Monday, July 17, 2006
This is their lives
I had just put down my lunch plate from the hotel buffet when the first siren went off. I never took a bite, and I am just realizing, I never paid either.

We scrambled out onto the hotel restaurant's balcony, where we could see most of Haifa spread out down the hill below us.

The scary thing about rocket strikes is that even with the siren sounding you can't see them coming. No streak of fire across the sky. Not a lot of sound. That is, not until the thump when it hits.

This time, the thump was very close, and soon, a plume of thick white smoke started to rise. Within a few minutes, we jumped into our van and tore down the hill.

The site was pure chaos -- filled with police, EMTs, onlookers, and of course, the throng of world press. Bullhorns were blasting and photographers snapped endlessly at the blast-splattered building.

Then, just as we felt we had a grasp of the scene around us, the siren sounded again. The crowd went from pushing and shoving in the street to huddling together under any cover we could find.

I found myself squeezed in a boarded-up shop doorway with a cop and a photographer. A second dull thud and a second sprint to the van. By then, we were all drenched in sweat. Summer in Israel really isn't body armor weather.

This strike felt very different. The first rocket hit an unoccupied office building. This one hit a more residential neighborhood.

I watched as the apartment building slowly started to catch fire. I saw a man holding a woman in the alley behind me. She was shaking violently in his arms as he tried to console her.

I've never blogged before, so forgive me if this rambles. But as we rushed off to feed tape and throw the rest of our gear in the van to make the next flight to the next story, I am still thinking of that couple, people for whom this war isn't dramatic pictures and adrenaline.

When the crowds leave the neighborhood, this tale won't be just another story running on tonight's news. For the countless innocent people in Israel and Lebanon, this is their lives.
Posted By Thomas Evans, CNN Producer: 2:43 PM ET
Dear Mr. Evans.

As a Muslim who lived in Haifa, I think it is absolutely terrific that you are making an effort to see what is really going on in this crazy region of the world. All we get in most media outlets are either stock of military operations or pictures of bombs going off from a long way away. it is nice to see somebody in journalism is actually there and witnessing these terrorist attacks first hand.

It has become very en vogue as of recently to blame more developed and civilized countries for all the problems in the world. We're adopting a type of blame the victim mentality that is really upsetting. Instead of feeling sympathy for the Israeli civilians who are dealing with these constant attacks by a terrorist nation within a nation, the media seems instead to want to ignore it because of the relatively low loss of life. One country values the lives of their people enough that they provide bomb shelters and air raid warnings, go after kidnapped citizens, and attempt to create a safe buffer zone while the other seems to only care about inflicting as much carnage as possible. The Israeli's are using targeted weapons to attack legitimate military and terrorist targets while Hezbollah launchs unguided missiles at civilian cities in an attempt to cause as much murder as possible. And yet most people believe that Israel is the villian. It is simply baffling to me. The use of such rockets shows a distinct and murderous disregard for human life. They aren't targeting military infrastructure, i.e. power plants and airports, nor are they targeting military forces, instead they are just launching them at random against civilian populations.

If Lebanon truly cared about the lives of their people, instead of parading there casualties around on network television, they would prevent them. Prime Minister Olmert has made it quite clear that this entire conflict would stop if they release the kidnapped Israelis, stop the terrorist rocket attacks, and deploy forces to keep the Hezbollah from starting another conflict. Right now Lebanon is only interested in being "right." Hezbollah launches its attacks from amongst civilian populations in order to use the Israeli's morality against them.

It has been said about the Palestinian people but it is true also for the Lebonese it would appear: "The violen ce will only stop when they love their children more then they hate us." Please stop using innocent civilians as a shield and weapon, Hezbollah. Islam is the religion of peace, and you are making all of us Muslims look bad.
Posted By Anonymous Hamsah Kahn, Long Grove, Illinois : 2:57 PM ET
This was never 'just another story running on tonight's news'. Every one of those people walking dazed through an alley, exiting a burning building, lucky enough to survive, is family or
friend to people around the world. Reporters can rush in and out for the story, but those left behind with damaged homes, damaged lives, are left to live it all over again the next day. This is their life, and I'm sure most of them wouldn't rather be anywhere else.
Posted By Anonymous Josh, Boston, MA : 3:04 PM ET
Hey Anderson. I'm amazed that you can blog at all, let alone try to eat plus watch for mortor and mines. I'll bet you get some mean indigestion!! Please be extra careful you and your crew. You almost sound like you've bitten off more than you can chew. Knowing you though, it'll be come hell or high water(or guns, or mines, or whatever they have to dish out at you.
Please you and your crew be extra safe

and may God and CNN bless you all
Posted By Anonymous bev Whitby, Ontario,CANADA : 3:05 PM ET
To the crew of 360:

