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Lorsqu’un conflit militaire éclate, une autre bataille apparaît toujours en arrière plan. C’est la lutte pour la loyauté des personnes, une dispute sur qui a raison et qui a tort.

La guerre nous polarise et nous force à prendre partie. Nous contre Eux. Les Arabes contre les Occidentaux. Les Sunnites contre les Chiites. Comment et pourquoi traçons-nous des frontières entre nous et les autres en période de conflit ? Qu’arrive-t-il quand nous nous retrouvons au milieu de ces lignes – ou quand nous essayons de penser au-delà de ces frontières?

Les récits de guerre nous parlent de dommages collatéraux et de statistiques. Partageons avec vous les histoires de personnes pour qui une vague amicale et une brève rencontre dans une zone de conflit a ouvert la porte à un changement des cœurs et des esprits.
Paula Goldman, Director of Imagining Ourselves
Etats Unis
People of different ethnicities intermingled easily before the genocide in Bosnia of the early ‘90s. But when violence began, the dividing lines between Serbs and Muslims became extremely dangerous to cross.

Throughout history, some of the most courageous acts have been made by people who questioned these kinds of boundaries: Serbs who risked their lives to save their Muslim neighbors from concentration camps (and Muslims who did the same for their Serbian neighbors). Israelis and Palestinians who brave criticism for working together with ‘the other side '... But is it possible to NOT to choose sides when a war breaks out? What pressures do you face in your own life to identify with one side of a conflict and not another?
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Ani Rosemarie
Posted on Thursday, January 11, 2007 2:52 AM
Forgive me for sounding biased, but i think the US of A is`nt helping any.... all they seem to want is the heavy attention they are getting from the media over this Iraq business. Frankly, Iraq might just have been able to solve the Shite and Sunni conflict without the US sticking their already out of joint noses into the whole business. I say let sleeping gaints lie and save the funds wasted on sending troops, instead give those to the poor starving masses in Africa who could really do with some outside inteference.
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Amira W. Pierce
Posted on Monday, January 08, 2007 11:46 PM
sesame seed: i do agree that perhaps i over-simplified in explicating the lebanese civil war and the 2006 hezbollah/isreal conflict. you make some very valid points that are far too often overlooked, and i am embarassed to have been one who overlooked them...still at the same time while it angers me that israeli and western involvement began and control so many of these things, it is the smaller clans and sects, the trend of arabs against arabs that makes me truly sad.
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Dina V
Posted on Monday, December 04, 2006 10:17 AM
In my mind I am an Indian. I am a Muslim only next. This was my identity until I was traveling once and a during conversation a woman asked me my name and religion and then whispered to her companion that I could be a member of a terrorist group for I am a Muslim. That made me choose. CHOOSE that I was not going to be affected by media and their 24x7 bombardment of my life with biased news. With added backgroud music to increase my heart rate as one news clip ended and the next began before the weather, or the business or sports news. Choose that I would rationalize what I hear or read before blindly believing. The choice is in your mind. It doesn't matter where you live. If you want to contribute you can do it like you have just done by writing this story. It may just reach those who can read, write and understand, but you have made a difference!
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Loung Ung
Posted on Monday, December 04, 2006 7:22 AM
Possible not to choose sides? I think not. But we need 'truth' and information to make decisions--and in this (U.S.) culture, we are given litte of either. Whatever side one chooses, the money that goes to fund wars means there is less of it to support human rights, humanitarian aid, other programs to save lives.
Loung Ung
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sesame seed
Posted on Thursday, November 30, 2006 1:11 PM
I re-read Amira's story today, and I felt compelled to comment:
I don’t believe it is entirely correct to say that the Civil War in Lebanon, just like the Civil war in Iraq, was formed by the “ever-changing” alliances between religious clans and sects.” If you look at the history of the region – and today’s Iraq – you’ll notice that the internal divisions in most Arab countries are largely a result of British, French and contemporay US colonialism, and not as some might want us to believe that these divisions are inherent in the Arab culture or happened in a vaccum. Moreover, Syrian and the PLO’s involvement also did not happen in a vaccum. The only reason they did is because of Israel.

