Friday, August 15, 2014

August 15


US universities are justifiably coming under ‘fire’ for old-fashioned, outdated curricula that is not in touch with today’s corporate needs. For one thing, today’s students need to know how to launch and enhance web sites and keep them as edgy as a buzz feed.

Today’s Israeli college students should – seriously – consider a semester of study in Gaza. The people there are masters at getting out the message. They called the world's attention to a piece of land dwarfed by a country itself the size of New Jersey. Trenton, the capital of New Jersey, could likewise back up street shooting and shooting off its mouth with shooting off smuggled rockets, but Trentonites just don’t seem to have that level of commitment.

Getting the message out accomplished, Gaza could further teach the counter-art of keeping inconvenient truths inside. For example, that medical help is readily available in both Israel and in Egypt. That Egypt's Rafah crossing is open to Gazans, one at a time, every day. Any more quickly, Egypt and Israel both agree, is quite simply an intolerable security risk. So if there is a 'siege' on Gaza, it is a siege with a sieve; it leaks.

But information doesn't get leaked. No videos of rifle-toting 5-year-olds. No RPG’s peeking out from under burkas in the closet, or  U-pipes under the sink. No bombs seen lobbed at trucks filled with goods at Kerem Shalom crossing waiting for entry into Gaza (that particular strategy is a civilian abuse I don’t even get). Videos of all these exist, but they are have not gone viral. Message out, garbage in. A skill set a corporation could get behind!

In Herzliya last week I attended an open house of a young university because I wanted to see the curriculum of a school without baggage. The dean emphasized that students learn to create video both because the Internet is built for streaming and because seeing is the best route to believing. To convincing. To persuading. I hereby propose a semester of study in Gaza for students to learn what can be accomplished with a portable Geo-vision camera and a strong point of view.

Press victories aside, Gaza is stubbornly beginning to swing back toward reality, toward its people. Already headlines suggest a prolonged ceasefire even if no agreement. Israel absorbed over 3,000 rockets and retaliated for each, imagine the hits Gaza took in turn. Meshaal in Qatar might not care, but his voice is finally getting drowned out by the wails of women who want their burka closets back. And their five-year-olds. 

Israelis lost (even as they won) too. Here in Manhattan they touchingly poured out the 64 names of fallen soldiers onto a shop window (has anyone come across it?). 

Hearts on both sides absorbed loss and sacrifice and now must stretch still deeper and wider, enough to make room for optimism, hope, and the future. They must expand. And they must be patient.

It needs time, as a quiet future requires silencing extremists like Riad Natzer. Hamas' West Bank head was arrested on May 27 and is now on trial in Israel, according to the Jerusalem Post, which featured the picture below, for staging terror cells to be ready for the day he ordered coordinated kidnapping and suicide attacks on many parts of Israel at once. 

Hamas supporters reenact kidnapping of Israeli soldiers Photo: REUTERS

Kind of like a one-two punch: combine civilian kidnappings like Hamas in Gaza purportedly planned for the Jewish New Year next month using tunnels into Israel, with suicide attacks like at Passover in 2002 at the Park Hotel in Netanya (killed 30, seriously injured 20). This was before the arrival of croissants, and before the walls had to be built between Israel and its neighbors.

Hopefully a friendly flow of neighboring Arabs and Israelis could resume for rebuilding businesses. Like the greenhouse enterprise in Gaza that Hamas destroyed the day Israel pulled out. Say what you will, capitalism is better than militarism. If Wall Street bleeds you, it's only money. And money is on offer to the Gaza Strip for investment by many wealthy wolves, such as Saudi Arabia, the US and Israel. Not only for basic needs after years of Hamas neglect and abuse, culminating in a striking war, but also for unlocking the potential; the Gaza Strip is a wide open field day for investors. College semesters teaching corporate branding are barely the tip in the Strip.

Agreements aside, a good war ending would mean Israelis can resume spending leisure shekels in Gaza, and Gazans can work again in Israel or in Egypt. Or in revived Gaza. All sides were better off before Hamas; they hopefully wind up much better off after.

The wider region's future also got a bit brighter when the US supported minority Yazidis stranded by ISIS. Obama sent in 20 green berets on foot to look around. They found not 40,000 but nonetheless 5,000 stranded, in much better shape than thought, but still stranded. CBS News online reported, "The team has assessed that there are far fewer Yazidis on Mount Sinjar than previously feared, in part because of the success of humanitarian air drops, airstrikes on (ISIS) targets, the efforts of the Peshmerga (Kurdish fighters) and the ability of thousands of Yazidis to evacuate from the mountain each night over the last several days," said Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby on Wednesday.

And in part because this region sure knows how to sell an image. Semester abroad anyone?

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