In Lebanon, searching for peace and "the enemy"
(Beirut, Lebanon)--For most Americans, discussions about peace and war are, thankfully, abstract. Sadly, that’s not the case here in Lebanon, where talk of war, of “the enemy”, and of the prospects for peace is never far from the surface.
Later, as I sat in my hotel room, I thought that “not knowing what peace is” was not only poignant, but was one of the saddest comments I had ever heard as well.
We also briefly talked about how some Lebanese media refuse to use the acronym IDF (Israeli Defense Forces). Why? Because IDF implies that this army is merely defending Israeli territory. Here in Lebanon, the IDF is seen an army of aggression and oppression. Again, I cautioned about making value judgments that reveal bias. I said that it’s better to call them what they choose to call themselves, and then systematically and factually reveal the IDF’s actions, letting the reader/listener/viewer decide if this is a defensive or offensive force.
As wonderful as the participants were, my first Lebanese peace journalism seminar left me with more questions than answers. If we can’t move beyond discussions about labels, how can we ever enter into a deeper and more constructive dialogue?
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