As indicated your coverage of the Middle East crisis is undoubtably nerve-racking and dangerous. Your coverage from deep in the region is, however, very much needed as it allows the world to first hand view what is happening in the region and not just hearing about it. It makes it real. Stay Safe
Posted By Anonymous David Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada : 3:06 PM ET
For many of us these air strikes are simply political problems. It's too easy to forget that the homes, workplaces, and lives of people, people like us, are being destroyed. What we hear on today's news is forgotten by tomorrow.

I pray that we are not on the brink of WWIII.

Thank you for keeping us informed. Stay safe.
Posted By Anonymous Sana A., Boca Raton, FL : 3:07 PM ET
That's nice.

And is it any less terrorizing to Lebanese civilians who have no siren sounding, who can see the Israeli warplanes coming, with streaks of fire across the sky and a lot of sound, knowing you or a loved one will probably die from a no-less indiscriminate attack by Israel? And that there will be no "throng of world press", save Arab media, which the West will shrug off as biased.

This is their lives.
Posted By Anonymous John - Boston, MA : 3:12 PM ET
Anderson, when are you going to go to Lebannon and report from there? You have alot of fans in the USA that deserve to see both sides. In my opinion, it is unfair that any type of Arab or Iranian resistance is called terrorist and Israelli resistance is justified, even praised by our government in the U.S. What did Pres. Bush mean when he said that any nation is justified in defending itself from terrorists? Who are the terrorists? Aren't they everywhere? Aren't they the people that feel so justified in their beliefs and their land that they will do anything for it?? Hasn't Israel fallen into that category, along with other POWERFUL nations?
Posted By Anonymous ST, STL, MO : 3:12 PM ET
Thanks to the entire 360 Crew for all their dedication and efforts to bring the stories back home into our living rooms. One can only imagine how all those people must feel that are impacted by this current Middle East Crisis. Let's just hope, for everyone's sakes, that there will be a cease fire soon and this madness will have an end. I hope all parties involved will show judgement enough to end this crisis.
And you guys at CNN stay safe and don't take any risks. Everybody wants to see you all come home safe and in one piece!
Posted By Anonymous Elke, Naples/FL : 3:12 PM ET
I spent a year in DaNang Vietnam (68 & 69) and know these 122 mm rockets all to well. Your observations are correct. You don't know where they are going to hit since they can be just leaned against a mound of mud or said and launched with flashlight batteries. Yes, we had the sirens too and we would run for the bunkers (not the best idea) or usually, just lay flat on the gound. Your chances are better laying on the ground since they can hit very close to you if you are on the ground and you will survive. You mentioned the "thump" sound. They are not close. When they make more of a "crack" or "Whack" sound, it is time to start digging with your fingernails. I was in DaNang less than 12 hours when I experienced my first rocket attack. I know how you feel. I eventually got used to it but then, my best friend was hit by a rocket. That changes things.

Anyway, stay put during an attack and lay flat. You will survive a hit 20 feet away (may bust your eardrums). Standing up and running, the shrapnel may kill you 100 feet or more away.

Posted By Anonymous August De Vico, Hillsborough, New Jersey : 3:12 PM ET
Neither Israel nor Hezbollah have the moral high ground on this conflict. Both have committed atrocities in the name of their own causes. They both antagonize one another (e.g., Israel regularly invades Lebanese airspace or bombs Hezbollah positions. In turn, Hezbollah reacts by firing rockets at Israeli planes, most of which miss their target and land in Israel, to which more military actions (by Israel) occur as a response). The Lebanese and Israeli people are both suffering. However, Israel, the more powerful of the two nations is systematically destroying Lebanon.
Posted By Anonymous Gilberto, Los Angeles, CA : 3:14 PM ET
Sounds like a peice of text from a reporter during the bombing of The King David Hotel, that of course was 50 years ago and it seems "the more things change the more they stay the same". J.P.Naughton
Posted By Anonymous J.P.Naughton New York City : 3:23 PM ET
Dear Mr. Evans:

Congrats on your first blog! The life of a journalist/producer is very different. While others are running away from the bombs, you, Anderson and the 360 team are running towards them!

