Email from an American-Filipino friend in Israel | Global News

Email from an American-Filipino friend in Israel

07:48 AM August 11, 2014

There are no limits to the far-flung Global Pinoy, especially in the Middle East. I’ve got relatives there. Don’t you? It’s the long Filipino commute.

But the hotspot these days is Israel.  And after a Filipina won “X Factor Israel,” well we know that when that country is under siege Pinoys are at risk.

It’s estimated that there are 100,000 globals in Israel alone — like the singing winner, Rose Fostanes, a professional caregiver.


And then there is my old friend from San Francisco, Rod McLeod, an American Filipino, who retired from a major law firm in the US. He reacquainted himself with a love from his past, married her and resettled in her homeland, Israel.


When I talked to Rod when he first decided, all he could talk about was visiting the Middle East and floating in the Red Sea. So maybe it was the water.

But he’s now been there going on four years. And this year when the attacks first began, he got an attack of his own. Rod modestly put it as a “mild myocardial infarction.”

Yeah, and the latest Gaza War is just mild dusting. But when I emailed him his spirits were high about both attacks.

“It was an existential moment,” he wrote. “And I’m in good shape, but apparently not so in the wiring. So I hope you guys in the States are seeing what drecks of humanity Hamas is. I know that Israel takes a beating from the lib/leftist/Jon Stewart crowd. But if they even half-approached the facts with some measure of objectivity, they would see that Hamas has to be taken out. Otherwise, life beats on.”

I didn’t expect to hear a few verses of Pete Seeger from my friend, but his hard line was still a surprise from a former leader of the San Francisco Filipino Democratic Club.

Whatever Netanyahu was doing in Israel to whip up support for his actions seemed to be working on the country.


My friend’s e-mail continued:

“The public is solidly behind Bibi [Netanyahu]. Kerry is being mocked mercilessly. Ha’Aretz, the leading leftist newspaper, came out solidly against Kerry and Obama. Obama is seen as naive and ineffectual — ask yourself this: Has he had any major foreign policy victories that you can remember?

Little by little, Hamas’s luster is wearing off. They are terrorists, out for themselves and not the people who they sacrifice all too easily. Bombs in UNRHWA schools, mosques, private homes, hospitals?

What has been illuminating to me is the myopic, double standard of a large part of the “liberal” world: They complain of the disproportionality of Israel’s actions in Gaza where a relatively few (1,300) have been killed in 3 weeks and then forget completely about the carnage in Syria, Iraq, etc. It seems that the reaction to Jews/Israel define people’s perspectives. I’m heartened by the 57% of the US that supports Israel’s right to defend themselves against the rockets and the tunnels. The average American instinctively knows that Israel is fighting a frontline war for shared democratic principles with the US.”

When the first ceasefire was announced and then broken almost as soon as it began, my friend was not optimistic and predicted what would happen.

Said McLeod: I doubt whether the ceasefire will hold. Hamas will throw up some rockets. The most that Kerry can do with it is to use the lull for humanitarian purposes — resupplying schools with food, water.

Rod was right for the first ceasefire. The second ceasefire was breached just a few hours before it officially ended and perhaps extended. But new bombs from both sides closed off any talks, for now.

My friend’s view of the future:

Hamas will hold out until at least the 34th day. Why? Because it will be one day longer than the 2006 Lebanon War. Hamas wants to declare that it outlasted the Israelis and fought longer than Hezbollah. There may well be an eventual two-state solution. But it won’t depend on what happens to Gaza. Hamas can’t be part of the equation. Kerry is like a bumblebee, buzzing here and there hoping to fertilize some developments. But until the parties decide they need a solution, he is irrelevant.

In the meantime, the war has become a kind of litmus test among my friends. My pro-Israel friends have become even more hawkish. Some make sense. Others remind me that the Palestinians are also, by continent, an Asian people, being oppressed and bullied and need our support.

Where do you stand?

I’ve found it isn’t really about whether one is pro-Israel or pro-Palestinian. Nor is it about who is oppressing whom, though the fact is, despite Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, a blockaded Gaza with border restrictions essentially remains “occupied.”

It’s not even whether one is conservative or liberal. It’s really just about hawks vs. doves.

And so far the hawks are winning, preferring to use their bombs as a political show of force to whip up hate and to retain the status quo — a state of no peace, far from some ideal “two-state solution.”

President Obama straddled the issue this week when he said he had “no sympathy for Hamas, but sympathy for the ordinary people of Gaza.”

After weeks of unquestioned support for Israel, both rhetorically and financially, he began to show an important recognition of the humanity of the Palestinians.

This week, Obama also spoke of “formulas” that are available to reach that goal of a two-state solution.

“But they’re going to require risks on the part of political leaders,” the president said. “They’re going to require a slow rebuilding of trust in the aftermath of the violence we have seen.”

The leaders of both sides aren’t used to taking risks for peace. Both sides preferred the violence to restock the hate that fuels the endless war.

In the Middle East, all the players seem inclined toward the “long game.” It may mean the best we can hope for is to manage the hate and intolerance, and simply trust that “this too shall pass.”

I’d rather they gave peace a real chance.

That was my hope too. But then as the president made his statements last week, now we know from news reports that he was already in talks about authorizing the U.S. airstrikes we now see on another enemy in Iraq.

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Hard to imagine a future for anyone anywhere in a world where the go-to political communication of choice is the bomb.

TAGS: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle east, Rose Fostanes, X-Factor Israel

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