Lebanon: Now that it is (somewhat) over (for now).

Posted by admin
Aug 15 2006

It looks as if the cease-fire is holding between Israel and Hezbollah. People in Lebanon, where most of the month-long conflict took place, are beginning to return to the homes and cities they fled. After days of bombs, rockets, and mortars lobbed from both sides, we should reflect on what has taken place.

Never mind, so much, whether Israel or Hezbollah won — or Syria or Iran, if you are so inclined. That geopolitical wonkiness makes for a fine evening diversion around a bar table and shouldn’t be ignored, but we miss the larger picture of what went on over there. Focus instead on who lost and I think we will have a clearer idea of the situation in the Middle East.

First of all, the Lebanese people lost… big time. Hundreds of thousands were displaced for a month, away from their homes, neighbors, friends, family, and livelihoods. They lost key parts of their civic, economic, and social infrastructure, too, with the destruction of roads, bridges, and buildings that were either residential or commercial. Mostly, however, they lost the developing sense of security they spent years trying to rebuild following the 1982 Israeli invasion, the civil war that followed, and a concluded with a Syrian occupation that ended only recently.

Israelis lost as well. While they suffered less damage and displacement from incoming Hezbollah rockets than the Lebanese did from IDF bombs, they still lost as much of that precious sense of security that the Lebanese just started to enjoy.

So, instead of chalking this recent conflict up to the same-old, dead-end comments that conflict in the Middle East is some kind of normal situation we should all simply accept, I think we should ask ourselves how we can help support actions designed to seek reconciliations between disparate groups, redemption for people engaged in these hostilities, and restoration for people who have felt the impact of the conflict and strife in Lebanon, Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Simply attempting to bash the other side into submission or oblivion will not resolve the many issues at play in the Middle East. We already have clear examples of that in Iraq and Afghanistan, and more still in Israel and Lebanon over the last month.

Before a new geopolitical mess arises, it would behoove us all to talk about how we can put down the guns and find ways to get parties to sit down and work out just means of peacemaking to just, peaceful and equitable ends.

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