Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Putting a human face on the wider conflict
No one feels comfortable attending a funeral of someone they don't know. The sad reality is that for a journalist covering the Middle East conflict, this happens almost every day.

As a reporter, the moment you arrive, the family wants to tell you the story of their loved one. They show you photos. They want to make sure he or she is not forgotten. They want to know their loved one didn't die in vain.

The shiva for Shlomi Buchris was no different. His friends tell me he was funny, had an infectious laugh and could light up a room.

But Shlomi was a reserve member of the Israeli military. He wanted to fight. He had a day job working on the family farm and learning to breed exotic fish. But he also wanted to protect his country.

At the age of 36, he guessed this would be his last chance.

Shlomi's father struggles to tell us of the moment he knew his son was dead. He was watching the news and heard that 12 reservists had been killed by a Hezbollah rocket on the border. He saw one body with the shoes of his son's parachute unit. He tried calling Shlomi. And when his son didn't answer, he waited for the call every parent dreads.

Shlomi's mother still hasn't left the house.

The number of casualties in this war has risen well past the point of being able to tell each story of loss. But seeing how one death devastates a family, friends, and in this case, a small community, puts a human face on the wider conflict, however briefly.
Posted By Paula Hancocks, CNN International Correspondent: 6:18 PM ET
  39 Comments
It's a bit of a shame another Israeli soldier died. How many Lebanese civilians were killed the day he died, I wonder?
Posted By Anonymous louis Chicago, IL : 6:36 PM ET
Most people are very patriotic and that it is an honor to die for their country. Their parents mourn but still are proud.
Posted By Anonymous Ratna, New York, NY : 6:49 PM ET
"But Shlomi was a reserve member of the Israeli military. He wanted to fight. He had a day job working on the family farm and learning to breed exotic fish. But he also wanted to protect his country."

Key phrase: protect his country. Depending on the side of the story this noble instinct is either for a hero or a terrorist.

I think the real colors of this conflict are comming through. The US has had its eyes on Iran for some time now - for the nuclear controversy, its oil - but with the Iraq fiasco can't go directly. Now they are claiming Hezbollah is an Iran puppet - like Israel is a USA puppet -.

They won't be satisfied or push the need of a real UN resolution util Israel has complete control of Lebanon forcing other Arab countries to go after Israel and opening the possibility of gaining control of Iran and its oil. Would anyone be surprised to know that Bush knew about the shutting of BP pipes and the 8% decrease of oil production for the USA? Bush, Chenney they are oil vampires. No matter at what cost.
Posted By Anonymous Marie Casiano, NJ : 6:56 PM ET
I would not be proud if my son were a murderer in a fool's war. I would be ashamed.
Posted By Anonymous Sylvie, Toronto, Canada : 7:00 PM ET
Morbid as this sounds, I really do appreciate the stories about the people who are personally affected by war, famine, and other tragedies. I find that putting that human aspect helps to keep us from becoming numb to what is happening. No matter where we live, what religion we are, how we look, or what language we speak...we are all the same species.
Posted By Anonymous Genevieve M, El Paso, TX : 7:03 PM ET
80 dead, 30 civilians. 800 dead, mostly civilans.

Isnt the duty of a reported to give a un-bias view of whats going?
Posted By Anonymous Musaib, Phoenix Arizona : 7:13 PM ET
My heart goes out to the father of course, but at least his son knew what he was getting into or at least had an idea, whereas the Lebonese civilians and children have done nothing to warrant losing their lives. There is no camparison. Death no matter who's getting killed is unacceptable.
I fear though that this is only the beginning. No matter what the UN does, it will not stop either side now, I think its much too late for an intervention of any kind.
This war will excellerate more by the day until the worst thing to happen will happen. We need to all of us pray for them as it may be the only hope left,
Posted By Anonymous Bev. Whitby, Ont. Canada : 7:24 PM ET
Israeli soldiers die defending their country, family and friends.
Hizbollah militants die for "70 young virgins in high heaven", or for some other rediculous idea that's been brainwashed into them.
Innocent Lebanese civilians die from the cancer of Islamic Fundamentalism, which covers their land.
Posted By Anonymous Amit, New York, NY : 7:28 PM ET
While any death is tragic, especially that of a victim of war whether that person be a participant or a bystander, this story and CNN's continuing blog about Israel and Hezbollah only shows that America has an extremely short attention span.