Not two minutes ago I was complaining about the 100 degree heat in NJ and now I'm sitting here reading your account and thanking the good Lord that I'm not in your place. Too often, we take our life here in the States for granted.

I wish peace for the all of the people in the Middle East. My prayers are with them today.

Thank you for your update. Please stay safe over there.

Posted By Anonymous Annette LaCanna, Alpha, NJ : 3:25 PM ET
I love '360' because of stories like you just shared. Living in the United States and never having lived through any major tragedies, it is often hard for me to imagine how anyone can live through war year after year and still continue on with their lives. Thank you for sharing this with all of us and I hope you and everyone at CNN stays safe.
Posted By Anonymous Kimberly Miller, Lancaster, PA : 3:26 PM ET
This is their lives, and the true shame is that only after 6 days the media seems to have lost focus of what the really is the crisis. **it happens right, people curse some more than others, but do I really need to hear about it each time I'm looking for fresh news trying to find out about these poor people and the terror that they must go through constantly. This very same lack of attention span was the subject of a totally different conversation at our Physics Library at SUNY Buffalo, however it had little to do with Lebanon, and we were speaking on out nation's lack of interest in the sciences. Truly the headline of this very website that I just accessed to post this comment is more than just a brief distraction; I believe it to be a microcosm of so much that has gone wrong with this world today. Here's to the people of the world who are so quickly forgotten, here's to peace in the east.
Posted By Anonymous James Paul McMillan Buffalo NY : 3:27 PM ET
It is true that you dont realize what is going on - on that side of the world when you are reading about it on this website or watching it from the comfort of your living room. It is very upsetting to me that innocent people are getting caught up in a sensless war. I feel for that couple- I feel for anyone who is just trying to live their lives until it is interrupted by war.
Thank you for reporting on this and risking your own life to get the truth out there. Be safe.
Posted By Anonymous Krista, Cincinnati, Ohio : 3:28 PM ET
Taking 5 moments from my computer desk internship at Purdue University, I'm struck by Anderson's observations and recordings of the activities in Isreal. I can't even imagine what kind of disruption that must cause to life. I've never experienced it and hope I never have to. I couldn't dream what it would be like to possibly have your world over turned by a bomb or gunfire for political reasons or at all. I hate how desensitized we, as Americans, have become to violence that is not personal. My heart goes out to those experiencing loss and pain.

After a weekend of wonderful experiences at my cousin's wedding, the only thing that was a pain to endure was the 95 degree heat and humidityin formal wear. And we weren't even wearing body armor.

I give thanks.
Keep up the reporting and showing the humanity behind the headlines.
Posted By Anonymous Cait Tiller, Glenview, IL : 3:52 PM ET
More than half a century ago, Europe decided it would be an okay thing to do to steal Palestine from the Palestinians and give it to the Jews.

And people are surprised that the Palestinians got mad? And that the rest of the Arabic-speaking world joined them in getting mad?

Back then, the Western view of the heirs of the civilisation that saved Europe from barbarism a thousand years ago was one of condescending contempt. That still seems to be a popular view. But that view has led to what some commentators are calling the advent of World War III.

On a personal level, I have enormous empathy for the individuals caught up in these events. They--Israelis, Lebanese, and Palestinians alike--are all victims. But they're not victims of each other, they're victims of past, present, and probably future Western meddling, of the Law of Unintended Consequences, of post WW II Western arrogance in deciding that they were entitled to draw the world's maps in any way they saw fit.
Posted By Anonymous Henry Miller, Apex, NC : 3:52 PM ET
Just as it was the couple in the alley that made the story "human" for you, it is that story - the couple - that also engages the viewer. We have seen the bombs and explosions, just name the war or conflict, now let us see the people. It is not the adrenaline rush that engages a viewer but the humanness of the story. Stay safe.
Posted By Anonymous Cassie Dallas,PA : 3:53 PM ET
Keep up the great work and reporting friend. We starve for first hand accounts like yours. I've been following some of the blog links from folks inside Lebanon and the raw nature of the reporting is truly captivating. Please stay safe and keep up the great work. As someone who has family in the region (Tel Aviv), and as one who has also been to Haifa and surrounding areas, I wish you and all other civilians the best in these trying times. There's an entire world of us online who are watching every minute of these developments.


