Thursday, August 7, 2014

August 7

Second Day of Peace

Spelling and After-math

Spelling

The Hebrew army apparently can't 'spell' Eric. We know he has broad shoulders, but please spell him already, i.e. relieve him of his tour of duty outside southern Gaza. We are glad he is in Israel. We are glad he is well. We know 64 soldiers and 4 civilians perished, and many more are wounded. But traffic is snarling in all of Israel as a country gratefully rejoicing still being one, and Jews everywhere rejoice still having one, this weekend. 

After-math

In Gaza too cars are back on roads. But anger there is less tampered than Israel's. They don't know what to do next. War was their industry. They reveled, like master swordsman indigo Montoya in the Princess Bride, at being in the 'revenge business.' 3360 rockets fired. 2303 hit Israel. 475 hit inside of Gaza. (per IDF). And, like Senor Montoya, Gazans now wake up to discover that there is not much profit in revenge. Especially if Israel's iron dome intercepted the kills. Inconceivable!

As an American I am satisfied with US foreign aid tax dollars that long supported Egypt via its army, so when Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood cronies tried to hijack a country the military was there to take it back. Iron Dome, paid for by US, saved Israelis and also Gazans. Almost 2,000 Gazan lives were lost, almost half fighting-aged men. Some Gazan civilians were killed by Hamas because they were not allowed to evacuate. Many were killed by Israel. All deaths are sad. But Israel avoided heavier tonnage bombs in Gaza because Israeli civilian deaths numbered only four, due to the success of Iron Dome technology, which the US continues to support, and also it must be said because Israel was willing to send in soldiers, on foot, rather than crudely do the whole job from the air. (One effect was captured Hamas fighters, according strictly to rumors in IDF and out, planned to enter Israel by the hundreds via tunnels on Rosh haShana to bring Israel to its knees, and while, well, inconceivable, that scenario would have started a reaction that would have cost many more lives on both sides, unleashing regional gates of hell. Will ordinary Gazans notice that this war could have gone worse, but never better? Will they care? Revenge, a form of hate, is a funny business, and Gaza still has to deal with itself. Now that Egypt and Israel closed tunnels and destroyed rockets, will Gaza's soldiers, the 20,000 strong force that mostly hid there, turn from violence to fishing? Will Hamas be ousted?

Both Egypt and Saudi Arabia have had to take back their countries from extremists, Muslim Brotherhood and Wahhabis, respectively. These two remain the big powerhouse countries in the region and both have US support. Iran and Turkey are vying to replace them, competing with other for the title of supremacy. US loosened sanctions on Iran just when they were finally working beautifully. Powerful non-violent cards, sanctions, but you have to know how to hold them, not fold them. Iran and Turkey both currently support Hamas and religious extremism. Fighting in Syria and Iraq are proxies for Sunni vs Shiite power. This regional conflict is not Israeli. It's Arab. And if there is one thing I would change administratively in this region's countries, it's term limits. US, Israel, Europe all have term limits. No government can stay and stay and stay. Israel got dragged into war when Hamas ran out of cash, and Hamas hopes Qatar's 30-something leader, turned fundamentalist (Who died and left him king? Daddy. No term limit.) will foot the next round of bills. If so, I hope Egypt and Israel, with or without Abbas, disallow the replacement of expensive rockets and terror tunnels destroyed. We only know so far that Abbas agreed to supervise Gaza's southern border, the infamous Rafiah. 

When we heard peace talks got that far, we figured Eric could leave the area surrounding Rafiah and come home. Most soldiers are indeed home. We have seen some. 

My personal after-math is same as my before-math in Israel, washing machine and dryer humming, clean sheets, towels, shampoo, soap, hot water and AC for my kids and other soldiers who 'spell' in Tel Aviv for a night or more. 

Just waiting for one of them to be Eric. 

Then I can go home. To another democracy of the free and the brave.