We are still ok. Last night was quiet for our sons’ families and us, but Gazan rockets still bombarded our southern towns and villages and continue to do so as of this writing.
You hear many voices, many narratives. Many of them are shouted or chanted, many images and many languages. How do you know which ones to believe? I tend to believe the one with the least hatred, the one least certain of itself, the one spoken with tears, but maybe that’s just me.
The reason there are no negotiations or, if there are, they don’t get anywhere, is that both sides stop the negotiation process after stating their maximum demands. Negotiation requires an iterative give and take process. A few days ago, someone pointed out that the Bible requires us not to surround the enemy on all sides or force him into a corner, but to leave the enemy a means of escape. That concerns waging a war as morally as possible. But how do we wage peace morally? I believe that there are parallels between the way we wage war and the way peace should be waged.
Unfortunately, the current set of politicians on both sides are not nearly as professional as the military commanders on both sides and whatever advantages are gained on the battlefield by military actions are likely to be wasted by the blather and posturing of politicians.
I’m sad to have to admit that the hotheads won this round. It seemed as though we were on the cusp of change for the better, change that would have benefitted all our citizens, and would have strengthened our frail democracy and institutions of justice.
In order for the voices of reason and fairness to stand together there must be sufficient trust among those voices. We came close to trusting each other, to imagining how we could work together on common goals and objectives, some of us anyway. Maybe it was never meant to be, although I still believe that someday it will happen. It’s inevitable if we survive that long.
We need each other. The good that Israel has done for the rest of the world can also benefit all of our citizens and our neighboring countries too. And Israel needs its Israeli-Arab citizens too. Close to half of our doctors and nurses are Israeli-Arab. Bedouin and Druze serve in combat roles in our army. They are among our best and most loyal soldiers. I won’t even mention the restaurants, owners, cooks, waiters, and kitchen staff and all the other businesses and workers we depend on. A few nights ago, Amnon Abramowitz, a respected news analyst, said that Israel wouldn’t last a week if all the Israeli-Arabs were to go on strike.
Our country cannot afford to have second-class citizens. It can only afford to have one class.
As for the asymmetry between Israel and Gaza, that’s absolutely true. Thank God, America, and our ingenuity for that asymmetry. The reason we need it (and it still may not be enough to protect us) is not because of Gaza, but because we are surrounded, and way outnumbered by nations who would like nothing better than to wipe our little fly-speck of a country off the face of the earth.
So, with all this asymmetry between Gaza and us, it doesn’t make any sense to me either why they would spend all their money (and they get a lot from sympathetic Arab countries) on making and purchasing missiles and building tunnels under our border fences instead of building hospitals, schools, and hotels and making it a safe and desirable place for tourism and investment. They are not stupid. A Jordanian captain I met in Columbus Ohio years ago said the Palestinians are considered to be the Jews of the Arab world. He meant that they were known to be much smarter and successful than the average non-Palestinian Arabs. So why do they initiate battles with us? What do they expect us to do? Turn the other cheek? Pack our bags and get out of Dodge?
We are very clever in the ways of war, but we aren’t very wise in the ways of peace, and that’s unfortunate because peace requires a lot of wisdom.
We are ok, so far today – and yet we are not ok. Our country is going to hell, jumping off a tall building without a parachute, or whatever other metaphor you can think of.
As of this writing, Gaza has fired over 850 missiles and shells at Southern and Central Israel since yesterday, killing several people and injuring others, destroying an oil storage tank, damaging some buildings, cars, and an empty bus. Israel’s air force has responded by killing many more Gazans, Hamas terrorists, adults and children. In Israeli cities where Jews and Muslims live together, Jerusalem, Lod, Acre, Haifa, Jaffa, and elsewhere, Muslim youth are shooting and throwing rocks at Israeli cars, pulling drivers out, burning the cars, and trying to lynch the drivers caught by the mobs. They have set three synagogues on fire. Israeli police appear to be overwhelmed and unable to restore order. Jewish citizens are organizing self-defense groups with the potential of taking the law into their own hands. This is not just another intifada. Lines have been crossed on both sides.