Posted By Anonymous Brian, Seattle, WA : 4:02 PM ET
how sad for these people...may that woman and man find a safe place
Posted By Anonymous Karen, Columbus, MS : 4:03 PM ET
360 Crew -

I just want to thank you all for risking your lives to provide this coveraage to those of us who are not there in the middle of it, but affected nonetheless. It means the world to me that there are crews out there who truly care about unbiased, true reporting.

I'm glad to say that you have provided more coverage of this conflict through being there than many others have provided throughout.

May you be safe and may this end soon.
Posted By Anonymous Eleni, Pittsburgh PA : 4:07 PM ET
Excellent first blog, Thomas. You did a great job capturing the reality of the situation - all the people caught in the middle.
Posted By Anonymous Rhonda, Chapel Hill, NC : 4:17 PM ET
Thank you for capturing the human dimension of this tragedy. It amazes me that some in the Arab world still haven't learned the childhood lesson that if you throw a stone at a beehive, expect to be stung (repeatedly). What other re-action was the media expecting from a sovereign nation (Israel) attacked by citizens (call them Hezballah if you will but they are Lebanese citizens who follow that ideology) from a neighboring nation (Lebanon), who cross the border to kill and kidnap? I'm only surprised that Israel has allowed those sworn to their destruction this much time to acquire long range missiles, and guess that this is the result of being lulled by people with good intentions from the West who said that if Israel withdrew from Lebanon and Gaza that all would be well.
Posted By Anonymous David, Toronto, Ontario, Canada : 4:21 PM ET
While I run the risk of sounding redundant, I want to personally thank you for your obvious dedication to seeking the truth and ensuring that Americans are aware of it.
Please stay safe and come home to your families...America cannot bear anymore casualties of another war that is not ours to fight.
Posted By Anonymous Shannon, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania : 4:22 PM ET
There are people putting comments up trying to suggest a moral equivalence between Israel and Hizballah. I disagree. Looking at any conflict from a distance, it is human impulse to say -- "they are both in the wrong". However, Hizballah is a terrorist organization, as labeled by our government and the EU. It has killed more Americans (Beirut, Khobar Towers) than any terror organization save Al Qaeda.

Whereas Israel seeks to attack combatants, Hizballah's entire purpose is to kill civilians. They are, as a senior US Gov't official put it, "The 'A-team' of terror."

It is too bad for Israel: if they pull out from a territory, (such as they did in Gaza and Lebanon) their opponents simply use it as a "hudna" to arm themselves for the next attack on the Jews. If they go into the territory to clean up, then they are occupiers who offend Western liberals.
Posted By Anonymous Brett, New York, NY : 4:27 PM ET
It puts such a human touch on the news to read the back-story. Too often we are desensitized to the real story by the constant barrage of pictures of suffering on television. To read a first hand account of someone covering the news helps to make it 'real' to us sitting in the comfort of our homes in the US.
Posted By Anonymous Prentiss, Phoenix, AZ : 4:35 PM ET
Thank you for writing from the heart. I've been in and around the media for the last 20 years. There are some things that get through the armor that you put around yourself to get the job done. It's usually when real-life stabs through out of the corner of your eye. To all of AC 360 -- please never lose your heart and perspective ... keep it real! Let's hope this is over soon. Be safe -
Posted By Anonymous Lis Shepard - Denver Colorado : 4:41 PM ET
job well done Andeson as you give us the rest of the world the sence or a reality check of whats like to be in the front line of a messy world out there..and we have you to thank you for all that you see, write and think in times like those over where you are... the world wishes you a safe place and hope you will be allright after all this is said and done..

Posted By Anonymous vinny, toronto, canada : 4:43 PM ET
I applaud Hamsah,

I wish more muslims would speak out against terrorists and radicals that commit terrible acts in the name of Islam.

