Beirut is depicted as a woman by many renowned artists, like Palestinian cartoonist Naji al-Ali, who—during the 1982 Israeli invasion—drew a caricature of his iconic character Handala offering a flower through a hole in the wall to a woman that he named Beirut. She is the patient carrier of our painful history, she is the healer of our wounds, and she has decided to step out of the rubble, grab the flower, and turn her city into the thriving, progressive place that it deserves to be.
Beware the Lebanese mother, she is nurturing, enduring, and wise. Her overwhelming love for her children knows no bounds. She yearns for them to get along and is willing to do whatever it takes for that to happen. She scolds when needed and showers her affection always. She is a relentless realist, capable of forgiveness, but she can also bring the biggest man to his knees with a single glance. She watches her sons self-destruct, disappointed by their endless ability to hate, segregate, sabotage, but she will now roll up her sleeves to fix all that was broken through her strength of wisdom, born from the pains she bore.
It is about time that people acknowledge the powerful, confident, and assertive women that our great Mother Lebanon has conceived. Women that have been holding their own in positions of power in all sectors. Women that we trust to lead the real reconciliation and reconstruction of Lebanon.
Handala’s Beirut is a woman. A man would not be able to bear or repair the harm that he himself created.