Since 2003, the Kheam (Khiam) prison in the village of Al Khiam in Southern Lebanon that overlooks the UN-monitored blueline dividing Lebanon and Israel, was transformed into an art museum/cultural and humanitarian center, despite its past use as an Israeli Abu Ghraib during its occupation from 1982-2000.

Over 44 artists from 17 countries gathered there in 2003 to create site specific works to be donated and housed on the site. According to Talal Moualla, a Syrian painter, writer and arts coordinator who is based in the United Arab Emirates, on July 22, 2006, the Israali Defense Forces attacked the prison in nine separate raids. Heavy bombs, some thought to be 2000 pound “bunker busters,” turned the ex-prison and new arts center and its art collection into “a pile of grinning stones”. (Moualla)

The attack seems a stab in the heart of efforts of the artists in the region and beyond who feel that art and the creative process would show future generations that cultural diplomacy needs a chance to grow and develop in this fractious region. Moualla has called for a UNESCO investigation. The International press has also noted that radioactive residue has been measured in the debris of the Al Khiam Art and Cultural Center from the depleted uranium metals in the armaments dropped.

Some of the 44 artists included are Jiovanni Franco (Italy), Edwin Voteh (Netherlands), Miree Arahamsen, Laila Al Zeen (Lebanon), Ayman Gharaibeh (Jordan) and Hussain Obaid (Oman).

The IDF also carpet-bombed Southern Lebanon with American-made cluster bomblets leaving a lethal array of weapons to be collected in the coming future and caused horrific ecological damage to the Northeastern Mediterrainean seacoast with massive amounts of oil dumped into the sea after bombing a power station. The United Nations is investigating these and claims against th IDF for War Crimes against the defensless civilan population of Lebanon.

— Christopher Kuhl

- Jeannine McDonald [Sunday, November 26th, 2006]


From the editors