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Response to an article by a Lebanese journalist

Response to an article by a Lebanese journalist Posted by on August 4th, 2006

The article “The Most Hypocritical People on Earth” by Michael Béhé in Beirut was sent to me by a friend. The article is supportive of Israel’s bid to destroy the Hezbollah.

I have no idea how much the journalist’s view represents the spoken or unspoken thoughts of his community there. We all know where Lebanon has been before, and I don’t think anyone would like to see it travel down that route again. And this is what I find most distressing about the article. It is not helpful to call people “vermin”, whether they belong to the side of the Hezbollah, or to any other side. To do so is to open the doors to renewed sectarian violence.

My son Yotam recently attended a peace workshop for children in Geneva, where he met, among other people, a Jordanian Christian priest and professor, who is president of an ecumenical studies centre in Amman. The other day this same priest sent a letter to all the young participants which began: ” Dear Friends, Forwarding some info on the Israeli Nazis terrorism.”

Wars and violent conflicts, unsurprisingly, unleash the darkest emotions of which human beings are capable. Who can be surprised if the same soldier who in better days helps an old man or strokes a kitten, acts a little differently in times of war? The pilots who drop the bombs on apartment buildings that contain little children are not (for the most part) monsters. They are the nice, intelligent sons of our neighbours and uncles, who in normal times would not harm a fly. I am sure that similar photos exist of Hezbollah militants. I doubt that they are the inhuman monsters imagined by most Israelis.

It is two-thirty in the morning as I write this. The fighting is distant from Neve Shalom ~ Wahat al-Salam. No bombs or missiles are falling anywhere near. It is only the dismay that we are in the midst of yet another round of bloody conflict that is keeping me awake. It is a conflict that could have been avoided. It is happening only because men in positions of power, on both sides of the border, do not have the best interests of their people in their minds and their hearts.

It is happening because ordinary people teach their innocent children that war is unavoidable, that those who do not belong to one’s own beloved religious or ideological niche are “vermin”. The current round in the conflict, however successful from the point of view of Israel, will lead to others, and others, each time more deadly than the last.

We will only break this cycle if we are able to stop accepting the logic of warfare, as it is presented to us by its adherents. It is inacceptable to drop bombs on residences, even if we know that our enemies are using those areas from which to mount their deadly assaults. It is inacceptable to target ambulances, to attack hospitals, or risk the lives of children. These acts may be reasonable according to military logic, but they can never be reasonable if we are to remain as humane beings. If we can’t survive as such, our survival isn’t worth much anyway.