Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Security Alert - Orange?

Received in my email box today.

"Warden Message -- Americans Reminded to be Security Conscious In Light
of Violence In the Gaza Strip
In light of the recent escalation in violence in the Gaza Strip,
American citizens are reminded to practice vigilant security awareness.
This includes maintaining a low profile, varying daily schedules and
routines, avoiding crowds and demonstrations and remaining alert for
people and objects that appear suspicious or out of place. While there
is no specific information indicating a threat to Americans or American
interests, there is the potential for heightened tensions. Random
checkpoints and closures of crossings from the West Bank into Israel
can be expected. In addition, planned and spontaneous demonstrations may
occur in Jerusalem, in the vicinity of the Old City and outlying areas.
American citizens are reminded of the current Travel Warning for Israel,
the West Bank and Gaza available at http://travel.state.gov/. The
Department of State continues to urge U.S. citizens to carefully
consider the risks of travel to Israel, to defer unnecessary travel to
the West Bank and to avoid all travel to Gaza."

Yesterday, I had a meeting in Tzur Baher, a small Arab village right down the road from us (click link for map view) here in South Jerusalem. When I drive to Ramat Rahel to work out (almost daily), I turn right at RR and the cars heading to Tzur Baher turn left. My camp project, Shutaf, has been heating up as we attempt to come up with funds for the pre-Pesach camp and this summer as well. (I'm glad to report that we've had some lovely gifts from friends in Brooklyn and some in other places as well - for more information on how to get involved - you and your community, just pop me an email at bysteinberg@gmail.com.) We would like to involve the local Arab community - bring kids with special needs and their friends from local villages in our area and there are a few. Resources and needs are just as high there and as we all know, working together for our kids is not a bad thing. We've been chatting with a lovely social worker in Tzur Baher, Amahl and had planned a day visiting the school where she works - seeing the programming ideas she's implemented, and talking about feasibility of bringing in a group of kids to Shutaf. Unfortunately, she called to cancel, telling us that the mood of the kids at school was not a calm one given the IDF's incursion into Gaza and that we shouldn't come, it wouldn't be safe.

While I was happy that she had been thoughtful, and we will reschedule for next week to meet somewhere on our side of town - coffee, etc - I was disappointed. I guess I hoped that I would be able to make my small bit of difference, regardless of politics, emotions and ill will. I still think it's the work of ordinary people that will one day force their will on the government - somehow and someway - I was reminded of the facts on the ground and they're not easy ones. I can barely stomach reading the newspaper lately. I have my choice of anxiety, fear, destruction and death in Sderot and Ashkelone (where thankfully, the numbers aren't that bad) and complete and utter mayhem in Gaza. I know that negotiations probably continue on in secret but in truth, wonder what are we negotiating for? To continue to kill each other and make each other's lives miserable?

Natan received an invitation/order to go to an army meeting at the end of the month. It's a job connected with munitions - techie job having to do with modern military stuff. Might be interesting, he said 'if it wasn't the army.' While I am realistic about armies defending their civilians and countries defending their turf, I am reminded as always of Golda Meir's famous quote - 'We can forgive you for killing our sons. But we will never forgive you for making us kill yours," but even a heart-rending quote like that becomes almost simplistic and naive in today's charged atmosphere of Hamas/Fatah/Israel and nobody seems to have an answer. What's with that?

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