Posted by: Liza Rosenberg | January 10, 2009

Excerpts from an audio diary

The essay below is the transcript from my January 8th audio diary entry (filed on Wednesday evening, January 7th), written specifically for the BBC World Service radio show “The World Today“. Currently, two of my three diary entries can be found online here.


This is Liza Rosenberg, keeping an audio diary for the World Today. I find it ironic that on the day we began attacking Gaza, my family and I were in the city of Jaffa, wandering through a crowded street fair whose theme was the celebration of three holidays – Chanukah, Christmas, and Eid el-Adha. I grew up in a multicultural society, and it’s very important to me that my son receives as much exposure to other cultures and religions as possible. Now I have a son who believes in Santa Claus, but that celebration of coexistence seems farther away than ever today, on the 12th day of fighting in Gaza.

Nothing in particular stands out for me today, and I still haven’t decided whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing – good, because maybe we didn’t make any crucial, tragic mistakes on the scale of yesterday’s school bombing. Bad, because maybe I’ve just gotten used to the daily dose of death and destruction that has permeated every facet of life during the past twelve days, whether it be the conversations of colleagues and friends or automatically pausing near one of the large plasma televisions mounted in the train stations, showing non-stop footage from the south.

If you were to ask me what I think of the current situation, I believe I’d say that I no longer know. On the one hand, Hamas forced us to take action, pushing and goading until we fell into the predictable trap of responding. I truly believe that this is exactly what they wanted, for us to turn on them, to cause innocent Gazans to die. On the other hand, when we act, how far should we be prepared to go? Hamas has always crossed the red lines, smashed them to pieces, in fact. Does that mean we should do the same? What does it say about us, when we fire on a building we know to be a school, even though we were fired upon from that same building first. We know that Hamas was using the school on purpose, hoping we would respond and create scenes of tragic devastation. Just because an opportunity to return fire presents itself, do we always have to seize that opportunity? Our political and military leaders have to know that there’s no amount of explanation they can provide, that they can justify yesterday’s actions until they’re blue in the face, providing proof in the guise of eyewitness reports and aerial photos… None of it will ever be able to compete against the images of death and devastation being broadcast around the world.

And where does all of this leave me? Alone with my thoughts, fears and frustrations, hoping that a solution to this horrific nightmare will be found soon, hoping that next year, I will be able to take my little Jewish Israeli son to Jaffa to see Santa Claus once again.

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  1. Sensitive and moving. You are fantastic.

  2. There are two wars being fought simultaneously. The actual war in Israel and the war of public opinion. Sitting on the sidelines, safely outside Israel, with no actual war to distract me, I am very worried about how badly we are losing the war of public opinion. Should I be so worried? How much does it matter?

  3. I am appalled by the inability of Israelis to argue their own case. There is something disingenuous about Palestinian talking heads making hay from their own dead and no one pointing out the immorality of it.

    No one supporting Israel points out that peace — even peace talks — cannot be had with an adversary who will not recognize your right to exist. Israelis must say this again and again and again and again in the teeth of not one but all, all Palestinian arguments. Not the dead, not the blood, not the collapsed economy of Gaza — nothing can argue for peace without a recognition fot the other fellow’s right to exist. I am saddened by the loss of life but also irritated by the wimpy responses of Israel’s representative to the UN, by its Army spokesman talking about how much care they take to prevent the fewest casualities. This is a propaganda war and Israel isn’t winning it because it has a technological advantage but not an advantage in logic over dead bodies.

    Other Arab nations have a lot on the line here too if Hamas and Hezbollah succeed because these groups are backed by the religious right wing of Iran and the Moslem Brotherhood, but so long as Israel absorbs the blows no one cares. It is not just coincidence that the Egyptians closed their own borders and have been pretty subdued in their response.

    Furthermore, no one points out that the public in the west does not understand that without that acceptance of Israel all peace agreements are considered but temporary respites in the Hamas jihad against Israel. In a jihad (or religious struggle) one can use all peace treaties as an opportunity to regroup and fight another day. So long as the end point of the struggle is not given up — neither is the fight!

    Hamas uses terms like the “occupation” which gives it a kind of logical cover for continuing its aggressions. This works in the West because it is understandable — even if it is not actually true. Israel doesn’t occupy Gaza and hasn’t for a long time. When Hamas uses the term occupation it is referring to the occupation of Israel proper — not just of Gaza. Israel has a right to prevent the import and export of weapons that come along with goods and services.

    There is no way out of the box that Liza and other Israelis feel because on some level they actually still have moral and ethical feelings for the victims. Hamas has no such feelings because for them the wounded and the dead are actually part of the battle against Israel. They represent part of the resistence, part of the jihad. Even without their acceptance they are part of the army of Hamas. No one points out that part of their argument.

    And Israel’s right wing religionists are no bargain either. Their logic is as flawed and ridiculous as the Palestinians’. “Settlements now, settlements forever” seems to be their motto.

    Yes, you can feel bad, but I long ago stopped feeling ethically responsible for Palestinian dead. When they recognize my (Israel’s) right to exist in peace and begin to act in a way consistent with that then peace may yet come to the area. But frankly, knowing the cultural mindset of the Palestinians, I am betting on a continuation of this bloodshed especially if the other Arab states find it convenient to let it continue.

  4. I’m far from convinced that people in the West accept Israel’s right to exist any more than Hamas does.

  5. Your post conspicuously neglects to mention how the Israeli government engineered this conflict with the blockade of Gaza.

    Or this interesting tidbit:
    Keep spouting your Megaphone propaganda, Bonnie. Who was it that said “If you tell a lie often enough people will begin to believe it.”?
    You’ve learned that lesson well.

    Eventually the truth will come out.

  6. @someguy: Liza’s audio diaries are about how her personal life is affected by the war. They are not political tracts.

    She has been very candid about her conflicted feelings; each diary entry has shown remarkable humanity and sensitivity.

    Don’t piss on that with your partisan politics and self-righteous anger.

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