What about the soldiers that die daily in Iraq or Afghanistan? Is it some how less tragic when they die because the battle they fight has been raging for nearly five years? Or because they are American? Is it somehow more important to report the death of a soldier in a foreign conflict because the battle he waged is "all the rage". The hard cold fact is that people are dying all around the world in conflicts from Iraq, to Afghanistan, to Sri Lanka, to Uganda and beyond.

The real tragedy is that most of them die without fanfare,...anonymous. Here's to them.
Posted By Anonymous Kyle, odenton MD : 7:28 PM ET
Shlomi didn't WANT to fight.
Shlomi, like all the rest of the Jewish nation didn't want to take a gun in order to kill other human beings.
But unfortunately we don't live in the world we would like to live in. There is evil in this world and we can't just stand aside. WE realy try not to kill babies (unlike the Hizbollah...) and we send warnings befor we bomb Hizbollah's buildings in Beirut. If we really would have wanted to kill civilians - there would have been a lot more than 800 dead.
Golda Meir (prime minister of Israel in'73) once said that we maby could forgive the Arabs for killing our children, but we could never forgive them for forcing us to kill theirs.
Posted By Anonymous Shimon and Noga, Beit El, Israel : 7:30 PM ET
Poor Shlomi. Killed by the hubris of his nations leaders. Would they be so daring if they didn't have their fingers on the wallets of the US taxpayers?
Posted By Anonymous Donna, Long Island, N.Y. : 7:58 PM ET
Thank you for expressing the sorrow Israelis feel for their children. This aspect is not being covered by the majority of the media. This soldier died protecting his country from terrorists. He died so his family and friends would be safe. There is nobody else to protect them but themselves. The Lebanese civilians are dying because of Hezbollah. If they didn't start this war, Lebanese people wouldn't be dying. If Hezbollah wasn't hiding among the civilian population and using them as human shields, more of them would be alive.
Posted By Anonymous J. Balber , Orange, CT : 8:04 PM ET
How can anyone dismiss the death of an Israeli soldier as a "bit of a shame" because Lebanese civilians died? We all grieve for the death of innocents - where is Hizbollah's responsibility in this? How are they differentiating civilians both in Lebanon and Israel. "Moral Equivalency" is so easy to pretend but it is a lie!!
Posted By Anonymous Susan Maryland Potomac : 8:06 PM ET
War is more real when I hear details like this. The number of rockets, the miles of tank movement to me mean very little. A partent's grief; thatI can understand.
Posted By Anonymous Londa Wilson, Briarcliff, NY : 8:08 PM ET
Hi Paula,
A human face..Humans fighting humans..Anger, hatred, bitterness and fear..When does a war, a fight or feud really end? Perhaps when all parties involved get so exhausted and disgusted that they simply have no fight left in them..I don't know when the Middle East will get to that point, but I hope it will be someday soon..Hatred does have a way of consuming those that live for it. I hope for the best for all of them. They deserve to live side by side in peace..It's not too much to ask for..Take Care
Posted By Anonymous Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif. : 8:17 PM ET
Well, it was Shlomi's choice to join the fight and I'm sure he's aware of the risks of defending "his country". Many people are saying that Israel has the right to defend itself either out of naiveness or out of being pro-zionists and pro-Israelis. I have one question, who gave the right for Israel to exist in the first place? more specifically who gave it the right to exist on Palestinian soil? who gave it the right to kick out millions of Palestinians from their home and turn them into refugees??? I am not going to deny that religion plays a part in the Palestinan-Israeli conflict but religion is not the sole factor here. Many Jews (especially in the USA) are against the Israeli occupation and they are even more passionate in defending Palestine than some Arabs and Muslims are. Despite what you have been told, Muslims don't hate Jews or Christians merely because they have a different faith. Nor do they want to convert all of them into Muslims by force! We just want to convey the message that we have the right to defend ourselves against whoever oppresses us whether the tyrants are Jews, Muslims, Christians, Hindu...etc.
It is instinctive that any human being would resist occupation (regardless of their religion) just as Iraqis are resisiting the American occupation. If you fail to realize that then there is not much hope in arguing with you.
Posted By Anonymous Omar, Richmond, VA : 8:34 PM ET
I think its terrible that another person has lost his life. It is difficult for any family to lose a love one. I'm sorry but I feel their is not enough balanced reporting on the suffering. I almost feel that CNN is leaning on the side of Israel because of the tremendous public support here in the U.S. I don't care about Hezbollah dead but I do care for the innocent lebanese that are dead. Let's not forget they are also humans.
Posted By Anonymous Max H. , Palm Springs, CA : 8:55 PM ET
What a touching and sad report. I can't even imagine how his father must have felt when he saw the shoes of his son's unit while watching the news only to find out later that those shoes could have been his son's! It's too bad the passion these men have to fight for their country can't instead be channeled to to just learning how to get along with each other.
Posted By Anonymous Jolene, St. Joseph, MI : 9:05 PM ET
So is the question are the deaths and the suffering of those left behind to live and grieve worth the end result?

