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Cartooning in Conflict
Chicago Nov. 4-6


To The Prime Ministers of Israel and Lebanon

Aaron Barnea

Dear Prime Ministers, Noam was my youngest son. In April 12, 1999, five days before being released from his army duties, an explosive activated by a Hizbollah fighter, killed him while carrying his duties as an explosive ordnance disposal expert, near the Beaufort, in Southern Lebanon.

Noam, profoundly committed to peace, became a source of inspiration for me, and shortly after his death I joined the Bereaved Families Forum Supporting Peace, Reconciliation and Tolerance, a joint Israeli-Palestinian group. A few days after the killing of my son I wrote a letter to the President of Lebanon. Among other things I wrote to Mr. Emile Lahoud; "Noam went to his death wearing the button calling to "Leave Lebanon Peacefully" that his mother gave him before he left home to his last mission. We, his mother and father, believe that we should continue the struggle for peace. But we desperately need your formal declaration that you are committed to peace too. That if our army will withdrawal from Southern Lebanon, you and your army will be responsible for ensuring that terrorists will not attack our civil population along our northern frontier. We urge you therefore openly to declare that loudly and clearly. We know that the overwhelming majority of our people wants peace. After President Saadat, King Hussein and Chairman Yasser Arafat chose the road of peace for their people, we know that peace is realistic option. Please, stand up and speak. " Mr. Lahoud never answered to this letter. In the meantime many things happened since the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000, a year after my son's death. The presence of Hizbollah in Southern Lebanon close to the Israeli border, transformed in an aggressive group, motivated by fundamentalist beliefs and a profound hatred towards Israel and armed to its teeth was anything but an expression of willingness of peace from the Lebanese side. As an Israeli citizen, I understand the military reaction of my government to the act of aggression by the Hizbollah. I don't approve the dimensions of its reaction. I believe that war may be the last resource not the first. I believe that the possibilities of dialog were not exhausted before the broad military action was taken. I know that very many Israelis will support a serious negotiation effort which may carry us all to a future of peace and good neighborhood. I believe that the overwhelming majority of the people of our both countries want peace. I believe that it is high time to talk and to stop the killing. Stopping the fighting demands certainly much more courage from the leaders than continuing the battle. I know that the real meaning of it is engaging in an internal political struggle on what are the essential values and needs of the two peoples, that each one of you are supposed to defend. I believe that essential values that both of you are defending are the right to live, the right of the people to peace, to security, to a prosperous life, to better education and health. How can you both explain to your peoples that this war is serving these values. We need leadership of another kind than the one that is manifested in the war. We need a leadership of peace seekers. Are you ready to this task? Or will you continue to act motivated by the people of the gun and the message of war and destruction? This is the moment for you to stand up and speak. Yours in hope,

Aaron Barnea"

 Parents Circle Families Forum Bereaved Families Supporting Peace, Reconciliation and Tolerance Member of the Board 7/30/2006


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