The World According to Elie

Perhaps that is too grand a title, but I have two Elie-isms for today and didn’t know which one to use as a title.

The first happened during Shabbat, as he was playing with his younger sister. Her endless squeals, his capture and tickles. They wrestled, he grabbed her and lifted her in a hug as she complained and ran. At one point, he said to her, “Before I kick you, give me a hug.” It was…it was just Elie, and of course, his sister complied immediately.

The second Elie-ism happened as I drove him into Jerusalem today. There was one of those amazing scenes – a new meeting point, protected by soldiers on the perimeters…high and low…and then I saw why – hundreds, perhaps a thousand soldiers – with guns, without, Elie’s artillery beret, green ones…light and dark, colors, backpacks…and so many buses. A central meeting point to take these soldiers back to bases far and near. I saw a helicopter circling…it was a vivid reminder, though none was needed, that though my son and these soldiers serve so close to home…they are, for days at a time, so very far from our reality.

But, before I dropped him off, we were talking about the escalation in rocket attacks in the last few days. 10 last Thursday, several on Shabbat, four more in the early hours of the day.

“Will it take another war to stop these rockets?” I asked Elie.

“Probably,” he answered.

“Will the world understand this time?” I asked myself, as much as I was asking him and his answer was the one I expected.

“Probably not,” he said, and then came his latest Elie-ism. “It’s like they’re complaining to the world, ‘they hit us back first’.”

It reminded me of a story from my childhood. I don’t actually remember it; but I’ve been told the story so many times. Apparently, I was not the most angelic of children; I was, more often than not, the source of the conflict.

One day, my sister went to my father and complained that I had hit her. My father promptly believed her story and came and disciplined me. During or after his punishment, I explained that my sister was in fact the one who had hit first.

My father didn’t know what to believe and so he returned to ask my sister. She told him the truth, “yes, but she hit me back.”

Thus it is with the Palestinians. They shoot rockets at us; taunt us; dare us. And then when we do hit back by attacking a military unit about to launch rockets, the Palestinians demand world attention, UN inquiries. How dare they hit us back, they cry to all who will listen and even those who won’t.

Yes, we dared to hit them back today and yesterday and so it reminded Elie of the story I’ve told from my childhood. The difference, sadly and absurdly, is that I was a child of 4 or 5; the Palestinians should know better…as should the world.

Four more rockets today…the world, according to Elie, should know better than to fall for the persistent complaints of the Palestinians. “Yeah, but they hit us back” shouldn’t work in the real world.

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