Changing Hearts

by Len Abram
Boston Broadside Columnist


In songs and common speech, the heart isn’t just what keeps us alive, pumping several billion times for those lucky enough to reach that milestone. By tradition, the heart is also the repository of emotional truth, of attitudes toward one another, of the capacity for love, pity and understanding. To have a heart is to offer compassion in hopes that the compassion will be returned, acts of kindness exchanged between human beings. For Israel, October 7 demonstrated that its neighbors in Gaza had no compassion, even for the most vulnerable, babies.

In one of his last interviews, Henry Kissinger claimed that when Ariel Sharon wanted to pull Israeli settlements out of the Gaza strip in 2005, as his experiment on whether a peaceful Palestinian state could exist next to Israel. The pullout included settlers, synagogues, even Jewish cemeteries out of Gaza, to leave it all, including an agricultural export business, for the Palestinians.

In effect, the Palestinian Gazans had their own state. As such, they had one election, in which Hamas won, and never another. It is rumored that Hamas threw its Palestinian Authority opponents in the election off roofs. Hamas has ruled since and has educated a generation to hate the Jewish state. Whatever we think of what summer camp is for children in America or in Israel, in Gaza it included how to operate an AK-47.

To this day, the two-state solution, or delusion, as Elliot Abrams termed it, beckons to diplomats as the way to resolve the Israel-Arab conflict. However, the two-state solution has been offered to the Arab side many times, starting in 1947. When Israel offered land for peace, for example, in 2000 and again in 2008, Palestinians walked away. In the interim, Arab suicide bombings killed a thousand Israelis. The idea of freeing the land from Jews between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean is nothing new, just that now it rhymes.

Since the pullout in 2005, Israel has tried to live with a hostile Gazan neighbor. Israel has an embargo around Gaza, not for food, medicine, or electricity, but for weapons, which still find their way through a porous border and an array of tunnels, with more miles than in the London Underground. Israel also provides to Gazans medical services not available in their own hospitals.

The Iron Dome project, to destroy missiles fired from Gaza, is defensive and expensive too. Each Iron Dome missile costs $60,000 to knock down Hamas rockets, costing from $300 to $800 to produce. So, too, Israel dug cement walls deep along the Gaza border to discourage Hamas tunnellers from a surprise attack. Israel has spent a billion dollars on its high-tech early warning system along the border, including sensors, cameras, and computer-operated machine guns. The purpose of all these efforts in defense is deterrence, now lost to be regained.

Until this past October, up to 18,000 Gazans a year received work permits in Israel, where they could earn 10 times as much as in Gaza, with an unemployment rate at 50%. Hamas tainted that good will project by taxing heavily the wages earned in Israel. More disturbing, some of those employed by Israelis in its southern communities were Hamas spies. The attackers knew exactly where to go. They had maps drawn for them.

For 25 years, Israel’s Wolfson Medical Center in Holon at no cost has treated 6,600 children from the Middle East and Africa for heart disease. Wolfson also trains doctors in its innovations, one of which is a new pacemaker for failing hearts. Wolfson published a picture about the successful use of the new pacemaker on a young girl from Gaza. She is shown recovering in bed, next to her mother in a hijab, and her two Jewish surgeons. The date is September 26, 2023, a couple of weeks before October 7. Another patient with a similar heart ailment treated with the same Israeli pacemaker: Bibi Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel. ♦

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