E-mail from Tsuyako 2006

8th August 2006
Dear Brothers/Sisters in Taimyo:
The following is a “hot”mail/report I received from Dr. Jun Iwanaga* and Tsuyako, Jun’s girl friend who is presently in Zambia for her medical volunteer work.
I thought that it would help you understand clearly what is happening to people in Lebanon in these days….
* I met him at the International Shintaido Meting held in Haguro, Japan in 2000. Since then he visited me in SF for a few time. We became very close sinse I helped him to write his profile in English when he applied his medical volunteer work in Nepal and Zambia.

Dear Ito-sensei,

I heard you had a problem with your health. I hope you have recovered and regained strength by now.

As Jun may have told you briefly, I currently stay in Zambia with Dr. Ali from Lebanon, his brother Hani, their family members, and their employees from Lebanon and Palestine. We are ten in the home. Dr. Ali and Jun used to work together at a hospital in Zambia and they have become close friends. Jun and I visited Lebanon and stayed with Dr. Ali and his family in south
Lebanon, Tyre in January last year. A few days after we left there, their
former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated in Beirut.

Ever since Israel commenced the raids on Lebanon on 12th July, my friends here have been restless. A number of their relatives, friends, and neighbors have been killed and severely injured as a result of Israeli attacks by now.

Dr. Ali’s wife, Hyam and their two children have lived in Lebanon. They were here to spend summer holidays with Dr. Ali when the nightmare began in their country. They were supposed to return to Lebanon by the end of July to be back in the school or at the work place but they were stranded in Zambia. Hani’s daughter was expected to spend summer with her mother in Lebanon. However, the airport in Beirut was attacked on the day she was supposed to leave thus she was also stranded in Zambia. Hani’s wife lives in Beirut. Hani tried to make an arrangement to evacuate her and her mother to Zambia through Syria since the American Embassy didn’t help them for evacuation (Hani’s wife is an American passport holder.). In the meanwhile, the only remained road to Syria became too risky to pass. Therefore, they were stuck in Beirut. Hyam’s mother has lived in a village of Naqoura, 23 km south of Tyre. She once evacuated from there to Dr. Ali’ s house in Tyre with some other relatives. In the small kitchen in Dr. Ali’ s house, 25 people were hiding themselves from aerial bombings for a few days. Thereafter, they all shifted to Fa lougha, on a mountain 140 km east of Tyre. Dr. Ali’s another brother Dr. Hassan is a French passport holder. He tried to evacuate to France with his entire family. Unfortunately, his last-born child’s passport had a problem thus he let only his first-born child to travel to France through evacuation organised by French Embassy. He first took a French naval boat to Cyprus, and then flew to France. It took three days for him to arrive at his uncle’s place in France. During the trip, he only slept for a total of three hours.

Many of the over fifty victims who were killed by the bombardment in Qana were from Tyre. We saw Dr. Ali’s daughter’s teacher on TV, interviewed by a reporter at the site. She rescued someone’s child while her own son was still under the wreckage. To say good-bye to her son, she kissed his hand which was the only touchable part of his body. Her son has died.

Sometime in last week, we saw Dr. Ali’s house on TV. The next building of Dr. Ali’s house has been destroyed by bombings. Dr. Ali and his family have no idea when they will be able to step in their home in Tyre again. They may not find their house there anymore.

This tragedy rent people in Lebanon from their loved ones and their homes, torn their heart apart with sorrow.

Ito-sensei, I have never appreciated this much before, the fact that I can live without any threaten. I have never felt like praying so eagerly in the past, for peaceful daily lives of all my family, friends, and all other people. I didn’t know human being could be so cruel. The painful feelings I have now are different from the helpless feelings I always have when I am with very poor people infected or affected by HIV/AIDS in Zambia, different from the heartache I have when I work with Zambian children who have been abandoned by adults. Although I know anger does not help to improve the situation, I am in fact angry. What is going on now is so unfair. People in Lebanon just want quiet lives. Why don’t these lovely and peaceful people deserve normal livings? Israel attacks Lebanon as if they want to kill everyone there. As we are aware, Lebanon is just utilised as a playground of this warfare. Can we imagine that the authorities of a few nations control all of these? The victims are always innocent civilians who are nothing to do with this awful game of massacre.

