Sunday, November 18, 2012

MY FIRST WAR: REGRETS AND OBSERVATIONS

The outpouring of concern and support we have received since I posted on Facebook and e-mailed my brief message about our first (and hopefully only) experience with a red alert and taking cover has been heartwarming. Thanks to everyone. It does mean a lot.

The experience was disconcerting but we are doing fine. Things are calm in Jerusalem now, while Tel Aviv, Ashdod, Ashqelon, and a couple of other cities have been targeted by rockets today. You do listen up a bit when you hear a siren or another loud noise. We went out to the open-air Mamilla Mall last night (Saturday) and while it was not quite as crowded as usual, there were plenty of people, including tourists, out enjoying themselves.

Of course, we did note where we would go if the sirens went off. In fact, we decided that the parking garage was a lot better bet than our apartment staircase. Newer Israeli homes and apartments are all required to have safe rooms, rooms that are reinforced and that have one window that can be shut airtight.

Older apartment buildings have basement shelters, where all of the residents can take cover, once they have been cleared out of all the old stuff that has been stored in them for years. Our apartment, which is even older, has nothing, so we are left with the choice of sprinting toward a public shelter a few hundred meters away or taking refuge in the stairwell, which we are told is the safest place in the building because of the number of walls between us and the outside of the building.

I keep telling my wife that the concrete stairs look like they will collapse with a hard knock of a hammer, let alone a rocket attack. Hopefully we will not find out whether I am right.

We are praying and hoping for peace. We have several friends and acquaintances whose sons are now being called up for a possible ground operation, and that is truly frightening. Everyone dreads the thought of a ground war. We know that most of the world will condemn us, that innocent people will die and suffer, and that we will lose wonderful young people.

However, as much as everyone hates the idea of a ground war, most people do not want a ceasefire unless it includes guarantees that the terrorist infrastructure is dismantled and the rockets are stopped long-term. Otherwise, we just go back to the way it was: rockets coming in whenever Hamas feels like it, and the world paying no attention.

Watching CNN International and other international news stations would lead one to conclude that life was quiet and beautiful until Israel, unprovoked and on a whim, just decided that it would be fun to start a war with Gaza. No mention of the 800-plus rockets fired into Israel this year alone, and the thousands in prior years.

Many people have asked how they can help. Here are a few ways: Keep reminding the world why this is happening: incessant rocket fire directed at civilians by Hamas, whose stated aim is to destroy Israel. Write letters to papers, post on Facebook and other media, attend pro-Israel rallies, and speak up wherever and whenever. And plan a visit to Israel soon.

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A funny way to fight a war: An IDF spokesman said today that 124 trucks carrying supplies crossed from Israel to Gaza since this morning. The trucks are carrying goods, medical supplies, dairy products, and gas. The checkpoint between Israel and Gaza is being kept open so that diplomats, members of the press, and other people with urgent business can get through.

In all of the years of rockets, in all the years that Gilad Shalit was kept captive, Israel has continued to supply water and electricity to Gaza. While rockets have targeted the electrical plant that supplies electricity to Gaza, killing Israelis, Israel has continued to supply electricity. The world would only expect Jews to fight a war this way, and only Jews would be crazy enough to do it.

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My family often tells me that I dwell on the past too much. 

I confess that, despite my best efforts, they are right.  And, today, after years of rockets targeted at Israeli civilians, and after four days of Israel's Operation Pillar of Defense aimed at stopping the rockets, and with a treacherous ground operation looming, I could not help but look back with regret.

 In 2005 Israel unilaterally pulled out of Gaza.  Every soldier, every civilian was gone.  Greenhouses were left standing with the hope that the Palestinian people would continue growing products, and with the hope that they would plant the seeds of a country. 

Not only could the seeds of a country have come of this, but one of the key ingredients necessary for peace between Israelis and Palestinians could have flourished: trust.  The writing on the wall was clear:  start to develop your country, live in peace, and Israelis would feel safe in giving up more territory in the West Bank. 

Instead of choosing peace and development, the Palestinians in Gaza, fed up with the corruption and oppression of Abbas and Fatah, freely elected Hamas, an Islamist terrorist group dedicated to the murder of Jews and the destruction of Israel.  But Fatah still had some control in Gaza.

