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It Just Never Makes Things Any Better


Back in 1998 I had the pleasure of spending a couple of weeks travelling around Lebanon:


I have to say it was one of the most beautiful, awe-inspiring and friendly places I’ve ever been. The scenery can be breath-taking, from sandy beaches to mountains to forests to deserts, it’s got the lot. There are ancient ruins built at the height of the Roman empire (which means they’re the biggest) including the largest standing columns on earth. My jaw was on the floor looking at some of these monuments in Baalbek. And the people were not what I’d expected at all. After years of war I thought I’d find people with their heads down, battle-hardened and bitter. But I found people young and old with a bright, optimistic outlook on life who were amazingly friendly and more westernised than me! In fact I’d rate the people I met above New Zealanders on the friendliness scale – and that’s saying something.

But the one thing I took away from the trip was that the picture I had in my head before going of what Lebanon was going to be like, especially with the friction with Israel over the border (which I went to – quite an intimidating area with all the razor wire and UN troops) from the western media was completely different to what I actually saw. Up until then I assumed that people like the BBC would bring you the truth but there’s no such thing as the truth, just someone’s opinion on a series of events. And they won’t necessarily be your opinions if you’re there on the ground. Plus the media have to watch what they say, they can’t go taking sides – even if they’re right – especially against large, powerful nations, so they take the middle ground. It was eye opening to see things first-hand without the media bias. Don’t believe all you hear!


However the fact that Lebanon was no longer a place to be feared and looked to have a bright future with Israel pulling their troops out, peace throughout the country and Beirut being rebuilt made me happy. Lebanon deserved a break from once being the Paris of the Middle East to a war-torn nation. The people deserved it.

So it won’t surprise you to learn how sad I was to see it all kicking off again. I’m not going to take sides and say Israel are wrong for bombing Lebanon (which they are – Hezbollah having munitions in civilian areas? ask yourself who’s telling you that’s the truth and if it’s just an excuse), and I’m not going to say it’s wrong for Hezbollah to launch rocket attacks at Israel (which they are – what do you expect to happen if you do that?). The time for saying who’s to blame is long passed. After decades of terrorism in Northern Ireland it was abundantly clear that at some stage or another people were going to have to just stop fighting and move on. No amount of bombing, military presence, arrests or anything was going to stop it. You can’t make one side give up by intimidating them – especially when it’s on their home soil.

It doesn’t matter who throws the first stone. If someone gets hurt, then retaliates and someone gets hurt on the other side, then it just goes on from there from one side to the other. For every civilian that gets killed in an Israeli bombing raid you’re creating more Lebanese who hate Israelis. For every rocket that kills an Israeli you’re going to create more Israelis who want blood spilled to even the score. It’s human nature. And it’s completely self-defeating.

It’s disappointing to see the international might of countries like the USA and UK just standing by watching without attempting to intervene. Although to be fair, Israel is a nuclear power who don’t have to listen to people like the USA if they don’t want to. But if Israel end up occupying Lebanon again then you can expect many more years of war – and it’s so obvious that’s the outcome it amazes me the Israeli leaders think it’s the best approach to meet their goals.

I just feel badly for the people. It’s always the innocent civilians that get caught in the crossfire in situations like this. If someone was bombing my town and my family was killed, you can bet I’ll pick up arms against them. And I won’t care if what they’re doing is just in their eyes, my hurt and pain will motivate my revenge plenty. And since violence begets violence, it’ll never end. And if I can think that way, then so can anybody, no matter how friendly, positive and hospitable they are. War is easy. Peace is very very hard. Never take the easy option.

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Creator of John's Background Switcher. Scotsman, footballer, photographer, dog owner, risk taker, heart breaker, nice guy. Some of those are lies.

5 Comments Join the Conversation

  1. Hi John,

    My name is Yossi and I have been reading your site for quite a while. I even sent you a letter once requesting help on GTA. I like your site because of its optimistic view and refreshing angles it give on life. I also like your photographs.

    One thing I had never seen in your site is politics. And I hope you don’t find it rude if I’ll advice you to avoid it.

    The opinions you had written in this article are quite amusing – Isreal a nuclear power who doesn’t have to listen to USA!? Israel depends on the USA and would not survive one day without it. Israel had bent one time after another to “requests” from the EU and USA.

