Pulling the Wolf’s Tail

Early Tuesday morning I was in the Coventry station waiting for a train to London, and I bought three British newspapers— The Times, The Daily Mail, and The Guardian.

All, appropriately, reported the tragic deaths of five girls, all in one family, in Gaza in an Israeli strike. Only The Guardian, known for its support of the Palestinians, covered the front page with the story, but it needed to be reported and it was. As a father, it brought tears to my eyes.

The family is named Balousha. “The seven eldest girls,” The Guardian wrote, “were asleep together on mattresses in one bedroom and they bore the brunt of the explosion. Five were killed where they lay: Tahrir, 17, Ikram 15, Samer, 13, Dina, eight and Jawahar, four.” Their mother, Samira, had lost five of her nine children; she said, “I didn’t see any of my girls, just a pile of bricks.”

Most of us who have not lost a child cannot begin to imagine the magnitude of the grief. We have to hear their words. We have to know their names. But what we do not have to do is blame Israel.

It was not the fault of Anwar and Samira Balousha that they moved their family into a small house next to a mosque. It was not their fault that the mosque was used as a weapons cache and military facility. But this was also not Israel’s fault.

It was not the fault of the Baloushas that the leaders of the Gaza territory aimed and launched thousands of rockets at civilians in southern Israel during the eighteen months they have been in power and in the months before that after Israel withdrew completely from their territory, dragging recalcitrant Jewish settlers out by force.

It was not the Baloushas’ fault that the same leaders ignored countless pleas and warnings from Israel, one as recently as three days before the air strikes began, to stop the rocket fire. But these things were also not Israel’s fault.

The mosque was precisely targeted because of its military value. The explosion caused the collapse of the Balousha family’s house, beside the mosque. It was no one’s fault that the house was next to the mosque, but it was the fault of the Gaza “leadership”—the fault of Hamas—that the weapons were in the mosque and that the provocations of rockets targeting Israel’s civilians yielded their inevitable conclusion.

An editorial in Al Ahram, an Egyptian weekly, addressed Hamas directly and clearly: “If you can’t kill the wolf, don’t pull its tail.” Forget for the moment the fact that Egypt is no great friend of Israel, and that the image is not complimentary. Concentrate on the practical meaning of this advice, and you will know who is to blame for the sudden, bloody deaths of Tahrir, Ikram, Samer, Dina, and Jawahar Balousha, and for the grief of their parents Anwar and Samira.

Hamas has gotten this advice in one way and another from Egypt and other Arab moderates for years and has ignored it. Instead it has listened to the advice of Iran and Hezbollah. Sure, they said, go ahead, pull the wolf’s tail. By Monday the cost was clear; Hamas could have read Al Ahram Monday morning and taken it, and perhaps the Balousha sisters would be alive.

Those who call this a crime against humanity are living in a dream world and have no knowledge of the history of war. They also have no knowledge of the difference between targeting civilians and accidentally killing them. As of this writing the UN estimates that around 60 of the more than 400 Gazan deaths have been civilians. Every one is a tragedy. But in the crowded conditions of Gaza these numbers reflect exceptional care taken by the Israel’s Air Force and intelligence services to avoid the deaths of innocents.

In contrast, of the 542 deaths in Israel between 2000 and 2007 due to terror attacks by Hamas and others, the great majority were civilians. Why?–because mainly civilians were targeted. As for the rocket attacks, almost every one is directed against civilians. Watch this 47-second Hamas video to find out how they view the deaths of children, women, and non-combatant men in Israel. Warning: it is bloody, but it is theirs, and it will leave you no doubt about who the targets are.

Nizar Rayyan (Ghayan), a top Hamas leader, was interviewed two years ago by Jeffrey Goldberg, who asked him if he could envision a 50-year hudna (cease-fire) with Israel. His answer: "The only reason to have a hudna is to prepare yourself for the final battle. We don't need 50 years to prepare ourselves for the final battle with Israel . . . Israel is an impossibility. It is an offense against God."

On Wednesday of this week, Rayyan went on television and warned Israel against a ground action: “We are the ones who know Gaza’s every corner and know how, with the permission of God, we will kill and imprison their men and rub their noses in the sand.” On Thursday he was killed by an Israeli air strike, together with his four wives and nine of their twelve children, among whom Rayyan insisted on staying while he issued his bloody directives against Israel. Are those children’s deaths on Israel’s hands? I don’t think so.

