Wednesday, August 6, 2014

August 6

Happy Birthday

End of the war (no more counting, though still waiting)

War was an awesome experience: a diverse, modern nation taking a single stand. Officially, Operation Protective Edge is over though Eric’s troops and a few others are holding at the perimeter in case there is no breakthrough in Egyptian sponsored peace talks. Local cooperation, a new concept. Hamas needs to show something for its destruction. Israel survived, and the rest, as they say, is gravy.

Israel understandably feels 'good' about this war. It made a dangerous border much safer. But the world cries “foul!” Where's the disconnect? In the press, where Hamas feels good, better than Israel.

Battle of the Press:

Hamas has friends in the press, and Israel well, doesn’t. Let me pick on the Finns to illustrate since Finnish reporters were ever present in Gaza and I haven't spoken to a Finn since I visited the Myllykoski Oy paper plant as a banker 30 years ago. You'd think a nation that can say 'Oy' would have empathy.  But a Finn reported that Gaza was shooting from Shufa hospital. Indeed Hamas shot from mainly schools, mosques, and houses, so a hospital was news. A French foreign correspondent only got rattled enough to report when the shooting came from next to the journalists’ own hotel. Hamas lost that PR shot, but overall here is how the press plays: Israel retweeted the Finnish report of firing from Shufa Hospital. The reporter protested that Israel is using his report as propaganda! Let that sink in…

Here is another clear one. Another Finnish reporter visited Erez Crossing to see a field clinic that was set up at the border to help wounded Gazans. Israel is number one in the world at battlefield hospitals (an IDF/Jewish doctor mash up). They were the first medical treatment center in place in Haiti after the earthquake. Half a world away, a great team mate of the US, 90 miles away, and still first on the scene. Even CNN reported that. scroll down the page a bit till you see it, writ large.

The first baby born to a Haitian in 2010 post-quake was named: Israel. Ditto in the Philippines after the 2013 typhoon. Babies; Israel saved lives.

Israel performed this same magic, an insta-hospital in an army tent that functions better than many permanent world facilities, in the Erez Crossing, in a war, to save wounded Gazans. It did save some. It could have saved more. Reason? Only time patients got to see the eager-to-do-good doctors was if accompanied by a third party (IDF or UN). If alone in a car or on foot, Hamas shot them. Dead. From the Gazan side of the Erez Crossing. In front of Israelis. So when this Finn visited the clinic, it was empty. What did the Finn conclude? Israel set up the clinic as a cheap PR stunt. Because, what enemy would help wounded on other side? Luckily, the Finnish reporter graciously offered not to report, to kindly not make Israel ‘look bad.’ But this is what Israelis do, it is part of the army mission: Benny Gantz, the IDF chief (who once stopped Eric to check in with him at the end of a tough army trek), promised to rehabilitate Gaza. “It is morally important ​​and we have nothing against the people of Gaza; they have a right to live just like everyone else.” 

Yet crazy Hamas wins the PR battles, because they fight harder, and dirtier. Regarding Finns, Israelis get the last word, literally, as more people in the world today speak Hebrew than Finnish. Oy and vey.

From a ragtag group of refugees showing up on ancient shores to escape world’s most organized persecution called the holocaust, to a modern country with its own flag and UN granted right to exist. And a population consistently rated among the happiest in the world. Let that sink in.

Maybe because happiness is earned, and Israelis work at it. Dennis Prager, Columbia University Middle East Institute, School of Internatioal Affairs said it took him years to synthesize, but he got it down 1947 to today, in just over 5 minutes. A bombshell of info in a nutshell, starting with the UN mandate.

Ah, the UN. Easier to pick on even than the Finnish. The UN schools, when the dust settles, will all have been hit by Hamas. The first two, the refugee camp, even the third school all are crying foul about, where Israel hit a motorcycle outside the school and killed 3 combattants and created a hole in front of the gate. The rest is staging. Pallywood. But around the world it goes. And UNWRA – well, look it up. This organization redefines bizarre.

Is the media naïve? After knowing the 2002 Jenin massacre was staged? After photos of Syrian battles were posted as though they were of Gaza last month?
The press may be that naïve – but the market gets it. Google briefly had an app called 'Bomb Gaza' for Androids where you fly an Israeli jet that drops bombs while avoiding civilians. It was downloaded over a 1,000 times until it itself was dropped, from the catalog. But in its short life, Israelis avoided civilians.

Another app still around is 'Iron Dome,' which protects you from bombs shot into civilian areas.

The market gets it. Why not the press?

Does it matter if the press is choosing Gaza as the favored underdog, like it chooses a candidate running for an office? Maybe not. But it does matter who gets to run this land.

Jewish 'rule'
You don't have to be Jewish. Or heterosexual.

Muslim 'rule'
Sharia. You have to be Muslim. There are no Muslim homosexuals, so no worry, but no adultery unless you want to get stoned, and not in a good way. And if you're a woman, it's certainly no laughing matter, at least not in front of Hamas’ dear friend, Mr. Erdogan. He outlawed such behavior, women laughing in public, in Turkey, 500 miles away from here, like New York to Charlotte NC.

Maybe no Western country can win here. There are not always Goldilocks endings in the Middle East, or anywhere. The US thought democracy would have spread everywhere by now. Instead the Cold War is looking frosty again. And then there's Sharia.  Israel won this battle because it knows the enemy; the rest of the West does not. This same war is raging in Syria, future Kurdistan, Iraq, jumping to France, England, Germany, etc. If Americans think they're safe it is because they haven’t contemplated the 9/11 memorial in New York City.

To Radical Muslims life is a crusade. This century is their time to rule. We may be able to wear blinders, following the Finnish and the British and the French and the American and the UN press, but our kids or grandkids will get pulled in.
If Israel is destroyed, it will be in the land of Megiddo, called Armageddon, the site Christians prophesied will see the final battle of Good and Evil. Megiddo, a one-hour drive from Tel Aviv, has been overrun 25 times throughout history. The winners always feel just. So it is always a matter of your point of view. What is Good? Evil?

I personally am hopeful that the west will make it. It keeps the soul alive. It is the name of the Israeli National anthem, haTikva, the Hope. I thought it was captured well in this painting by an istraeli artist in the Tel Aviv art museum. A dark base (Ignorance. Hatred. Oppression.) rises into an enlightened joining of hands. 

For today, peace negotiations. If Eric gets stuck at border, it means talks are not going smoothly. Israel is prepared to finish the job, but Hamas are not the only crazies in this region, and not even the worst. They don’t decapitate, just saying. But outside, today, in the streets, it is paradise again. Blue sky. Blue sea. As a nation Israel summoned deep courage and moral fiber, wrapped in an awe-inspiring national unity. Chins are up. And so is the surf. The beach in Netanya, the new home of French Jews, is calling my name. I hear you actually can get a good croissant there. I’ll let you know.