe on Hamra Street, sipping coffee as a public symbol of the successful occupation. After finishing, the waiter came up with the bill. The soldiers paid, but in Israeli Shekels. Nobody in Lebanon takes Israeli Shekels, of course, and this move supposedly put the waiter over the edge, as the Israelis’ had the nerve to occupy his city and pay with their money.
So, the semi-permanent sign Hitchens decided to deface was in memory of Alwan's bold move against the Israelis,’ not just some random party poster that one might see on Hamra.
(Notice the swastika-looking red party symbol on the top right. Old Chris wrote on the bottom left part of the sign. Click here to watch a movie I took on YouTube of the general area.)For some reason I had never connected these two incidents. I had never fully appreciated that Hitchens had--and surely without knowing it--walked into the perfect storm by choosing to deface this particular sign.
Just a little something I thought I'd share from Beirut.
It gives me chills every time I walk by this sign on Hamra. I think to myself: If this street corner could talk, what horror it could speak of...