Golda Meir said that she could forgive her enemies for killing Israel’s children but could never forgive them for forcing Israel to kill theirs. The deaths of Gaza’s children will be difficult to forgive, but it will not be Israel that needs the forgiveness.

23 thoughts on “Pulling the Wolf’s Tail

  1. Sorry, my friend, you are out of your mind if you believe the killing of Palestinean children is anything but a war crime committed by Israel. As Bill Russell has said, "There is no such thing as other people’s children."  You might ask what the alternative is to bombing defenseless Gaza.  My neighbor said to me today that the answer begins with treating the people of Gaza like human beings.  When Dov Weisglas,  Ariel Sharon’s former chief of staff, declares that the objective of sealing off Gaza and preventing food, fuel, and medicines from getting in "is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not make them die of hunger," does he speak for you?  Yes, we defend his right to speak but don’t we have a duty to reflect on his words and note their uncanny echo with Hans Frank, the Nazi boss of Warsaw?  The Palestinians’ problem is that they are stateless, and statelessness is a fatal condition in the world today.  They have lots of other problems of course, not the least of which is their abysmal leadership, but they are condemned to invisibility and evicted from our hearts because they are stateless.  I support Rabbi Michael Lerner’s call for an immediate end to the bombing and ultimately, but quickly, the implementation of a Marshall Plan for Gaza and the West Bank which would incidentally create tremendous economic opportunities for Israel and a basis for cooperation between peoples who mistakenly believe they are mortal enemies for all time.  I was fortunate to visit South Africa when apartheid was crumbling.  The very moment before, in the dark that precedes the light, no one but the wildest utopians believed that white people would give up some of their privileges and accept black rule or that blacks could rule.  The lesson for Israel and Gaza today is that yes, the bombing will stop, even if the cessation has to wait for the air force to run out of bombs, and then what?  Then it will be necessary to explore and dismantle all the assumptions about how to behave towards other people that underlie Israeli actions in all spheres in dealing with its impoverished neighbors.  You can read Rabbi Lerner’s take on Gaza and on the necessity of utopian thinking at
    http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/rdpulpit/919/rdpulpit%3A_israel_in_gaza%3A_right_but_not_smart/

  2. I appreciate Ted Rosengarten’s humane hopes. But in my view they ignore the historical truth. To assert that Israel should be "treating the people of Gaza like human beings," as he does, might carry some force, were it not that Hamas and Arab nations for decades have been treating that people like pawns not human beings. It might carry some force, were it not that Hamas has had nothing but destruction in mind for Israel, like some Arab nations for decades. For Ted Rosengarten to then slip into analogy mongering by likening Israel to Nazism, then to Apartheid, further vitiates his standpoint.

  3. I am constantly surprised that so many intelligent and supposedly sane people need to be constantly re-educated about the reality of Hamas and Israel’s declared enemies. What could possibly convince them that they mean real harm? Nothing, apparently.

  4. Is there no shame, Mr. Rosengarten? How dare you to compare the situation in the Warsaw Ghetto to Gaza? It is painful enough to see marchers with placards "Stop the Palestinian Holocaust"    once again to watch  this horrendous tragedy exploited, but for a fellow Jew to muddle the waters is a "Shande" (deeply shameful). and a disappointment.

    Tosia Schneider
    (The writer is a Holocaust survivor.)

  5. Thank you for this. I’m writing from Israel where we are staying with our son and his family. Everyone here is worried and follows the news all day long. Most think we should not go in by land but, politics being what it is, Hamas will assume weakness if Israel does not move in. Even an invasion, however brief, will accomplish only the destruction of arms depots and Hamas leadership which will be completely rebuilt within a year. What a frustrating situation, really no-win. As you probably know by now, Israel did send forces into Gaza in the last few hours. The vigil here is on. David

  6. Mel, thanks for the post, which nicely captures the moral dilemmas Israel is facing. The Hamas has been pulling Israel’s tail for seven years and in the last two weeks increasingly so. They virtually pushed this government to retaliate despite all efforts it made to avoid it.
    Maybe they miscalculated thinking this government would not act before elections (as this kind of escalation have tended to play into the right wing’s hands, which is also in the opposition and just waiting to regain power). Or maybe they wanted Israel to retaliate thinking they can repeat the 2006 conflict with Hezbollah and elicit effective Intl. pressure on Israel to yield to their demands (since the breaking news are usually when Israel reacts and not when the "regular routine" occurs and Israel absorbs rockets on civilians on a daily basis).
    But when all is said and done, what matters is for the Israeli government, any government for that matter, to protect its citizens from this rain of rockets in the South. After all, human rights are everybody’s rights, all human beings, Palestinians and Israelis alike. Both Palestinians and Israelis have the right to live in dignity and peace; the fact that Israel has a stronger army and more capabilities, and that the Palestinian militias fire rockets from within civilian population does not change this fundamental fact: the lives of Israelis are not less important than those of Palestinians. The faster the irresponsible leadership of the Hamas acknowledges this and stops its rockets on Israel, the less innocent victims on both sides.
    Doron Shultziner

