The arrival of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres next week got me thinking about the lofty goals the United Nations set for itself: “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war” and “to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbors.” My little community of Kibbutz Sasa on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon has repeatedly suffered the scourge of war and when I look across the border fence, I want good neighbors.
I remember that in the 1960s the border between Lebanon and Israel was marked by nothing more than a few stones. Farmers of both sides had friendly relationships, when today this is something we are unfortunately not even able to imagine.
The repeated violence since then has seen the UN deploy over 10 thousand supposed peacekeepers who patrol Lebanon, just over a mile from my house, along the internationally recognized border that the UN itself recently surveyed and certified.
During the last 50 years, this pastoral setting of rolling hills and farms has turned into a nightmare several times — the center of a battlefield, the target of Hezbollah rockets aimed at our homes where we had to teach our children to run as fast as possible to bomb shelters. In the 2006 war, we even had to evacuate our homes for five weeks.
We were very happy when that last war ended, hoping for a return to quiet life. UN Resolution 1701 was warmly welcomed as a harbinger of stability because Hezbollah would finally disarm and the Lebanese army, not Hezbollah terrorists, would patrol the border.
However, in our hope and obvious naiveté we did not suspect that there was a different reality. Despite having UNIFIL to enforce Rresolution 1701 and ensure a move towards peace, Hezbollah simply ignored 1701 and spent the past 11 years going behind UNIFIL’s back. Financed and armed by Iran, Hezbollah claims to have 10 times the weapons they did in 2006 and constantly threatens to attack us.
Next week, Secretary General Guterres will arrive for his first official visit. We’re hoping he will bring us more than what his predecessor Ban Ki-Moon brought during his visit in 2013, when he finally admitted that the United Nations is biased against Israel.
I wish Mr. Guterres the best in his position. I wish him success in the many challenges he faces. What I wish the most is that on his watch there will not be another war with Hezbollah. Peace is the interest of both Israelis and Lebanese.
The knowledge that the situation might deteriorate any day brings up uncertainty for the future of our next generation. Hezbollah isn’t fighting for peace, it is fighting for Syria’s brutal dictator and its leaders say again and again their goal is war with Israel.
Yet we choose to stay here because we want to live in peace, close to nature and with our dream of giving our children the opportunity to grow up in a better and peaceful future. We want Mr. Guterres to leave his mark as the most effective head of the UN — whose tenure saw real progress in reducing military threats and bringing peace with our Lebanese neighbors closer to reality.
Yael Halimi is a resident of Kibbutz Sasa.