Saturday, February 2, 2013

Trouble with the Neighbors

Shavua tov, chaverim! Well, our little corner of the world seems to be hotting up once again, this time with Israel carrying out two separate air strikes in Syria this past week. Some of the facts are disputed, of course, and the Israeli government is basically giving the world a big, fat, "no comment" about it all, but still, it's a bit worrying. In Nahariya, we heard loud military aircraft buzzing around the border at all hours of the night for nearly a week, although it seems to have calmed down now.

On a humanitarian level, what's been happening in Syria is absolutely dreadful. The weather here has been cold and rainy for a few weeks now, and it is certain that tens of thousands of refugees, who are mainly urbanites, have been living in tents in various refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. Some have been moved into temporary, substandard housing, and others have been dispersed throughout different communities to live in crowded and noisy conditions. Elul and I lay warm in our beds, with hot running water, plenty of food, jobs to go to and courses to attend, while hundreds of thousands of our neighbors languish in camps, grieve for their dead, and watch their dreams for their children's education, not to mention their future, literally disappear in a puff of smoke.

No matter which way you look at it, the staggering death toll within Syria itself, the continual destruction of housing, industry and infrastructure, and the enormous disintegration of mass centers of the Syrian population, all lead to a chaotic and quite bleak picture for every citizen there. It is frustrating for me to watch the daily news, where every day I see yet another bunch of politicians, diplomats, envoys and representatives all roll up in yet another bunch of shiny black cars, to sit around another big, shiny conference table, in yet another luxurious hotel, only to hear, yet again, that nothing worth a fig has been accomplished. No peace, no working ceasefires, no resolution. No end to the bombings, the imprisonments, or the slaughters.

Since Israel and Syria have not exactly been kissing cousins for quite some time, I honestly don't know if the Israeli Magen David Adom (like the Red Cross, without the cross) is directly involved in humanitarian relief efforts for Syrian refugees. I'm fairly certain that none of the refugees are staying within Israel, however. Still, wherever you are, if you have a few bucks lying around, or even if you want to skip an appetizer and a dessert when you go out for dinner next time to save the money, please consider donating to a reputable charitable organization that can provide humanitarian relief for them. There is no one in their right mind who would actually want to make being a refugee a "lifestyle choice," so let's do what we can, even if it is simply praying for peace worldwide and helping good causes however we can. Israel cannot afford to be living cheek-to-jowl with a country that has squandered its most precious asset: their own people.

Shalom from Israel, everyone.

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