  7. Well said, Mel. It needed to be said and we, especially, in the greater Atlanta Jewish community must defend Israel at this very difficult time. Thanks, Rabbi Jeff Salkin

  8. Beautifully said, Mel.  If al-Qaida were lobbing missiles from Windsor into Detroit, how much patience would the United States show?  Thousands of qassams and katushas have fallen on civilian targets in Israel over the past year, to  no military purpose but to demoralize the civilian population.  This must be stopped.  Hamas could have stopped the Israeli operation at any time by declaring a unilateral end to the harassment of the South.  Instead, missiles still fly, now encompassing a target area in which 750,000 civilians live.  

    You are right — every death must be mourned and remembered.  There is no consolation for the grieving parents of Gaza and Israel.  But the true blame is not to be cast on the combatant trying to protect its citizens, but on Hamas’ intransigent hatred that fuels the killing of the innocent and denies the humanity of the opponent.

    Arthur

  9. Dear Mel, Shabbat shalom. I read your blog.

    The weather has cleared up today but the rockets continued their way 40 km into Israel. You know the map, so make a circle of 40 km range and see for yourself which towns and cities and villages are within it. All the anti-Israel demonstrators would never agree that their government allow such raids over their homes. Sderot was under  daily rockets attack for 8 years!!!! and the government did nothing  because they were holding the policy of withholding fire to allow other political means to work. Sderot people are happy now, because so many other israeli citizens from their surrounding areas are under the terror bombardments that the government finally (!!!!) is doing something active and attacking the Hamas’ strongholds in Gaza.

    The Hamas arms and rockets are positioned and stored in the midst of the highly dense neighbourhoods of Gaza, but Israeli war planes are targeting them surgically. Are you aware that the families that live above/under/nearby such targets receive a warning phone call so they can evacuate?–such is the precise intelligence and the humanitarian concern. Do they show on your news the  stream of humanitarian aid from Israel to Gaza? Thank god it is so!

    I hate what is becoming of us, and I’m in pain for what we do to the poor, poor people of Gaza. I’m angry and deeply frustrated for what the Hamas make me do, and I hate them for making me be responsible for inflicting pain on innocent people.

    Well, when I told you they are stupid, I meant that they don’t know us at all. They translate our being willing to withdraw from Gaza (Gush Katif) 3 years ago as a weakness. They don’t understand that if they were using these past 3 years to rebuild their economy, to invest in infrastructure of health, sanitation and education (free of hatred and indoctrination against the “Zionist enemy”), had they done that, Israel would be the first to help them, and the left wing here would have been strengthened. People here desperately wait for a sign that they have partner for peace.

    But instead Hamas used the resources they received from the West and from the rich Arab countries to arm themselves with the rockets etc., misleading their own people, while daily demonstrating their intention (which has been spelled out loud since the Hamas and Hezbollah were established) to destroy Israel. They declare and they act. For 8 years israel did nothing but "targeted assasinations" and withdrawal from Gush Katif. Those israelis who strongly objected to the unilateral act, fearing the situation would become even worse, are proven right today. Under the circumstaces many "left-wing" Israelis are sobering up. (You may want to search the net for Moshe "Boggie" Yaalon’s new book.)

    In a family event today we met a couple from the south. These people have fled their home and are now staying with their kids at Michael’s niece’s home in the north. Only 2 years ago, during  the last Lebanon war, Michael’s niece’s family found refuge with this family in the south…. only 10 years ago (before the "separating  wall" was built) u could not  ride a bus or sit in a cafe in the heart of Tel Aviv or Jerusalem without risking your life in a terror attack.

    So this is it. And we are here to stay, and that’s what it take to be in a place where you are not welcomed. Only 60 years ago, it was in was in the cradle of the Western civilization in Europe….

    So we talk and do peace and defend ourselves with whatever it takes.

