- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Skip Fraser, owner of Ferg’s Barbershop in Des Moines, Iowa, says he recognizes everyone is “tired of war,” but that most of his predominantly Democratic customers understand why Israel abandoned its 48-hour bombing cessation against Hezbollah yesterday.

“The consensus here is that if Israel laid down their arms, there would still be fighting. But if Hezbollah laid down its arms, there would not be,” Mr. Fraser said in a telephone interview.

In Fort Myers, Fla., Chuck Lindenmuth, manager of an Exxon Mobil station, said he was sorry to hear that more than 30 Lebanese children were killed in a weekend air strike but thinks Israel is “right to do what they are doing” in their fierce response to attacks by Hezbollah terrorists.

“Maybe Israel is hitting [Lebanese] civilians too hard, but it’s sometimes difficult to tell the difference between an average citizen and a terrorist,” Mr. Lindenmuth said by telephone.

Spot checks across the country found that sympathy for Israel is still strong. Those sentiments are consistent with the results of a New York Times/CBS News poll released late last week, before the Qana incident, that found that 48 percent of respondents characterized Israel’s response as “about right,” while 9 percent felt it had not gone far enough. Twenty-six percent said they think Israel has gone too far.

Mr. Fraser said his customers were saddened to learn about the nearly 60 Lebanese civilians — mostly women and children who were asleep — killed in the Qana bombings that began late Saturday night, “However, they also realize that Hezbollah is hiding among the people who got killed.”

Israelis thought Qana to be the source of dozens of Hezbollah rockets fired at their country.

Ruth Marshall of Washington described the carnage in the Middle East as “disgusting and vulgar” and said Israel is using force that is “unnecessary and unwarranted.”

“It seems they have taken the lid off something they are not going to be able to control,” Ms. Marshall said when reached at the D.C. neighborhood improvement group where she works.

She said she thinks Israel overreacted to Hezbollah’s kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers, especially with no evidence they were killed.

You don’t just go and bomb up another country when something like that happens,” she said. “Why is the international community letting this go on? I’m really saddened [the United States is] supporting this kind of overt behavior.”

Kay Jurs, a bartender at Dundalk American Legion Post 38 near Baltimore, called the Middle East violence “terrible.”

As for the Lebanese civilians killed in Qana, Mrs. Jurs said, she cannot fault the Israelis because they thought the village was a Hezbollah stronghold.

“Certainly, a lot of our terrorists are coming from Lebanon,” she said.

Susan Mitchell, manager of Leakey Bulldozers in Leakey, Texas, said she has not paid close enough attention to the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict to choose sides. “I just know these wars never seem to stop, but they need to stop,” she said. “And we need to keep our nose out of it and take care of our own business, such as the children and elderly people in this country.”

Asked about the bombing deaths of the Lebanese children, Ron Aberle, co-owner of Steve’s Barbershop in Peoria, Ill., said, “No one likes it when women and children are killed. But it’s a price you have to pay when you have a war going on.”

He said the bombing deaths of civilians were not discussed in his shop yesterday morning. As for his own opinion of the bloodshed, Mr. Aberle said, “It’s hard to take sides. But Israel has a long record of fighting terrorism, and they’ve been pretty good at it. And let’s face it, Hezbollah and other terrorists are not going to go away.”

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