A Salute

Blogged in Hezbollah,Lebanon War,Personal by Gloria Salt Tuesday August 22, 2006

Posting has been thin of late in part because of general busy-ness but also because I’ve been too emotional about the events to write about them very well. I need a certain degree of detachment to put together a solid post, and each time I try, I find myself venting rather than analyzing. I keep coming back to the two kidnapped Israeli soldiers, whose release was the whole point of taking on Hezbollah, who have now been relegated to footnote status in this mockery of “peacemaking”. I think about their families, now entering the twilight-zone hell of not knowing where their sons/husbands/brothers/fathers are, not knowing what they are suffering, knowing only that they are at the mercy of their mortal enemies. All the families know is that their beloved is utterly alone, utterly friendless, and utterly powerless, and that this unimaginably horrific state of affairs could go on for years. My feelings about the cease-fire all come down to this: our prime minister stated as a primary war aim the retrieval of those two soldiers, and he stopped the war before accomplishing that goal. Over one hundred other soldiers are now dead, their families now in their own agonies of grief, but the two kidnapped soldiers are still in the hands of the enemy — an enemy that is busy rearming, courtesy of an Iranian blank check and an impotent UN. I can’t write about the cease-fire without coming back to those two soldiers, and as the greater political picture seems to require a broader view, I haven’t been able to write anything worthwhile at all.

But I’ve been so heartened by the conversation in the comments section. I really enjoy the readership of this blog and appreciate you, gentle readers, more than I can say. So just in case today really is the beginning of the End of Days, I wanted to be sure to raise a virtual glass to you and to promise, provided the day doesn’t end with a mushroom cloud over Jerusalem, more posts in the very near future.

10 Responses to “A Salute”

  1. Chaim says:

    It can’t be the end of days. There are engagements to keep next month. Kofi’s invited Khatami to the National Cathedral Sept. 5-6:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/21/AR2006082101685.html

  2. Chaim says:

    PS A virtual glass back at you. Speaking of glasses: rational hasbara efforts only do so much, so I’ve been supplementing them with gifts of Israeli wine whenever there’s a gift-giving occasion.

    I guess they won’t be serving Israeli wine at this place:

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1913952.cms

    It’s as though someone thought to him/herself: “the world makes too much sense; there’s a surrealism deficiency. What sort of restaurant would remedy that?”

    Not, em, that that’s the most likely explanation.

  3. Hang in there, Gloria.

    I too cannot forget the missing soldiers — and also Gilad Shalit, about whom we hear nothing these days. Has he been forgotten even more thoroughly?

    One way or another, Israel must get these men back. No rational alternative exists.

    respectfully,
    Daniel in Brookline

  4. Chaim says:

    Watch it be some kind of 1000 jihadis per 1 IDF soldier exchange like in the past. Which on the one hand is to Israel’s credit in terms of its valuing of its soldiers’ lives, while on the other hand it will highlight how far short of successful this war was. As to whether such an exchange _ought_ to be made… I don’t know. Anyone reading this probably knows the pros and cons all too well. Pro: save a few lives right now; cons: well, you know the cons…

    Sorry I’m such a downer. The positive thing I do have to say is that I don’t think the Israeli government or security services have forgotten about those soldiers for a second, even if there’s not been as much public discussion lately. I think the sort of exchange I mentioned’s more likely than, say, their being freed by a commando unit…but in any case they’re a big enough bargaining chip that I have to believe they’re still alive.

    Not that I’m expecting law-of-nature defying stuff, I should say. How likely is it, for example, that the State Department will make it a visa condition for Khatami (see above re. his upcoming US visit) that the soldiers be released? How likely is it that it even crossed Kofi’s mind to make their release a quid pro quo for the invite? Yes, I know Khatami no longer holds the reigns of power. But it would be good to have some confidence that Kofi or State are at least bringing the topic up.

  5. Chaim says:

    This is a little off topic, but if it makes you smile you’ll forgive the straying (or so I hope.. :-))

    The Israeli Air Force has an airplane no longer used in active service called Kfir

    http://www.iai.co.il/Default.aspx?docID=22950&FolderID=22948&lang=en

    Kfir means “lion cub” in Hebrew.

    This evening I had dinner with a friend, an Israeli professor who teaches at a top US university, who told me one of his students had asked him:

    “Is it true, Prof. X, that, as my other professor, Y, said, Israel wants to humiliate Muslims, and that that is why it called its planes Kafirs, the Arabic word for ‘infidel’?”

