Jokes helped them survive Israel’s devastating military onslaught and are now making the post-war healing process a lot easier.
Anecdotes are to be found everywhere, in living rooms, text messages, television shows, emails and even blogs.
Amid sad stories about lost loved ones, destroyed homes and impoverished people who had to live in public schools, they joke about everything: Israelis, Americans, Arabs, but mostly they tell self-deprecating gags.
Three Hezbollah fighters run out of Beirut’s southern suburbs after Israeli raids, flashing the victory sign. Actually, no. They were really pointing out that there were only two buildings left standing.
Why did rents go up in Ain el-Rummaneh district overlooking the southern suburbs? Because it has a sea view now!
Why are coquettish elderly Lebanese women very happy about the war? Because it took them back 30 years.
Why will Hassan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah chief, win the Nobel Prize for education? Because he is the only man who sent one million people to school in just two days.
Israel’s systematic destruction of bridges in the offensive launched after Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers on July 12 has also been a source of inspiration.
Olmert sent a commando operation deep into Lebanon. Mission: Capture Lebanese diva Fairuz.
He insists on finding the only bridge he did not destroy: An imaginary bridge evoked for decades in a romantic Fairuz aria.
The destruction has spawned
“On the bridge ‘Lawziyeh’ under the shade of the leaves,” goes the song.
Early one day, a man rushes desperately to the dentist. “Please take out my bridge, or the Israelis will bomb it!”
Advertising agencies have also entered the game.
A gigantic black poster covers the entire side of a five-storey building: It shows the golden Johnnie Walker character with his top hat and waist coast blithely striding after leaping over a gap on a destroyed bridge.
Internet users are sharing a picture of Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, in the arms of Nasrallah in light summer clothes, standing under the shade of palm trees at a sandy beach.
It is a parody of the “Axe Effect” attraction campaign by the namesake deodorant brand.
Jokes are also abundant about the Arabs.
After Saudi Arabia decided to donate half a billion dollars to rebuild Lebanon, Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, ordered the capture of six Israeli soldiers at the border.
Amid a mass evacuation of foreign nationals from Lebanon, Palestinian refugees who have been stranded in Lebanon for nearly 60 years are ecstatic: The Palestinian Authority has decided to evacuate its nationals as well.
But in a country that has repeatedly been invaded by Israel, the one joke everyone likes to tell remains:
An Israeli recently arrives at London’s Heathrow airport. As he fills out a form, the customs officer asks him: “Occupation?”
The Israeli promptly replies: “No, just visiting!”