    We’re connected to the TV and hearing the planes above us, but here in Binyamina it is a beautiful cold morning, as if everything were normal. Well it is not, you know!!!!

  10. Dear Mel,

    I apologize for my intemperate words–I lost my temper–which reflect how insane the killing in Gaza is driving me.  "You’re out of your mind" is a scream, and I mis-directed it at you.  I don’t want to wait for the next day of atonement to say that if I have offended, please forgive.  I see that your readers are bashing that idiot Ted Rosengarten on the pages of your blog.  If only their energy, and mine, could be harnessed to bring peace to Israel and Gaza one hour sooner.

    Best,
    Ted
    (The writer is a distinguished historian and MacArthur Prize winner.)

  11. Dear Mel,

    I thought your analysis was spot-on. Your use of the wolf’s tail metaphor from the Egyptian paper really bears out the larger potential of the "Jews and Others" approach to life. You exposed yourself to media from "the other side," and you had something richer and more compelling to say about the situation for having done so.

    Best regards,
    Miriam
    ____________________________
    Miriam Udel-Lambert
    Assistant Professor of Yiddish Language, Literature, and Culture
    Emory University

  12. Dear Mel,

    I have been devouring news of the latest violence in Israel and as
    much of the dialogue surrounding it as I can lay my eyes on.  My dad
    pointed me to your blog.  He and I spoke before he submitted his
    second comment apologizing the harsh tone of his first.  Here is the
    email I sent him:

    "Dad,

    I read the comments [on Mel’s blog] this morning.  My advice to you
    and Mel both is to have thick skin and read Mark Twain’s essay about
    free speech, "Privilege of the Grave," in last week’s New Yorker.
    Open, honest, rugged discourse is necessary.  Paraphrasing another
    fighter in the cause of global peace, Bob Marley, to tell the truth
    may be an offense but not a sin. It will do less good to voice your
    opinion only in forums where the readers already agree with you.

    A favorite line of people involved in this argument is to accuse their
    dissenters of ignoring the history of the conflict.  Does that history
    start with the demarcation of the borders of Israel in 1948, or does
    it begin with Sarah’s treatment of Hagar and Ishmael and the birth of
    Isaac, much much earlier?  Either way, it doesn’t seem to me a
    fruitful case can be made that one group or the other cast the first
    stone, because, frankly, who cares who cast first.  The issue is we
    are here now.  If the quassam rockets are retaliation or resistance to
    oppression, as I suggested last night, are they justified?  If
    Israel’s subjugation of the Gazans is punishment for terrorist
    attacks, is it justified?  How many tit-for-tats do we need to recount
    to get to the bottom of it all?  My point is, going forward there must
    be a strategy for mutual respect and peaceful coexistance, regardless
    of the past.

    Betraying my own bias (and perhaps ignorance), I believe Israel, when
    its not brutally bombing the shit out of Palestinians, is more likely
    to be an earnest partner for a peaceful settlement than the
    Palestinians.  Mainly I think this because it is a fully developed
    state with international ties, subject to international scrutiny and
    economic pressures, and with sufficient domestic comforts to enjoy a
    peace-time.  The current political leadership in Gaza does not
    recognize Israel’s right to exist, so it cannot broker a peace that
    anyone should believe in.  That’s where Reb Learner’s solution comes
    in.  Israel must act as a good-faith guardian of the Palestinian
    people until they, the Palestinians, have attained standards of living
    sufficient to change their political discourse from the destruction of
    their oppressors to the sustenance and improvement of their own lives.
    This cause is severely undercut by the current atrocities.

    I wish I knew more about the history, because all I can do is look
    forward through utopian lenses, with no real grasp of what has already
    been tried and why it had not yet worked.

    love
    rafe"

    Rafael Rosengarten
    (The writer is an undistinguished PhD student in molecular biology at
    Yale University, does not claim to be an expert on politics or
    history, but cares deeply about ending human suffering.)

  13. Dear Mel

    None of your responders have thus far self-identified as Christian, so I thought I would add some comments filtered through my tradition (by the way, I speak for this Christian, not all Christians.)

    We have, in the Christian tradition, a theory of justifiable war (Just War Theory), that states that evil must be resisted by force as a last resort.  One of the tenets of this theory is that the response should be commensurate with the offense.  Another is that civilian targets are off limits.  So let me, if you will, reframing the question you pose in your blog in terms of the Just War Theory: How do you fight a just war when the enemy hides among civilians?   Who is "unjust?"  Those who "pull the tail of the wolf" and then hide among civilians or those who go after the "tail pullers" as they hide among civilians?   For Israel the dilemma is painful.  But I think you rightly point out that Hamas is unjust for placing their rocket launchers in civilian neighborhoods and storing munitions in Mosques next to apartment houses.

