I woke to the sound of the loud speaker at a nearby mosque calling my neighbors to prayer, then read of the IDF''s latest targeted assassinations in Gaza, the continued firing of mortars and rockets in our direction, and the success of the new anti-missile missiles to identify and destroy the heavy stuff heading for urban areas.

Not a typical morning, but not unique.

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Who''s responsible for the current upsurge in violence 100 or so miles from here? They say us, we say them. They announce a cease fire and say we have violated it. We say that they will not define when we have to respond. According to our people, their targeting of a school bus with an anti-tank missile broke any informal rules that may have existed, and demands a serious response. Some of our people are optimistic that this will stop short of a full scale invasion like that of two years ago that killed more than a thousand Gazans, but maybe not.

Civilians as well as fighters have died in Gaza. Our story is that people firing rockets from within residential areas endanger their neighbors. Israel regrets those deaths, but does not apologize, and will not refrain from targeting those who fire missiles at its civilians.

The head of the Gaza regime says that Israel cannot break the Palestinians. Israeli officials say that the bloodshed will continue until the Palestinians realize that their violence comes at too high a price.

Foreign leaders condemn the attack on the school bus as well as the rockets aimed at Israeli towns, and call for moderation from Israel.

Mahmoud Abbas calls on the world to stop Israeli violence against Gaza.

Abbas'' condemnation of Israel''s response will not add to the concessions offered by Prime Minister Netanyahu. A poll of Likud members--before Abbas'' latest statement--found that 78% oppose the creation of a Palestinian state, 92% favor the expansion of settlements, and 95% oppose dividing Jerusalem.

My own conversations with senior American combat officers a generation ago, and a close friend''s talks with those who had experience in Iraq and Afghanistan convince me that the IDF is more wary of causing collateral damage than the American military. The United States does not worry about sanctions. Israel has its own morality, and the story of South Africa is a topic of daily commentary.

Today I received this from a man I used to think of as a Jewish friend.
 
Israeli''s like yourself seem to think calling any Israeli action "defense" excuses everything.  Didn''t the Nazis call the invasion of Poland at the beginning of WW II defense?
 
I''ve ignored most of his letters out of concern for his personal tragedies. But comparing Israelis to Nazis crosses the same line as Gazans targeting a school bus with an anti-tank missile. Ignorance, spite, personal frustration, forgetting to take his meds? No excuse is good enough for that outburst.
 
I''m not likely to be saying the Amidah anytime soon, but next time I may think of him in connection with
   וְלַמַּלְשִׁינִים אַל תְּהִי תִקְוָה
 
For slanderers may there be no hope.
 
On the other side of the political divide is a pair of videos done by Ann Barnhardt, called a new heroine by those who admire her. She damns Islam, quotes pages from the Koran that she considers abominable, marks them with strips of bacon, rips them out and burns them.

I decided quickly that she was not worth 23 minutes. What I saw disgusted me. One should oppose Islamic fanatics, but most of the Muslims I know are not fanatics. Burning the Torah and touching it with bacon would infuriate a lot of Jews. Barnhardt''s actions are pointless, provocative, and barbaric. We don''t want friends like her.

Chances are that I will get through this day and others like it. It helps to revisit last week''s trip to the Galilee, the bright sun, green fields, and wildflowers.
 


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