Amira's statement that “the 2006 Israel-Lebanon Conflict began with Hezbollah’s capture of two Israeli soldiers” requires further reflection. The conflict did not begin with Hizbullah’s capture of two Israeli soldiers, as the mainstream media would like us to believe...Israel used this incident to start a war…plain and simple. The recent conflict was re-ignited when Israel refused to abide by the conditions of peace agreements and other resolutions that require the release of Lebanese prisoners from Israel’s jails, and to share with the Lebanese government the location of the mines Israel placed in Southern Lebanon during the 70’s and 80’s war...Is it too much to ask of Israel not only to abide by the agreements it signs, but to also let the Lebanese people live on their own land wihtout having to worry about the mines they planted all over the south.... Also, it is important for everyone to know that even before Hizbollah captured those two soldiers, the Lebanese government filed a complaint with the security council because Israel's planes invaded Lebanese airspace - which is considered an act of war - and because they had evidence that Israel is responsible for the recent bombings and assassinations that took place in Lebanon.

Sesame Seed.
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Ani Rosemarie
Posted on Thursday, November 30, 2006 9:12 AM
i personally have not experienced the effects of war. but one thing i do know is that it scars it`s victims either physically or emotionally. my mother was just a little girl during the nigerian civil war and sometimes when she speaks of the loved ones she lost ..the families that were wiped out without trace ,i can still see those scars ..emotional ones that linger even after all these years ......it hurts me just to watch her relive those horrific moments.
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Bruce Larson*Moore
Etats Unis
Posted on Sunday, November 26, 2006 9:39 PM
in*truth, all of ones concerns are worth mentioning, however trivial they may seem, as it is the concerns of one which affect the concerns of all, to make a change in direction and to clear the fog of hate and fear for the many.

History is written by the victorious, and ones concern for peace shall write the history of World*Peace.

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Gillian Marks
Posted on Sunday, November 26, 2006 5:45 PM
Reading my beloved son of warfare. What can a person say except sorry the world has treated you in such a disgusting and horrific manner. there is more to war than that which we see on the news. there is so much more to war than our soldiers dying. To refer to the pregnancy as the bullet relates it amazingly to war. These are not issues we think of occuring when we think of war.
I am saddened and although I do not wish to think of it constantly I also wish that I will not forget and will keep people all over affected in their own ways by war in my heart and in my prayers.
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Gillian Marks
Posted on Sunday, November 26, 2006 4:59 PM
I watched a few weeks ago a movie. It was a war movie. At this one junction of fighting there were Scots, Germans and English (I think). The most beautiful part of the movie was on Christmas Eve. Eventually, after some hesitation from all sides, all three countries troops came out of the bunkers and joined together to sing, eat, drink and be merry. In amongst this war where the decision of what side you are on is clear as you are a soldier of your country, they put this aside. They vowed to each other that the next day they would go back to their own bunkers and continue on with killing each other. Funny thing was now they had gotten to know one other as more than the enemy, so when one country was planning on bombing the others bunker, they told them and invited them over to their bunker and vice verca when their country retailiated. our world is so big that we can't know everybody, but we need to remember that whether we are Iraqi, Indian or Australian, whether we are Hindu, Christian or Buddhist, WE ARE ALL HUMAN.
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Gillian Marks
Posted on Sunday, November 26, 2006 4:48 PM
I have read briefly bits and pieces from all over this site. Everyone sounds so intelligent and they have all had so much more experience than me. I am a simple woman who has lived in Australia her whole life and thankfully has never experienced first hand any war. I studied wars in school growing up and one comment I saw on the site struck me as so true "history is about making the majority look good". Sorry but I can't remember who said it.
As a student I took was I was told and based my opinion on this. I'm not a fan of war, i'm not a lover of innocent people losing their lives but something about World War II and the fact that we had to stop the hitler regime...well I thought that was OK. Today's wars are a different story. It seems to me that ever since I was a young girl wathcing the news with my family, Iran and Iraq have always been in some kind of war. I have never known why they are at war. The media put on telly pictures of soldiers, people screaming and that is all I know of it. I recently worked for a lady from Israel who showed me a picture of the area she lived in. it was beautiful and green and then she told me how it was not uncommon for planes to go overhead, for bombs to go off in the near distance. I was shocked and amazed. She said it was something you learned to live with as you lived with it everyday. All people, including women, living in these conditions must be very strong emotionally and spiritually. I'm not sure I would survive, I have lived a sheltered life with my biggest concerns not even worth mentioning.
Now with the war that America, England and my own country Australia is sending troups to...where are they, Afganistan, Paskistan, Iraq...I don't know and I don't know the reason. I want to understand why they are there but can I trust what I hear on the media. Are they there for oil? Are they there because of 9/11, well I say hello, look at every other country who gets bombed by terrorists on a continual basis but we don't hear about these poor souls. But when it comes to good old Amercia we see it every day on television 24 hours a day. yet a train get blown up in Greece and we see a 10 second segment, and that's probably only on ABC news.
I'm not sure gender is the biggest issue here. But then again, I'm not in the midst of that life. i'm an untrained outsider trying to look in but everytime I get close to the window, it begins to fog up and my view is gone.