I have been trying to share messages from my Lebanese friends with my friends around the world. We have all been praying for peace and hoping no more killing of innocent people, the quickest and the best solution for Lebanese and Israeli people to get back to normal life. No matter what one believes in, we all wish living in peace, don’t we? I have several friends who live in the United States. Shockingly, one of them told me that it’s meaningless for us to discuss this issue as he (my friend) was nothing to do with the politics. Others told me that they were disappointed since when they tried to talk about it, most of their friends showed no interest.

Is it true that many people in the United States even have no concern about the crisis in the Middle East? If it is true, I guess it is because such people do not have time to think about issues apart from their own daily hustle, or probably they are more interested in real-life matters just
around themselves. It is normal. If I were not stay with Dr. Ali and other Lebanese friends now, even myself hadn’t think this much. But can we imagine how it would be like if we had to live with a fear of bombardment 24 hours, wherever we were. Can we imagine if our children and parents had been killed without any reason? Will we still remain silent to what kind of roles the leaders of our countries are playing in this crisis? We wrote to Ministry of Foreign Affairs to make an action to stop the war. We wrote to the Israeli Prime Minister to stop killing civilians. We wrote to journalists. Our fellows organised demonstrations at the Israeli embassy in Tokyo to protest against the assault and to mourn the victims. Others requested some TV programmes to feature the issue more often. Sadly, our leaders in Japan are still so quiet in the international society. As
everyone knows, the United States is the key player of this game.

I just received the following message yesterday from Hadi, a nephew of Dr. Ali, lived in France. He is 22 years old, a school of medicine student.
Hadi has always been helping me through providing updated information to understand the facts and the background and so on, as I don’t understand Arabic language.

In the moments I am writing these words, a family of five civilians (a mother, a father and 3 children) lost their lives under the wreckage of their house. This is an example among hundreds, my people is facing a mass massacre as a result of the Israeli attacks on Lebanon.

So far 1000 civilians lost their lives, among them some friends and far relatives, 800000 Lebanese (25 percent of the Lebanese population have been displaced) including my family, they are living in inhuman conditions with lack of water , food and medical care.

The aggression is not only against people, but against infrastructure. All the bridges, tunnels, roads, electricity plants, fuel tanks, IT networks, water dams, and every other aspect of infrastructure has been or is being destroyed.

Unfortunately, two Israeli hostages were taken and three were killed, an operation which I am deeply sorry that we could not stop. But does this justify a barbaric attack that has up until now killed at least 1,000 people, injured thousands, displaced hundreds of thousands, and ruined an entire country? Israel bombed buses with 21 women and children fleeing from their village. Bombed a house killing more than 60 mostly children. Innocent people, running for their lives, not terrorists, not military people but women and children were burnt! The international community
remains silent…

We are a people that believe in democracy, and in human values, we believe in the role of the public opinion, so regarding the silence of the governments around the world, we are seeking the help of the free people of the world in order to stop this tragedy.

I lived all my life in war, I don’t want children of my country to live the same thing, please help us stop this blind unjustified aggression, help us live in peace by informing your entourage about what is going on in Lebanon, by sending letters to your congressmen, and through all the democratic means you are enjoying, that we are not able to practice because we are living under the bombs.

Hadi Khachab

I would also like to share with you the following messages from my Lebanese friends I currently stay together in Zambia.

Dr. Ali Ezzedine (45 years old)

When I heard Israel attacked the airport in Beirut on 12th July, I understood that Israel wanted to destroy Lebanon, not only Hezbollah. The only airport of our country should always been protected as a port for tourism, politics and humanitarian operations, so I was very shocked from the beginning. Since then, I haven’t been sleeping well. I can’t work properly. I can’t even relate to my wife and children nicely. I am so nervous. Since I am in Zambia, I worry too much about my family in Lebanon.

My little nephews remain in Lebanon with my brother are sick because of too much stress. When I talk to my mother on phone, she always cries. One of my cousins was killed with his entire family including three children. Even my uncle was killed. The psychological stress they suffer from is too much to cope with.

I am from Tyre, the south Lebanon. Our region has been under Israeli attacks from 35 years ago since it’s situated just at the border between Israel. In 1996, 106 civilians were massacred in Qana. Too many innocent people have been killed in my region. The impact on the economy in my region has been enormous. I am 45 years old now and have been in war for 35 years. You cannot imagine how much the hostilities have affected my life. Because of too much loss of lives and many other things, people have been nourishing a feeling of hatred toward Israel. People in my region don’t know what peace is, what life is.

