I’ve spent the last few days painting in my kitchen and listening to the radio. They’re playing requests all day long from southern residents which turns out to be a pretty good mix. And sporadically throughout the day you hear the override system announcing a code red and a location. Code red – Ashkelon. Code red – Ashdod. Code red – Beer Sheva. All. Day. Long. We have been lucky and our daily lives have not changed much since we live near Jerusalem. Trips to Tel Aviv have been postponed and plans for get togethers in the South have been cancelled. But we are not running under our staircase every fifteen minutes and for that I am grateful.
And there are murmurings of cease-fire, peppered with rhetoric over who started it and who has to ask for the cease-fire first. And I am reminded of the dance I do with my kids when we are negotiating. YOU CAN ONLY USE THE iPHONE IF YOU STOP CRYING ABOUT THE iPHONE. I’LL STOP CRYING ABOUT THE iPHONE WHEN YOU GIVE IT TO ME. STOP CRYING. GIVE ME THE iPHONE.
This happens less lately since my kids are getting older and becoming more rational. But when they were smaller, emotionally-driven, adrenaline-charged zealots, we had these kind of negotiations fairly frequently. And against every maxim that starts with give them an inch…I often made the first gesture. And you know what I learned? If I sometimes would bend a little, I would be met with bending. If I went so far as to say I trust that when I give you this phone you will stop crying and we can continue our lives unfettered by meaningless hostility and rage, I would almost always be met with an expression of mutual trust and often a gesture of capitulation. I don’t need the iPhone anyway. I’m going to color.
Now I’m not suggesting that Hamas followers are like terrible-two-year olds, although I’m not dismissing the suggestion either. They are, after all, highly persistent, unpredictable and attention-seeking. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck…
Here’s what we hope for with our toddlers, that with time and support, they will grow to be productive, self-reliant, empathetic, generous, mindful adults, able to make decisions in their best interest and the best interest of their communities.
This analogy puts me at great risk of sounding like a privileged, imperialistic condescending jackass. I know. And Israel is in no position to parent Gaza or Hamas. We are at best teen parents ourselves, doing all we can under dire circumstances. But it appears Child Protective Services doesn’t want this case either. I will say that, like slightly seasoned parents, Israelis have shown considerable restraint – any other nation would have trampled Gaza by now. But this game of who started it and who has to say sorry first is getting us nowhere. And putting Gaza in the naughty chair will only fuel their collective anger and hatred. As a parent I’ve learned that we can only hope for the kind of behavior, the kind of communication, the kind of humility we are first willing to model. Only then can we share the iPhone and walk the high road together.