    I know that you feel very sorry for the people in Lebanon. Believe it or not I too feel very sorry for them. I only wish I could find the same feeling on the other side. However they seem to delight only in our death. They don’t care to blow up buses, schools, kindergardens. As far as they are concerned everything goes.

    Also please bear in mind that the Israel offensive started after Lebanon had killed 4 Israel soldiers and captured 2 more. Moreover it had started at the same time (prior to any Israeli response) heavy barrage of missile on Kiryat Shmona which is a town not less beautiful than any town you had seen in Lebanon

    The media completly ignores the refugee problem in Israel. Hundreds of thousands of Israel flee from the homes in the north to TelAviv and the souther parts of Israel. For some reason the media neglects to mention this little insignificant item.

    Lastly I would like to give you a friendly warning which will not help you in anyway. Arabs are now flooding Europe. Which is fine most Arabs are excellent guys. However there is a large portion of them which is religion fanatics. You have seen their effect in the riots in French only severl monthes ago. If Europe doesn’t take action now they will face similar dangerous to what Israel is facing today. You will understan israel better when it’s happens.



  2. Thanks for your comments.

    It’s just a shame you’ve completely missed the point of what I’m saying! I’m not writing about politics, I’m writing about the simple fact that violence begets violence and unfortunately war and killing won’t achieve anything except more bitterness, more hatred and more war and killing. If you choose to read what I’ve written as pro-Lebanon or anti-Israel then that’s your choice, but it’s not what I’m saying at all.

    Having seen first-hand the terrorism in Northern Ireland for most of my life, I’m just commenting that conventional warfare won’t solve anything. You’ll find as time carries on that it’ll be exactly the same in your part of the world as the rest of it.

    And what makes you think the only religious fanatics are Arabs? Or that terrorists have to be religious? There’s a whole world of terrorism outside of the middle east and there has been for generations. And the vast majority of it has nothing to do with religion.

    For the record I’ve met quite a few Israelis over the years and have found them to be really cool people. You see I don’t look at people based on where they’re from or what their religion is, I look at them as human beings. Nothing more. Human beings are capable of amazing kindness and incredible achievements, but are also capable of despicable cruelty and evil beyond comparison. I just hope for the former in people.


  3. I agree with you john.. But i feel terrorists or people causing voilence or as u said those capable of evil beyond comparision (be it from whatever religion) have to be dealt with strongly..
    Recently there was a blast in my city in India which killed more than 200 people & injured countless others, The blast were done during the rush hours (more than 50% of city’s population travel at that time) which reflects the motto of causing maximum destruction..!
    One of my friend lost his life & My mom was saved my god’s has affected millions of familes.
    Now what are we suppose to do ? Show warm affection towards these people? (which is what our politicians do)
    We all too hoped , like u hope,for the former in people. But sometimes you just can’t keep hoping.. u have to step forward..! Rather you are forced to step forward..!
    I know this all starts a cycle of voilence, hatred & then more voilence as u said, but then is there any other way of dealing with such people?

    I guess this is the question that caused the world to go on war twice !

    BTW..It’s 2 weeks today and we still don even have a clue who are behind this!!


  4. There’s no question these people need to be dealt with, but bombing civilian areas in the hope of hitting them just makes things worse – as is happening in Lebanon.

    The thing that’s amazed me about Northern Ireland was that if my family had been murdered by the IRA after they bombed a shopping district and the people who killed them were released from prison, I wouldn’t be best pleased about it to say the least – I’d want them to rot in jail. Yet that’s exactly what happened and in the end was a large contributing factor in securing peace.

    You look at the genocide in Rwanda – people murdered by the hundred thousands – yet these people now live side-by-side in peace. I only hope I could be so forgiving and accepting.

    But if I’d experienced what you just had I’d want these people to suffer and suffer they should. The problem is that terrorism in its current form is so difficult to combat – you can’t use conventional warfare tactics because the collateral damage on civilians just recruits more people into the cycle of revenge.

    I guess this is why I don’t write about this subject matter very often – there are no easy answers and solutions. It’s just a nightmare, and it’s not going away.


  5. Exactly.. Its really a nightmare..!! But i hope it fades away …! I really hope!!


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