Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Where Are Those Voices of Reason Now?

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Where Are Those Voices of Reason Now?

Article excerpt

The rumble of cannon, the thumping blades of helicopters, the piercing whistles of fighter bombers and the chest-rattling thuds of bombs and rockets will grace Gaza and southern Lebanon for the seventh day today.

The sound that will be missing is that of opposing voices seeking compromise and a way forward through reasoned discussion; instead, gunfire barks out. No mother or father wants to fear for a child; no one wants destruction to rain down from above on what is called home, yet children will die, and homes will be destroyed.

So where are these voices of reason now that the onslaught of war ensues? We talk about creating a bright future and rebuilding what was destroyed, but now the devastation begins anew.

Lebanon had been a great sign of hope around the world with the city of Beirut regaining its earlier glory and again becoming a bustling hub of commerce. Today the airport is in cinders and the city in rubble, and tomorrow seems more like a trip to the dark past than one to a bright future.

As military leaders carve up Gaza and Lebanon into chessboards for strategy and tactics, nobody seems to worry about the collateral damage.

Collateral damage is defined as unintended damage sustained during a military campaign, and the people of this region are discovering that it means a son's leg, a daughter's arm or a spouse's life, a home or a friend.

When you put it in those terms, it is clear that it should be unacceptable in a civilized world. The great nations of the world should be stepping up-and in, if need be-to put a halt to this brutal carnage. To do otherwise is to declare Gaza and Lebanon expendable and to declare their peoples unworthy of civility in this so-called "civilized" world.

I hear voices from the West calling for reform and democracy, but those voices seem strangely silent now that mothers' weeping is drowned out by what seems to be a widening conflict. Does dropping thousands of fliers on a neighborhood suggesting that the residents leave before the bombs start dropping on their homes make it all right? What bizarre stretches of reason could justify such a thing? The populaces of Palestine and Lebanon should be thrust into bitter war because three soldiers are captured? Where are all those voices so quick to call for reason, tolerance and understanding in this region? It is a bitter irony that some of those voices are the same ones who are supplying the equipment, supposedly given for defense, that are now on the offensive.

I received a message from Europe from a Jewish man apologizing for Israel's apparent plunge into madness, but the European leaders dawdle while people are dying.

"No one now will dare question Israeli actions," said a young journalism student from Columbia University. "I am half-Jewish, but I am a seeker of the truth." Yet the Americans are willing to stand on the sidelines instead of intervening to stop this.

The American people are among the world's finest. They embrace their cherished tenets of "liberty and justice for all," but the media and a powerful Israeli lobby mislead them on the nature of this conflict.

The American Jewish Committee's David Harris worked feverishly to garner support for Israel. "The way they were working, one would think that the United States itself was under attack," said a congressional staff member who demanded anonymity. …

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