God bless you all and take care
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Bruce Larson*Moore
Etats Unis
Posted on Sunday, November 26, 2006 2:51 PM
i*have seen, lived though and been involved in many conflicts and wars, and there is always a third option in which to place ones loyalty, that of peaceful disagreement, never have i* been so compelled to agree with the polarization of fear, as it is far more desirable to die in truth, than to suffer in fear.

For the Profits of Peace are of higher value than those of War.

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Wajdi Nassour
Posted on Sunday, November 26, 2006 6:22 AM
"When a military conflict starts, another battle always happens in the background. It is a battle for people’s loyalties, an argument over who is right and who is wrong. War polarizes us and forces us to take sides: Us vs. Them. Arabs vs. Westerners. Sunnis vs. Shiites. How and why do we draw boundaries between ourselves and others during times of conflict? What happens when we get caught between these lines-- or try to think beyond them?"

It is always easier said that done, but let us put ourselves in the position of those who are living in a feudal, sectarian and hierarchical society. Here there is only one choice; either with us or against us. Sectarian and Religious l affiliation means identity. Lossing identity means in most cases losing everything.
Beside this, during war and crises we hear and prepared to hear only one side of the story.
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sai ramani garimella
Posted on Saturday, November 25, 2006 10:20 PM
Amira, trying to avoid the side of needless agressor, thats easier said than even identified. as a student of international law i am very much lost in defining an aggressor with the kind of mutual relations we have. and more so with the growing conflict between nationalism on one side and ethnic rights on the other, especially in south asia, we even find it difficult understanding the meaning of aggression. Nationalist Indians claim Kashmir as part of India, while ethnic population in that province, wants to protect its own identity and fight for independence. can we call Indian policy in Kashmir as that of an aggressor?
sometimes i wish i dont have to make this choice at all. wishful thinking?
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Paula Goldman, Director of Imagining Ourselves
Etats Unis
Posted on Saturday, November 25, 2006 7:34 PM
You're so right, Amira. There are times when it is painfully obvious which side to choose. There are even times when not choosing sides is the WRONG thing to do. World War II, for example. Andra's comment from the beginning of this conversation is telling in that regard-- she says her grandparents were partisans in WWII-- and if they hadn't chosen, if people like them hadn't chosen, where would we all be now?

Funny-- my dad watches lots of WWII films-- he's totally taken with the way that the soldiers are portrayed as heroes-- and the story of how they were fighting the good fight, so to speak. I look at those movies and am struck by the black and white nature of the way the world was presented then. I think that was a time when choosing a side seemed a lot more obvious. I look around and don't see that kind of moral clarity anywhere in the world anymore.

