Sunday, April 10, 2011

Gaza Chad Gadya*

I received the following article from Eric Yellin, a resident of Sderot and head of The Other Voice - a group of residents of Sderot and communities near the Gaza Border, maintaining continuous contact with Palestinians of the Gaza Strip, promoting neighborly relations and dialogue in the south. He wrote this article last Wednesday and tried in vain to find a newspaper which would publish it.
At this moment the media reports that a fragile cease-fire is apparently beginning to take effect. We can hope that it will last. The article, written before the current escalation by a Sderot resident who lives there, near the Gaza border, is still very much worth reading. First and foremost, as a warning for the next escalation which might come upon us soon - if we do not take care to prevent it.

Sderot, Wednesday, April 6, 2011
The smell of Gaza War II - Cast Lead 2 "- is already in the air.

Israel calls for calm, but continues to initiate liquidations and disproportionate retaliations upon Gaza.

Hamas calls for calm, but continues to launch missiles, and allow others to launch missiles, at Israeli towns.

For months now, the streets of Gaza are in a condition of ongoing alert. Gazans try to put some food aside and plan where to hide, even though most of the population there have no money for food caches or protected hiding places.

Here in Sderot we are about to complete construction of reinforced protected rooms in every home. We will be the world's most protected city!. Beer Sheva and Ashkelon have gotten the Iron Dome anti-missile- missile system to protect them. Ashdod wants it, too, as does Yavne, and Rishon Lezion, too...

Gaza is again in the headlines, another flotilla is on its way, a Hamas rocket engineer was arrested, and above all - the article by Goldstone, allowing Israel to tell herself once again that we posses the most moral army in the world. What a wonderful timing!

There, everything is ready! What are we waiting for? Are the Emergency Mobilization orders on their way? More than two years have passed without anything interesting happening. Two years already? Really? When are we setting out?

But wait a minute! Stop!

Remember the sounds of war, the salvos from helicopters, the aircraft and bombs, the tanks and the artillery shelling. Remember the buzzing of drones, the air raid alarms the sound of rockets falling and hitting. "Did this one fall on us or on them? On them, how lucky!".

Remember the horror, the confusion and helplessness. The mothers, the fathers, the children, the blood, the dead, the wounded, the families left homeless, the outcry of the father who lost his daughters, the outcry of the children who lost their parents, the non-deliberate attack, the deliberate attack.

Remember the excuses and the detailed explanations. Remember the mumbled apology and the moral explantions. "The goal was to restore our deterrence, not to reach a decisive victory."

Remember the day after, when everyone gathers up the pieces. What has changed by this war? Is everything OK now? What have we gained? Why did we start it? Who is responsible for the fiasco? Nothing has changed really, but we did teach them a lesson, didn’t we?

It is our duty to challenge the supposedly preordained cycle of violence. Our leaders must do some courageous re-thinking, come up with a different solution for the endless Chad Gadya* in which we live.

We must talk to the enemy over there, behind the fence. Yes, talk to the enemy! And not through the gun sights and the targeted killings. The demagoguery of "this is the only language they understand" does not work anymore. It leads us again and again to dead ends, to relative and temporary calm which but sets the scene for the next violent outburst which is followed by another relative and temporary calm and another violent outburst…

Must talk courageously about a long-term truce, and then talk about a real and permanent solution which would give a life of dignity and hope to all residents of the region.

But first, we must stop the next war.

*Chad Gadya is a Passover song about a chain of violence - for the English translation click

Eric Yellin is a resident of Sderot, and represents "Other Voice