I dedicate Edwin Starr’s 1969 hit, War, to Hamas. Maybe someone can translate the lyrics into Arabic:
What is it good for?
War I despise
Cause it means destruction of innocent lives.
War means tears in thousands of mother’s eyes
When their sons go out to fight and lose their lives.”
How many have died now in Gaza? 2000 and counting. And for what? Hamas, originally known for and popularized by its social welfare programs, hides in tunnels beneath schools, mosques and apartment buildings while the supposed beneficiaries of Hamas’ generosity are pummeled by bombs targeting those very tunnels. But as Hamas spokesmen have said in the past, “we love death more than you (Israelis) love life.”
Hamas is just one example of the whackos in the Islamic world. Let’s add them up: Bashar Al-Assad – the butcher of Syria, Hassan Nasrallah – spiritual head of the fanatical Hezbollah of Lebanon and now Syria, ISIS – Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (said to be more fanatical than Al-Qaeda), Ali Khameni – spiritual head of Iran, Mohammed Morsi – former president of Egypt and head of the Muslim Brotherhood, who assisted in the transfer of most of the rockets into Gaza, the various Libyan factions – take a pick, and even Recep Erdogan, the president of Turkey who recently said the following about Israel, “"Just like Hitler, who sought to establish a race free of all faults, Israel is chasing after the same target. They kill women so that they will not give birth to Palestinians; they kill babies so that they won't grow up; they kill men so they can't defend their country ... They will drown in the blood they shed."
Isn’t there something fundamentally wrong here? I’m no Islamophobe, but wow, “if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it’s probably a duck.” The Islamic world is in crisis. Sadly, there is no Islamic country anywhere in the world which models human rights. Instead, there are autocracies like Saudi Arabia and Egypt or failed states like Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. In fact, the only stable country in the region which provides freedom of religion, free speech and a free press is Israel, while most of the rest of the region are her sworn enemies. It's hard to believe the great promise from Isaiah 19:23-24: "In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria (Iraq). The Assyrians will go to Egypt and the Egyptians to Assyria. The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together. In that day Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing on the earth."
In the meantime, Israel plods along. Except for the southern communities, life hasn't changed much. Tourism is significantly down, the latest estimate about 20%. In the long run, this can seriously affect Israel's economy. Also, the war itself is incredibly expensive. Estimated costs so far approximate $2.5 billion. Israel's overall annual budget is only $114 billion, and defense is allocated $15.5 billion, meaning the war has already used 16% of the defense budget with no end in sight. Taxes are already high in Israel, and even though the Finance Minister has promised no new taxes, I'm not sure if that's possible. I've already had two law clients from the south contact me about leaving Israel. As one said, it's no place to raise a family.
Yet, most of Israeli society is amazingly resilient. The war effort enjoys overwhelming support from the Israeli public. Reservists leave jobs and homes and relocate to army bases around the country to support the active soldiers, including one of my law partners. Unlike the United States, all Jewish Israelis serve in the army unless they receive religious exemptions. For most, it's a rite of passage, a secular one alongside bar mitzvah and marriage. Interestingly, many Messianic Jews serve in the military, often with great distinction. Sadly, a well known Messianic Jewish soldier was killed in action just a few weeks ago.
Nevertheless, war is a terrible thing. General William Sherman from the US Civil War said it best, "I'm tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance for desolation. War is hell."
In conclusion, quoting another songwriter, in this case Jewish:
"Yes, how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry ?
Yes, how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died ?
The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind."
War! What is it good for?