If I were in Beirut right now, I’d probably be hearing the sound of Israeli jets as they bank up the Mediterranean after dropping bombs on Gaza and then perhaps make a pass across the Lebanese coast to intimidate any resistance from across the border. But this week I’m in Texas, where the skies are blue, the tortillas are hot and no one seems to have a clue about what is going on in the Middle East. 
Since I’ve been here visiting friends and family, I haven’t overheard a single conversation about the pummeling of Gaza’s urban neighborhoods (with US made bombs); I haven’t seen a single story on an airport television about the killing of over 150 Palestinians this week– and I’ve been in many US airports recently. Yet signs of the Arab world are everywhere. 
From convenience stores:

To food trucks:

To a major supermarket chain:

To salad bars:

Maybe one day American concern for the Middle East will extend beyond Hookah and Tabouli to include human rights and responsibility. 
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Habib Battah
Habib Battah is an investigative journalist and founder of the news site beirutreport.com. Battah has covered Lebanon and the Middle East for over 15 years and teaches journalism and media studies at the American University of Beirut. He is a contributor to Monocle, The Guardian, BBC World, Al Jazeera and others, a former fellow at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University and two-time recipient of the Samir Kassir Press Freedom Award. Battah's investigative work was recently recognized for outstanding local reporting by the Columbia University Oakes Award for Environmental Reporting. Battah earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Texas at Austin and an M.A. in Near East Studies and Journalism from New York University.


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