Jewish Journal

Is it Over?

by Susan Esther Barnes

August 5, 2014 | 10:31 am

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

As I write this, the 72 hour ceasefire appears to be holding, and the IDF has withdrawn its troops from Gaza. The unpredictability of this conflict, however, makes it impossible for me to write with any confidence that by the time it is read it will not be hopelessly out of date.

After a month of seeing this war endlessly debated on TV, online, and in social media, sending care packages and letters to kids of friends in Israel, worrying about the number of people buying into the misinformation, concern over the innocents and IDF soldiers wounded and killed, I sincerely hope it is over.

Only I know it is not over.

Even if, please God, the cease fire holds, the struggle is not over. The IDF will investigate each and every claimed civilian death, and will try to put each one into context. Some of the deaths will turn out to be the result of IDF errors. Some will be the result of Palestinian rockets that were misfired. Many of the supposed civilians will turn out to be militants. All of the facts will be asserted, denied and debated.

Now is a time of hope and possibility. It is possible this will be a turning point for Gaza. It is possible the people of Gaza will be fed up with Hamas and the destruction it has brought them. It is possible they will see the tons of cement and the millions of dollars spent on building tunnels for war instead of building homes, schools, and hospitals, and will say, “enough is enough.”

It is possible that an international body – not, God willing, the impossibly biased UN – will be put in charge of demilitarizing Gaza and ensuring that the aid which inevitably pours in is put to good use. It is possible that the next truckloads of cement will be used to rebuild infrastructure rather than terror tunnels. It is possible the next several millions of dollars spent will be for the good of the people of Gaza and not for the rearming of Hamas.

I know it is possible. I fear it is unlikely.

I see the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe and in the United States. I see it here, where I live. Where I always felt perfectly safe living openly as a Jew, and now feel a little less safe. I see the bias at the UN, which, at least, admitted that some of its own facilities were being used to store Hamas rockets. I see it will be very difficult to find an international group willing to watch over the demilitarization of Gaza, let alone one that both the people of Gaza and Israel will trust.

I like to see myself as a realist, with optimistic leanings. I want to believe this can be the dawning of a new day for the people of Gaza and Israel. I fear that it will only be a break in the hostilities.

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Susan Esther Barnes is a religious Reform Jew who can regularly be seen greeting people at her synagogue before services. She is a founding member of her synagogue’s chevra...

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