Misunderstandings and questions

Reflections from Israel July 30th, 2006

by Forest Rain, Lionheart

In my family questions were encouraged. When I asked a question the response was never “because”. There was always an attempt to give an accurate, informed response. When the answer was not known I was also given an accurate response, “I don’t know” often followed by “Let’s look it up”.

Do you ask questions?  It seems that many, possibly most people don’t. All too many unquestioningly allow others to shape their impressions, form their opinions for them, and permit others to choose the reality they live in.

Do you question the media?  Do you ask yourself why are they showing me these pictures? Using those terms? What am I not being shown or told? Are the messages being portrayed ones that spread love, compassion and understanding or are they messages that propagate fear and hate?

When pictures of Lebanese fleeing southern Lebanon are juxtaposed with pictures of IDF soldiers in tanks preparing to enter Lebanon do you ask if this shows a fair and balanced picture of the current situation? In the Israeli media innocent Lebanese civilians leaving their homes to escape the battles between Hizballah and the IDF are juxtaposed with pictures of innocent Israeli civilians leaving their homes to escape the barrage of missiles sent to us by Hizballah courtesy of Iran and Syria.

What do you think when you hear Israel’s response to Hizballah called “heavy handed” or “disproportionate”?  When the camera zooms in on a ruined building in Beirut do you say to yourself “my God that’s a lot of damage?” or do you notice the buildings near by that are standing, completely intact?

The article “Jenin massacre syndrome” ,  discusses the misuse of facts in covering this current war. This article is written by an Israeli and is critical of Israel’s lack of success in showing the international community a clear picture of what is actually happening on the ground. I completely agree, Israel fails miserably at showing the world who we really are.

Are you aware of the lengths to which we extend ourselves in order to save Arab civilian lives? Let’s ask: Why didn’t Israel’s air force carpet bomb Maroon Aras and Bint Jbail last week, demolishing the Hizballah strongholds there in one fell swoop? It would have been much safer, quicker and cheaper.

The problem is that the terrorists are entrenched within the civilian population which is going about their daily lives. Alan Dershowitz explains the difficulties of fighting terrorists who use civilians as human shields in his article “Arithmetic of Pain”. Anyone desiring to understand the issue of civilian casualties and Israel’s “disproportionate” response should read this article! 

Instead of just carpet bombing Maroon Aras and Bint Jbail our air force first scattered fliers explaining to the civilians who live in those towns that fighting was imminent. The fliers directed the civilians to safeguard their lives by distancing themselves from Hizballah and find someplace safe to go. After that our treasured soldiers were sent in, on the ground, to face Hizballah’s elite fighters.  Israel’s very morality gave the Hizballah plenty of time to prepare for the fight ahead. The result was that Hizballah managed to wound and kill many sons of Israel. We lose our own children because we place so much importance on being decent and moral.

Today in the Lebanese village of Kana we saw an example of the terrible results of Hizballah using civilians as human shields. Rockets have been launched daily on Israel from Kana and the surrounding areas. Missiles and missile launchers were stored in civilian homes. The Israeli army sent warnings to the civilians of Kana by way of fliers and announcements in their media announcing the imminent attack on Hizballah fighters entrenched in their village. Tragically, some civilians were still in the village when the IAF attacked a number of sites. Israeli Intelligence has now received information that the Hizballah is forcing civilians to stay. Hizballah is barring civilians from leaving, hoping that their presence will protect them from Israel. In fact, they would have been right, the specific building where civilians were killed would not have been bombed had the Israeli air force known that civilians were in it.  

In researching what happened in Kana another question arises – the air force bombed the building in question last night. It collapsed, killing people who were still inside, approximately seven hours later. What happened during those hours? Why didn’t the people inside leave? We don’t know the answers yet, probably most people won’t care what the facts are when they are discovered. What the people of Israel, our army and our politicians do know today is that we hate it when innocent people are hurt by ANYONE, for ANY reason.

Like me, my mother also found herself addressing the issue of media images and the impressions they create in a letter she wrote to an American friend. She did not say it in so many words but she hoped to convey the necessity of questioning what we are being shown and why. This is an excerpt from my mother’s letter:

I wish you had a better news source than CNN!  We see them too and see the inaccuracies in what they say and portray.  How can I describe it?  While I was at Logan College of Chiropractic they put out a catalogue with a picture on the cover of a huge bed of flowers in front of the main building.  Knowing the campus well I wondered how the picture was taken. There are no big beds of flowers.  Looking at the picture you got the feeling that this was a campus full of flowers.   I went to the site and could see that the photographer must have laid on their belly with the camera right on the ground and shot up at the building, effectively magnifying the modest– and only–bed of flowers on the whole campus, giving the impression of a flower filled place. 