    The West holds Israel, fairly or unfairly,  to a higher standard of morality, partly because Israel was called into being by the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Jesus and many in the West, Christians and Jews alike, feel they must answer to that God.  Yet, at least the religious elements of Hamas, must answer to the God of Abraham, Ishmael and Mohammed.  Was Abraham called by two different God’s with two different standards of morality?  Hamas should be held to the same standard as Israel. And Israel must remember that God has a preference for the poor, the oppressed and the victimized.

    Lastly, I believe the outrage at Israel has to do with the methodology of the two warring parties.  This was brought home to me after watching 60 Minutes last night and that 36,000 people die each year in the U.S. from drunk driving.  That is more than 10 times the victims of 9/11 – almost 100 times as many as have died in this latest conflict.  Where is the outrage?   Where is the justice?  Because these incidences come in dribs and drabs, now here and now there, our attention wanes, we loose count and interest, we have no motivation for outrage.  Hamas knows this.  Spreading 542 civilian victims over seven years gets a lot less moral outrage than 100 plus civilian victims in 7 days.  You are right to pull the 542 into focus and hold Hamas accountable.

    In my opinion no one in this conflict can claim the higher moral ground.  I am beginning to wonder if a PhD in molecular biology at Yale is the best training possible for moral reasoning.  Rafael Rossengarten’s call for Israel to "scaffold" the Palestinians in light of the moral failure of their leaders is wise.  It fits the moral code I hold dear to "love your neighbor as yourself."

    the Rev. Peter L. Samuelson, Lutheran Pastor.  
    (The writer also holds a Ph.D. in developmental psychology, with an emphasis on moral development; his interesting use of the word "scaffold" comes from the psychology of teaching and learning.)

  14. The greater power has the obligation to be compassionate, especially in the face of hatred.  Israel should defeat its enemies by killing them with kindness, bombing them with food and medicine and clean water.  When Israel is a better friend to Palestinians than Hamas or any other organization is, what will happen?  It is an empirical question, but the tried and true technique of out-aggressing the other has ample evidence of failure.

  15. Very well written as usual. I still don’t know what to believe, because it seems like there is no truth and everybody is on a side. The arguments of both sides make perfect sense. I hope your writing encourages some people on your side to think more deeply about the suffering of the other side and not to become more entrenched in their positions.

    I believe the number you quoted for Israelis killed in the conflict is too low. According to the Israeli government website you linked to, 1,176 people have been killed by Palestinian terrorism since 2000. 542 is only those killed in suicide bombings. I would use the UN as a more neutral source for both sides. The UN is also on a side, but less so than the Israeli government at least. The website I found has a slightly lower number, 1,024 as of July 2007. It also says 69% of Israelis killed were civilians, which probably qualifies as a "great majority." It doesn’t seem fair, though, to quote Gaza deaths since only last week and Israeli deaths over 7 years. More than 4 times as many Palestinians (4,228) have been killed in that time, and the UN report estimates that 59% of them were civilians.
    http://domino.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/d9d90d845776b7af85256d08006f3ae9/be07c80cda4579468525734800500272!OpenDocument

    Peace (hope springs eternal),
    Adam

  16. Ann:
    In a perfect world I’d agree with you.  But then, in a perfect world you wouldn’t have a cult of martyrdom, of people more willing to die than to let others live.  And that’s what we are dealing with.  Alan Dershowitz said in an interview today that if Palestinians were more interested in having their own state than in making sure Jews have NO state, this conflict would not exist.

    Israel doesn’t want it.  None of us think Jewish mothers gladly send their sons and daughters into danger.  I don’t think the vast majority of Palestinian mothers do either, though you wouldn’t know it from the comments we see on the news of parents glorying in their sons’ martyrdom.  Israel tried using compassion, economic incentives, food and medicine.  I’ve been at the border.  I’ve seen the trucks full of humanitarian aid passing through.  Reports tonight say Hamas operatives steal the medicine and sell it to their fellow Palestinians.  There’s a cultural divide, a hatred, that doesn’t let simple human gestures be appreciated.

