Parkite recalls sophisticated Beirut | ParkRecord.com

Parkite recalls sophisticated Beirut

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

The Beirut of Deedee Corradini’s childhood, of the 1940s and 1950s, she recalls, was one of sophistication and worldliness.

Corradini now, though, watches as Lebanon is torn apart by Israel’s attacks against Hezbollah and the potential of a wider war in the region.

A Park Meadows resident, Corradini, the ex-mayor of Salt Lake City, says people in Lebanon desperately desire peace even as Israel pounds the country, bombing, she says, a modern airport and a landmark lighthouse.

"After 15 years of civil war and infighting, the Lebanese got sick and tired of war," Corradini says, calling Lebanon the most democratic country in the Arab world.

Corradini considers herself from Beirut. She lived there from 1947 until 1954, before spending the next four years in Syria. Her father was an educator whose job was in the Middle East.

She now sits on the board of trustees of a school in Beirut and says she travels to the Lebanese capital once a year, the last time in 2005. Corradini says Beirut was once a beautiful and vibrant city, influenced by the West and with Muslims and Christians living peacefully.

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Corradini, a senior vice president at Prudential Utah Real Estate, calls it a complex country that suffered through 15 years of civil war. Beirut, she says, was destroyed during the war but was beginning to re-emerge.

"The city was looking absolutely gorgeous again. It was really coming back," she says about the last five years, talking about, for instance, Beirut’s sidewalk cafes.

Corradini blames the current strife on the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians as a solution is sought to the Palestinian question.

"Right now, I think Lebanon is being used as a pawn," she says, labeling the violence "insanity."

Corradini claims that Israel and Hezbollah are not now focused on the Palestinian question.

"There are obviously problems on both sides but people aren’t dealing with the basic problem," she says, talking about the Palestinians.

Locally, there have not been significant public statements regarding the Israel-Hezbollah violence. People in Park City and on the East Side of Summit County generally monitor Middle Eastern events from afar and have split opinions regarding the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

Corradini suggests that a prominent American diplomat, perhaps Henry Kissinger, George Mitchell or Bill Clinton, be sent to the region in an effort to broker a peace. But she has little confidence that America will send such an envoy. Otherwise, Corradini says that President Bush should pressure Israel to halt its military operations against Hezbollah in Lebanon.

She disagrees that the U.S. should support Israel in the current operation.

"We’re doing damage where we shouldn’t be doing damage," Corradini says. "Their bombing of Lebanon is making things worse."

Corradini says that the strife is awful as she watches what occurs.

"It breaks my heart," she says. "I can’t sleep at night."

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