Belmont Club

Hamra Street

I’m not going to add anything to the narrative describing how Christopher Hitchens and two other journalists were assaulted on Hamra Street, West Beirut. The persons who were there on the occasion can describe it themselves. But since words often fail to give a sense of what the scene looked like, and since it involved a short foot pursuit, I’ve posted a trio of pictures after the Read More to give readers a flavor of the street and its environs. The first image is a panorama of Hamra Street with the site of the infamous “Syrian Nazi” poster highlighted in full color while the rest of has been blued. The sign that Hitchens wrote on — what he wrote I will leave to him to say — is not really a poster, but a commemorative sign marking the spot where members of that organization — the SSNP — once killed two IDF soldiers at a place called the Wimpy Cafe. As the NationMaster site says:

One of the best-known early actions of the resistance was the killing of two Israeli soldiers in the Wimpy Cafe on west Beirut’s central Rue Hamra by party member Khalid Alwan. The party continues to commemorate this date. A party member, Habib Shartouni, was also responsible for the assassination of Lebanese president Bachir Gemayel in a bomb attack on 14 September 1982.

Whatever the SSNP may lack these days, ferocity is probably not one of them. The Wimpy Cafe is gone, but the site of the killings is commemorated by signs. In addition to the panorama of the street are two zooms showing the poster itself. You can the see the stylized swastika on the sign which had been cleaned up in the interval. Please click on the pictures to enlarge them to full size.

Tip Jar

A panorama of Hamra Street. It looks like a nice, normal shopping area. But as Hitchens found out, sometimes things are not what they seem. The IDF men who died there must have thought it was a normal street too. Here’s a medium zoom on the relevant section of below. Notice the sign posted on the street corner which corresponds to the area highlighted in the panorama. The face depicted on the poster may be Khalid Alwan, but that is just my conjecture.

In this zoom you can see details of the sign itself, including the stylized swastika. I hope this sets the geography of the incident on a sound footing. All images belong to Richard Fernandez.