Tag Archives: Palestinians

For Whom the Siren Wails

It starts off as a low rumbling felt in your intestines, almost like a premonition although you know the precise time it will begin its wailing, and rises in a discordant crescendo calling everyone and everything, people, cars, trees, clouds, and moon to stand still a moment to remember loved ones, friends, and those you don’t know but who touched you with their stories, who fell trying to protect our country or were killed for no other reason than that they loved and walked in our country.

During the minute or two that the siren wails across our land, there is time to think your thoughts or just to be carried along on its waves as on an ocean of sadness. I had two thoughts during the wailing.

The first thought was one that comes back to me every year since I came to this country back in 1978, about the cognitive dissonance that Israelis must feel when their Memorial Day, a day of mourning, licking one’s wounds, transmogrifies, changes key from a minor key to a major key, as immediately following the end of Memorial Day ceremonies, our Independence Day festivites begin and we whip out our plastic boppers, foam spray, and firecrackers. I have a feeling that those who truly mourn, those who have had a loved one amputated from their lives, do not or can’t switch emotions, like masks, so fast, that those who do move on from mourning to joyous festivities, never truly mourned. Maybe I would feel differently about this if the order were swapped: first celebrate our Independence Day and then, immediately following, commemorate our Memorial Day. That might make us better understand the cost of our independence . Maybe the true mourners would feel more consoled seeing their compatriots coming towards them than seeing them move on.

My second thought was about a joint Memorial Day ceremony of Israeli and Palestinan mourners who acknowledge the pain of those living on both sides and brings together Israeli and Palestinian families bereaved by the conflict, that has been going on for the last 14 years, albeit in spite of many obstacles and bitter contention (https://www.israelhayom.com/2019/05/06/supreme-court-rules-palestinians-may-attend-joint-memorial-day-event/). Although we have a saying that one should not judge a person in the moment of his or her grief, some Israelis have attacked those participating in this ceremony rather than allowing them their legitimate expression of grief. I have seen pictures of Israelis consoling Palestinian mourners and vice-versa. I sincerely hope this annual ceremony continues and attracts even more mourners from both sides because, only then can the people on both sides demand peace from their leaders. Don’t get me wrong on this score. I don’t believe the joint Memorial Day ceremony can merge with or replace the State Memorial Day ceremony because the purposes are not the same. The State ceremony is meant to praise acts of heroism against enemies, acts of ultimate sacrifice for the common good and for brothers in arms, and the purity of our cause. The joint Israeli-Palestinian ceremony is meant to find common ground and to empathize, if not with our enemies, then with the parents, spouses, and children of our enemies, to console them and to allow ourselves to be consoled, and to express hope for a time when we will know war between us no longer and forget there ever was.

Both Memorial Day ceremonies are legitimate and serve their purposes, but maybe one day in the not so distant future they will not be necessary.

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The Third Scenario

The Hamas are a group of terrorists. They are not a government of any sort. Not like Israel, not like Egypt or Jordan, and not like the US or the UK. They only know how to create terror. They don’t know how to do anything else. If they were somehow to find themselves at peace, they wouldn’t have a clue what to do with it. They are as much a terror to their own people in Gaza as they are to their neighbors, Egypt and Israel. The people of Gaza deserve better, even though Gazans freely voted Hamas into power. One of the weaknesses of democracy is that you can vote to end your democracy.

However, this blog post is not about the current war between Israel and Hamas, or the events leading up to the war, but about the future immediately following the war.

Either one of two scenarios will play out: either Israel will remain in Gaza until she has destroyed the last tunnel, the last missile launcher, and captured or killed the last Hamas commander, or a consortium of world powers will force Israel to stop and save Hamas so that they can fight again another day, in a year or two or ten.

There is a third scenario, rendering the first scenario unnecessary from the standpoint of Israel and the second scenario improbable for the Hamas. It is simply this: the oil rich Arab states, Muslim countries around the world, European countries, Australia and New Zealand, South America, Canada and the USA, whose collective hearts justifiably go out to the dead and wounded Gazans – the same day they force Israel to roll back from Gaza, the world puts its money where its mouth is. On that day, the world enters Gaza, clears away the wreckage, buries the dead, cares for the injured, builds hospitals, homes, madrassas (schools), mosques, roads, traffic lights, basic infrastructure, banks, government, police, judges, hotels, tourist infrastructure, more hotels, a sea port, an airport, taller hotels – you get the idea. You give the Gazans (and the rest of the world) something to lose, so that they are fully invested in peace. You don’t ask Hamas for permission to do this. You don’t give Hamas a cent of the money, not even baksheesh (bribery) or protection money. You make sure you protect your investment and Gaza blooms until hatred, revenge, and war are forgotten.

I can guarantee you that Israel would be in there, rolling up its sleeves, rebuilding, and investing in Gaza with the rest of the world, as soon as the Gazans let them, because that is our nature.

The Palestinians have more in common with the Jews than just the small patch of land they both occupy. I remember when I took an evening course on modern Israeli culture at Ohio State University when Assaf was only three years old, a couple of years before we immigrated to Israel. There was a Jordanian army officer in the same class with me. He came up to me one evening and told me he was Bedouin, like the rest of the elite in the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan. Then he spoke deprecatingly of the Palestinians. He said the Arab countries shunned them. He called them “the Jews of the Arabs”. He also said the Palestinians were smarter and more educated than the rest of the Arabs.

So you see, we do have something else in common besides the land.

Mike Stone

Raanana Israel

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