What ends justify these means?

What goal is worth the anger it breeds in Israeli or Arab children, the next generation of "terrorist" and "patriots"?

Maybe this is humanity's own natural population control since this all seems so irrational and yet very much justified and even considered a right in so many people's minds.

Are we wired to suffer, to be angry, and then to inflict suffering on others simply so we do not eventually over populate and over develop the world?

This is all madness - not the war, our acceptance and support of it is what is mad.

Where are the Ghandi's, the MLK's, the Mother Theresa's of the World? Where is People Power and the civil rights marchers?

If there is a devil, surely he is the only one who benefits from the self-righeous, justified hatred and the resulting indifference to life and suffering. He can count on a great harvest of souls who believe they are doing the right thing.

If you think that meant just the Hezbollah and Lebanese, think again and ask yourself where you stand on this issue.
Posted By Anonymous Peter, Davis, CA : 9:05 PM ET
Thank you very much for providing a real-life perspective to the losses suffered by Israel.
Posted By Anonymous Gene. San Francisco, California. : 11:57 PM ET
When this war started bad guys and good guys were clear. Hezbollah were terrorists and Israel were the victims. As this has unfolded I have clearly seen that in fact the opposite is true. The Lebanese are truely the victims here and from Israel I see smugness and bravato. From the President Bush and most Western Politicians I see what is clearly a resounding ignorance of all things mid-eastern and a chilling arrogance in its dismissive demeanor toward arabs and all things Islamic. So, ignornace and arrogance from the west and terror from Israel. Thats what I see clearly illustrated by images that don't lie. I'm not buying "the boggie man will get you" argument anymore. Not anymore !!!
Posted By Anonymous C. J. Fernandes, Lititz, PA : 12:11 AM ET
Love and loss are all part of the gig, enjoy it. I can't imagine a world without the beautiful and the agony, it just wouldn't be same.

Life shattering events, like the loss of one of your children, can forever change the way you live and love.

With or without our help this planet will pass into history and our souls will be better for having done a hardship tour on planet earth.
Posted By Anonymous mac kl, malaysia : 12:18 AM ET
Many of those who've written here speak of the "madness", "hatred" consuming both sides, if soldiers would instead just focus on getting along with each other...

This stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of the conflict. There is not a single Israeli who hate Muslims for being muslim. Shlomi would be very happy tending to his fish. But he knew that although if Hezbollah put down their weapons, there would be peace, if Israel put down their weapons, there would be a second holocaust. If he did not defend his country, none of his friends and family would live to be productive members of society.

