Jerusalem Update—14 July 2014

In Jerusalem and Tel Aviv it was relatively quiet today. Most of the rockets were aimed closer to Gaza, in the southern communities. I had a faculty meeting in Tel Aviv today so drove in. There were no sirens or rockets while I was there, or for most of the day.

There was a volley sent in the early evening I know, as I was on the phone with a friend and colleague at the time the sirens went off on her end. We had just decided to postpone indefinitely a meeting scheduled for this Wednesday of the Israel Association of Writers in English, of which she is chair and I’m secretary-treasurer.

I have another faculty meeting in Tel Aviv tomorrow (I’ve been teaching in two departments at HaKibbutzim College of Education this year). I hope it is as quiet. I don’t think it will be.

It seems that we are all waiting for the army boots to drop and the ground operation to commence. Media report that Israel has sent leaflets and used robo-phone systems to warn residents of the northern area of Gaza to move down south. The UN apparently has opened schools as shelters for the tens of thousands who have heeded the call. There are reports that Hamas has told residents to ignore the warnings, saying they are psych ops.

The deadline was noon yesterday, I haven’t heard of anything as yet.

Once a ground operation begins, it will all get much worse in Gaza. At first there might be an increase in rockets coming out, but it will soon be more difficult to fire them with artillery, tanks, and troops moving into the launch areas.

I would just like to see it end. It would be convenient if the end was definitive, as in no rocket fire toward Israel afterward and resumption of serious peace talks. That seems unlikely until all sides sit down and sign a meaningful peace agreement. I don’t see that happening soon.

My friend and fellow writer Joanna Chen wrote on her blog post, “Breaking Bread” (July 13, 2014):

So many of us, Palestinians and Israelis, all want the same thing at the end of the day: to sit down with our families at the dinner table and to break bread together. We want to hear how school was, what work was like, to look at our children’s beautiful faces and to feel how lucky we are. There is nothing lovelier than tucking up your children at night and knowing they are safe. Is this so much to ask?

What is happening here is devastating. Over the past week, 30 children in Gaza have been killed and many more injured. Thousands of children on both sides have been traumatized. And it’s not over because the leaders on both sides say it’s not over.

Read the rest, it’s really good

Joanna ends by noting “drops of humanity in all of this.” These drops help alleviate our desert thirst.

A Palestinian I know on Facebook (through a mutual friend) posted statuses saying that she believes the Palestinian frustration and anger has increased past a tipping point after “Operation Brother’s Keeper.” She thinks that there won’t be a quick end to the violence inside Israel, which has continued, although at a somewhat lower level than just before the war broke out. As an Israeli citizen, she worries that she and her fellow Israeli-Palestinians will be distrusted by both the West Bank-Gaza Palestinians and the Israelis—in the end not wanted by either.

I still see our only hope for a real resolution as being through people to people connections growing to a critical mass that joins together across the divide in order to say, “enough.” If the fear and anger that have boiled into rage on both sides continue without the burner being turned down, this will not be possible. Many of us call for this to stop. Too many—on both sides—want it to continue and increase. As Joanna writes: “it’s not over because the leaders on both sides say it’s not over.”

Yet, if those feelings, instead of being aimed at the Other Side, could be channeled into indignation and “righteous anger” that no peace agreement has been signed, into roaring of voices calling our leaders to account and demanding a functioning peace, then perhaps there would be reason to hope.

If we let anger eat at us or turn us to rage against, it controls and eventually destroys us. However, if we let that anger fuel action toward real change, toward justice, toward peace, then it becomes a dynamic engine. We don’t control it, but it provides us energy and does not control us. We do not destroy it, but we burn it up to achieve what we want: a lasting peace where we don’t have to wonder if it is too much to ask that our children be safe from attack, we know that we shouldn’t have to ask for it. It should be a given.

Update: The situation here changes quickly. Media reports emerged, apparently while I was composing this blog, that Egypt has proposed a ceasefire agreement that both sides have accepted. It is not clear whether both sides really have accepted it or will abide by it. However, the reports say that beginning 9 A.M. 15 July (Tuesday) there should be a lull, followed by talks toward a final ceasefire. This is not a peace agreement and does not seem to include any mention of peace negotiations—the talks seem intended to determine the conditions of a continued ceasefire only. Story here. Already, face positioning about which side lost has begun, for example, Israel saying “ceasefire makes Hamas weaker.”

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