Monday, March 30, 2020 -
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Kites, repurposed for destruction

Aren’t kites a childhood pastime you play and enjoy on a perfect summer day?

Aren’t kites for watching patterned colorful fabrics of parallelograms or quadrilaterals attached to a string soaring on the perfect wind, as if watching your very own bird fly in the sky, with the added frill of petite bows attached to the string, the stuff of summer joy?

Balloons, too. Aren’t they also the joy of a child? Filling a sac of rubber with air or gas and having the pleasure of watching this colorful billowing ball rise in the air while you hold it by a string?

Or having a basket attached to its bottom and watch people float across the sky, the wind whipping their faces?

What about cars? Aren’t they machines with internal combustion on four wheels that can carry people on the roads in order to get from place to place?

And the invention of those airplanes? Aren’t they aircraft propelled by motors on fixed wings that enable them to be lifted into the sky and remarkably carry people from one city, or state, or country, to another, across the world?

Not any more.

The opportunity for safe airplane travel was literally hijacked with the fear of hijackings. Cars have become a new tool for vehicular terrorism. And now, too, kites and balloons have been re-purposed for more death, killing and destruction.

These are the Palestinian and Gazan inventions of recent decades, culminating recently in the cynical use of an innocent child plaything such as a kite or a balloon.

While Israel has developed and invented ReWalk to help people who are paralyzed become mobile; while Israel has developed innovative irrigation technology that preserves and recycles water in even the most arid of places; while Israel has developed groundbreaking treatments for a host of diseases that have saved lives and alleviated suffering; the cynical and lethal uses of everyday technology and even toys are what the Palestinians and Gazans have refined and developed.

It’s a contrast of societies here:

Water. Life. Helping the vulnerable.

Death. Destruction. Terrorism.

To see the prairie of southern Israel burning is a frightening thing. The proximity to the Israeli town of Sderot is alarming. From the video footage right outside Michlelet Sapir, it feels like in a matter of moments a passerby in the foreground can easily be singed by the burning orange glow of towering flames whose heat changes the look of the air. Never mind the spreading, billowing smoke that has overtaken the skies and completely obstructed the view.

Many acres of farmland, burning up in smoke, made worse by prevailing western winds, completely destroyed what 30 years worth of blood, sweat and tears accomplished . . . how? Simply by sending burning kites from Gaza to a few miles away over fields of Israeli farmland to burn the crops.

And so, a new form of terrorism has been born and coined: Environmental terrorism. Agri-terrorism.

Or maybe kite terrorism.

Call it what you want, but if you thought kites were for the joy of playing on a perfect summers day with little kids, that is now passe.

Kites have been repurposed.

It’s amazing when you think about the creativity involved in coming up with new ideas to terrorize people. If only this creativity and innovation were harnessed for development and for life-affirming activities and discoveries.

Imagine what the Middle East could be.

Imagine if the international media were not silent or chose not to be accomplices to this terrorist activity by calling it peaceful protest, but instead reported it for what it is: terrorism, plain and simple.

Of course the silence is, as usual, deafening. No outcry from media, from environmentalist groups, from the UN.

No condemnation of the smoke pollution.

No condemnation of burning of agricultural crops. Nothing. Nada. Silence.

Just like a few weeks ago, and a few years ago, and a few decades ago . . . nothing has changed. The media finds their voice only when Israel finally defends herself; when, tragically, there will come the inevitable Palestinians casualties. Then will also come the reportage of Israel’s actions as if in a vacuum. Israel will stand between the terrorists and its citizens and do its moral duty to protect its citizens’ lives before they go up in smoke.

It’s 51 years to the week of the so- called occupation. And I hate it. It’s a soul-destroying thing. When I lived in Israel as an adult, and for the first time really understood on a human level the complexity, I couldn’t stand knowing I lived with a measure of freedom, mobility and ease that people right alongside me couldn’t have. Many of the Palestinians and Gazans’ lives and fate is indeed truly sad.

It is also, time and again, the byproduct of the work of their own leaders’ hands.

Israel’s hands were tied in 1967 and still are today. Every other nation who wins a war of defense gets to decide what they will do with the land they won. But for some reason, unlike any other sovereign nation, Israel was deemed different.

The position Israel has been in and still finds itself in is very sad, but very necessary. Just look at the Gaza debacle, the result of Israel having left Gaza unoccupied. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis in the South have been and remain hostage to Hamas terrorism. Children live with ongoing anxiety; they run to the bomb shelter fearing for their lives. This grows into PTSD. The toil of decades burns before their eyes. Human, agricultural or economic terrorism. It’s all the same.

A Palestinian state has not risen in Gaza where an opportunity for Gazans to rule their land autonomously was given. Instead, like many feared and predicted yet hoped would be wrong, a terrorist state bordering Israel has risen.

Gaza is a place whose Palestinian leadership is focused not on the well being of the people, but on refining death and destruction to a T. At all costs. Be it the lives of Hamas’ own women and children, be it innocent Israeli civilians, be it a simple toy-kite or balloon, it’s all the same to the Palestinian leaders in Gaza. It is nothing short of an obsession with the macabre.

Be it a human life, or a piece of a parallelogram.

Be it living or inanimate: materials for advancing more havoc, more fear, more destruction, more death.

In the end we all suffer for it. Both in Gaza and in Israel.

Forget, for a moment, about the dream of an Israeli and a Palestinian child one day playing and flying a kite in the sky together.

For now, I dream more modestly, I dream of a day for Gaza, for the Palestinians, for Israel: where a kite is just a kite.

Copyright © 2018 by the Intermountain Jewish News

Tehilla R. Goldberg

IJN columnist | View from Central Park

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