But my caution about choosing sides is *not* intended to encourage us to forget to make moral decisions. It's rather the opposite. It's to encourage us to put these morals above our allegiances to one group of people or another. It's to encourage us to make these morals-- basic human values-- the most important compass guiding our actions when it comes to conflict and war.
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Jacqueline Hsiang
Etats Unis
Posted on Saturday, November 25, 2006 2:09 PM
Example: A town in the United States has already banned the flying of any foreign flags by themselves. This ordinance basically declares that the U.S. flag must be flown above all other flags. All the anti-illegal immigration town laws being proposed and passed are dividing people and opening a door to resentment, hatred, and prejudice. I don't know about anyone else, but I think it would be a mistake if we were not active in our politics and spoke out on these issues. My stance is that people don't have to like each other (or each other's opinions), but once you even violate someone else's civil rights simply because of a bias, that's crossing the line. Would it be nice if everybody simply liked each other or had no qualms with each other? Sure. Is it possible? I don't know. Is the reality even close to that? Maybe somewhat. I think most people don't hate each other. There's got to be some disinformation, misconceptions, and pure bias spread around for that to happen. It's hysteria, it's resentment, and it's confusion, and it's no good. To ignore history, and how it plays into the present, I think, would be a mistake. Conflict is conflict, and the ultimate tool to resolving one is communication, no matter what the circumstances. In the case with anti-illegal immigration, I know that I will not remain neutral so long as people are pushing for these kind of laws. At the end of the day, if they choose not listen, all I can do is continue to speak out logic and understanding against their unreasonable fears.

"They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security." - Benjamin Franklin
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Georgia Yelton
Etats Unis
Posted on Saturday, November 25, 2006 11:13 AM
In my studies and in the mainstream of life, I constantly have to choose betweeen what is good for the environment and what is good for business and profits. What is good for the environment generally requires a long term view and plan, whereas in business, the desire for profit often involves shortsightedness and a lack of consideration for the environment. I have to follow the rules of my boss, but I try to do what is good for the environment whenever I can. I think that the conflict between environmentalism and capitalism is one that almost everybody faces. I choose the environment, although it isn't always a popular choice.
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Amira W. Pierce
Posted on Saturday, November 25, 2006 11:12 AM
but there are times when it is painfully clear which side to take...but perhaps that does get confused sometimes...it's a difficult thing. i guess you should never be on the side of needless agression? and interference in peaceful human life???
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Rick Robinson
Posted on Friday, November 24, 2006 10:34 AM
I'm 58 years old, and I'm still asking myself the same questions about war that I was asking when I was ten. It is impossible for me to understand why, in this day and age, people continue to choose sides in any war when the lives of so many innocents are at stake on either side. No ideology, it seems to me, is worth the kinds of suffering that war causes.
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Bruce Larson*Moore
Etats Unis
Posted on Tuesday, November 21, 2006 10:01 AM
having lived a life on the side of truth, supporting each relationship with trust and love, i*find no need to divide the family of humanity into neatly labeled and mirrored boxes, as each and all are part of the one truth, which is available to any*one, should they so choose to accept h’er.

accepting each individual for their unique grace and beauty, leads one to the reality of how that individual will grow to support the family, if only given the permission by others to do so.

* * *

Labels, labels everywhere what do they mean why should we care,
Labels are meaningless and only serve to divide us,

Labels on people labels on groups tear off the labels and unite the world into one hoop,

Labels are strong labels are unjust labels are wrong, forget them we must,

Labels to the children of the future shall be unknown if this world is to remain their home,

Ash's to ash's, dust to dust remove the labels and build upon trust.

©Bruce Larson*Moore
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nasma nina
Posted on Monday, November 20, 2006 12:22 AM
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Histoires à thème
"Une Autobiographie de la Guerre"
Amira W. Pierce, Liban
"Trouver le Printemps"
Mina Farid Malik, Pakistan
"Greetings from Suomenlinna"
Randa Mirza, Liban
"Guerre et Paix"
Mona Ali Khalil, Arabie Saoudite
Huma Imtiaz, Pakistan
"L’identité et la loyauté"
Joumane Chahine, Liban
"Chercher Beyrouth à Berlin"
Sintia Karam, Liban
"Au Delà de Choisir un Camp"
Paula Goldman, Director of Imagining Ourselves, Etats Unis
©Copyright 2008 International Museum of Women / Politique de respect de la vie privée et démenti / Traduction : 101translations / Changer de langue