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Does Israel Speak For The World's Jews?

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Opening commentary of legendary host and entertainment icon, Lila Garrett, from her weekly radio broadcast, CONNECT THE DOTS, on KPFK Pacifica:

Welcome to CONNECT THE DOTS. I'm your host Lila Garrett and for the first time in my life asking myself the question that has stumped everybody from Socrates to George Carlin for centuries.

That question: Who am I?

Oh I know the statistics. A mother, a grandmother, a friend, a broadcaster". I won't bore you with the rest of it. But somewhere in the mix I also know I am a Jew. If someone were to say what is a Jew? I would have to answer: I don't know exactly, but I do know it's at the core of my being. I guess if I were really Socrates or George Carlin I would be able to define it more eloquently. But since I am not one of those penetrating philosophers, I just know that when that core is shattered, the next question is, what do I do with the pieces?

It all happened in the last few weeks when three unarmed Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and killed while innocently hiking near Gaza[sic]. This hideous crime was, we're told, performed by Palestinian zealots. We are also told that Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu knew that those teenagers were dead days before announcing it. Instead Israel made the decision to hold back that information, allowing the search for them to go on, building the public's rage against the kidnappers -- again, presumed to be Palestinians. I say "presumed," because Israel, known for its expert intelligence operation, rarely shows this kind of hesitance in naming criminals. As for the 3 teenagers, Netanyahu lost no time making it clear that the Palestinians "will pay dearly for this crime". So far, grim as it is, it's nothing new. Both sides are forever playing pay back in an endless nightmare of violence. As part of that payback a group of insane Israeli fanatics found an innocent Palestinian teenager and burned him alive. To be fair, this too outraged Netanyahu. He made a point of blasting that crime as no more acceptable than the murder of the three Israelis. No one, irrespective of what side they are on, will be tolerated for these crimes he said.

No one apparently, except him"

Because two days later Israel and Gaza were shooting rockets into each other's territory without letup. They claimed that Hamas, the leading party in Gaza, started it and maybe it did, but the Netanyahu promise to make the Palestinians "pay dearly" hung in the air. So the rocket barrages grew but the damage was not equal on both sides. Israel has an iron dome system which prevented serious casualties on their side. While, from these initial barrages Israel lost 2 people, (one from friendly fire), Gaza lost 200 including 80 children, 4 of whom were killed by Israeli guns from a war ship while playing soccer at the beach. Cold blooded murder.

As for the rest of the country, the population is locked in like a jail cell. All one and a half million Gazans are jammed together in a 25 mile sliver of land. So despite Israel's practice of pre-warning civilians about what area they were bombing next, potential victims had no place to go. They were, and are, stuck, getting killed like fish in a barrel.

A little history: In 2006 Israel declared Gaza an independent country and to prove they were sincere they called for free elections. But when Hamas won, Israel went crazy. Even when Hamas began its term by holding out a friendly hand in hope of a detente, Israel would have none of it. Instead hostilities became more intense and there have been constant short but lethal attacks ever since. Each of these bloody sessions has ended with more gothic restrictions on the Gaza population. They are now forbidden by Israel to leave by sea or to migrate to Egypt or anywhere else. They are not allowed to import or export, This means their economy is not hurting; it's dead. Jobs are not in short supply, they're in no supply. As for food and medicines"what are they? The people of Gaza vaguely remember"if they're lucky.

When weeks ago Egypt offered a deal for a cease fire, Israel agreed to it" but not to the demands of Hamas. Israel then renewed its attacks. Hamas, meanwhile had made demands that even the New York Times felt were surprisingly modest. So modest in fact it's hard to understand why Israel, if they really wanted peace, would refuse them. Here are the demands of Hamas, straight from the New York Times.

"The release of arrested Hamas operatives the reopening of the crossing from Gaza into Egypt, the reduction of Israeli restriction on the movement of people and goods, and the payment of salaries for Hamas-appointed government employees."

Nowhere did Hamas ask for recognition as the elected government of Gaza. But why would they since they refuse to recognize Israel. So that point seems negotiable. Still, they did not even ask for the ability to import and export. They asked for a reduction, not even an end of Israeli restriction on the movement of people and goods. And yet, as minimal as those terms were, the Israelis responded by stepping up attacks on Gaza and its trapped population. Fish in a barrel indeed. How ugly can it get.

Now, after another brief period of quiet, the gloves are off. Israel has launched a full ground attack on Gaza. Why is that necessary? Let's take some educated guesses based on fact:

The fact is that Israel feels the need of more land to extend its wealth, power and population. The fact is that it will not now, nor will it probably ever tolerate the concept of a two state solution. Where will the other state come from? The West Bank where Jewish settlements are so plentiful and settlers are so fanatical? Israel would have to fight it's own people to ply them out of there. Will this ever happen? Not likely. The fact is that the Palestinians and the Israelis who once lived peacefully side by side in the same country had better become one nation again, or they will battle, murder and pillage for the rest of time. You may not like the sect of your neighbor, but you had better tolerate it or resign yourself to endless hurting and killing" as we see in Iraq with Sunni and Shia" who, before we entered the picture, lived very comfortably together.

Most of the rest of the world has learned that lesson. Ask the Irish, ask the South Africans, ask the nations in the European Union. Ask the United States for God's sake. We out here in the rest of the world have learned either you live together or you perish together. Will Israel ever accept that reality? This massive attack on Gaza certainly doesn't look like it.

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Lila Garrett is an Emmy Award winning writer and host of KPFK Pacifica Radio's popular political talk show, "Connect The Dots," which airs on 90.7 FM in Los Angeles.
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