If things go as well as they can, the hostilities in Gaza and over Israel’s skies will fade away, ending, if we all are lucky, with a whimper rather than a final series of bangs.
Of course, this is not the first time that we have assumed that the fighting was going to – had to! – end during the week to come, and each time we have been wrong. Still, each time it seems to have resumed with more creaky reluctance. And we also know that even when this operation is over, the situation will not have changed substantially. The hatred aimed not only at Israel but at Jews across the world is more clear and easier to call by name, and there is a great benefit to clear-sightedness, but it is ugly.
And, of course, the strong, tough, intellectually fecund Israel is circled by concentric rings of violence and hate.
But as everyone who has visited reports, there is unusual unity there now. The idea that Israel had the moral obligation to defend itself against rockets from its enemies is widely accepted. As Israeli historian Fania Oz-Salzberger, a moderate leftist and the daughter of novelist Amos Oz, wrote in the Times of Israel, imagine you had a “neighbor who sits on his balcony, his baby on his lap, shooting into your children’s bedroom.
“Would you shoot back at him? Yes, you would.”
The fact that this simple analogy is controversial outside Israel does not keep it from being true, or from being widely accepted in Israel.
Israelis might well be unified because the pressure from the outside is pushing them closer together, but it seems that often, perhaps to their surprise, they discover, when they find themselves at the same funerals or shivas or rallies, that they like each other. That often happens when people actually meet. It is hard to demonize someone who is palpably human, genuine flesh and blood.
Meeting each other, demystifying people unlike you, can happen closer to home as well. The JCC on the Palisades in Tenafly is matching some of its nursery school classes with elderly participants in its senior center; allowing 4-year-olds and 94-year-olds to delight in each other. (See page 6.) The 4-year-olds have much to learn, and the 94-year-olds have much to teach. And children’s joy can be infectious.
We are not naive. We do not think that roses stuffed into gun barrels will stop bullets from flying. We do not think that if we could just all get together and love one another right now, war would end, with swords and guns and uniforms all scattered on the floor. But it would be a start. We hope that the unity at work in Israel now holds and grows.
As we did last week, as a step in that direction, we urge that any of our readers who is able to spend the time and money it takes to go to Israel do so. Israel’s economy needs it, and its psyche needs it even more. They should feel free, though, to fly. As extraordinarily impressive as Dov Neimand’s trip is, kayaking across the Mediterranean to show your support of Israel is both way above and well beyond. (See page 20.) Go – but take the plane!