Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A human face to the tragedy of the Israeli Lebanon war

As the Lebanon war raged, David Grossman, the celebrated Israeli writer, publicly urged his government to accept a ceasefire. Just days later, his soldier son was killed by one of Hizbollah's final anti-tank missiles. This is the eulogy he read at the funeral, which I hope you read in full.

Blogger Richard Silverstein, of Tikkun Olam asks "Of what possible use is the death of such a gifted child? There is but one silver lining. If his death can persuade a single person who was sitting on the fence that peaceful negotiations should trump war–then perhaps, just perhaps, there is some small shred of meaning we can glean from his death. Of course, I willingly deceive myself in this. Uri Grossman’s death is a vast waste of human potential. It is Israel’s tragedy writ small."

Meanwhile, Israeli Reservists attack Olmert's war tactitcs. Brigadier Yossi Heiman, head of infantry and paratroopers, told a ceremony on Sunday: "We have sinned the sin of hubris." The Spearhead Brigade, a unit of Israeli Reservists just returned from Lebanon, had an open letter published in the Israeli press yesterday, stating they'd lost confidence in Israeli leadership (specifically Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz.) Peretz has called for a limited investigation, but Olmert, (looking more and more like Bush Light) says "We don't have a lot of time to talk about what happened," he said. "We have to talk about what will happen."

The Reservists wrote about a lack of indecision, which they called "the cold-feet" of the decision-makers, saying they felt they'd been spat in the face by the leadership. "The heavy feeling that in the echelons above us there is nothing but under-preparation, insincerity, lack of foresight and inability to make rational decisions, leads to the question - were we called up for nothing?"

Calling for the resignations of Olmert and Peretz, another group of Reservists conducted a protest march of about 100 people went from Castel, the site of a 1948 battle, to Olmert’s house. Reservists may freely criticize the army, and were instrumental in bringing down Golda Meir's government after the surprise Yom Kippur attack by Egypt in 1973. The growing protests in Israel have not yet reached that level of strength, but it is growing.

The Kadima/Labor coalition has been weakened; the main beneficiaries of its potential collapse would be the the right wing. In all likelihood, they will pull together to try to preserve their coalition. Still, Olmert and Kadima, who were elected on March 28 with a campaign promise of sweeping withdrawal of settlers from the West Bank, have shelved that promise as Olmert talks about rebuilding the North (where I once lived.)

But the Reservists' demand for an investigation is finding support in Parliament. Olmert is against this because such an inquiry might have legal powers to question him and other government officials. (would that lead back to the US neocons?) Yesterday, while visiting Kiryat Shmona (which was hit by nearly 1/4 of the 4000 rockets fired into Israel by Hezbollah), Olmert said "I won't be part of this game of self-flagellation." Nice.

Olmert has asked his attorney general to come up with alternatives to a formal inquiry. A governmental investigation authorized by the cabinet, for example, could be better controlled by Olmert, even if outsiders are involved, and the cabinet could decide what is published.

Public Security Minister Avi Dichter suggested that Israel pursue peace talks with Syria, a Hezbollah sponsor, even if it means giving up the Golan Heights, which Israel conquered in 1967. Olmert rejected this suggestion. He says he will not negotiate with Syria until it stops supporting Hezbollah and Hamas.

In Improvisation class we learned about the process of building vs. blocking. In Improvisation, when your scene partners makes an offer (whatever they say or do is an offer), you can build by saying "Yes, and..." or you can block by saying "No" - well, where do you go when you are blocked? I've written before about the spiritual principle of "you go first" no matter who started the conflict, you must be the change you want to see in the world. If you lay down your weapons, if you step forward no matter what the risk to extend your hand in peace, you become the thread to mend the tear in the world.


robin andrea said...

The piece by David Grossman made me weep. That is the voice that needs to heard. It is the voice of peace and sadness. Yes, someone must be the one to take the first steps toward peace. We wait.

karena said...

What a brilliant and insightfull piece. I read about the anti-war author's son being killed and it ripped me apart.

I am so proud of these reservists for pushing Olmert. In a country where everyone has to sign up for duty, they want to make damned sure their leaders will only "use" them in the appropriate circumstances, not to create carnage and chaos on a political agenda.

Hopefully the movement will continue and Olmert will face the music long before "We're staying as long as I'm Pretzel Man," will.

On to a different topic, I was reading that while it appears that there is a divide between Pretzel Man and What the Hell is This Bar Code Reader Dad, the only real issue is that Bar Code Ignorant Dad is worried things will get carried too far and he and his buddies in the war profiteering business will not be able to continue raking in the profits if public opinion shifts too much.

I have been really suspicious of Bill and Bush Sr.'s close ties and grow more so each day. I used to think they wanted to save us from Jr., but now I think they just want to prolong this stuff and keep making money.

