American Univesity of Beirut

The University Libraries’ Ziad Kaj Publishes a New Book about the 1982 Massacre of Sabra and Shatila

Ziad Kaj, Collection Development Assistant at the University Libraries published a new book, titled “Something Horrible is Happening: a True Story about the Massacre of Sabra and Shatila, 1982" (أمر فظيع يحصل: رواية واقعية عن مجزرة صبرا و شاتيلا -1982 ).

This is Kaj's ninth published book, and is about the experience of a civil defense volunteer, along with his group, in Ras Beirut during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982. The book also comprises the author's personal experience, a few days after the massacre of Sabra and Shatila, where he describes his horrifying first encounter with mutilated and rotten corpses of victims from all genders and ages.

When asked about the challenges of getting this book completed, Kaj said that the main difficulty was the subject itself, for he believes that “blood is much thicker than ink".  He says, “Writing about massacres leaves the writer strangled, with a strong feeling of guilt . . . There is no glory in such topics."

The inspiration behind this particular book stemmed from the author's personal experience.

He recalls once visiting the cemetery after the massacre and remembers it being a big hole (caused by air raids on the camp), where the civil defense volunteers and Red Cross medics used to bury unidentified bodies. Kaj felt so angry back then because of the neglect that was so obvious and intense on the place. “One could hardly locate the entrance. The cemetery was surrounded by kiosks selling groceries, meat and chicken. It was such a big insult to the estimated 800 martyrs buried there." he says, adding that “more than a quarter of the martyrs were Lebanese civilians".

Kaj describes the book as an “Out-cry or a-slap-on-the-face to all those who pretend to support the Palestinian cause". Through this book, he wants to bring back the memory of those who died many times before dying. He wants readers to remember that during the civil war, all parties committed atrocities and brutal actions.

The difference, according to Kaj, is that our society can now use the internet and smartphones to share information- and footage- easily.

Kaj ends his talk about the book on a very emotional note, saying “We bury our dead twice: once when we throw soil on them, and twice when we forget them... the Sabra and Shatila Massacre is the “Holocaust" of the Palestinian people, but there is no “yad vashim" for them…only an unrecognized piece of land with one big tomb."

Dar Nelson will be holding a book-signing event for Kaj's new book on Thursday, February 27, between 5:30pm and 7:30pm at the Burj Al-Hamam restaurant in The Golden Tulip Hotel- Hamra (Mezzanine Level)- Ras Beirut Cultural Center.

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