Last year on my birthday, Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in Pakistan. This year on my birthday, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) began bombing targets in Gaza to stop the rain of rockets falling on Southern Israel since the end of the ceasefire with Hamas on December 19. I wonder what next year's birthday will bring.

Technically, it is arguable that the incursion into Gaza can be called a war, as it is not a conflict between two countries but rather one country and a political-military entity. In Israel, however, the media has called it as such, as have the politicians. And so I state, that, my observations in Israel during a time of war are most disheartening.

What fails to make sense to me is: How is it that war is still considered an effective method of change? The United States got away with dropping nuclear weapons on Japan in 1945, bringing the war on that front to a stark and horrifying conclusion, but do we, as a human race ever EVER want for that to happen again? Are we not more evolved, more refined, more capable in the 21st century of managing conflict in a place, by the way, where people have more in common that what they have been led to believe?

It is understandable that the world is up at arms, marching through streets shouting slogans to end the war, to call for a ceasefire. It is unfathomable how in a week and a few days, hundreds have lost their lives, thousands have been wounded and those who survive this disaster will be left with nearly nothing to eke out an existence in the aftermath of Israel's attempt to remove Hamas from rule in the Gaza Strip.

However, there is more in the streets than a call for a ceasefire and a call for peace. There is a continued call for the end of Israel, and that is where the conflict intensifies and the Israel-supporting Jews and Israelis supporting the government's decision to invade Gaza, become more hardened, more embittered and more alienated from the rest of the human population.

The discussion, the demonstration, the debate, the tears, the anger cannot be about bringing an end to the State of Israel; it has to be a call for Israel to abide by international law and to make good on its promises. If anyone, the residents of the West Bank have greater reason to be fed up with Israel's policies than with those in Gaza, because Abbas and Fayad are toeing the line and, still, for the Palestinians the situation under occupation has not improved.

The violence is unforgivable on both sides. How it is that Hamas believes it will prevail with this method of rockets falling, killing, destroying, terrorizing and harassing Israelis of all walks of life, including Arab-Israelis, is incomprehensible. How an organization claiming to be for a living, developing nation could be so willing to jeopardize the lives of so many, filling them with hatred along way is also beyond my capabilities of understanding. But they have a right to resist, but they have a right to a country, but they have a right to Jerusalem, to compensation for refugees...

This is not what Hamas wants. Hamas wants an eternal battle, they will always need an enemy, if it is not the Jews or Israel, it is Fatah. If it is not Fatah, it is the United States, it is Egypt, one day it could be their current sponsor, Iran. They play a despicable game with people's lives, with children's lives. Children who have no choice but to emulate what they see and experience in their environment.

At the Tel Aviv University campus last week, Palestinian and Arab-Israeli students held a protest against the violence. Around a hundred students came out in their keffiyehs and their signs of solidarity with Gaza. They were angry and I found out, extremely sad.

My friend Davide and I spoke to two female demonstrators to ask what they wanted to get out of this demonstration. They wanted a stop to the violence. Telling us about a mother and her four children who were killed that morning in IAF bombings. One of the young women said, "They want all of the land," then thought again, "All of OUR land."

I responded to her, "It's all of our land, there's enough for all of us, and we have to all live here, so what do we do?"

I continued to ask her how do we make it stop? What's our plan? Other Jewish students were coming up to them and asking, "what about the rockets?"

They couldn't answer how to make the rockets stop, and neither were they justifying them.

But I wasn't interested in that argument. I was more concerned with the fact that none of us had a plan or a vision of what instead.

I continued to talk to the other young woman about the situation. She continued to tell me about the brutality, the starving, the suffering. And I told her, "I know, I want it to stop too, but how?"

We looked at each other and I asked her if I could give her a hug. I did, and when I pulled away I could feel tears forming in my eyes. When I looked up at her, she had started crying. There was no more anger in her body language, there was total sadness, defeat and helplessness.

She said, "I am so sad I feel like crying."

"Me too," I said.