So, in a vivid demonstration of their commitment to peace and democracy, Hamas wrested complete power in a bloody and vicious war against their own brothers.  They threw Fatah soldiers out of windows, they shot people in the knees, they tortured and they maimed. 

And then they turned to Israel and started their campaign of rockets, terror, murder, and kidnapping.

Yes, I do look back too much.  But I cannot help thinking about what could have been. 







12 comments:

  1. You mentioned the greenhouses that were left (free of charge) for Palestinian use, by the Israeli Settlers who had constructed them.

    They were state of the art and the income from them had been built up by the Israelis into the millions. Many Palestinians had of course worked in them and had the knowledge to take over and continue to profit from them.

    In one single night they were all destroyed - and from then on all we have heard is how the Palestinians are going hungry!

    The Palestinians have no money for food but plenty of money for weapons; no money for training doctors but plenty of money for training terrorists. And now the world is sending them still more funds!

    This conflict could stop in a heart-beat. In Gaza the Palestinians have their elected leadership. Not a single Israeli lives there. The world sends money on a regular basis.

    Gaza boasts the best beaches in this region. The tourist potential is stunning!

    All the Palestinians have to do is to stop living, breathing and dreaming about killing their neighbours and get on with living, breathing and dreaming about giving their children a better future.

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  2. Alan, your first hand perspective on the conflict raging around you is troubling. Thanks for your post. Americans, outside of our military, have no idea about the horrors of war especially those fought on your doorstep. I'm not hopeful that there is much that the US government can and will do much other than posturing. The Arabs are beating us at our own game. Egypt is a prime example. The US and Israel strand pretty much alone in the region. This its not comforting for a negotiated lasting peace.

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  3. Alan, your first hand perspective on the conflict raging around you is troubling. Thanks for your post. Americans, outside of our military, have no idea about the horrors of war especially those fought on your doorstep. I'm not hopeful that there is much that the US government can and will do much other than posturing. The Arabs are beating us at our own game. Egypt is a prime example. The US and Israel strand pretty much alone in the region. This its not comforting for a negotiated lasting peace.

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  4. Powerful words. Thanks for being our eyes and ears. And do keep safe.

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  5. Alan, thank you for sharing your knowledge and insights with those of us who, regretfully, are rather ignorant of the history between the Jews and Arabs. Keep speaking and prodding us to do what we can to enlighten others. There were times in Sacramento when I thought I might be capable of doing you bodily harm (lol), but I now feel so grateful to know you and call you friend. Please, please be safe and well.

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  6. Thank you Alan! This is a great post and especially appreciate the excellent historical review of Israel 's departure from Gaza and subsequent events!


    This needs to be shared!

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  7. Do you think these initial strikes against Hamas is a precursor to a broader war against Iran (i.e., going after their nearby proxies before attacking the "mother ship")?

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  8. "Yes, I do look back too much. But I cannot help thinking about what could have been."
    It seems to me that looking back is the only way Israel can feel confident of her assessments of how to best deal the snake pit that is the Middle East. When the mindset of the groups arrayed againt her is and has been so mind-bogglingly, consistently, malignant, a long memory is the only way for Israel to verify that her sobering perceptions are accurate.
    The perspective provided by a long memory is especially critical as Israel assesses whether rational, civilized, reasonable outcomes can be expected through "civil discourse" with those who, time has clearly demonstrated, have Jew hatred bred into their bones.

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  9. Almost sounds like WII in England.

    War is never nice or safe for anyone.

    If the rocket/bomb is big enough, no place is safe.

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  10. Yet Ha'aretz, the definitive leftist newspaper in Israel, publishes an op-ed today, that condemns Israel for its oppression of the Palestinians. What other country, other than the United States, has this level of free speech? If an Arab in Gaza, so much as slightly critisizes Hamas, he or she is good as dead. If you had a hornets nest next to your house, and periodically the insects would sting you, what would do?

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  11. Rockets never stopped. Some times more and some times less. A ground war would cause more death and is a short term solution, is a tactic not strategy.

    Israel better find a way to establish peace with some brain less people! I cannot believe that is not possible to find some form of agreement.

    Please be very aware and careful when alarms go off.

    God bless you, your family, Israel and all innocent people involved.

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  12. Almost sounds like WII in England.

    War is never nice or safe for anyone.

    If the rocket/bomb is big enough, no place is safe.

    You take care of yourself’ s.

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