Crap I Think of While Mowing the Lawn – #15


(other than This Lawn Looks Like Crap)


Interesting, if not always deep, thoughts often pop into my head while I’m doing battle with my lawn. And yes, I do battle with a non-gas, non-electric, old-fashioned push mower. An actual reel mower. And my mind tends to think of some semi-interesting crap while I push along.

Mower and Statesman


Welcome to Volume 15 of Crap I Think of While Mowing the Lawn.



As superficial as social media can be, I do spend lots of time on both Facebook and Linkedin. Recently, some of these conversations have been somewhat substantive, despite what appear to be limitations of these sites.

I’ve been thinking about the situation in Gaza, not that such thoughts produce much other than despair. This sense of despair is only heightened by the fact that one of my two siblings, (both are older brothers) Josh, and his wife and four daughters live in a town called Ra’anana, not far from Tel Aviv. They are trying to live with a sense of normalcy, despite the various sirens that signal rockets being aimed at them from Hamas.  When the siren sounds, it’s time to scramble to a safe place; there is a bomb shelter in their home. If they’re on the road, it can be much more dangerous. In Israel, this reality—even when it is only a potential reality—is not unique. Far from it.

Obviously, lives—many of them those of innocent women and children—have been lost with the recent escalation of hostilities. I have tremendous sympathy for the families on both sides of the struggle. I am a peacenik at heart, and I grieve for all of the Jewish and Palestinian (Gazan) lives that have been lost, and torn asunder. 

That truthful statement should not be rejoined with a “but”; it should stand on its own. And along with that, I recognize that much of the world is seeing the world through the eyes of the Palestinians. Many see Israel as some sort of colonialist power that has subjugated innocent Palestinians. This view is laughable, and can only be informed and supported by ignorance or willful Anti-Semitism. While there are some complexities here, essentially Israel has been forced into the position of negotiating (or being urged to negotiate) with an enemy who wants to eradicate her, and all Jews. How does one negotiate, reason with and peacefully co-exist with those who are plotting your destruction, and who seem to place no value on the lives of their own people.

Thinking/writing/acknowledging this collides completely with my own world view. Although Israel is a tangible, political entity, the “Israel” I often think about is more of a mythical place. When I think of Israel, or Jerusalem, it is with a sense of “shalom”, and a prayer in my heart and soul for peace. I’m not blind to the realities, faults and problems, but the prayers that most speak to my heart are those that ask for God to make us peace. Sim Shalom, Oseh Shalom…

Much more than a quickish, lawnmowing-inspired column would be needed to try to sort out what my expectations for God are. Suffice it to say that I don’t know what God’s capable of, or if fully capable, what he leaves for humanity to try to achieve on (our) own. I have never prayed for God to defeat our enemy, and indeed, I try not to view any other group of people as “our enemy.” Doing so would seem to be dangerously simplistic. However, not seeing the conflict for what it appears to be–and has long been–is also dangerously simplistic.

I can continue to dream of peace, and pray for it, for whatever psychic good it does, but as I continue to despair over the situation, I find myself getting more and more impatient. I have become less hopeful of any peaceful solutions. Again, how do we make peace, and enjoy peace, with those who will sacrifice the aspirations and very lives of their own women and children for what they believe is the greater cause: the destruction of the state of Israel, and the killing of all Jews.

I can continue to hold to the opinion and hope that the views of the leaders, and the very charter of Hamas, does not truly represent the Palestinians. To generalize, most of them have been disenfranchised and have not grown up in a way that they will challenge their own government. This is what they know, even if they are inherently good people. I hate that the innocent have lost their lives in this struggle, and I can grieve for them, but the question still remains. Shouldn’t Israel have every right to defend herself, and doesn’t she have every reason to try to destroy Hamas’ means to not only disrupt their way of life, but to also kill her people?  This question should be rhetorical, as the answer should be obvious. Of course they do, but in the eyes of much of the world, Israel (again, to the ignorant and the liars among us, this colonialist superpower…which in reality is about the size of New Jersey, and the only democracy and true friend of the US in the region) is committing war crimes against the citizens of Gaza.

It can be reasonably debated as to how far Israel should go to cripple Hamas, but the type of condemnation Israel has been greeted with is much more than any other country in similar circumstances would face. I often wonder if this is due to effective “PR” by Hamas (et al), a desire to root for the perceived underdog or good ol’-fashioned anti-Semitism.

Enter a video posted by a Facebook (and real) friend the other day. Although the commentator was not named in the post or directly on the video, it is from a man named Pat Condell, who I never heard of, or from, before. I suspect that my political beliefs line up way to the “left” of his, but I made it through his somewhat smug diatribe. Here it is.

Below is what I wrote on Facebook in reaction to it, with only very minor edits for this column:

I would love to, in turn, castigate this guy for his aggressive tone and his diatribe against Western progressives.  I am "Western" and consider myself liberal, and somewhat progressive in my thinking. At heart, I am a peacenik (if not quite a pacifist), and much as I have always supported the state of Israel, I have never been a hardline supporter of their political/military decisions.

Naturally, I gravitate toward the underdog in situations, and just as a human being, I can feel for the innocent Gazans whose lives have been lost or torn asunder by the latest hostilities. But other than this guy's tone of voice…and he can be forgiven his passion and frustration…I find very little, if anything, to disagree with here. There are double and triple standards that continually work against Jews and the state of Israel, and I am also getting fed up with it.

Yes, I am fed up with the ignorance and hatred of the world who equates Israel with a colonialist power…that is laughably false. Yes, I grieve for the Palestinian families, but they have been undermined for years by Hamas and the like who use them as pawns, and much worse.

Where are the moderate and truly progressive voices who want peace and also have some sense of the truth of this region? Do people understand the size of Israel and how they have been dwarfed in size by its enemies? Israel should be the true underdog in this–the country we should root for….not that killing is ever a cause for celebration. Emphatically, it is not, but "her" survival, and her ability to thrive democratically, economically, agriculturally, technologically, etc., is something we should all cheer.

These are sad, sad times. I wonder: Where are my liberal Democrat elected officials, and why aren't more of them stalwart supporters of Israel? Where are the Arab/Muslim leaders who are truly progressive and peace-loving and can inspire a more hopeful vision for their people?

Should I end this usually light, humorous column with such sobering questions?  Is there any other way?



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