I don't think view points will change for Islam until the non-radicals start speaking out against those that trash their religion for their own radical intentions.
Posted By Anonymous James, San Diego, CA : 4:45 PM ET
This is the real news the american people need to hear. Humanity fighting for their lives.We can't reduce it to american interests and political rangling. Thank God For Anderson on the ground in the mist of the fight instead of idiots like Newt G. who sit in comfort and pronounce WWIII. My prayers are with these civilians on both sides.
Posted By Anonymous K. Domingo, Eugene, OR : 5:06 PM ET
As I've been following the news since the crisis began in the Lebanon, I am disheartened with destruction taking place. I agree with one of the other bloggers here regarding you moving into Lebanon and getting public opinion from the other side. I know that the situation there is very dangerous and fluid, but hope that you will eventually make it over there.

Having had family visit Lebanon on a yearly basis over the last several years along with having some cousins and other relatives who live there, I know you will get an interesting view of what public opinion is over there. My sister was there last year and Israeli jets would scream over Beirut and other civilian areas at low altitudes on a regular basis to instill fear into the people.

Here is another interesting statistic that I was reading in the news today..."Israel's campaign has killed 203 people, all but 13 of them civilians"...what is this false rhetoric about precision targeting?

This is their lives...
Posted By Anonymous HT, Los Angeles California : 5:06 PM ET

It doesn't matter how well you do or don't "blog". It doesn't matter whether or not you use a lot of fancy terms and twists to your descriptions. What matters is getting the info to your readers and doing it in a way that they feel what you feel. As much as possible, anyway. I don't think someone who has nwver been in such a situation can ever know the fear, the smells, or the pain you see.

Give my prayers and gratitude to your companions, tell them how brave I think they all are.

Take care, Stay safe.

Posted By Anonymous Maggie, Grain Valley, MO : 5:07 PM ET
I agree w/ New York Brett. Palestine's credo is "Israel does not have a right to exist". Israel on the other hand has never said that about Palestine.

p.s. How would you react if someone said to you that you "don't have a right to exist?"
Posted By Anonymous xtina - chicago IL : 5:09 PM ET
I'm glad this blog gives us the opportunity to hear from everyone connected with the show and their perspective on what's taking place. Very engrossing post, Thomas.
Posted By Anonymous Fay, Vacaville, CA : 5:09 PM ET
Gilberto from LA has hit it right on the head. The attempt to justify either side's position as "moral high ground" is ridiculous. Furthermore the idea that the groups inside of Lebanon and Palestine are "terrorists" based on their tactics is silly. What about the Israeli death squads, the USA's atomic bomb drops... the boston tea party for christ's sake. Don't get me wrong, I don't agree with either side, but the holier than thou stuff is a bit tough to swallow. The truth is that to anyone with any sense of intelligence both sides are mad and destroying life after life in a primitive mindless exchange within a society that attempts to sell itself as civilized. I promise you, from someone who has lived in the region, and knows through blood both sides of the coin that this can only stop when the populas has had enough and pushes the maniacs on both sides of the fence into the sea. They're the same animal afterall.... just different head dress!
Posted By Anonymous George Chicago, IL : 5:16 PM ET
Lebanon is to blame for all this by allowing the Muslim terrorist organizations to use them and their country to launch attacks against Israel. It doesn't matter whether Syria and Iran or anyone else was involved.

If Lebanon wants to end this and evict the Muslim terrorists, they only have to ask Israel for their help.

Otherwise, this response by Israel will not necessarily stop in a few days.

Israel has lost all patience with terrorists that camp out next to their borders, and then sneak into their territory at night and kidnap their people.

The Muslims of the World have to wake up!!! Every morning at your prayers you need to focus on just "Who are you praying to?"

The terrorists are obviously praying to falsehoods. They are non-believers, or simply fools. I do not believe the terrorists represent a majority of the Muslim World.

But just as Lebanon layed back, ignored the terrorist activities, and is now being blamed by the victims, so this will happen to the truely innocent Muslims of the World.

The World has lost all patience with terrorists.
Posted By Anonymous Dynahog, Garden Grove, CA : 5:21 PM ET
I find it courageous that you all are out there so people who are elsewhere can understand what's going on. I just started watching your show recently, and it is one of the most informative shows out there. Stay safe and keep up the good work.
Posted By Anonymous Megan-Muskogee,OK : 5:23 PM ET
Congrats on your first blog! You've captured the appeal of blogging with your personal observations of a critical time.

Ordinary people enduring terrible and extraordinary events, and yet continuing on with their lives, always inspires me to be be grateful for the blessings I have in my own life.

