Friday, August 8, 2014

August 8

Netanya
Tel Aviv

Friday

Eric got bussed home at 9pm on Thursday! Dad baked a cake. Eric arrived much cleaner than last time I saw him, just before the ground incursion. He got out for 15 hours (overnight) on a Monday before the Thursday boots on the ground. Time to shower, shave, and do laundry. And sleep in a bed. He'd been in the field for 3 weeks with one change of clothes. No showers. The smell of his army bag is stuck in my nostrils forever; it was toxic in an unventilated area. 

But by the time of the ground incursion,  dozens of families donated hundreds of shirts and briefs. So many that soldiers wore stuff, threw it away, and grabbed new. Wasteful. But there were no washing machines in the battle field, so families here opened the money spigot. And also poured out love. And appreciation. And gratitude. The IDF poured out water from cisterns on trucks so soldiers could half wash. By last week, restaurants in Tel Aviv could already risk coming down and serving burgers. Eric was too far inside to get them, but all troops were better cared for in war than they were just before, training in the bush camps. Still, I haven't ventured near his boots again yet. Eric did warn me .... still toxic. 

Most soldiers are on R and R, rest and relaxation. Determined to celebrate the engineers, specialists and infantry this shabbat, the sound of new rockets drowned out by the roar of the IAF. Sara's guys in the Air Force are still on full alert.  Sara and other fitness instructors' 'clients' had no time for the gym this summer. No practice laps. It was run for real time. And with rocket resumption, the whole country is ready to snap back to full attention. But there is hope for the talks. Especially with Egypt and Israel on the same side.

I was asked, has my view of Israel changed this summer having spent all of it here, and during war?

Like Israel, I learned that today's warfare is fought as much in the press as in the field.  Israel devoted more resources to getting out its message. Their morality is so clear to Israelis they can't understand how it could be invisible to others, or how people could equate then with the likes of Hamas. They explained their campaign in perfect English, on TV. Netanyahu too. He explained he feels a moral burden to STOP Hamas from taking advantage of innocent Palestinians and of Israel's morality in war. 

Israel's morality is clear to Hamas by the way. A week ago, when the IDF dismantled Shuja’iya, a small town used as a major forward operating base by Gaza City's hiding leaders, IDF soldiers grabbed a manual in Arabic on “Urban Warfare” from a house. The IDF posted, "The manual ... reveals that Hamas knows the IDF is committed to minimizing harm to civilians." It goes on, "This Hamas urban warfare manual exposes two truths: (1) The terror group knows full well that the IDF will do what it can to limit civilian casualties. (2) The terror group exploits these efforts by using civilians as human shields against advancing IDF forces."

Last war, Israel would not have shared that info. But someone has to educate Jon Stuart about his 'freedom fighters.' Their fight closed borders which formerly allowed Israelis to shop in their stores, buy food, and swim at their beaches. Prompting a new Israeli expression, Humus, not Hamas. Now 40% of Gazans are unemployed, 90% if you dis-count Hamas' fighters including those who 'study abroad' the fine arts of kidnapping and stealth paragliding.

In Israel, war is a backdrop, all consuming when it hits but usually kept in the background. Israel is split in two parts. Most of the time a regular country, more prosperous, interesting and fun than most, with more sunshine and worse manners. But, a country whose hostile neighbors spill over to disrupt a Jewish state. Gazans are maybe not so willing to keep up the fight. The protesters numbered 2,000. Hamas was hoping for 10,000 plus. The woman are being videoed crying, Hamas, no mas. Let's go back to having peace with the Jews. Never the Israelis, by the way, always the Jews. That is the vocabulary of the curriculum taught in UNWRA schools, funded by your tax dollars. at work.

Israel still seems to have a bright future. Incredibly. Israel benefits from France's Jewish neighbors in the suburbs of Paris behaving as Hamas. And France has no IDF. No Netanyahu. France's hate is Israel's gain. A Netanya croissant has indeed become worthy! So is a brioche. (Jacques stopped eating wheat - think the thin waitress noticed I ate both?) No need for Hebrew. Our waitress served us in smooth-as-glass Parisian French. In the center of Independence Circle, Netanya. Albeit surrounded by Bolshevik style square, gray office and apartment buildings, nowadays you can eat a French breakfast and then drive to cliffs overlooking white sand beaches. Israel benefits from its new immigrants, and a next big wave from Europe could be a rich one. 

I realize Israel's success plays into the Hezbollah Plan. Round up Jews in one place so you don't have to hunt them globally. I don't understand how the Arab world never got past hating. Or why Europe is backtracking. More importantly, without Israel, what would French Jews do? Ethiopian? Russians who don't feel free to be Jewish at home? German Jews who thought the coast was totally clear?

More and more Jews are going to take their chances it seems in one central place under the cover of their own armed forces and their own government. Jews haven't been this together since the time of King Solomon. And Israel is the centerpiece. Without a strong Europe, only America is the periphery. A strong civilization thus prospers, and adds to the good of man. Can the world make room? (Apparently there is a test for this, the Israel Test: www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfN2IvnIA4M)

In 2014 Jews still can't help being - Jewish. They even like it. Despite the worry and the work. They built a viable democratic country. And look toward continued democracy in one other area country: Tunisia. 3 years democratic and holding. The Huffington Post: "...as Tunisia attempts to re-define its image as both a country mindful of democratic reform as well as a country ready for economic stability, is that factors such as Islamism may be less important to democratic reform than Western foreign policy analysts would like to believe. ...Whether Tunisia turns into a stronghold of stability and democratic governance in the coming years is uncertain, but given the region's current volatility, Tunisia seems to be light-years ahead of its neighbors."

And there is the possibility of still another reformed country, small, independent, constructive, democratic: Kurdistan. Hopefully America helps keep ISIS off the Kurds' heels.

Tunisia, Kurdistan, and Israel. If three democracies can stand here, this could be a really nice neighborhood.

War is ending as it began, with a sputter, on a weekend. Shabbat shalom...? At least for today. At least in Tel Aviv. Operation Protective Edge: Over and out.


finally

patisserie Netanya

local supermarket spice section!

beaches of every kind everywhere