Israel no longer occupies Lebanon or Gaza, and is trying very hard to get Palestinians to allow them to disengage from the West Bank. This is not about occupation. The "madness" will end when fundamentalist Muslims and their more moderate sympathizers abandon their hopes of cleansing the middle east, dar al-Islam, and the world, dar al-Harb, of non-Muslim religions and believers.
Posted By Anonymous Mort, Birmingham, AL : 12:25 AM ET
We are the mirror as well as the face in it.
We are tasting the taste this minute
of eternity. We are pain
and what cures pain, both. We are
the sweet cold water and the jar that pours.
-Rumi
Posted By Anonymous Kathy, Wichita, KS : 1:24 AM ET
Where was Shlomi born? Was he born in Israel (former Palestine)? If yes, how about his parents???? I am sure they were born somewhere in Europe, North America, Former Soviet Union ... etc.

If he (or his parents) didn't come to Palestine to occupy other people's land, he would not have died in this manner. Sorry Shlomi, but that is the truth, plain and simple!
Posted By Anonymous Mohammed, Des Moines, IA : 2:34 AM ET
I believe the UN should do its part to help end the Mideast conflicts. As a peace-making body, the UN is responsible to do what it can to stop the war. People in the Middle East will not be better off unless the conflicts cease.
Posted By Anonymous George,Shanghai,China : 2:36 AM ET
"Bella detesta matribus."

Wars are the dread of mothers.

- Horace
Posted By Anonymous Chris, San Diego, CA : 3:19 AM ET
Hi Paula, I was very moved by your posting; thank you. My message to all is I don't care what side of the conflict you're on; when every life, when every loved one passes on, it is very sad thing. The only comfort I can offer those left behind is that their loved one has finally found peace, something so unattainable in the material world we live in, as evidenced by this war. Have a good day, Paula. Please stay safe.
Posted By Anonymous Beth, Edmonds, WA : 7:17 AM ET
With the middle east problems continue to increase, it seems that we cannot do anything. Or is this a problem we have created? I would have to say yes. The we I refer to is the western powers going as far back as the first world war. We meddle in the comming and goings of these countries and then wonder why they despise us. Not to say that the Arabs and Israelies do not share some fault. They do, but we as Americans need to understand the problems there are greater and deeper than we realize.
Posted By Anonymous Robert, St.Louis Mo : 8:36 AM ET
I am increasingly amazed as an american and Democrat that people could possibly believe that if it were their son or daughter that were kidnapped that they would not want our government to do exactly as Israel has done to get their children back. Too often these wars are caused by money power and greed of men that will never be the ones on the front lines jeoprodizing their own lives as this young man. I say the Israel should clear all the way to Beiruit and clear out as many civilians that stay and supply the terrorists or leave the area until this situation is under control.
Posted By Anonymous s johnson wpb fl : 9:26 AM ET
It is sad to see someone lose their son because he was defending his country from an uninvited attack on its citizens. If they were less compasionate, they could probably lower their casualty rate.

How are they doing with destroying the tunnel networks the terrorists have been storing weapons in? We haven't heard much about this. By the way, nice job of getting in there with 'em and working out the story.
Posted By Anonymous mike from Houston : 9:34 AM ET
It confounds me how there can be so many Americans who do not whole-heartedly support Israel in its struggle in the Middle East. This really is a war on terrorism and it is global in scope. Islamic Fundamentalism is spreading throughout the world and if all free countries don't stop this in the Middle East now then it will be here again soon as evidenced by the arrests today in London. It is ineffective to hide in our cozy suburban lives and point fingers at the Bush Administration and Israel. All free people are targets of those who would revel in our deaths; Wake up America!
Posted By Anonymous Jeffrey Blackwood, Houston, TX : 10:40 AM ET
I find it a bit appalling that people are evaluating this war based on how many people or specifically civilians are killed on each side. If more causalities exist in southern lebanon is the Hezbolla cause then legitimized? If the 2,000 or 4,000+ missles being fired into Northern Israel over the past month and years have hit at least one person then Israel's causality would be much higher. Would you then sympathize with Israel?

