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Yesterday, after classes, I went home to watch Israel television, which was reporting from the scene where the most recent missile had landed, an Arab village outside of Bethlehem. The men from the village had not gathered for a political demonstration. Without prompting, they did shout out for the Israeli reporter: “Let them shoot more rockets! Let them shoot more!’ The reporter, asked, also with evident incredulity, ‘But wouldn’t that mean endangering yourselves?’ Their response was, “Ain baya! (No problem). We don’t care, let them shoot more!’
The current new cease-fire notwithstanding, the conflict here cannot be solved with common sense (would that it could), or the approach of the former Secretary of State James Baker, who famously remarked, ‘Let’s get some coffee and donuts, sit around a big oak table and hash this thing out.’
For me there was a new acknowledgement with the thud of the missile landing, dusk falling upon Jerusalem. The actions of not only Hamas of the past eight days, but also Iran, the power both militarily and ideologically behind the Gaza-based terror organization, offer evidence of values and priorities dangerously different from our own.
‘We liberals,’ to paraphrase the philosopher Richard Rorty, are the kind of people who want to ‘avoid cruelty.’ Sometimes cruelty and suffering cannot be avoided as evidenced in the heartbreaking photos of destruction and displacement in Gaza. It is the place from which missiles continue to launch, and where candies and sweets are passed out to celebrate the success of a blown-up bus on the streets of Tel Aviv.
The missiles fired on Jerusalem, and the comments of the man in Bethlehem are even more chilling. What I have been telling my children now for two decades (that we are safe here) has been exposed as fiction. With the cavalier proclamations about death, still another lie is revealed. That lie is that Iran would never use a nuclear weapon in an attack that would kill their own fellow Muslims. This is the gulp I felt in my throat, repressed, as I reported back to my parents in Long Island that we are all ‘fine.’ It’s the knowledge that Hamas and their Iranian backers are not liberals like us.