See this page for links to articles on OpEdNEws that articulate both sides on the issues in the middle east. It is the goal of OpEdNews to air opinions from both sides to stretch the envelope of discussion and communication. Hate statements are not accepted. Discussions of issues and new ideas for solutions are encouraged. .When I was drafted into the Israel Defense Forces in 1990, as a 30-year-old immigrant to Israel from Maine, I had a female toddler at home.
I remember thinking that by the time she turned 18, far away in the 21st century, there would be a solution to the ongoing strife in our region. And perhaps she and her friends would no longer be required to perform their compulsory army service.
Alas, that Pollyanna, na-ve vision has never had a chance in the ensuing years. And attending her high school graduating ceremony recently, my tears of joy intermingled with tears of sorrow.
I found myself looking out into a sea of exultant 17 and 18-year-olds and seeing nervous, inexperienced soldiers: soldiers like the three young Israelis who are being held captive - one in Gaza, and two in Lebanon. The latter atrocity was the result of an ambush across the Lebanese-Israeli border which left eight of the kidnapped soldiers' comrades dead - an unprovoked act of war which prompted the current battles between Israel and Hizbullah.
A third of the country - including major population centers from Haifa north - has been subject to daily and deadly barrages of Katyusha rockets fired by Hizbullah from southern Lebanon. Thousands of Israelis are living in bomb shelters, fearing daily for their lives. Make no mistake about this - despite being termed a 'military action', it's war, with all the accoutrements.
Six years ago, Israel's troops left Lebanon and the security zone carved out to prevent attacks against northern border towns. Today there's absolutely no justification for attacks on Israel. There's a clearly defined border in the north, Lebanon cannot claim any territorial demands on Israel. Yet Hizbullah, with financial and military backing from Syria and Iran, has regularly fired missiles into sovereign Israeli territory, and earlier this month succeeded in its ambush of the doomed Israeli border patrol - the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.
Seeing innocent Lebanese citizens - children and women - dying in Israeli assaults is heartbreaking for all Israelis. The Lebanese people are victims of the Hizbullah bullies - and their swaggering allies Syria and Iran - who have taken over their country.
The UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1559 in September 2004, calling for disarming all militias and strict respect for Lebanon's sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity and political independence under Lebanese government authority. Hizbullah has refused to disarm as demanded by the resolution, saying it is a resistance movement. What the heck are they resisting against? Israel's not there!
All Israel wants is a secure northern border, in which its citizens and soldiers guarding the border are not under attack. Israel is not at war with Lebanon, but the Hizbullah militia which continues to deny Israel's existence. And knowing that, Hizbullah is using the Lebanese people as live fire hostages.
In the exact opposite way that the Israeli army is doing everything it can to put itself in front of its citizens to keep them safe, Hizbullah is doing everything it can to put Lebanese citizens in front of them.
Those were the depressing thoughts that accompanied me through my daughter's graduation ceremony. That and how little progress towards peace has been made in the region in the six years since Israel withdrew from Lebanon, and in the decade since the signing of the Oslo Accords and the formation of the Palestinian Authority.
Those kids celebrating their 'freedom' will soon be on the front lines against Israel's enemies. That could be why my tears rolled down - not because my daughter and her classmates are inevitably going to be in the army; that's an acceptable, inevitable element of Israeli society that almost all Israeli youngsters and parents are proud of. What saddened me was grim fact that we are forced to take away our children's innocence before its time in order to protect our existence.
Nobody wins a war anymore. We all lose. But when this one ends in a cease-fire that will protect Israel's border and defang the Hizbullah tiger, Israel will reach out its hand to the Lebanese people in reconciliation. And our children-turned-soldiers will hopefully one day patrol a joint border that will see both countries flourish in 'shalom' - peace.
, David Brinn is a veteran journalist in Israel and director of ISRAEL21c - http://www.israel21c.org. Reprinted with permission from ISRAEL21c-www.israel21c.