Being Hezbolla militants blend in to the population do we know how many of these civilians were Hezbollah militants? One civilian death is attrocious, I agree but what tactics will counteract these terrorists dirty guerilla warfare?
Posted By Anonymous Beth, Mineola, NY : 10:52 AM ET
I truly appreciate the human stories CNN has told throughout this war. The human tragedies on both sides are so enormous. Maybe when people learn about these personal stories they will be less likely to support politicians who support war.We need to learn that war is not the answer. Well Paula, keep up the good work and thank you!
Posted By Anonymous James Barron Stanton Ky : 11:32 AM ET
Guys, I agree with Robert. Let us stop mingling with Middle East Politics. Aren't the Hizbollh members from that same Shiite sect we went to save from evil Saddam? The only good thing the US can do is force Israel to get out of stolen territories and enforce UN resolution 242, while equally forcing Lebanon, Syria and Iran to sign a peace treaty and recognize Israel based on the 1948 borders UN recognized. Compensate the Palestiniens and instead of wasting $600Billions tax payers in Iraq, a tenth of this would have solved the Arab Israeli problem. Use our Arab friends. Where are all the Arab kings, our partners and allies, when you need them?
Posted By Anonymous David, Falls Church, VA. : 12:06 PM ET
None of these leaders have ever given birth. That's the real problem.
Posted By Anonymous Anne. NYC, NY : 12:10 PM ET
Anne - NYC - "None of these leaders have ever given birth. That's the real problem."

Many Muslim mothers are happy to send their children to their deaths for their "cause". As Golda Meir once said, "We will have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us�.
Posted By Anonymous Larry, Ottawa Canada : 2:05 PM ET
The present conflict confirms Jesus' words: "He who lives by the sword shall die by the sword." There are no winners in such conflicts and we can only mitigate the damage by not scape-goating one side or another but by looking hard at the basic root causes of the conflict and trying to peacefully resolve the long-standing conflicts. Surely the expulsion of the Palestinians from their lands in the late 40's is a major cause of this apparently never ending conflict...but the media seem to ignore some of these undeniable facts of history...for instance find out what happended at Deir Yassin or many of the other Palestinian Arab villages in the late 40's...
Posted By Anonymous bsours, rochester, ny : 2:42 PM ET
I am sure it makes everyone feel good about themselves to condemn all of the death in the Middle East whether it is Israel or Lebanon. Sure, it is sad. Unfortunately it has to be done. Someone has to fight terrorism. Not only has Hezbollah killed scores of Israelis, but the blood of the Lebanese is on their hands also. Hezbollah crossed the border, killed and kidnapped Israelis, and then hid behind women and children telling the world to look at what Israel is doing. Once they realized the consequences of their actions did they release the Israelis to make the destruction stop? NO. Does anyone remember the two soldiers that are still being held by Hezbollah? Has the Lebanese army done anything since the conflict began to stop Hezbollah? If there is going to be a war on terror then you fight terror till you are done just like the U.S. is doing in Afghanistan (Remember them?) and Iraq. Again...just one casualty is horrific but what is the alternative when fighting a war on terror? Wait for the UN to do nothing as usual because the members are afraid of losing or limiting their exports? Wait for terrorists to find new ways to blow up planes so that we can wait on lines for hours and not even be allowed to bring a bottle of water on the plane? Allow them to build up their arsenal during a cease fire so that they can continue to train and figure out ways to kill those who live free? Do not forget who started the conflict in the Middle East. The U.S. did the same thing in Afghanistan and in Iraq but that is no longer news. If you enjoy your life of freedom then do not feel sorrow for terrorists or their supporters because the only way they will stop killing is to be killed. Sadly it is true. Thank you Israel for being strong and showing us the only way to protect ourselves against islamists. It might not be a popular opinion but when has diplomacy worked in the Middle East?
Posted By Anonymous Fred, Valencia, CA : 3:56 PM ET
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