In my appraisal I may have unintentionally left out important events and rationalizations from the opposing narratives; however, my message to my Jewish and Muslim fellow citizens and geopolitical partners is this: we are in a No-Win situation. There are and will be only losers on both sides of the divide. The hotheads among us may dream of getting rid of the other side but they can only bring disaster upon all our heads. The hotheads on both sides may be a minority among us but they are a frightening minority and growing increasingly more frightening and radicalized as time goes by.
Although the dreams of the hotheads on each side have no common ground on which to negotiate a way out of this situation, the dreams of the rest of us on both sides, the majority of people on each side, the silent and quiet ones who desire fairness and justice for all citizens, have much in common with each other. We need each other to establish, guard, and maintain a fair and just government for all citizens. We are already on the cusp of establishing such a government with your help.
I have learned to expect the unexpected from my wife, which is to say that I haven’t a clue about what she is planning to do next. I, on the other hand, am totally predictable, which is interesting in that my wife and I come from completely different backgrounds. I’m talking about one hundred and eighty degrees different.
We are both seventy-four years young and we’ve stayed married for the last forty-nine years. Our marriage has spanned two continents, three sons, and eight grandchildren.
There have been good surprises and bad surprises, but even the bad surprises usually turned out good in the end.
A couple months before my seventy-fourth birthday, my wife asked me what gift I would like. Of course, I had no idea. There was nothing I needed or wanted. I usually don’t have any ideas what gifts to buy anyone, including my wife. My taste in everything from flowers to dresses and jewelry leaves a lot to be desired. I can’t tell the difference between a twenty-carat diamond and zircon or cut glass unless I drop it on a hard surface.
So, my wife asked me how I’d like to have a dance with Anna A.
I remember learning to dance with Miss Nagy when I was thirteen or fourteen. I learned to waltz, foxtrot, cha-cha, rock-and-roll, and even to twist. I took dates dancing during my high school years and danced in discotheques with girls I met when I was stationed in Germany in the Army. But my wife, who loves me dearly (I never could figure out why), said I couldn’t dance. There were new dances, moves, whatever, that other people knew how to do, that I couldn’t do or felt ridiculous doing. So, other than occasional slow dancing, I haven’t danced for the last forty plus years.
We first saw Anna on a local television program called “Dancing with the Stars”. She was beautiful, she was graceful, she was exotic, she was … Anna came to Israel from the former Soviet Union. She was born in 1982. She could have been our daughter.
Then there was this thing that happened. Maybe you heard of it? It was a global pandemic called Corona (not the beer). Along with the Corona, came masks, social distancing, contact tracing, isolation, and frequent and prolonged lockdowns in Israel and other enlightened countries.
Actors, singers, dancers, musicians, entertainers, newscasters, producers, directors, along with restaurant owners, pub owners, café owners, hall owners, and just about every other business owner you could think of – were out of business for the lost year of Corona. In order to survive, put food on the table, and pay the rent singers, musicians, and entertainers were willing to perform in your living rooms or backyards. There were dancers who advertised that they were willing to give private dancing lessons in peoples’ homes.
So, when my wife asked me how I’d like to have a dance with Anna, I said yes, yes, YES! I think my wife was somewhat taken aback from my response. I thought to myself, wrong answer. I should have said no, of course not … me dance? Not with anyone but my wife. But my wife didn’t flinch, and she didn’t say, “Ha! I was only kidding.” I think I dreamed about dancing with Anna that night.
A month or so passed. Unfortunately for me, Corona vaccines were approved by regulators around the world, distributed to nursing stations, and jabbed into peoples’ arms. Covid infection rates dropped like lemmings off a cliff and tentatively, but rather quickly, people came out into the sunshine and went back to work, performers performed for big audiences, and tickets were sold out.
With all that, my chance to dance with Anna evaporated like a mirage in a desert.