As you continue to show us the human story, please be careful and stay safe.
Posted By Anonymous Deb, Richmond VA : 5:28 PM ET
Well we see the results of the "civilized west" supporting the zionists from eastern europe to invade, rob, kill qnd expell some nine million Palestinians. The only thing that will stop this now is a one state democracy in all of Palestine: return and restitution for all victims, one man one vote, equal rights for all and NO religion in government.
Posted By Anonymous Lawrence, London UK : 5:35 PM ET
Dear all,
you are obviously ignoring what is really going on in Lebanon. Unfortunately those people that you call terrorists are desperate in order to defend their land and don�t possess the sophisticated weapons the "oh so poor" Israelis do.
Just wake up and realise that the holocaust has been over for a while now and it is weak to still use it as a means to make everyone pitty them for what happened! Come on people take a look at what is happening around you, stand up for the real victims and instead of supporting the massacres israel is performing condemn them! They are destroying the whole infrastructure of a city and seclude innocent citizens from the world like cattle. Now, tell me in this whole war, who is the real victim? Dare to dig deeper into the problem and LOOK at both sides...unless you are israeli of course!
Posted By Anonymous Stefanie W., Salzburg, Austria : 5:35 PM ET
It would be nice if you could report from Lebenon so that you can report how Israel is bombing that country back to the stone ages. The affect on the Lebonese is far worse than it is on the Israelis. I am embarrassed by my country's response to this over-reaction by Israel.
Posted By Anonymous Shelly, Atlanta GA : 6:13 PM ET
I'm a Lebanese. Lebanon is not a country or people but a number of
countries and peoples squeezed together into on of the smallest
territories of the world. Most Lebanese
with some Shi'ites included
hold a grudge against Hizbollah, its
bombast and repressionist policy against other Lebanese, and making
Lebanon a hostage to its Iranian/Syrian agenda. These guys simply won't cooper-
ate with other factions to rebuild the country and make it prosper again. They
hold their military parades, have their own state within a state, and
are bankrolled by Iran. It was about
time that they get humiliated as much as they humiliated other Lebanese
Posted By Anonymous Tim , Toronto, Canada : 6:23 PM ET
Thomas: Great blog entry! Reading it has made me appreciate America and not having to live like that! Keep on blogging your stories, stay safe, and I hope you finally got something to eat!
Posted By Anonymous Jolene, St. Joseph, MI : 6:54 PM ET
Your first post, and what a way to start! You painted a picture that humanizes a situation that can quickly degrade to an overwhelming barrage of cold statistics.
Thanks for sharing your experience. Keep up the great work and stay safe.
Posted By Anonymous Sabrina, Reno Nevada : 7:02 PM ET
To Thomas Evans, first time blogger: Excellent first blog -- keep them coming. We appreciate what the CNN team is doing.
Posted By Anonymous Patricia, Ann Arbor, Michigan : 7:09 PM ET
It's not an overreaction by Israel at all.

In my opinion, what they are doing is not enough.

They need to take out Iran and Syria too.

Now can they? I don't know.

But those 2 countries are mostly responsible for the worlds problems.
Posted By Anonymous Newark,nj : 9:46 AM ET
Newark, you hit the nail right on the head.. With a very large sledge hammer perhaps.. but very accurate.
It is heart wrenching to see the destruction in Lebanon. Lebanon is a beautiful place with great people. It is very unfortunate for the Lebanese people that they do not have the power to expel Iran's puppet army, Hezbolla, by themselves. The Majority of Lebanese do not want a war with Israel. They recognize Israel's right to exist and want to live their lives in peace. As does Israel.
Iran and Syria, on the other hand, want the destruction of Israel. The real criminals here are Iran and Syria. What we are seeing here is Israel's attempt to convince ALL of the Lebanese people that, to allow a terror group like Hezbolla to operate,and kill Israelis, within it's borders will cost,,,,, ALOT. It is sad to see the Lebanese people suffer for the actions of Iran. Iran could care less if Israel destroyed all of Lebanon. Iran is playing a dangerous chess game using so called freedom fighters as pawns in other countries to start conflicts so that the world's attention is not focused on their atomic program that Pakistan and China supplied all the technology and material for. And it is the Lebanese that are paying for it this time. Usually it is the Palestinians.
Posted By Anonymous Robert, Cotati, CA : 2:42 PM ET
Dear Mr. Evans,

Your first blog ever, and look at all the criticism and discussion you've encouraged!

