to be silent is one
A limited edition of Noblesse cigarettes, the brand I smoke, in battle dress. On the right you can see the way the pack usually looks.
drbob: FAR too long since I’ve heard from you, and I care enough to worry. Just tell me (us…myra too) that you’re ok.
uninjured so far.
but the war has had a bad effect on me.
I’ve lost the zest for life…
lost my sense of humor
’cause it’s brought back
memories of childhood
that I thought I’d forgotten…
and a loss of faith
not god… man.
After a month of unprovoked attacks, we began to hit back. The Hamas, a terrorist organization, continued to shoot rockets at our country, shooting at us from schools, mosques, and hospitals in Gaza, using their own people as human shields. We accepted an Egyptian plan for a cease fire, but they continued to attack with rockets and missiles; using underground tunnels in an attempt to kill and kidnap innocent citizens. We offered ‘quiet in exchange for quiet’, but this was not accepted by the Hamas. They are still shooting rockets at us. Shooting at us, and complaining that we are shooting back.
These are difficult days in my country. I had plans to write about dreams today… about the way that we represent abstract thoughts to ourselves and others. But it is hard to discuss abstractions while dealing with existential problems.
I would just like to take advantage of this opportunity to explain a few things to those of you who read my blog in other countries around the world. We are not at war with the Palestinian people. We are doing our best to frustrate the efforts of a band of vicious terrorists without injuring any of the civilian population. We are trying to protect our own people. The Hamas hides behind civilians and innocent children, while shooting at our citizens. They have received aid from many countries and peoples, and have used most of it to build a military capacity. They celebrate each and every attack against innocent people on our side. We are now trying to take care of this problem. It is my hope, and the hope of my countrymen, that we will soon be able to live in peaceful coexistence with our neighbors.
My dear readers and friends, I would like to start out this time with an apology. Just as I wouldn’t normally write you about a bad case of diarrhea, or a vigorous attempt to remove a booger from my nose, I believe that there are some things better left unsaid. I know; the internet and blogging sometimes indicate that this might just be old fashioned thinking. But I can’t help it. My sense of decorum goes back longer than most people in this world have been alive, and it seems too late for me to change.
When the three seminary boys were kidnapped, and later found murdered, some weeks back, I was overcome by sorrow, heartbroken by the cruelty of it. I actually went into mourning, and found it hard to think about the subject rationally. But as events unfolded, I realized that what had happened was the first move in a contest… one of the worst in which human beings participate. It’s known as war. Surprise and confusion are considered legitimate openings in war. Witness the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese, or the Trojan Horse in ancient Greece. It has happened over and over in the history of man. And yet, more often than one might expect, we are still surprised. We may study sociology, psychology, anthropology or culture. But after a long career as a perennial student, I’ve reached the conclusion that the key to understanding mankind, is the study of history.
We told the Hamas in Gaza, ‘if you give us quiet, we’ll give you quiet’. Can you imagine saying that to someone who wants to knock your block off?! That was all they needed to hear in order to realize that we didn’t want to fight, and it just gave them more confidence. So they started shooting missiles at us. Now we’re fighting. By Tuesday, we already had missiles falling on Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. I’ve heard an interview by a BBC reporter of a government official here. He asked, ‘how many Israelis have been killed by these missiles?’ Well, we don’t want to wait until we’re counting the dead. It is provocation enough for us to have missiles falling on our people!
When fighting a war, each side is trying, by way of force, to have its own way. The contest is one of life and death. Surprises and obtuse behavior are an integral part of the game. It is always easier to understand what was happening after the fact, rather than during the action. We are presently engaged in a war that is called Steadfast Cliff in Hebrew, and Operation Protective Edge in English. Jews lived in Gaza before the modern state of Israel was created. But we gave the Gaza strip to the Arab population that lived there nine years ago, after forcibly removing the Jewish population. And this was because the Arabs claimed that they couldn’t possibly live alongside Jews in peace, even though a large minority of Arabs live in Israel and enjoy more freedoms and a higher living standard here, than in any of the Arab countries.
Since then, the Arab population of Gaza have made fighting the Jews their national pastime. Though they were given the vineyards and farms left behind by the Israelis who lived there, they let these farms die of neglect while digging smuggling tunnels under the Egyptian border, and doing their best to develop a burgeoning arms industry. Their greatest accomplishments have been in the field of weapons production. They teach their little children that the highest purpose in life is fighting the Zionist devil. They are very proud of some missiles they have made themselves. But they have also managed to smuggle into their country a large quantity of professionally made missiles from Iran. Meantime, we invented an anti missile system that has had 90% success. It is the first of its kind in the world. But that still leaves a 10% chance of killing or wounding innocent citizens. Not to speak of the dismal sight of watching women and children stumbling as they rush to the shelters. In some of the towns near the Gaza strip, they have only 15 seconds to get into a bomb shelter! Over 400 missiles have fallen on our cities this week as I write this. And we have not forgotten that over 1000 innocent people were murdered by these terrorists a decade ago.
As a people, we’re not enthusiastic about war. We try to avoid it. We have other interests. We are able to compete in the global market, invent new contraptions… and do academic research. We’re pleasure seekers. Most Israelis like toys and enjoying the good life.. We’ve tried to buy our neighbors off, to flatter them, and to outwit them. Using our intelligence, we’ve managed to build much better instruments of war than they could put together. But no matter what we’ve tried, or how hard we’ve endeavored… and despite the fact that we’ve won every war in recent history, they know our weak points, and they keep on coming back for still another round. It is exasperating.
Usually, when the fighting is over, the United Nations get together to make a few resolutions. Since there are a lot more Moslem countries than there are Jewish, the numbers are at their service. And we’re not especially impressed by the objectivity of many ‘neutral’ nations either. If you were to check out UN resolutions, you’d get the impression that we are really the devil’s workers.
Most every week, I sit down to my computer on Friday morning and share with you a bit of my world… what’s important to me… what occupies my mind… something I’ve learned or experienced. I find a few pictures to illustrate my post. If I can, I try to keep it light hearted and amusing, and hope that it’ll be a comfortable experience for my readers. I might ask some questions. I might raise some issue. But I’ll try to provide answers too. And wrap it all up with conclusions. Not this time, though. I’m suffering, and my heart is aching. I don’t have any answers. I have no conclusions. What I’m telling you is with a heavy heart. And there’s nothing about it, that I find amusing.
A week ago yesterday, three teenage boys were on their way home from school. They are Ayal Yifrach, Naftali Frankel, and Gillad Shear. They were seminary students on their way to enjoy the Sabbath with parents and family when they were kidnapped by a terrorist organization. Minutes after they were captured, one of the young men sent a message to the police, saying that he had been kidnapped. Since then, we haven’t heard from them. The parents of the three boys have shown great courage and restraint under pressure.
But this story isn’t just the story of the boys and their families. As a society, we have faced extortion before. Using just such methods in the past, our enemies succeeded in getting the release of convicted murderers. In the last year alone, they managed to get 75 convicted terrorists released as payment for their willingness to talk peace with us. Once they got these murderers released, they lost interest in peace. Many of the released terrorists have gone back to their previous inclinations, and have continued their criminal behavior.
Most of my countrymen, including myself, are horrified by this latest kidnapping. I feel as if I were holding my breath, waiting for the return of the boys, hoping that the army or the police will find them soon and return them to normal life among us. It is hard for me to think of anything else. These boys could be my own grandchildren. I love them and worry about them as if they were. And a lot of people around me feel the same.