Last month I was asked to lead a discussion after the screening of the Oscar-nominated Israeli film, Waltz With Bashir, at the Mosaic Law Congregation Library (KOH). I was surprised when one of the participants, a scholar and a gentleman, asked me about my experience in the Lebanon War of 1982, which is the subject of the film. I was not prepared for that question, and answered as shortly as I could, without being very specific. But upon reaching home, and in spite of myself, I began a journey into my memory of that war – which is also the crux of the matter of the film – and among other things discovered a poem I had written about that war, while it was still going on. That poem (which can be found now in the “Words” page on this site, under the title HIS BLOOD), was published in the literary supplement of an Israeli newspaper, and was discussed in high schools regarding poems at times of war. But what struck me the most when I read it was not how good it was (I leave that for you to decide), but how – no, not prophetic – poignant, and therefore depressing it was in relation to what has occurred since that war, and to what is still going on today.
Specifically, I’m referring to the latest failure of the Israeli government to freeze all settlement activity in East Jerusalem and the West Bank – despite the shameful bribery attempts by the American administration – and the “success” of Netanyahu in derailing this latest round of peace talks with the Palestinians. As a result, he has managed to hammer one of the last remaining nails needed to close tightly the coffin on, not only peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, but the possibility of a two-state solution. Therefore – there will be blood.
The options that remain include, almost all of them, more wars and more bloodshed. First and most immediate among them is Lebanon, again; hence my sadness after rereading, and during translating of my poem (clumsily, admittedly). Hezbullah, of course, won’t wait for long before starting a new war. And Israel, this time, may not rely so heavily on bombardment from the air, but would invade the southern part of Lebanon again, and would stay there for a longer period of time. Hamas, in Gaza, may join the “fantazia,” with the same results: another Israeli invasion. Therefore – there will be blood.
The options available for the Palestinians, other than continuing with the current lame duck peace negotiations – controlled not by the Americans but by Netanyahu, give credit where credit is due – are two: launching a full force international campaign to recognize the Palestinian State, a process that has already begun, actually, with Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay being the first three nations to officially recognize such a state within the 1967 borders. Should this move then escalate like a snowball, it may become an avalanche, which will bury not only the fragile peace talks, but any chance of real peace, since Israel will strongly object, will increase settlement activity and harassments of the Palestinian leaders and population, resulting probably in another Intifada. Therefore – there will be blood.
The other option available for the Palestinians, an option Abbas has hinted he is willing to take, is handing/throwing the keys at Netanyahu. Here, Mr. Israeli Prime Minister, the West Bank and its Palestinian population are yours. This is your country now, part of larger Israel – deal with it! Isn’t that what you wanted all along? And please, deal also with the 2.5 million new Arab citizens of your country. Let them vote in the next election, or declare officially an apartheid state. Of course, don’t forget the 1.5 Arab citizens you have already in old, small Israel (oh, small Israel, how beautiful!). That’s about 4 million of them give or take, more than half of the Jewish population in Israel. Therefore – there will be blood.
On this wagon of conflict and war, Syria and Iran may jump too, sooner or later. Egypt is fragile currently, and Mubarak is frail and may die soon or lose power, and then all hell will break loose. Of course, Israel may contribute further to this scenario, by launching its long anticipated attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Not much is clear of what would happen and achieved in such a terrible, shortsighted attack. But surly, something resembling an all out war in the Middle East may be possible. Therefore – in the absence of peace, and of leaders brave enough to make peace – there will be blood!
Note to the reader: Since we started with a film, we’ll end with one as well: There Will Be Blood. Rent it if you haven’t seen it yet, it’s an excellent film.