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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Middle East crisis hits close to home

By PATRICK CASSIDY
STAFF WRITER
BUZZARDS BAY - Wandra and Jack Harmsen haven't heard from their daughter directly since last week's flare-up of violence in the Middle East.

''We're very concerned,'' Jack Harmsen said yesterday.


Daughter of Buzzards Bay couple is aboard a Navy ship sent to evacuate Americans from Lebanon.
The Buzzards Bay couple have been able to get updates on their daughter indirectly - on national and international news reports.

Petty Officer Debora Harmsen, 23, is an electronic technician aboard the Iwo Jima, the lead ship in a U.S. naval expeditionary strike group that was sent Monday from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea to help evacuate Americans from Lebanon.

For the Harmsens, the exchange of fire between Lebanon-based Hezbollah guerrillas and the Israeli army has hit close to their Cape Cod home.

''The situation is such that you can't foresee what is going to happen,'' Wandra Harmsen said.

Louis Maloof, 73, a Chatham resident whose parents were born in Lebanon, may not be able to predict how the crisis will proceed, but he has no doubt about who to blame.

''My point of view is that of an American who is rather chagrined, to say the least, at America's blind support of Israeli brutality,'' he said.

The retired advertising executive has traveled to the region five times in the past three years and plans to return at the end of the year.

''The cause of the violence is the occupation,'' he said of the half-century territorial struggle between Israel and the Palestinians.

Many Jews on Cape Cod place responsibility for the Lebanese crisis squarely on Hezbollah.

''Hezbollah must go,'' said Ken Kipnes, 70, of Mashpee.

Monday, Kipnes said goodbye to his granddaughter, Yonina.

The 17-year-old plans to travel to Israel, where she will join the Israeli army. ''I'm bursting with pride and I'm heartsick,'' Kipnes said.

Rabbi Yekusiel Alperowitz of the Chabad Jewish Center of Cape Cod called on American Jews to remain steadfast in their support of Israel during yet another dark chapter in the Jewish state's history.

''Jews over here as well should know that through our faith and good deeds over here we can contribute to the victory of our friends and colleagues over there,'' Alperowitz said.

Linda Arnowitt of Sandwich would prefer to have her son here rather than there.

Steven Arnowitt, 17, is a 12th-grader at Sandwich High School and one of 500 young people visiting Israel as part of the National Federation of Temple Youth.

The teens began their voyage by recreating the exodus of Jews from Eastern Europe at the beginning of World War II.

Steven arrived in Israel on July 9, shortly before violence erupted in Lebanon. Nevertheless, his mother firmly believes he is safe. ''What you see on television is what's happening in very specific areas,'' she said yesterday. ''Most of Israel is not under fire.''

Patrick Cassidy can be reached at pcassidy@capecodonline.com.

(Published: July 19, 2006)

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