DivaJood said...

Robin Andrea, I also wept when I read David Goldman's eulogy. That is the worst nightmare any parent can face: the death of a child is hard enough, but when it is under these circumstances - how horrible, how useless, how senseless.

Karena, thank you. I'm just sad. Beyond sad. This is not my Israel. This is not my United States. And as for "No Broccoli" Bush and Bill Kristol, it is all about the money trail. Follow the money. Who is getting rich over this? It leads back to the Bush Family, the Texas Oil Cartel.

Alicia said...

Amen, Diva. Beautifully put. And you're doing just that. You're a force for good.

pekka said...

What a wonderful and sad piece this is, and your take on things is shared by me.

You managed to see a glimmer of hope that the Grossman's sacrafice wouldn't be in vain which, in the precent circumstances, I am unable to share with you.

Every passing day that the Palestinian question isn't satisfactorily solved, things just get more complicated if not unsolvable. Military option should finally be seen as what it is - no option at all.

It sure doesn't help to have these war criminals in the White House "advancing" the cause of peace in the region.

DivaJood said...

Alicia, thanks. I appreciate it.

Pekka, force is rarely the answer as a first choice - that's what's so wrong with the USA right now - Bush believes in force as the only solution. Olmert is right there with him. Won't work, will not work.

Rory Shock said...

roger that

karena said...

If anyone I have ever encountered has more reason to have a sad, sad heart than you, I must have blanked it out. This is not my country, and you are stuck with two countries you have great love for, doing the unspeakable. Plus the personal things, the friend in the car wreck, the suicide, the death, and then in your work life all this strife with clients. My heart goes out to you and I'm just glad you have that beautiful grandbaby and lots of friends who support you and your big-blog friends. You hang in there and thank your for sharing your beautiful insights and your humor.

DivaJood said...

Karena, I'm not unique here, but simply one of many who are angry and outraged at how the PNAC crew has hijacked America, and is taking Israel down with it. All of us who regularly visit each other's blogs feel the same way - it's wrong.

My friend who was in the car wreck has amazed everyone - she's up, driving, walking (with a walker, which has tennis balls on the back legs of it) and she was in amazing spirits through all of it. Now that she's up and about, she's a bit cranky again, more like her normal self.

My friend who's son committed suicide is healing; they knew that they did all they could, and feel that Matt was just one of those flames who had to burn to bright, too quickly.

My friend Sandy's death was a shock, we none of us saw that one coming because she was so fucking private. My travel Ya-Yas all donated together to the Susan G. Korman Breast Cancer Foundation, but I also did something to Animal Welfare.

I truly believe I am extraordinarily lucky, and have a rich life; not only because of my wonderful face-to-face friends, but also because of the friends her in the blog-o-sphere. You, among them! Hopefully, we will meet in either San Antonio or out here in Los Angeles - but if it's Texas, we'll need to do a side trip to Crawford and throw tomatoes... Your sister can join us.

Tina said...

Oh my God Diva... that eulogy was absolutely heartbreaking. How can they find the strength to go on?
I'm so sick and tired of watching this country speed towards a cliff at 100mph while war fans cheerlead death and destruction.

Musings from Myopia said...

This is too much for some men to comprehend. The pain, the horror, the loss. It is beyond reason. How can we call them all in and make them come to their senses?

DivaJood said...

Tina, I think of Professor O and his wife, and the story you told me - the constant fear for their family in both Israel and Lebanon. But they go on. And Grossman's daughter will give them strength to go on. Life goes on.

MFM, Impeach Bush, indict Cheney, now. There's no other way, really.

karena said...


Hang in there with that work schedule. I really really want to come to L.A. but it looks like through September I will be hitting the East Coast.

If you come to Austin, sissy will not throw tomatoes in Crawford. Her hubby is a big fan of the Bushter and those tomatoes would not fly! We can do it ourselves and Glenda can come too.

I am happy your friend in the car wreck is getting along okay. Why do they put those tennis balls on the feet of those walkers? I see it all the time. You'd think the walker manufacturers would make a killing if they went into the tennis ball business too, or just designed the damned thing right.

DivaJood said...

Karena, your sis IS a sissy if she won't sass the Sap who lives in the White House. But, yes, you, Glenda, me and anyone who wants to toss a few hothouse tomatoes (NOT heirloom, they taste too good) I am so there.

As for those walkers, you would think they would make them with little rollers on the back, and brakes. Meanwhile, she is on her second walker, and the tennis balls on this one are almost gone. I told her she'd be smarter to just replace the tennis balls than the walker. Oh, and then as I was setting up our meeting room tonight, I noticed that she had set the thing aside and was pulling chairs into the circle. I yelled at her and made her sit down.