The Lebanon-Israel Tragedy

[Charlotte Observer] Reda Mansour - Three times Israeli forces entered Lebanon and fought on that country's soil, but never against its people. In the '70s it was Yasser Arafat and the PLO who built a country within a country and chose Lebanon to be the frontline in their war of terror against Israel. In the '80s, Syria came to Lebanon claiming an attempt to keep the peace and chose instead to keep the country. Of late it is Iran that has chosen to make Lebanon its sacrificial lamb, with Hizbullah the executioner. A whole generation of those living in northern Israel and southern Lebanon has grown up knowing the horrors of wars designed not in Beirut or Jerusalem but rather in Tehran, Damascus, and Gaza. Tel Aviv and Beirut are like sister cities on the Mediterranean. They welcome visitors from across the world with rich cultures and a firm embrace of diversity, while working to give their guests and inhabitants a sense of normality shielded from the surrounding conflicts. In the Middle East the struggle has always been between those who wanted to spread freedom and democracy and those who feel threatened by it. For decades Islamic extremists have tried to destroy both Lebanon and Israel because our way of life offers an alternative to their dark and oppressive existence. In Buenos Aires and Los Angeles, Lebanese and Israeli immigrants work and flourish together. Lebanese families send their children to Jewish schools and befriend Jewish neighbors. Lebanese businesses even employ young Israeli men and women as security advisers. My hope is that the coastal road between Haifa and Beirut will one day be reopened. My prayer is that we will end this vicious war, Israel's kidnapped sons will be returned to their families, and Lebanon will be returned to its people. The writer is the Atlanta-based Consul General of Israel to the southeastern U.S.

2007-04-06 01:00:00

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