September 14, 2007
I thought I would wait until the day after Jewish New Year to comment on the status quo, so you would not think of me being tangled in the emotions of the day.
Actually, it was a quiet day. New Year’s Eve here is a gentle affair, with visits to the synagogue by the religious and traditionalists, and dinner at home with the family. Perhaps, later, the teenagers go to parties. They’re no different here than there.
There’s certainly no standing in the city’s main fountain, counting down to midnight. That’s silly.
NY’s day is quiet. It’s another Sabbath – and with this year’s falling on a Thursday, we’re having a very long weekend. A few restaurants open, some coffee places. I walked to the beach and there were quite a lot of tents and barbecues – but nothing like the usual Sabbath, when the smell from the skewered meats and vegetables force you back home.
The new year is 5768, just in case you’re interested. Seems the Ethiopians coincidentally were celebrating their New Year, 2000. According to a BBC report, sometime during the 6th C, the Christian World discovered new information about the birth of Christ and cut over 7 ½ years off the calendar. Perhaps the Ethiopians were then only living in the hills, with communication far worse than today. Either way, they did not change their calendar, so here we are.
I try to be a ‘good salesman’ for this country (‘ambassador’ can be a misunderstood word). Read my e-mails, or listen to me when arguing with some tipsy Irishman on a Scandinavian ferry, and I appear to be quite right of centre. But sit me with our friends in Jerusalem, whom we visited yesterday (you know who you are…), and I sound left-wing, even to myself. But sit me next to a ‘real’ left-winger at some London dinner table, and I become somewhere out there on the right next to the late Meir Kahane or the still very alive Uzi Landau. Got to put the right face on for the right occasion.
Checked something on today’s Jerusalem Post website. 2 subjects screamed at me:
Suicide bomb attacked foiled in Beersheba. While we hear about and notice such events; it’s rarely a subject for the international community. No explosion, no news.
The Kassam rocket attack on Kizim, which wounded 76 soldiers 3 days ago has already been shoved onto one of the inside pages.
But Wednesday’s Post I did read, and it was full of the news. Of the 69, 3 seriously injured, plus 1 critical. So what should we do? What would YOU do?
In the period since we left Gaza, 6 Israelis have been killed and many injured. A small number compared to the average 15-20 Kassams being fired each week. Small numbers….How about 69? Should we change that to 69 dead?
OK, a ground invasion of Gaza would surely play into Hamas’ hands, and certainly would undermine whatever attempt Abbas is making to inch closer to Israel. But there are other alternatives. The obvious one is to cut off supplies to Gaza. Start by switching off the electricity. Of course, that would cause the usual overseas (read ‘United Nations’, ‘European Union’, ‘Arab League’, ‘France’, ‘British academics’) outcries. (I wonder if 69 dead would change their minds?).
How about moving the prisons holding the thousands of Palestinians into those areas (making sure the guards received special protection against the rockets). No, that would encourage the Hamas to shoot more Kassams, cause more devastation and disruption to decent society.
Does that comment surprise you? Then you’re still not understanding what’s going on. That Israel and Iraq are only the front lines for the real problem: Moslem extremism. We think it’s the Sunnis against the Shiites and all that. But when you see the pact that is arising between Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas, plus a sprinkling of Al Qaida etc., a mixture of the 2 sects, then the real picture emerges.
We’ve had 59+ years of pressure and unacceptance from our neighbours. Iraq’s situation has obvious differences, but it will have the same turbulence for many years to come. In some ways, that upheaval has begun in most Western countries.
This may sound a but H.G. Wellsian, but….you have been warned.
Finally, if Madonna & Demi Moore and their husbands & entourages like it here, it MUST be a great place. Right?