People of our country have been reconstructing infrastructure little by little after they had been completely destroyed by Israel. Lebanese people are the ones who always had to pay for everything. And now, Israel destroys everything again. No one has right to do this. I don’t want my children to go through the same experience as I have. I want people especially in powerful countries to think and not to allow this happen again. Because, enough is enough. I want people in the world to know that people in Lebanon are peaceful even if they believe in Hezbollah, it doesn’t mean they want to fight. They want peace.

People in the United States play very important role in humanity of the world. I want to tell them to learn the reality, not only from one-sided media report. I want them to know different perspectives thereafter, they can judge what to do.

When I heard about the demonstrations against Israeli attacks in many cities in the world, I felt happy. It meant a lot to me to know that people think about us.

I would also like to ask people in the world to support reconstruction of our country. It should be worked on quickly, otherwise extremists may take advantage to come in and to brainwash people again just as how Hezbollah has been attracting people in southern Lebanon. We need support for reconstruction.

Mr. Hani Ezzedine (40 years old)

When Israel attacked the gate of our country, the airport, I felt very scared since I immediately understood that it meant Israel want to destroy our country.

I am from the south Lebanon, the region has always been affected by war. And we always had to pay the price. I can’t sleep well. Even when I eat, I can’t stop wondering if our people in Lebanon eat and sleep. I try to keep myself busy otherwise it’s too difficult to cope with the situation. I am
psychologically affected too much. But I have to carry on to live my life.
Because of everybody around me, I have to pretend as if I am brave. I phone my parents in Lebanon to encourage them. But I am just pretending. Inside me is like a sick person.

I want to tell people around the world that we are peaceful, we love life, we love everybody, and we want to be loved. We need everybody to help us now. It doesn’t have to be money wise or standing our field. I want everybody in the world to look at us, not to leave us, and not forget us. I want everybody to see what has happened to us in Lebanon. Us Lebanese, we are paying the bills for others. The war in Lebanon is other’s war in our land. We are dying, we are destroyed. I love my country. I need your support.

I want to tell people in the United States that they have great people and many great things. On the other hand, they help Israel to destroy us and kill us for no reasons. I hope they will realize and stop that. As I said, the United States has a lot of wonderful things. Let’s make everything wonderful. Don’t let the other side to destroy the beautiful side of America.

Mr. Mohamed Naim (28 years old)

We have right to defend our land. Israel should learn how they feel when their children are killed. My friends were killed in Qana when Israel bombed and killed over 50 civilians. I want to do something to help my country but I am away. So I can’t do anything. And I feel bad about that.

Mr. Hassan Ezzedine (22 years old)

I felt very bad when Israel attacked our main gate, the airport on 12th July. I am from a village in south Lebanon. The area has been attacked several times. My cousins have died. Even my neighbors and close friends have died. There was no specific target in my village but they just attacked and so many people have been killed. It’s not easy for us to accept what’s happening now. After Syrian soldiers have left out country, we didn’t expect this bad thing could happen again so soon. Everything has been destroyed again. I want to do something to help my country. I want to feel that I am part of it. But I need to be there to do that.

I would like to tell everyone in the world that this is enough. We should all look for peace. No one likes war. Everyone of us should do our best to stop the war now. No one can live without peace.

Mr. Wassim Ezzedine (6 years old)

Israel destroys. They bomb buildings. They kill people. I feel sad because I love Lebanon too much. I want to tell Bush and Rice to stop sending bombs to Israel.

Miss. Bayan Ezzedine (8 years old)

Israel destroys everything and they kill people in Lebanon. I feel sad. I want children in the United States to help us. I want to tell Israeli children not to write messages on the bombs.

Miss. Reem Ezzedine (6 years old)

Israel is bombing everything in Lebanon. I feel sad because I like Lebanon.

Ito-sensei, people in Lebanon just want normal lives. The world is involved in depriving the basic lives from them. The world even play a game to sacrifice their children.

We can not overlook what world’s leaders are doing. We are to blame too, if we keep silent. I can not be silent. Even my friends will not be.

9th August 2006

Tsuyako Shinomiya