|By Joan Chittister, OSB
Heres the basic problem with war: Its planned by
politicians and fought by the rest of a country. At this point, over 90 percent
of the victims of war, the United Nations reports and researchers confirm, are
not soldiers. They are civilians -- and most of them women and children.
So while the talks go leisurely on in the great international assemblies
of the world -- or while we refuse to talk about it at all -- people who have
nothing to do with the conflict, no way to surrender in its midst, no voice at
all in its resolution -- go on running and dying, dying and running from the
violence they cannot avoid.
I got another letter in this weeks mail from a Palestinian citizen
of Israel who has been active in the peace movement there for years. As well as
decrying war, she creates programs designed to address the trauma this ongoing
war between Palestinians and Israelis wreaks on the children who will be
scarred by it for life -- and who, therefore, may likely go on repeating it
Her letter makes some important points of which the world dearly needs
to be aware
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First, these people feel forgotten by the rest of us. They do not hear
our own cries in their behalf and this only increases their suffering and
despair. We must raise our voices.
Second, she unmasks for us the clever use of media to desensitize the
consciousness of the world to the obscenity of this violence.
Third, she exposes the operant -- but seriously distorted reasoning on
both sides -- that maintains the appetite for war. We must begin to see that
one war only seeds the next one.
Fourth, she demonstrates the frustration of women who see themselves as
the victims of male power plays, male war games and male analyses.
So Im publishing this letter because I believe that it is time to
see behind the politicians and the generals. Think of it as a letter from
someone in your family caught in such a travesty, unable to save themselves and
reaching out to you. Now how do you feel about it?
Surely, we must stop converting people into the numbers that sterilize
the violence of war. We must begin to see their faces and hear the voices of
those who live in the countries that are being pulverized for the sake of
From where I stand, it seems we must also ask how we feel about the
failure of our own country to demand a cease-fire here -- and to have also
launched all-out war ourselves against a defenseless people whose civilian
citizens are now dying, were told, at the rate of 100 a day?
After all, isnt it the way we ourselves regard our own newly
designed foreign policy of brutality that will determine the future of this
country, as well as theirs?
The following letter has been edited only for spelling, grammar and
The last six days were very difficult days, again we are in a war!!!
And again we have to live in fear and to suffer from the destruction that we
witness in Lebanon , Israel and Palestine.
I decided to write to you all since some of you, and especially after
the news about the attack over Nazareth, began to call and ask about our
situation and what they can do for us.
So let me tell you that we are not hurt physically yet. Personally, I
miss very much the voice of sanity in these times. I miss the voice of all men
and women who struggle and are still struggling for peace in the region. I miss
them not because we stopped the work for peace, but because we are not given
the opportunity to express the ideas. It seems from over here that the world is
celebrating this war. I feel that we here cannot do it alone.
The peace movement in Israel manages to organize several small
demonstrations until now but could not reach the media yet.
Witnessing the news in the Israeli Media made me
furious. Most of the analysts are men, Generals that are celebrating this war
and most of them ask the government to continue this war and to continue the
destruction. In the first days they refused to call it war, they were saying it
is only an action. They thought that after the airplanes attack Lebanon two or
three days, everything will be finished. Now they call it war and they prepare
the public opinion for at least another week.
The most amazing thing (is) that the Israeli TV in the last few days
stopped to give (giving) concrete information about the exact places that are
attacked and are not showing U.S. citizens the suffering of the injured
persons. They concentrate on the destruction of the buildings and
infrastructure in Lebanon. What happened to the people who live in these
buildings no one seems to be interested.
Living among the people in Israel, I witness the fear
of the adults and children, the uncertainty, the helplessness. These feelings
are not given space in the media. (Instead,) they have been silenced because in
time of war the role of the media and the politician is to protect the morale
of the people. The people of Israel should not express feelings (about the war)
because their role today is to send their sons willingly to feed the war
machine and to suffer in silence.
The military is preparing Israeli public opinion for long days of war
and then we will have silence, they say. We will destroy Hezbollah and we will
have silence, they try to convince (us). And most people believe that and began
to argue in these lines!!
They do not tell them that the past 60 years proved their theory to
be wrong. They do not tell them that the history of mankind proved this theory
to be wrong. They do not tell them that war do not solve problems; it create
Itemizing. Most of the Arabic media (TVS) (except the
news channels) continue in their programs as the war does not concern them. The
Arabic news channels are also full of male analysis that argue the (wisdom of
the timing) of Hezbollah. They don't argue the war as a strategy. It is only
about the timing. The reporters are reporting from faraway watching points
without people. The human suffering is not seen.
Living. The Palestinian citizens of Israel live in
unsecured houses. (There are no Public shelters in Arab towns and villages in
Israel, and most of the houses are ancient houses without the secure rooms
which is a requirement for building permissions after 1992.)
They have to deal with the rockets falling in their villages and what
it brings with it from destruction, fears, insecurity in (the bombed villages)
of Megd alkrum, Bikaae, Kuferyassif, abusinan, yanouh, joulis,
Working with children and families in these conditions, most of them
do not know how to deal with their childrens fears, nightmares, etc.
These voices are not listened to, they have no space in these crazy
Nevertheless, the talk among the people here is celebrating the war
too. They are (be)having as reported in the media. These reports are not
showing the real picture of burned people, of death injured people, which makes
it easy to most of the people to celebrate the attacks over Israel.
They argue "Finally Israel is suffering like our people. Finally
Israel is having war beside their homes and not in other peoples land
like the West Bank, Gaza, Golan, Lebanon. Finally the unbeaten Army cannot stop
Hezbollah rackets from reaching Haifa. Finally the arrogance of the Israeli
political person and Generals is hurt".
In such a situation the work of the peace movement is very important,
but we cannot do it alone. We need your help and support all over.
You can make a difference if every one does something. Individuals
and groups, call upon Israeli embassy and demand to stop the war. Call upon
U.S. embassy and demand to stop the support for this war. Send letters to
Hezbollah to stop the war. Call upon every one and tell them war do not solve
problems; it creates new ones. In order to reach peace, justice and security we
need to demand to:
Stop the war.
Stop the destruction.
End the occupation.
Recognize the right of the Palestinian people for their independent
state alongside Israel.
Negotiate for peace.
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