Lebanese/Israeli 2View

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(HOST) Among those watching nervously as hostilities between Hezbollah and Israel exploded along the southern Lebanese border recently, were Stan Rashid and Elnor Rozenrot. They both have deep roots in the Middle East and they followed events closely. Today they share personal points of view – about the cease-fire, winning and losing, and the future.

Stan Rashid’s father emigrated from a small village in Southern Lebanon in 1920. Stan was born in Michigan, but he grew up bilingual and he’s visited his family’s village many times.

(RASHID) The main thing is – it’s the fighting has stopped, the killing has stopped. And my mother-in-law spoke to some of the relatives yesterday and everyone seems to be safe and things are quieted down now. They’re not back to normal but they have the essentials. Of course, they don’t know how well the cease-fire will hold because – whether Hezbollah will disarm, nobody knows; will the Israelis pull out, nobody knows. Hezbollah is the strongest force at this point in the southern region of Lebanon, and at this point there has been no clear discussion to their disarmament. So unless that happens, the volatility will remain – as long as both sides are armed.

I would like to see all the parties involved – Israelis, Lebanese, Palestinians – sit down and work out a new approach, a new attitude towards each other to respect each other’s rights to live; to give the Palestinians a country they’ve been aspiring for, for almost a hundred years, and I think that would resolve the entire problem in the Middle East. I think that’s the core issue that must be resolved. The Palestinians must have a home. They must be – given rights as human beings and able to live with dignity.

Based on my experience I am less than hopeful, because what continues to transpire in the Middle East is a regional struggle for power. It’s not just Lebanon and Israel. Other countries are involved. Iran is involved. Syria’s involved. There are too many other religious and political factions that are involved that have their own agendas, and unless these are addressed in such a manner that they would be able to resolve, somehow, this will flare up again.

(HOST) Elnor Rozenrot came here to study at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business in Hanover, New Hampshire. He and his wife are both Israelis, and both have served in the military. They have two children and eventually they plan to return to Israel.

(ROZENROT) My family and friends – I think everybody I’m talking to about the cease-fire – I mean, we’ve got some mixed feelings because on the one hand we know that if we would have kept this going on, this would have been a decisive victory.

Our forces were just, you know, kind of starting to get the hang of it. There’s that feeling that we paid the price of the learning curve but that we didn’t really get to fully perform. So on the one hand there’s that missed opportunity feeling – I mean we were already in a conflict, we were already paying the price, so we might as well just have continued this and got to a decisive point.

The other side of this is – we didn’t win this conflict – not decisively – but we didn’t lose it either. So there is a feeling that we actually did reach some of our objectives – that we actually did manage to make the Hezbollah think twice before the next time they try to do something. The only thing that actually wasn’t achieved was getting the kidnapped soldiers back – which is a big thing, but do you really want to keep an entire nation in war just because of that? I mean, there’s other ways of taking care of that.

Several disturbing things were discovered about basically our readiness for war. There was this feeling of – we don’t really need the conventional forces – you know those fighting tanks running through the desert and raising dust. We just need to get ready for a different type of conflict, for let’s say a missile conflict with Syria or with Iran, and that’s actually been proven wrong – that, yeah we need to be ready for that, but we can’t just ignore everything else because eventually we will have to fight some sort of ground war – and there’s various other assumptions there – so I don’t think you can really say who won or lost and what was really achieved at this point when everything’s still unfolding.

If I really want to be a dreamer, then I can even hope that this will somehow, you know just kind of spark a process that will end with a nice peace with Syria and Lebanon, but hey, this is the Middle East, not a fairy tale – this is not a video game.

Elnor Rozenrot is a recent graduate of Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business. Stan Rashid is a retired importer of Arabic music, books, publications and films, now living in Reading.

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