I spent summer in Beirut, in the smog and the racket, between emotional extremes, as Lebanon can only be lived. It struck me one day when I was walking down the street: I am not seeing smiling faces. I am not hearing laughs. All I saw around me were drawn faces, that despite the fireworks flaring the sky and fraying our nerves on a nightly basis.

Everyone knew that the joy after the Doha agreement was only temporary. When clashes erupted in Beka` and then in the north, the reaction in Beirut was one of fear followed closely by one of nonchalance. When the government was formed, the nonchalance persisted. It persisted through the cynical love fest that came nipping at its heels. George Adwan welcoming the freed prisoners at the airport??? Hizballah giving the honor of an official welcome for its heroes to those who want it destroyed??? Junblat talking about Palestine, Arabism, and resistance (again???)??? It was all a replay of a bad nightmare. One is left at a complete loss. What is more nauseating: when our leaders agree or when they do not agree?

Granted, Hizballah achieved something. Some people asked if the price was worth it, pointing out the number of deaths, the war, the destruction. All to free someone who, for all we know, is a child murderer. But most people did not ask that question because it is irrelevant. The prison break and the theatrical talk that ensued on stage was nothing but a charade in bad taste. Samir Quntar was an excuse, all the better because he is not Shiite. And we all know that chances are he will be running for elections, not crawling back to Jerusalem (will he be sidelined like other freed prisoners who tried to challenge Hizballah’s electoral dominance in the south?).

Samir Quntar has been reading the news in prison, however, and he knows he can say whatever he wants and no one will hold him accountable. Everyone does it, after all. In Lebanon, no one is ever held accountable for their verbal gymnastics. So, kiss George Adwan on the cheek and onward to Jerusalem!