    As I read your post, I remembered the settlers forced by Israel to leave Gaza several years ago.  Today their settlements are launching areas for rockets that maim, kill and terrorize Israelis, both Jewish and Muslim.  Ironic.  And the greenhouse industry, which Israel abandoned intact so that Palestinians would have an economic opportunity, were stripped bare of anything salable in just hours after the Jews left.  How often must Israel bare its vulnerable throat before learning that suicide by compassion is just as deadly as homicide bombers?

    We have to remember that Palestinians chose Hamas over Fatah, death to the infidel Jews over the possibility of compromise.  I wish I could think your idea had the possibility of being right.  My heart says it’s possible; my head says no, at least not yet.  

    And a question emerges: what is the greater power?  Is it military strength, or is it the will to die rather than compromise?  Must Israel suffer for developing defenses after 6 million died defenseless in Europe and after a bloody war on the foundation of the state?  Would Israelis have become strong without an immediate threat at their borders?  

    I think the Palestinians are suffering the results of the situation the Arab armies created by attacking repeatedly for the last 60 years. I think too that they are pawns of the wealthy states that surround them.  People forget the refugee camps in Gaza were created by Arab states not wanting to let those who fled Israel into their own countries.  They used those people shamelessly and created this mess.  In a perfect world, Palestinians would vent their anger and frustrtion on the Saudis, Syrians, Iranians and Jordanians who closed their borders to them.

    I have one last question: does Israel have more of an obligation to be compassionate to her enemies, or more of an obligation to protect the lives of her citizens?
    Suzi

  17. Because many nations and most wars and, in fact, most minds are masculinist, one is tempted to believe that an eye for an eye is the best solution.  My philosophy is different and of course untested: the best way to protect one’s own is by befriending the other.  

    At this point in the conflict, so much damage has been done, so many enemies imagined and realized, the skill required to accomplish compassion (radical love) may not exist in the empowered elite.

  18. Ann, your comments are touching and beautiful. And right. I don’t think your philosophy is untested. It is the philosophy of Gandhi, King, and many others who won their battles without war, and it is part of the philosophy of Judaism, Islam, and just about every religion in the world.

    It is so easy in this situation to say what is wrong, but so hard to figure out what is right. Thank you.

  19. First, Mel, thank you for your beautifully written piece, and for opening a forum for the thoughtful and lively discussion that has followed.  I’ve struggled quite a bit over the past few days with how to think about the events in Gaza, trying to reconcile a sense of human rights granted to me almost exclusively by my Jewish faith with what looks, at times, like unjustifiable brutality in the name of protecting Israel.  While you are absolutely right, Israel is not at fault for the deaths of the five Balousha daughters, the pointing of fingers, though perhaps unavoidable, doesn’t at all address the fact that they are gone, that their parents are mourning and that their siblings, those who are left, will live the remainder of their lives missing half a family.  No, Israel is not to blame, but someone has to speak for these five girls. If not find one, then the world must at least look for an answer for their deaths, and for the thousands of other innocents on both sides of the Gaza fence who have lost their safety or their lives.

    It is here that I feel particularly paralyzed, particularly without solutions, and particularly unsatisfied by the placing of blame on one party or another.  My Jewish heritage taught me that we are our brother’s keepers, that each of us has a responsibility to be a bearer of light in whatever small way we can. While I know Israel can’t lie down and ignore attack, I find it difficult to reconcile this most important part of my Judaism with the five coffins, girls younger than me, that the Balousha family will now be putting in the ground. That Hamas picked a fight with the big-kid on the school yard, that they pulled the tail of a wolf they couldn’t kill, is no doubt true, but it should not satisfy us, as Jews or as human beings, as an answer to the deaths of five innocent people in a cycle of brutality where blame is so much easier found than hope.  

    Again, I have the deepest respect, Mel, for what you wrote in your blog-post, and for the many responses that mourned the loss of the Balousha family while still encouraging Israel to move forward in its offensive. You may very well be right, but the question that troubles me more than blame is what can be done now, what actions must I take as a young person and as a Jew to prevent the ending of lives and the filling of coffins in the months and years ahead.

  20. I am wondering if some of the crocodile tears that are being shed here would be shed if Sderot was populated by happening Ashkenasim of Tel Aviv instead of poor Sephardim and Russian immigrants. I get the distinct feeling that for many of those who have never experienced the terror of a Qassam, that Israel should have just tolerated these missiles as a nuisance. There would likely be fewer Jewish condemnations of Israel’s activities in Gaza if the people in Sderot looked like us. This is also likely why it took 8 years to respond to this threat