    Okay: I said it’d make you smile when in fact hearing a story like that can have the effect of just adding to one’s pessimism about the state of academe, but

    a) at least in this case the student was set straight by my friend, and

    b) something can add to one’s pessimism and be laugh-at-the-cuckoos funny as well: the two aren’t mutually exclusive. Another case in point:

    A few years ago another friend of mine told me that one of the other conference attendees at a conference she went to, someone from a non-Arab Muslim country, said to her, in indignation that she was on his panel, at his table, or whatever it was (my memory’s sketchy): “by virtue of being Israeli, you are an imperialist, colonialist, crusher of all things good” or something like that.

    My friend leaned in so that she was within centimeters of his face, took a drag from her cigarette, winked, put on a bedroom voice, and said: “No I’m not, baby. But I can be if you want me to.”

    Don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe in causing gratuitous offense. But if you can pull off a reply like that–I doubt I’d have the nerve myself; I’m not as self-consciously sexy :-)–well, all I’ll say is he stopped hassling her.

  6. Tim Newman says:

    Virtual glass? Virtual glass?!! Your pregnancy’s over! You can drink now!

    Just like I will be doing when I arrive in Russia next month. By the bucket load.

  7. Gloria Salt says:

    Tim, have no fear! I’ve been putting away the Madiera along with the stinky French blue cheese (which I consume by the shovelful) with happy abandon since the babies were born. (Which literally translated actually means a little nip maybe once a week, but that’s still something.) And a belated thank you for your offer to join the IDF. I am most sincere when I say we would be happy to have you.

  8. Chaim says:

    A restaurant owner’s welcome second thoughts (..for context, see comment no. 2 above):

    http://www.forbes.com/business/feeds/ap/2006/08/24/ap2970924.html

  9. Shipless says:

    Gloria,

    Hi there. First of all “Kol Hakavod” (all the honour to you) for this blog. Pertaining to your piece on the three Israeli soldiers that have not yet been freed. As it happens, during the last days of the war I was up on the northern border when I heard on the news (between the lines) that Olmert was going to sign an agreement/pullout before getting our soldiers back.

    I was camped up there in a field of tanks that were waiting to go in – was serving the soldiers hot coffee, cake, and such. Anyway, when I understood what was about to unfold I drove home and made some signs and then went back up and set up my own “protest.”

    What was interesting is that I was interviewed by many foreign media entities, including Reuters and AP – however -the only ones that did not have an interest in what I was doing were – surprise – the Israeli news teams.

    I had hoped that the Israeli news would actually find an interest so that people would come up and join me before the Olmert’s signing process became irreversible. That didn’t happen of course.

    I did, however, make use of the opportunity and made a video myself of the destruction in Kiryat Shmona, interviewing people that had suffered direct hits on their homes, as well as life in the bomb shelters.

    I did this because of the lack of footage being shown by the international media, of the damage sustained in Israel by the Katyusha rockets being fired indiscriminately into Israeli cities. I just finished editing it today (it took so much longer that I had hoped), as a matter of fact and will be putting it on “youtube” hopefully sometime next week, though it is quite big and I may have to put it up in parts.

    The reason why I feel so strongly on this issue is that this same thing happened back in 1982 when 3 Israeli tank crew members – “ZACHARY BAUMEL” “ZVI FELDMAN” “YEHUDA KATZ” – were captured after the battle at Sultan Ya’akov in the Northern Bakka Valley, paraded that afternoon in the streets of Damascus, and then never heard from or seen again. So, on the 11th of this last August, I could already hear between the lines over the radio, that history was about to repeat itself, or at least the Israeli government would act in the same manner (and indeed it has). I thought that if I moved fast enough that the other people would join in, right there on that field where the tanks were, just this side of the border. Well, I guess I am naive. Or who knows.

    Tomorrow, I am on my way down to Shderot to interview the people that are living daily in that war zone. This too I will put on YouTube – the hope being that it might help the “outside world” understand a bit better what is happening here.

    But that is just a hope. The truth is that I believe that we (not just Israel and the Jews – but the entire world) are on our way into a very dark period in time for mankind -darker than this world has never seen before. I do not believe that any “written word” or “moving pictures” will sway this momentum – it is irreversible.

    Well, I could go on and on here. But I will save your readers’ the trouble. I have to get packed up for my trip down to the “Gazan Twilight Zone.” Why ” Twilight Zone”? Simply because when “those” civilians get kassam rockets shot onto their city daily for the last 5 years we hear nothing from the U.N. – No resolutions. No condemnations. No concerns from Europe over Jewish civilians being bombed. Nothing.

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