The war was up north in Haifa, Nahariya and Kiryat Shmona…. The war was also in the Israeli Arab city of Nazareth, where two children were killed by a Katyusha rocket, and also in Mughar, my favorite Arab village on a cliff overlooking the Sea of Galilee, where a teen-age girl was hit by a rocket.
About 60 percent of the 1.3 million Israeli Arab citizens live in Haifa and Northern Israel. They are almost all opposed to the war. About 20 percent of Israel’s 5.5 million Jews live in Haifa and Northern Israel. The vast majority support the Israel Army’s attempt to wipe out Hezbollah’s stock of over 10,000 missiles.
All together over 1.5 million Jews and Arabs from Haifa and the Galilee have fled to relatives and hotels in the south or have been living in dank shelters used only for storage for decades.
I spent two weeks in the safety of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv areas where most Israeli Jews live…. I found peace and tranquility in the guest house of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam, the “Oasis of Peace” where about 200 Jews and Arabs live together. On the lawn beside the pool, Jewish and Arab mothers watched their children playing together….
A couple of carloads of adult residents of the village went down to Tel Aviv one evening to join 5,000 protesters against the war. They heard Uri Avnery, the 80-year-old peacenik… accusing the Israel Government of repeating the unprovoked assault on Lebanon in 1982. Ehud Olmert, Avnery declared, was repeating the plan of his mentor, Ariel Sharon, to destroy the Muslims in Lebanon and set up a friendly Christian government. About 40 percent of the Lebanese are Christians.
Avnery’s conspiracy theory fails to take into account that this war was provoked by Hezbollah’s capturing two Israeli soldiers [and killing eight] and demanding a ransom of hundreds of Arab prisoners being held by Israel.
Olmert refused to play by the rules. Instead of negotiating the number of prisoners to be released as Sharon had done before him, Olmert ordered a massive attack on Hezbollah and its lines of reinforcement, including trucks from Syria and cargoes by air to the Beirut airport and by sea to Lebanese ports….
In contrast to Avnery, Lova [Arie] Eliav, the 84-year-old veteran peacenik, finds this war similar to the 1947-48 War of Independence.
In my last day in Israel, I spent a pleasant hour with Lova drinking tea and eating Tanya Eliav’s famous tiny apple pancakes. Lova Eliav lost his position as [general secretary of the Labor party] some thirty years ago for daring to talk about peace with an aide to Yassir Arafat, Issam Sartawi. (I have founded the “Eliav-Sartrawi Pioneers of Peace” Journalism Prizes which are awarded annually by Search for Common Ground.)
Eliav told me that like Israel’s fight for freedom in 1947-48, this was a war that was forced on Israel. The rockets aimed at Israel had to be eliminated (in accordance with the UN resolution) if the Jews and Arabs in the Galilee and Haifa are to continue to live in peace.
Eliav had a message for the powers that are discussing a NATO force to patrol the Lebanese-Israel border similar to the NATO force in Kosovo. “It is imperative,” said Lova, “that this force include Arab elements, primarily from the well-trained Bedouin army of Jordan and from Egypt. Moroccans and Tunisians might also be added. Only Arabs can keep Hezbollah disarmed.”
I only hope that Lova’s vision of Arab armies controlling Hezbollah will have a better fate than his talks with Sartawi for peace with the Palestinians [Sartawi was assassinated by another Palestinian].