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Not So Humble Opinion: November 27, 2012

Picking Sides

I had written something on the conflict in Gaza only to find out, within minutes of finishing, that a cease-fire had been announced. I considered scrapping the whole thing, but you know what? Sadly, this will probably still be relevant going forward, because chances of this ceasefire setting the foundation for a lasting peace are slim to none.

And if I’m wrong, and the end of this particular conflict marks the beginning of a new, more peaceful era in the region, my having published one dated column will be a very small price to pay, I think.

Now, I have to apologize for some amount of levity here. I know this isn’t a situation one should make light of. However, all I can really say is that any glibness in my tone isn’t due to a lack of empathy, but a kind of spiritual self-defense. If I dealt with the situation— really processed what’s going on at the emotional level instead of just treating it as news from someplace far away— I would be of no use. I would be curled up in a little ball in the corner weeping, muttering over and over again in a broken voice, “Why?”

Look, the fact that this situation is a mess, and has been for some time (millennia, if you want to be precise), isn’t news to anyone. I doubt I will make any enemies just by pointing out that this seemingly endless cycle of violence in Israel is horrible and I wish the situation could somehow be resolved in a peaceful manner. I will, however, make enemies if I attempt to say anything else about it whatsoever, and that’s the problem: not the fact that I will make enemies (that isn’t new), but the fact that everyone’s taking sides, like that even makes sense anymore.

You can have all the sympathy in the world for the Palestinian cause, but Hamas is a terrorist organization, with genocidal ambitions, that seeks to kill civilians, and even exploits the deaths of its own civilians. That’s not a viable “side.” You can respect Israel’s right to defend itself, but bombing Gaza likely won’t accomplish anything, other than turning the international community even more against Israel than it already was due to the tragic civilian casualties.

I grew up going to Hebrew School, so it tends to be easier for me to see things from the Israeli perspective. Yet, even with that admitted bias, I can’t support what the Israeli government has been doing recently. Killing Hamas operatives doesn’t accomplish anything when they can switch them out like light bulbs (after all, it’s not like being able to shout “Death to Israel!” really loud requires a highly specific set of skills), and the humanitarian cost is staggering. Now, we have no viable sides left.

But of course, people are using all sorts of bogus logic to justify taking a side. I’ve heard that the fact that Hamas has been bombing Israel all year doesn’t “count” because their bombs are smaller than Israel’s (what?), one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter (no, when your primary goal is killing civilians, you lose eligibility for the Freedom Fighter Merit Badge, I’m pretty sure), and Israel has to be in the right because Hamas started it (and dear God, isn’t this the one situation that proves the sublime uselessness of “they started it,” as a justification for anything? Go back a few thousand years and everyone started it.)

None of these justifications make any sense. It’s possible to be pro-Israel or pro-Palestinian on general principle, but as far as I can tell, to support either side in terms of how the situation plays out from a military standpoint is engaging in a kind of opportunistic myopia. “If I ignore how complex this situation really is, I can pick a side and be righteously angry at the other side for their many atrocities. Sounds like a plan.”

I can only hope that people will stop making excuses to pick sides, therefore legitimizing the conflict; after all, if you have a side that you support, you can pretend this is something other than senseless violence being fought not even over religion, but a shadow of something that maybe once was about religion at one point in the distant past. Let’s stop pretending there’s anything sane about this.

Karen Gellender is editor of the Syosset-Jericho Tribune and Plainview-Old Bethpage Herald.

News

New Hyde Park Village trustee Donald Barbieri contends helicopters are still flying right over New Hyde Park and other residential parts of the north shore, harming citizens and the town with excessive and unlawful aircraft noise. In spite of what federal law says and in spite of what a federal court says, the noise levels are still an issue.

 

Barbieri drafted a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration, apprising the entity of New Hyde Park’s situation. The FAA did not return calls for comment.

Operation Main Street, a plan that would see a section of Jericho Turnpike in New Hyde Park revamped with traffic calming features and aesthetic updates, is finally in the home stretch, New Hyde Park village officials say. Village contractor J. Anthony Enterprises will be putting the finishing touches on the $1.46 million project this week.

 

“It’s all but finished,” trustee Donald Barbieri said. “Honestly, I feel good. It’s looking solid. It took forever to get it done. They’re going to put more benches in and plantings; striping the road.”

 

New Hyde Park’s department of public works will maintain the planters and medians installed for the project. Twenty-five potted plants were recently installed along the turnpike, officials stated. More than 10 benches will be available on the turnpike.


Sports

 Students at Charles Water Karate & Fitness, located at 122 Hillside Avenue in Williston Park recently received belt promotions after successfully completing a series of extensive exams.

 

“Our goal at Charles Water Karate & Fitness is to facilitate mental growth enabling our students to reach their highest potential as human beings,” says Charles Water, owner and director of the school.

“Our studio teaches students how to defend themselves responsibly while instilling self-confidence, self-discipline and respect for others.”

Runners and walkers from New Hyde Park are invited to join in the fun on one of the most unusual 5K courses on Long Island at the Saturday, Aug. 9 Sands Point Sprint.

 

 The run presents the Long Island running community with an opportunity to traverse a unique combination of paved paths and runner-friendly woodland trails at the Sands Point Preserve. 

 

The August 2013 edition of the Sands Point Sprint attracted 313 finishers, including top New Hyde Park finishers Michael Ringel, who scored first in the 11-14 age group and Dave Frisone, who earned first place honors in the 65-69 age group. Race organizers are looking for both Ringel and Frisone, and a host of other New Hyde Park runners, to be back next week.


Calendar

Literary Club - July 30

Boot Camp - August 2

Six Gun Concert - August 3 


Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com