Dear much-loved friends,
Over the last week many of you have gotten in touch with me via various means to simply check in with me. It has been both heart-warming and humbling that in your busy lives you still find the time to think of me and worry about my safety and to you I say thank you.
For those that do not know, I have been on somewhat of a tour just recently and departed Israel approximately a month ago, long before the situation escalated. I spent nearly 17 days in Vancouver, Canada, with trips to both Whistler and Seattle with the love-of-my-life, before flying to Denver, Colorado and heading deep into the Rocky Mountains for a scientific conference for 5 days. I returned to Vancouver for 3 nights before heading back to Blighty for what was supposed to be a flying visit to cross a stage in fancy robes, collecting a certificate and straight into the bar before returning hangover in hand back to Tel Aviv.
The plan was executed with near perfect precision. After nearly 15,000 airmiles amassed in one month I now find myself unable to return TLV as Lufthansa has cancelled all flights to Israel since Tuesday, following a missile attack on TLV airport caused the FAA to ban all American airlines to land in Israel, in turn prompted the European safety regulator (the EASA) to advise against European airlines flying there.
Provisionally, I shall be staying with the parents for a further day or two, as Lufthansa is only announcing the flight status on a day-by-day basis for the next day in the early evening. Obviously, my first priority is my own safety and on that account, I have no personal property in Israel that isn’t expendable to me. So if the situation continues to escalate then simply I shall not be returning to Israel. On the other hand, my work and my personal life is currently based in Israel and I would like to just get back to that.
For the longest time, I always tried to avoid having an opinion on the Middle East. It was my belief that with so much history and different factors it would always be impossible to have an informed opinion without significant bias upon the matter. However, when one lives in an area it is significantly more difficult to not get and be involved. It is my personal opinion, that politicians need to be removed from the situation – they do nothing other than antagonize the situation. The current Israeli prime minister seems to have a very unfortunate habit of having troubles every time an election year rolls around. Late last year, in the latest round of American backed negotiations after 3 weeks of the world’s top negotiators sitting in a luxury hotel with complimentary food, wine and spa, all they could agree upon was to come back next year.
It is my opinion that certain Western countries need to back the hell out of all the politics. To certainly stop playing both sides. And definitely stop considering the profits of arms companies who benefit from selling to both sides.
Needless-to-say, I know many Israelis. My girlfriend, many colleagues, many friends are Israeli, and many more friends are living in Israel. These people, who live peacefully deserve not to be held hostage to fear. Israel was born out of Jewish guilt and Zionism without doubt. However, the country that exists today, exists as a result of 65 years of hard work to build something from barren desert. Witnessing messages come through on the phone as friends “check-in” to make sure everyone is still alive is worrying and disturbing. When the sirens sound, you have 90 seconds to find shelter and I cannot imagine any other country in the world tolerating such fear. For proof of such, no one has to look any further than the state of Cuba even today stuck under trade-embargoes as a result of allowing the Soviets putting some missiles on the island within striking distance of the US.
Whilst, I try to remain neutral in all of this some facts still remain. Hamas actively hides it’s command structure in hospitals and schools, using ambulances as transport – that’s just good tactics. Israel maintains the right to defend itself and it’s citizens. The situation will only get worse before it gets better. Israel will continue to loose mainly soldiers – for example in a Southern Israeli city a missile hit a petrol station and took out a block, because of air-raid shelters there were no fatalities. Whilst, Hamas continues to hide behind civilians, civilians will die in the cross-fire. Ultimately, for me this remains very much playground politics. Israel remains the slow, generally friendly, towering giant that got that growth spurt a few years before everyone else. Gaza represents that annoying kids that throws rocks at people and then runs and hides behind the girls. This will rumble on until the rock-thrower gets bored, a teacher steps in (the UN in this analogy) or one day that big kid will have had enough and will pummel the living sh!t out of weedy kid. Then the teacher will have to step in and call everyone’s parents. Or the teacher ignores everything, which only quietly condones everything.
For me, I want to be going back to Israel. But with all the best intentions in the world, I do not need to be there and I’m not fool-hardy enough to choose to live in a war-zone.
It was always a consideration for me in my move to Israel that something like this could happen. And I’ve joked before that in the event of World War III kicking off, Israel is practically guaranteed to be wiped off the map first, so I’ve always kept a small fund aside for an emergency escape.
It is my hope that this all blows over quickly. But unfortunately, I can only see this escalating. Perhaps not now, perhaps not this year. Not if I’ve learned anything from watching Northern Island, it is that religion can quickly generate a multi-generational blood feud that will never end, so long as your father-killed-my-father.
But, on a brighter note, when I become less dynamic in my location I’ll take the time to put up some fantastic photographs from North America. TTFN.