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Middle East Conflict Hits Home For Some N.C. Residents

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The desperation in Lebanon and Israel is being felt in the Triangle, as residents with ties to the area try to find ways to keep their loved ones safe.

"People are trapped in their houses," said Doumit Ishak with the Triangle Lebanese Association. "If they don't die from a bomb or a missile, they are going to starve to death."

Ishak's three daughters were visiting family in Lebanon when they became trapped amid the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah guerillas that use Lebanon as a base.

"Lebanon is a poor and small country and it's getting wiped off the map," said Ishak.

The Triangle Lebanese Association estimates 100 Lebanese-Americans from the Triangle area, like Ishak's daughters, are stuck there. They are American citizens who hope the United States will help stop the fighting.

"From a political analysis, this is an abysmal failure," said Triangle Lebanese Association representative Akram Khater. "And failure won't bring security to Israel or the U.S. In that sense, the U.S. should step in."

"I certainly hope it's a temporary situation," said Judah Segal with the Raleigh Cary Jewish Federation.

The Raleigh Cary Jewish Federation is also moving into action to help Triangle residents who are visiting Israel. They've set up a crisis fund and moved student groups to safer cities.

While Segal views the violence as Israel defending itself from terrorists groups to the north and south, he feels the region can achieve peace because of the people.

"There's a natural friendship that did exist, that does exist between the Israelis and the Lebanese," said Segal.

It's not nearly as difficult to get out of Israel as it is to leave Lebanon right now. However, there are regions of the country where people are living in bomb shelters.

Members of the Triangle Lebanese Association said their loved ones are on waiting lists to leave Lebanon, but there's no set time for that to happen.


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