Once again, the bombs are flying over Israel and Gaza.
On Facebook and Twitter, I see posts from friends weighing in. Some feel Israel is to blame because of the living conditions and strong restrictions placed on the Palestinian territories. Others are on the side of Israel, because what country would not defend itself when repeatedly provoked?
Mostly I stay out of these conversations. They are designed to become inflammatory and no one has ever changed their position on an issue because of a FB conversation. (Or if they have, I haven’t heard about it.)
This particular situation strikes quite close to home, since Joshua is Israeli and all of his family lives there – and have spent the better part of the last 3 or 4 days running to and from their bomb shelters and then listening as rockets scream overhead, hearing loud explosions as the Iron Domes try to do their jobs and destroy the missiles before they can hit the ground.
Before I get to the heart of the matter, I must tell you a short story. Today we were walking at sunset on West 72nd St. and noticed at least 30 taxis parked along the street, all of them empty. There is an Islamic Center on Riverside at 72nd, and Joshua guessed that the drivers were Muslim and therefore observing Ramadan, which required them to fast during the day. As soon as the sun sets, they break the fast with a large meal, in this case, at the Islamic Center. We saw one driver just parking his car and I went over and asked him what was going on, and he confirmed that the drivers were gathering to break their daily fast together. We wished him a good meal and end to the fast, and he thanked us with a smile, his hand over his heart. As we walked away, Joshua said, “99% of all Muslims in the world are gentle, kind people who just want to live their lives in peace. Just like 99% of Jews and Israelis, and all people, really. The people in Gaza don’t want to live every day with bombs falling around them; the people in Israel don’t either.”
This is important, because when anyone talks about what is going on in the current conflict, particularly on the Muslim side, we are talking about Hamas – an extremist group willing to sacrifice civilians to further their misguided cause. We are not talking about all Muslims. Any extreme acts on either side – the killing of the three Jewish teenagers a few weeks ago and the killing of the Palestinian boy last week – go against the beliefs and basic tenets of the religions their perpetrators supposedly represent.
That said, the bottom line is that the Israelis would make peace. Hamas and other extremist groups operating in the Palestinian territory and elsewhere will not. This video by Dennis Prager spells it out pretty clearly. Mr. Prager and I would probably disagree on a lot of things when it comes to domestic U.S. issues, but on this we agree.
I do not say that Israel and its military forces have never made mistakes – there is certainly enough blame to go around when it comes to the last 60+ years of almost daily conflict and antagonism between the two sides. But the bottom line? It could all have been avoided if the two state solution had been accepted by both sides way back in 1947. The Jews accepted it. The Arabs did not.
And here we are.