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Comment by Heidi Basch on February 4, 2009 at 9:35am
I agree with you wholeheartedly, Rick! Best to you.
Comment by rick on February 4, 2009 at 9:26am
very well written, and its interesting to hear your perspective from where you stand. I've spent time in Jerusalem and the west bank on both sides and heard many different perspectives. Propaganda and angry words from both sides, you can find many phrases from top Isreali government officials saying they would like to wipe out the Palestinian people, but that doesn't mean its the official or popularized opinion of the isreali people nor government. Likewise to focus on the angry words of some Hamas officials against Isreal, shouldn't discount them as the legally and democratically voted government. I wish people would stop focusing on Hamas, and start to deal with each other like human beings, both sides want peace and stability. It wasnt long ago when Fatah was the arch enemy, hamas or fatah the issues are the same. Growing up in Belfast through the troubles and being part of the peace movement there, I reject all use of violence, 'state' and 'terrorist/freedom fighters', just as I condemn the act of chosen retaliation by Hamas of shooting rockets, I reject the Isreali government use of blockades, assassination squads, intimidation techniques (the list can go on) - both sides need to stop - the palestinian people need to be given a land to control they way they want, human rights need to be upheld, the isreali government needs to listen to the UN and be prepared for proper negotiation not on their terms but on external mediated fair terms.
love and deep respect
Rick
Comment by Riyo Widianto on January 9, 2009 at 3:41pm
perhaps the anti-war israeli citizens should come together and act to stop their government's brutal acts and apartheidistic methods....perhaps israel doesn't have to end, only those evil policies and policy makers that brings sorrow to palestinians.....only when palestinans are treated with respect as human beings and given their rights, can peace prevails....
Comment by Kathy Lee on January 9, 2009 at 1:02am
silly frank, but cute, this 'war' has been going on for thousands of years, 50 years in court will delay not cease. I,ve heard we need about 36000 before humanity evolves enough for such awakening. What do we do now? Just our best in being one of the first 100 monkeys.
Comment by Mark Kolb on January 8, 2009 at 11:51pm
The people of Gaza and Israel both want peace. However it is the government of Israel that treats Gaza as if it was like the old Warsaw ghetto. Peace can start when the poverty ends and governments control this not the civilians.
Comment by SETH on January 8, 2009 at 8:01pm
Wow! What a great post! Insightful, heart-felt and so enlightening! Heidi, please keep writing! We in the USA do not get an inside perspective. Awareness can change anything and your posts can be an integral part of that change in awareness. Looking forward to your future writings.
Comment by SETH on January 8, 2009 at 7:55pm
W
Comment by Heidi Basch on January 8, 2009 at 9:52am
Dear iPeace friends,
I believe I have read each and every one of your comments, poems, websites, thoughts, sharings, etc...I am so grateful that you took the time to read my blog and to be open to feeling and sharing so much.

This morning, 4 rockets hit Northern Israel and as I think about this, I realize how frail and unstable the whole situation is here. I feel frightened because there is no telling what will happen or won't happen. Funnily enough, or not, I'm not sure, I thought of iPeace and thousands of people conversing and sharing on this network and thought, now is the time to comment back because I need to be connected to those people, those people who understand the difficulty of the human situation and in spite of it all, still hope and dream and cry and share thoughts of peace.
Please, please help us all here through your intention and prayer that our hearts be open, that Israelis hearts stay open to the possibility of peace, that the Gazans will be in peace and that their hearts do not turn to unrelenting hatred, that the people of the West Bank stay with open hearts, that rockets do not fall from the North, that we all wake up and realize the most important thing is to be able to live this life and may that we all be able to enjoy a life that allows us time to go from one point to the next, realizing our dreams along the way, dreams that contribute to life, existence, spiritual and personal development, and to the idea that there is space in our hearts and in our world for the most beautiful light that we all are.
With love and a little bit of fear in my heart,
Seeking your waves of good intention,
Heidi
Comment by ELIZABETH on January 7, 2009 at 6:34am
Heidi, I've been in Israel I've seen the social differences that prevail in the country would read my blog? "Response to Noa's letter", share your thoughts with me please
Comment by Luis Rafael Reyes Vila on January 7, 2009 at 3:06am
I think the Israel and Gaza situation is very sad and dificult because the people of this nations are not reponsible of the bad decisions of their goverments. To restore the peace en the region the people of the Hamas and the Israiligoberment needs imediatly stop the fire. Remember us The people of Gaza are not Hamas. Hamas is not a nation is a terrorist group and Gaza has people want´s the peace and security for their familys living in harmony with the people of Israel.
The israelfamilys to have the same a rigth to dream of peace and security.
The terrorist of Hamas are began the confilct broking the last stop fire. Israel just tray to defend the city and the peolple.
The international comunity realy have to underestand the people of Israel are not responsible of the situation and the ONU can be a good interlocutor for both nations could live in peace.
I hope for your nex birtday you could fell very happy thinking this conflict it´ll be finished.
Rafael.

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