Dear Editors of TUT,
you may probably not have expected this, but here are some words of support for your views from Norway.
The reason I write these words, is that I have just read about your book “No Beauty in the Beast: Israel without Her Mascara”” on the web. It is one of the best articles on the subject I have read in a long time. I have passed the link on to my friends.
It would be easy for me to say that I can not imagine how things like that might happen, or that people even can think like that. But that would not be true. Because I know a great deal about it. I have been there, I have seen it, I have felt it and I have cried many a time.
The reason for this is that I have served in the UN forces in South Lebanon (UNIFIL) for 17 months. For most of the time I was in Lebanon, but I also visited Israel and Palestine several times. Many fond memories of good people, both Jews, Muslims, druses and Christians that I met, whose main goal was to work for peace in the region. I spoke with officers in the IDF who rejected what they had to do, and who told med they would rather work for peace and security for all parts in the conflict, rather than go on patrols in Lebanon. Likewise I spoke with members of Amal, Hezballa and PFLP, who rather wanted to live in peace than being engaged in what they called unnecessary and horrible fighting and bloodshed.
These men, of both sides of the conflict, were ordinary and down-to-earth men. Loving fathers, sons and brothers. They had seen more than enough of war. But felt no one listened to them. And in most cases they did not want to say it loud.
But I have also argued with an IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) lieutenant inside Lebanon when we (UN Forces) accused his platoon of having blown up a Lebanese home.
“No, we did not blow up that house” he repeated over and over again. “But”, I said, “The house is leveled with the ground!” “No, we did not blow up that house” he insisted, and added: “We bulldozed it!” …. Shame on me for insisting they blew it up when they only bulldozed it….
I have also seen the battalion priest (we Norwegians are overwhelmingly protestants) returning from Israel with an urgent desire to get drunk as a skunk, if you pardon the expression…) “Why?” I asked him. “Those bastards killed our Savior” was his blunt answer. A fine man of the priesthood who had learned that Christ comes first, not the Jews/Zionists…. Witch leads to the question of why we are so preoccupied with what the Jews think/do/mean. We are Christians, and should live by the words of the Master in the New Testament, where love and forgiveness is the key message.
As a Norwegian bishop said several years ago: “The Old Testament should have been dismissed as soon as The New Testament was written!”
But after having seen the cruelties of war – especially how it affects civilians, elder, women and children – I know exactly how they feel. I have seen the results of bombing raids, artillery bombardment, machinegun fire, roadside bombs, rockets and grenades. I have been inches or seconds from being killed or wounded five or six times. Every time by fire, rockets or grenades from the IDF – inside Lebanon… And they still have the guts to call themselves “Defense” force….
I have still not gotten over it. And I can still not understand how anyone in their sound minds can defend going to war. This is why I oppose both American and Israeli leaders/warhawks regardless of parties. It is very, very scaring to read about what they obviously are planning. And it is not easy to have a good night’s sleep….
My tour of duty in Lebanon made me a pacifist. For ever. And ever. And a firm believer in Christ and in His message of peace!
Keep up the good work and the good writing! The world needs it desperately!
And if some of my English isn’t quite as it should be, please forgive and read it in the best meaning possible!