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יום חמישי, 22 בינואר 2009

Thoughts from Gaza

This is a second email I've sent family and friends after I left the Gaza Strip at the end of operation Cast Lead (עופרת יצוקה). This is my first and by no means the last post I'll be writing in English.
The first email included the crude thoughts which I formulated close to the harsh experience. They are irrelevant to this blog, besides mentioning the fact that I was almost killed and witnessed extraordinary acts of destruction in the Shati refugee camp.
Jews believe that miracles and divine providence don't have to include special effects like the splitting of the sea or hearing HaShem's voice on Mount Sinai. Therefore on Monday, in the synagogue, I pronounced the following blessing in the presence of ten adult Jews, after we read a portion of the Torah:
Blessed are You, YHWH, our Elohim, King of the Universe, who bestows good things on the unworthy, and has bestowed on me every goodness. 
(any of you who has reviewed the Hebrew posts, should understand why I changed HaShem or Lord to YHWH and God to Elohim - in this blog I intend to stick to precise theological terms which carry a meaning in Hebrew which cannot always be translated into English. 
The meaning of the blessing is: YHWH, the transcendent Creator and Master of the Universe, is also the immanent Elohim, the One who protects and saves us. I also make him my Elohim - my focus of worship - by acknowledging his providence)
May we need not rely on miracles in the future.

I also believe that everything HaShem does is for our spiritual growth and evolution (otherwise it's a waste of His miracles and our precious time on earth). Since I came back home on Sunday I kept on reflecting on what I saw and learned.

First: We've delivered lots of damage to the Palestinians. Palestinians claimed that there are some 1300 dead and some 3000 wounded and that at least 70% of them are civilians. The outpost in which I was stationed (one of many and a small one for that matter) was on top of a demolished neighbourhood - about 100x150m.

I have no remorse for all this mess. On the contrary. The IDF was usually too humane in past operations - often at the cost of soldiers' lives - a situation which I perceive to be immoral. To be more blunt: in previous operations our politicians worked by the Christian moral code whose main statement is weakness makes right because humans are unworthy irresponsible creatures in the eyes of God. The Jewish code states the contrary: that justice makes right; whoever initiates violence should pay; and that you've got to care for you own kind, and not for you enemy, even if this enemy is supposedly weaker than you.

I do believe however, that most of this could have been prevented if we responded with military might right at the beginning of the Kassam rocket spree, when the "only" ones who suffered were the small villages near Gaza. But each time the rocket's range became larger, the government chose to bite its (our) lips and talk about peace and how restraint projects power. The politicians who backed up the withdrawal from the Gaza strip with the pretence that it will give us the justification for major military response, were also the first who pressured the government to hold back for three miserable years. 
Looking back, you wouldn't believe the crap they were feeding the public. 

Second: I believe that through the Palestinians we should relearn a lesson which we in the West tend to forget: Freedom of choice - which is embodied in the right to vote - fundamentally comes with responsibility. In one of my favorite S.F. novels, Starship Troopers (novel. not the lousy film!), the author Robert A. Heinlein, wrote the following words: 
This was the tragic fallacy which brought on the decadence and collapse of the democracies of the twentieth century; those noble experiments failed because the people had been led to believe that they could simply vote for whatever they wanted… and get it, without toil, without sweat, without tears. 
In 1933 the Germans democratically voted for the Nazi party and they cashed in during 1945 with carpet bombings (Look up Dresden in Google). The Palestinians voted for Hamas in an (almost) sound democratic election. Instead of going on and developing their lives after Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip (they've got one of the most beautiful beaches I've ever seen...), they kept on doing the only thing that Palestinians as a collective know best: terrorising Israel.
If you'll be hearing anyone (usually from the Left) saying that they are poor and we should feel sorry for them, tell them that with the same rationale they can justify any street mugger who's having a hard time with his cash flow. Remember, weakness does not give you any rights or claims.
Third: the job isn't finished yet, and in the Middle east it never is. Whenever we try to go for peace it gets worst. One way or another we are going to find ourselves back in there.
Fourth: We still have a soldier in there. Gilad Shalit, son of Aviva and Noam. He is still alive. Don't forget him in your prayers

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וְהַחָכְמָה, מֵאַיִן תִּמָּצֵא; וְאֵי זֶה, מְקוֹם בִּינָה.
אֱלֹהִים, הֵבִין דַּרְכָּהּ; וְהוּא, יָדַע אֶת-מְקוֹמָהּ.
אָז רָאָהּ, וַיְסַפְּרָהּ; הֱכִינָהּ, וְגַם-חֲקָרָהּ.
וַיֹּאמֶר, לָאָדָם--הֵן יִרְאַת אֲדֹנָי, הִיא חָכְמָה; וְסוּר מֵרָע בִּינָה. (איוב כח')

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