THE FOLLOWING IS A LETTER BY MUTSUKO SUGITA, WHO RECENTLY SPENT A MONTH DOING PEACE WORK WITH ISRAELIS AND PALESTINIANS. HERE IS HER RESPONSE TO MY PREVIOUS POST ABOUT THE GAZAN PEACE DOCTOR. What is important about the letter is that it comes from a place of admiration and solidarity but at the same time a willingness to honestly share the world’s disappointment with Israel, as well as possible lessons from Japan’s experience. Here it is:

I also felt strong shock when I watched Doctor’s story on the CNN last week. It is a living hell.
“I wanted every Palestinian treated in Israel to go back and say how well the Israelis treated them,” he said. “That is the message I wanted to spread all the time. And this is what I get in return?” “Why did they do this?” I don’t know. I really don’t have an answer for him. During my stay in Israel, I found a lot of answers for the questions that I had. However, I still have a question that I couldn’t find the answer during my stay. “Why they are destroying their culture by themselves?”
“Every culture is beautiful.” This is the words that my friend told me when I told her that her country’s culture is very beautiful. It became one of my most favorite words. I still remember how much I was amazed by the beautiful view of Israel and Palestine, friendly people, great hospitality, creativity and wisdom, monotheistic spirituality and ancient heritage. From my eyes who is from Far East, who imagined Arabian night and dreamed to go to the mysterious and beautiful world, everything looked very unique and sparkling.

I was reporting and sharing the beauty of their culture to my family and friends, as much as people I could. But they didn’t let me enjoy their beautiful culture for my entire stay. The war in Gaza started. My family started asking me to go back home. I had to lie to my family that there is no riots, I’m not taking any bus and I’m feeling ok. When my family received big box of souvenir from Israel/Palestine from me, they told me that they were scared to open and eat. I just wanted to share the beautiful culture that I experienced. They told me not to go there anymore. They are suffering from the images on the the TV. War in Gaza completely wiped out the beautiful image of their culture from our mind. I admire that they preserve their culture very well, but how they preserve their culture make us disillusioned.

“Someone of authority must come to the Middle East and say, as the soldier said at the end, ‘Enough, go home. Enough’.” Someone told me that what differentiated the history of Japan and Israel was the lessons that they learned from the tragedy (even though this is not a fare comparison). Japan lost millions of people by the war in Pacific, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But we relatively live in harmony with the US and other countries. We abandoned the right to go to war and decided to seek the eternal peace because we learned that “the war was wrong”. There was someone of authority who came to Japan and told us ‘Enough, go home. Enough’. The GHQ ingrained us the sense of guilt for our mistakes by the War Guilt Information Program (WGIP). It was not a pleasant treatment for us at all, but it worked for us in that sense. On the other hand, Jews learned that they were taken and murdered. Self-protection is on their hands, otherwise we will be vanished.
Now while they protect themselves and culture, they destory their culture. Culture stay inside of people. But foreigners eyes reflect on how culture is properly preserved and displayed. In fact, one of my friend who work for tourism in Israel lost his full-time shift to part-time. PLease let me praise them more. Please let me celebrate on their beautiful culture together. I don’t need to have an answer of my question but I want to have chance to share with people the beauty of their culture that I experienced.

The Peace Statue in Nagasaki Peace Park, surrounded by doves
The Peace Statue in Nagasaki Peace Park, surrounded by doves

© Marc Gopin