When I was a child in the late 1950s I attended a summer camp deep in the New England woods. The people who ran this oasis of privilege were descendants of Protestant missionaries who had carried their Gospel far and wide to people they probably called "heathen" and whom we might call "citizens of the less developed world." Happily, that experience of life outside the United States, instead of teaching them to feel superior, actually made them unusually aware that we, here, had much to learn from people who lived in other countries. The camp leadership always made sure there were foreign campers and counselors in residence.
One year we had a Japanese counselor, a shy and barely English speaking woman. She was a good friend to some of the shy campers. We also had the usual collection of home grown counselors, many of them boisterous college students enjoying a summer break. One of the latter got a surprise visit from her boyfriend -- an aspiring pilot, he buzzed the camp in a small plane.
As the biplane swung past, campers squealed in delight -- but then we heard screams of a different sort, cries of a kind of terror none of us had known. Our Japanese friend ran from her tent and plunged under the nearest building, out of her mind with fear. She lay there, white and shaking, refusing to come out for hours.
What did we know about growing up under bombs, under incendiary raids?
It is not major news in U.S. media, but Israeli jets are still buzzing the Lebanese towns upon which they rained bombs last summer. According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz,
It has also come out in the last few days that Israel used white phosphorous weapons during the war.
Of course, the use of such weapons is not news to those upon whom they fall. It is the rest of us who are kept in the dark about what our militaries are doing. Israel is not alone in using this vicious substance; the U.S. also used it in Iraq.