I want to congratulate you on the highly descriptive, riveting and heart wrenching use of language you have displayed. It takes us directly to the center of the conflict, and helps to understand what is exactly going on without leaving the comfort of our living rooms. it's only too bad that the people of both israel and lebanon do not have such a luxury. i find it so disturbing that after so many efforts to deliver peace to this region it should only lead back to this violence. The same old problems that have plagued the Middle East for thousands of years, or at least since Israel was formed, will probably never be resolved at this rate, but at least i have the ability to turn off the TV, or walk away from the internet, and know that my living room will be in the same state i left it in when i get back..albeit a warzone in and of itself.

My last thought, grossly unoriginal-i give you that-but relevant nonetheless, is if only women were in control of this region of the world...i think we are much better at negotiating compromises. After all, it's what we are taught to do at a very young age, even in this day and age and even the women brought up in that region of the world. I know, because some of my women friends are both Arabic and Jewish, and actually from Lebanon and Israel, and I don't think any of them, suppposing for a minute they were politicians, would consider this a viable option guaranteed with certain success. It's total madness, smelling suspiciously like over-exuberent testosterone and malicious male pride.

Good luck in Lebanon, Thomas Evans.....i hope all of you return home to the safety of your New York apartments soon.
Posted By Anonymous Adele, Gothenburg, Sweden : 4:51 PM ET
Hi, this brings back memories of when I worked at the U.S. Embassy in Cambodia some many years ago. During my short tour, there were nights that I layed awake and heard incoming rockets going over my house. But the saying is, if you hear them coming, not to worry. It's the one that you don't hear that will get you. : )

The next morning after the nightly rocket attacks I did see big chunks of shrapnel laying in the street on my way to work, but my guardian Angel must have kept them out of my yard.

Thanks for taking my call.
Posted By Anonymous Rollo Rogers, San Diego, CA : 5:09 PM ET
Just a comment to Adele from Gothenburg: you mentioned in your comment that "The same old problems that have plagued the Middle East for thousands of years, or at least since Israel was formed, will probably never be resolved at this rate." Pessimism over this seemingly irresolvable conflict is pretty common. Despite the dark times that have descended upon the region in recent years, I don't believe that this conflict is irresolvable for the following reasons:

1). I lived in Arab East Jerusalem and Bethlehem for four months two years ago. I also spent some time in Nazareth, Tel Aviv, Haifa and some other places in Northern Israel. I have interacted with Jews, Muslims and Christians on both sides of the conflict in that land. I heard a lot about "the Situation" from many. My conclusions were these: the conflict is being fueled by a small minority of bloodthirsty extremists on both sides who are utterly unwilling to compromise at all. On the other hand, both Israeli and Palestinian society are very fractured, riven by factions and internal conflicts. Not all Israelis or Palestinians see eye to eye with the wild-eyed nutters on their respective sides. In fact, most of both are just normal people that want to live in peace and be left alone to make a living and raise their families unmolested. The fact of the matter is, there is ALREADY peace in many parts of Israel and the Occupied Territories. Israelis and Palestinians in many parts of the country alread work peacefully side by side, have friendships that cross the line, depend on each other economically to run their business (in such a small country as Israel, it cannot be otherwise; people HAVE to depend on each other to make it, like it or not). I worked as a volunteer for a summer camp in Northern Israel two years ago. The campers were both Messianic Jewish teenagers and Israeli Arab/Palestinian Christian teenagers. They had their issues, of course, relating to "the Situation," but on the whole, they got along really pretty well. These same kids belong to a youth group that meets regularly throughout the year.

2). When I lived in Israel, I met two guys from Belfast in Northern Ireland. One of them was first a bus-driver along Shankill Road (the road that separates the Catholic and Protestant sides of the city), then a bus inspector back in the '70s and '80s, when the Troubles were at their worst. He told me that the Troubles was actually WORSE than the current Arab-Israeli conflict: bloodier, more vicious, and charged with mutual seething hate. I personally never expected to see an end to that conflict in my lifetime. Yet, we have begun to see that very thing. If the Northern Irish can do it, I believe the Palestinians and Israelis can do it too. Unfortunately, it will take years of what we're seeing now before both sides finally gets religion on this and puts an end to it. Nonetheless, I think it can happen.
Posted By Anonymous Kevin, Arlington, VA : 2:12 PM ET
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