July 20th, 2024

Living as friendly neighbours the only path to lasting peace

By Lethbridge Herald on November 7, 2023.


With gratitude we remember the war dead and strive for peace.

My heart bleeds hearing the carnage in Gaza and Israel. Israelis and Palestinians are both Semitic people: Children of Abraham according to the Biblical legend. They both greet “Shalom” in Hebrew and “Salaam” in Arabic: PEACE! I have friends in both communities. They seek peace and oppose acts and views of right-wing extremists who prefer war. Why are the people so close to each other often enemies? English and Irish; Koreans and Japanese; Hutus and Tutsis. The list goes on.

Homo Sapiens have been fighting and killing each other from time immemorial. So far as I know humans are the only life-form on earth that engage in such suicidal acts. All lives fight each other but for food and mates. We thought we at last reached some degree of maturity and have learned to compete in the marketplace counting money and in sports to score points instead of counting dead bodies. Then, Russians invaded Ukraine and Hamas went into a rampage murdering innocent civilians. The Israeli response is deadly. 

We are relatively newcomers to this planet compared to other life forms: we have been here only a million years at best. Cockroaches have lived millions of years before dinosaurs which lived millions of years before us. It’s depressing to think that cockroaches know better how to survive as a species than humans.

 I despair for the future of our species. Homo Sapiens can end up as the animals with the shortest lifespan on earth like a blip.

My family lost three young men in two wars last century. Two weeks ago, I visited the Mitsui family grave site in the small town of St. Louis de Gonzague. I wanted to show it to my granddaughters who study in universities in Montreal. Ashes of my ancestors are interred there. 

Why? It’s a long story for another time. The ashes of my grandmother’s two brothers’ are among them. They were killed during the 1904 -07 war Japan fought against Tsarist Russia. Those great uncles were not even 30 years old. That’s why my father was adopted to continue the Mitsui name. 

Another uncle is officially “missing in action presumed dead” in the Pacific since 1945. He was 18 years old. I am the only male offspring of the family since 1904.

Japan won the war leading to the decline and the end of the Romanov Russian Empire. However, ultimately the victory led Japan to an existential crisis in the 1940’s. The victory gave the army leadership a delusion of its prowess and emboldened the ambition to colonize Korea and Manchuria. What exacerbated such arrogance was the subsequent intervention of three European powers, Britain, France, and Germany, to stop Japan acquiring the spoils of war. The Windsors were the cousins of the Romanov Tsars family. It revived the strong anti-European sentiment that had existed during the 19th century among the Japanese populace. It eventually led to the Second World War. It is ironic that the victory in the war brought the existential disaster to Japan within a decade. It was similar to the effect the humiliating harsh measures had on the German people after WW I. It was the resentment that Adolf Hitler took advantage of to gain popular support for absolute power.

 Wars often do not bring a happy ending to the victors. They breed resentment of the vanquished and bring a never ending bloody “Tit for Tat.” Comedian Jackie Mason proposed the way to achieve fast prosperity. It was during the early 1960’s when two losers of the WWII, Germany and Japan were making miraculous economic advances while the United States was suffering a serious economic downturn. “If you want a quick economic miracle, you declare war against Japan today and surrender tomorrow.” Conflicts that award glory to the victors and bring humiliations to the losers never bring the end to bloodshed and lasting peace. Murderous terrorism of Hamas and Hezbollah will never push the Jewish State into the sea. The effect was opposite: It united the squabbling Israelis into unity against a common enemy. The strong military action against Hamas will not end terrorism. Violence breeds more violence. 

I believe that the only path to enduring peace is to learn to live as friendly neighbours. It happened in South Africa and Northern Ireland after a long period of bitter enmity. Japan and Germany are now the most trusted allies of the U.S. thanks to massive foreign aid like the Marshall Plan. Peace is possible only through reconciliation. Am I dreaming? I hope not. 

Tad Mitsui


Share this story:

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
old school

The sole purpose of Hamas is to terrorize. Injure ,torture, kill. They are devoid of human compassion and reason. This is evidenced by their action. Strike and hide behind families and children. Their own children.They care not for their own ,they will never care for yours. That would be reconciliation.


i suppose if one is palestinian, one might think about the same of the israeli state. interestingly, the majority of the peoples living there are doves and favour peace and sharing. it is tragic when the good in most gets hijacked by the ugliest few.


The politic history in this region is long and complex. I

n response to the current situation, to my knowledge, the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, has been the only national leader to call for an humanitarian ceasefire.

Israeli-American rabbi and human rights activist, Arik Ascherman, has observed that “…at this point, few in Israel want to hear about any sort of Palestinian suffering. “Unfortunately, 99.9% of Israelis are currently incapable, in the midst of our immense pain and anger, of distinguishing between Palestinian terrorists and terrorized Palestinians…”


thanks for links – sadly, they are of course just a tip of the iceberg. it would not be outrageous to expect that israel will use this opportunity to further emasculate palestinians and “occupy” more land…given they have done as much for some 55 years. war crimes, crimes against humanity, contravening united nations laws…quite curious how that only gets prosecuted and enforced on an ad hoc and highly inconsistent basis.
that noted, i will again note that the majority of the people in that area are peaceful, decent and compassionate, and are open to sharing and peace.


well said. love is the basis of peace, but love takes immense strength and effort for there to be such growth. at some point the many loving among us in every society need to stand up and be counted. until then, we will remain condemned as to the observation of yeats: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” and, until then, the profitability of the industrial military complex will continue to explode with wondrous dividends for the sundry bad actors.