The news is like that, with stretches and strange angles which make something technically accurate into something quite false.  For instance, when the IDF bombs a building in Lebanon and the Arab guide says to the news reporter “See, this was a residential building!  Why was it bombed??”  As Forest Rain says, a kitchen used for making bombs looks just like what it is, a kitchen!  Yes, it’s correct, it was a residential building, but hardly “just” that, when weapons were being made or stored there or when Hizballah owns the building.

Any time you do not question what is being presented to you someone else is controlling the images and ideas that create your reality!

An American friend of mine was asked why Israel was fighting Lebanon. The questioner did not understand that Israel is not fighting Lebanon, if anything Israel is fighting FOR Lebanon.

This is worth repeating: if anything, Israel is fighting FOR Lebanon not against her. Israel is at war with Hizballah, a very powerful, well funded, well trained terrorist organization. Make no mistake, Israelis and Lebanese are both held hostage by this terror organization. Israel wants Lebanon to be a strong, free, democratic state so that both countries can live peacefully side by side.  Unfortunately, it is an illusion to talk about a normal, independent Lebanon as long as a terrorist group, armed to the teeth by two of the most dangerous states on the planet (Syria and Iran) holds sway in southern Lebanon.

Are you hearing the voices of the Lebanese who wish to be free of the Hizballah? Terrorized by Hizballah many are only now finding the courage to speak up. I have personally spoken to soldiers from the SLA (Southern Lebanon Army) currently living in Israel. They were the first to band together with the IDF in the fight against the terrorism plaguing both our countries. When Israel bowed to internal and external pressures and withdrew from Lebanon in 2000 the SLA soldiers were forced to leave their homes and seek refuge in Israel for fear of the wrath of Hizballah. These citizens of Lebanon were forced to seek refuge in Israel, had they stayed in Lebanon they would have been murdered by Hizballah. Those who desired to return to their land, their families, their culture and home were forced to pay Hizballah huge sums of extortion money so that they would be allowed to live.

Hizballah is currently using innocent Lebanese civilians as human shields to hide from the Israeli army. Hizballah insists on continuing to fight Israel in the war Hizballah instigated, with no regard for the damage the war is causing Lebanon. They continue to bomb Israeli civilians, wrecking havoc with the Israeli economy and infrastructure. Hizballah is not only holding Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev hostage, Hizballah is holding the entire population of Lebanon and Israel hostage with their violence. Let’s ask: is this a situation where Israel should make an appeasement deal with Hizballah or should other countries come to the aid of both Israel AND Lebanon, helping both countries become free from terrorism? I wonder how many people have even considered the second option…

A kind Egyptian man who happens to be half Lebanese wrote me the following: This is the first time I send you a message but just want to tell you that despite the savage attacks of the IDF, I believe it is very necessary for the future of the region. Lots of us in Egypt believe your army is doing the right thing. Just take care of yourself…

This message uplifted my spirits.  I know many Arabs and Muslims in the region and worldwide understand our fight against terrorism.  They too have experienced terrorism first hand but it is a rare and treasured thing to receive such direct reinforcement. I hope that some day they will also know that Israelis, including our army and our leaders, are not savage and do not commit acts of savagery.

There are many things that people can not be expected to know or understand on their own. What I wish is that people asked more questions. Would you consider asking more questions? Please question the world around you! I firmly believe that if each of us questioned, analyzed and decided for ourselves it would be to the benefit of us all. You never know what you might find out if you ask a question. You will never know if you don’t ask. Information is power and if you don’t question that means the power is in someone else’s hands. Every time you do not question your reality you are letting someone else choose it for you! Do you like the world you see around you? I see a lot more fear and hate then I desire. I would prefer a reality filled with love and light, compassion and acceptance. I constantly ask myself: is there a way the things I don’t like can be fixed or changed? How? What can I do to fix them?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if things could change? Maybe they can. You might want to ask yourself what you can do to create the life you desire. You might be surprised at the answers you get!

I would love to live in a world without fear and hate. I know many others wish for that as well. Truthfully, it is hard for me to imagine such a reality and I am not sure how we can achieve something we can not imagine. Here’s what I do know – asking questions is a good start! 

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