Archive for August, 2014

Arabic Numerals

Are Arabic numerals the last gasp of a once proud people?

Smelling victory in the air, Hamas and their brethren were on the verge of defeating the Israeli minions.  Not by military might, but by the weight of public opinion.  Tossing mindless rockets, some less lethal that those shot in the air on the Fourth of July, the Palestinians threw themselves on the funeral pyre and almost welcomed the more sophisticated weapons of killing that descended upon them.

The number of dead Palestinians, many of them wide-eyed beautiful children put in harm’s way, swung the pendulum toward a resolution of the awful conflict that had made the world grimace and cry for what has seemed like eons.  No matter the actual numbers slain.  No matter if most were combatants.  All that mattered were the damning photos and genuinely tearful stories generated by the all too willing media.

Jews all over, sensing the need to protect Israel began to fill the web-way with counterbalancing and often untrue stories.  Stories that sometimes demeaned Arabs.  As though this would somehow turn world opinion. Stories that are ineffective at best and obnoxious at worst.

Even I, a Jew, found myself uttering things like “Are the Israelis crazy. The whole world is turning against them.  They look like monsters.  Every anti-Semite is smiling.  Settle for God’s sake.  You can’t win by increasing the body count.”

But as the scenario dragged on and repeated itself, an odd thing happened.  Cease fires, too numerous to count even with Arabic numerals, were started and then violated.  It seemed to go something like this.  Hamas and the Israelis agree to a temporary cease-fire.  Hours before the cease-fire is to end, Hamas sends rockets into Israel and hits nothing.  Israel retaliates in spades and hits everything.  No matter, world opinion is on our side, Hamas says.  We can do this all day.

But the world begins to yawn, lose interest and move on.  And the world says “Is Hamas crazy?  Settle already.  I’ve got other things to worry about.”

Snatching defeat from victory.  Maintaining the status quo.  The current mini-war will eventually end.  Hamas will claim victory by the virtue of still standing erect.  The Palestinians will reward Hamas with continued support.  Israel will go back to enlarging the settlements and giving world opinion the finger.  And the anti-Semites will smile.

And we will look at Arabic numerals and say “there was a once proud people.”  And we’ll wonder when our turn will come.



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