Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, remarked that Israel’s armed forces deserve a Nobel Prize for their “unimaginable restraint” during Operation Protective Edge. Benjamin Netanyahu said the blame lies with Hamas for the 1900 dead in Gaza. Barack Obama condemned the killing of civilians in Gaza but just inked a bill providing an additional $225 million to Tel Aviv to improve the Iron Dome anti-missile system, bringing the total funding to $576 million for fiscal year 2015. From the window of the 13th floor condo I’m staying in for a month while helping with my grandson, I can see the Freedom Tower, a major symbol of oppression throughout the world. The Gaza-Israel ceasefire is over. Of course. At this minute, I’m listening to an audio, someone’s announcement that Hamas is at fault for launching a rocket because demands have not been met, demands for dignity, for equal rights. I tiptoe in and stare at Mr. Pompadour, asleep with two fingers in his little mouth. The love I feel for him is so big, it should be capable of something hugely beneficial. So why am I easily brought to tears? Because I cannot look at my grand baby without seeing the children of Gaza, the children of war. Imagine the smell of burning buildings, burning flesh, burning bones. Imagine the expressions of terror. Imaging trying to comfort your children through the blasts, the deliberate targeting of homes, schools, hospitals, and, really, the deliberate targeting of children. I feed Mr. Pompadour a bottle of his mommy’s milk and think of the mothers in Gaza whose stress likely would prevent the production of milk. When I take Mr. Pompadour out in his stroller, I’m equipped. Diapers. Wipes. Extra outfit. I’ve had to rush back in with him, remembering something I forgot, something he might need. And I see the Palestinians who receive the phone calls telling them they have five minutes to leave, to find shelter, before their houses are blown apart. But where is this shelter? There is no guarantee of safety in a school, a hospital, anywhere. I can’t look at Mr. Pompadour without thinking about war, desperately wanting it to end. I can’t look at him without thinking of what ifs. What if they were bathing the baby when that phone call came? What if they were changing the baby when that phone call came? I can’t look at him without thinking about the inhumanity that defines the conditions in Gaza. At the end of this month, I return home. I can feel the emptiness in my arms as I think about this, leaving Mr. Pompadour. And then I see the empty arms of all those who have lost their children during the insanity of war. Back to that Nobel Prize for Israel’s military: Consider former recipients, like Obama, the president with a kill list. There’s consistency, here. Missy Beattie can be reached at email@example.com.
August 8, 2014