Wednesday, January 7, 2009

This Hurts

Have you ever had a sliver of glass make its way into the tough, calloused part of your foot? You know it's there every time your weight lands on that spot. Perhaps you dig around a little bit with needle and tweezers, hoping you'll luck into the invisible source of pain...but mostly you know it's there until it's not, and that you'll just have to endure the discomfort. This is perhaps the most minimizing analogy ever to be written as a preamble to conversation about the turmoil in the New Jersey-sized piece of land we call Israel. I certainly don't mean to equate limping with a glass splinter to the deaths of 30 children in Gaza. I guess I'm just looking for a way to excuse my inability to grasp the source of pain I feel today. I've had the needle and the tweezers out for the last 24 hours, searching every relevant record I can find - from the the Hague Convention of 1907, to the Palestine Mandate of 1922, to the Israeli War of Independence of 1948, to the 6 Days War of 1967, to the Oslo treaty of 1993...or was that the DOP (Declaration of Principles) in 1993, followed by Oslo 2 in 1995? I'm still limping. It's all as mired in politics and personal gain and patronizing phooey as anything you can imagine. Stir in God and the history of genocide and racism on both sides and you have, perhaps, the ugliest pot of human stew ever put on a fire. Suffice it to say, there is no document that seems to hold lasting meaning for Arabs and Jews trying to live together on the tiny strip of geography wedged between the Jordan River, the Mediterranean Sea, and Egypt. In the last two weeks, Hamas militants in Gaza have stepped up the lobbing of their 12-mile range Qassam rockets into towns and villages in southern Israel. 4 Israelis have died. The Israeli army has responded to the Hamas terrorist attacks with hurricane force. 400 Palestinians have died. Most of those in the last five days. So it seems the game of Who's Land is This Land plays with at least one observable rule: 1 Israeli life = 100 Palestinian lives. Collective punishment of a population is a crime. This international law was established at the Hague Convention of 1907. It was reinforced at the 4th Geneva Convention of 1949, with Nazi atrocities against the Jews still playing vividly in the minds of peacemakers. Then the Jews won the 6 Days War in 1967, and began their occupying power of the property formerly known as Holy Land. Since then, 18,000 houses have been demolished in the occupied Palestinian territories by Israeli armed forces - explicitly to punish families of people suspected of being terrorists. In the 223-square miles that is Gaza, 1.5 million Palestinians live...sometimes 50 people per home. Half of the population is under 14-years old. Half of the adult population is unemployed because of deliberate Israeli destruction of business infrastructure - including the intentional bulldozing/burning of ancient fruit-bearing olive trees. Since November, the Israelis occupying Gaza have limited food supplies from international relief agencies, which feed a majority of the children there. They have blocked importation of medicines, parts for water and sanitation systems, and have cut the supply of diesel to Gaza's only power station. I heard a UN official respond yesterday to the question, "Are there humanitarian issues that need to be addressed in Gaza?" He said, "The people are hungry, they have no clean water, they are cold, they are sick and can't get medicine, and they are terrified. I'd say it's a humanitarian crisis." The world will be watching Barack Obama for many reasons two weeks from today. It will be his first full day in the oval office as President of the United States. Those of us limping around on this ground-in piece of brokenness called Israel remember the President-elect's last real words on the subject, which were supportive of Israel's fight against Hamas terrorists. Most of us would have a hard time disagreeing with his thinking at that time: "If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters slept at night, I'd do everything in my power to stop that," he said on the campaign trail. I'm anxious to know: What if somebody was bombing their school?


gay said...

I find it difficult to understand what is typically called "a holy war". All people feel their God is the one and only omni-potent God. If true, why would their God need mere humans to fight any war and worse over a simple piece of land deemed Holy Ground? I think not. Their God must be weeping over the mess they have made of the world.

strick said...

Re: "Their God must be weeping over the mess they have made of the world."

My understanding is that 'Their God' is the same god we claim to be one nation under.

Personally I hope that our (and their) God laughs at our self-importance as often as God weeps at the messes we daily make.