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Mahmoud El-Yousseph, Tech Sergeant, USAF (Ret.) speaks out in the local media about Lebanon
We have a moral obligation to stop the blood shed."
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Flash from the  past:  El-Yousseph (front Right) training in 1983 for possible entry into Lebanon


As violence continues in Middle East ... Families here share fears
Local daughters, sons and brothers close to turmoil between Israel, Hezbollah

MARION - As violence continues to escalate in the Middle East, currents of both fear and relief have been felt in Central Ohio as Jewish and Muslim families watch the turmoil unfold.

Members of two Marion families have been living in Israel where that nation and Hezbollah are having a military conflict. Meanwhile, a Westerville Muslim scans newscasts daily for signs of bloodshed near where his brother's family lives.

On a church mission trip, Leah Carlyle, daughter of Stan and Laurie Carlyle, recently departed Israel headed for China, and Seth Cook, son of John Skidmore and Edye Cook-Skidmore and Wayne and Lisa Cook has spent the past three years in Jerusalem studying to be a rabbi.

Stan Carlyle said that his daughter, in phone calls before she left Israel about three days before its military invaded Lebanon, had expressed to her parents that she was glad to leave Israel.

"She said there was all kinds of

tension," her father said. "She felt a spirit of anger and tension and did not feel comfortable."

He said he and his wife were relieved, as well.

"It was difficult," he said. "I was more concerned about Israel more than anything. It just seemed so random the violence there. You're never really safe it seems like."

Seth Cook's family will have a respite from worries about his proximity to the warfare for about a month as he teaches in Florida as part of his rabbinical studies. He will return to the old city of Jerusalem where he has two years of schooling to complete for his rabbinical degree.

Edye Cook said she avoids watching media reports about the conflict, "not that I'm trying to bury my head in the sand, but I feel the news media really blows things (out of proportion)."

She said Israel's military response and invasion of Lebanon is an effort to protect itself from further attack by Hezbollah.

"When terrorism hit the United States, what are you going to do?" she said. "You have to go after it. We didn't just sit back and continue to let them come in and bomb. We did what we had to do, and unfortunately there are some civilians who are bound to get hurt."

She said she has Lebanese friends and is not "anti-Lebanese," but Lebanon has become the site of Israeli military action because it has allowed terrorists to live within its borders.

One of her son's rabbis told her that the everyday lives of the rabbinical students in Jerusalem, which is in southern Israel, have not been affected.

Westerville Muslim Mahmoud El-Yousseph, a retired U.S. Air Force technical sergeant born and raised in a Palestine refugee camp, monitors the news daily. It took him days to reach his older brother, whose family remains in a camp south of Beirut.

"They are OK," he said. "They hope and pray it will come to an end soon."

El-Yousseph, a frequent letter writer to The Marion Star, said it has been hard for many Muslims living in the United States and watching the escalation of violence in the Middle East. He joined in a rally of about 200 people who gathered at the Federal Building in Columbus on Friday to demand the United States call for an immediate cease fire.

"It seems we are unable to get the ears of our president," he said, also calling on the government to stop military aid to Israel. "This oppression is done with American taxpayer money. We have a moral obligation to stop the blood shed."

World leaders failed to agree to an immediate cease-fire at a summit in Rome on Wednesday. The United States has resisted an immediate truce, instead calling for a more "enduring" arrangement that would end Hezbollah control of southern Lebanon.

El-Yousseph said he disagreed with the demands and said Israel has no right to kill civilians in response to the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers.

"These are not combatants," he said of Lebanese civilians reported to have died in the bombings. "Watching all the bombardments, if the state of Israel was a person she would be submitted to a psychiatrist's office."

El-Yousseph called the images coming out of Lebanon and the Gaza Strip heartbreaking and still fears for the safety of his brother, sister-in-law and their six children and three grandchildren.

"They said they never know what will happen next," he said.

To comment on this story, contact Assignment Editor James Steven: 740-375-5146 or [email protected]

Originally published July 29, 2006






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