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January 16, 2009

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PAGE 4A The Good 00or.d ]By David Bornstein The high cost of war By the time you read this the situation in the Middle East will probably have drasti- cally changed. There may (or may not) be a brokered cease-fire. There may (or may not) be an escalation in fighting along the Lebanese border, as well as in Gaza. Casual- ties may (or may not) have climbed above 1,000 dead. Two United Nations peacekeepers bringing humanitarian aid to the Palestinianswerejust inadvertently killed. Two rockets from Lebanon were just fired into Israel, landing in the town of Nahariya. And so it goes. In my youth I used to argue that Israel&apos;s hard-line tactics, bulldozing houses and bomb- ing suspected terrorists' hideouts, with the ancillary damage that caused, created more terrorists, not more hope for peace. After all, a child who grows up motherless or with a parent crippled by a weapon of war often be- comes a victim of that same v|olence, imbuing War in my own backyard By Faye Bittker BEERSHEBA, Israel (JTA) War in Israel just happens. You go to bed worried about the Bernard Madoff scandal and wake up the next day in a different reality. It is a reality where you find friends crying in their office because their son/husband/ daughter--does it really matter which?--just received an emergency call-up notice to the army; where the sign at the entrance to your neighborhood asks residents to "adopt" fami- lies from front-line communities: where you realize the closest bomb shelter to your house is being used as a synagogue and wonder if you have to pay dues to get in. Like mostpeople in the world, you watch the Gaza war on TV. read about it in the newspaper and otherwise compartmentalize as your cop- ing mechanism takes over. Then. in the split second it takes to identify the sound Of the warnirfg siren as it spreads through the quiet of your sleepy bedroom community, you realize the war is in your own backyard. I am no newcomer to Israel. I was a journalist during the first intifada and Gulf War. with a special pass to get through roadblocks. I have marched againstwar and covered the events that marked its bloody end. But nothing I have ever experienced prepared me for the punch to my gut when the first siren went off and I wasn't at ha-ne, or the feeling ofhelplessnesswhen I tried calling but the all the lines were busy. For the first time I am experiencing war as a mother, through the eyes of my 9- and 11- year-old children. I was only five minutes away from home when the first sirens rang out, but no one would let me leave the neighborhood sports center while" danger was still appar- ent. Although the missiles fell some 12 miles away, nothing could comfort my daughter, who was overwhelmed with fear for the rest of the night. Over the past few days, Hamas has fired more than 100 missiles into southern Israel. At least 10 have fallen in and around Beersheba, not far from the university where I work. One landed just outside a nursery school, covering the dolls and blocks inside with shards of plaster and glass. Anottter landed directly on a nearby high school, crushing through the ceiling, into one of the classrooms. Luckily the municipality had decided to close all schools in the region that morning, so no one was hurt. Of course, this is nothing, barely a drop in the bucket, compared to the ongoing missile barrage that has been raining down on towns like Sderot for the past eight years. courtesy of Faye Bit'tker This sign, in English and Hebrew, tells Ben-Gurion UniverMty staff and students how to get to the nearest shelter location. Yes, we have spent a week going in and out of the bomb shelter, but in the communities that border Gaza, tens of Israelis have lost their lives or been injured with 20 to 25 rockets, sometimes 50, falling every day. Thousands of children have grown up not knowing what it's like to go outside and play without the fear of a missile falling from the sky. There is no Iogicalreason why it has to be this way. Israel left the Gaza Strip more tha n three years ago, offering the Palestinians an opportunity to determine their own future. Unfortunately they chose Hamas, a party that advocates Islamic fundamentalism and a commitment to fight for the destruction of Israel. They opted for leadership that promotes a culture that celebrates martyrdom and death, violence and destruction. This is the siren song of war that brings destruction and ruin down upon all thosewho follow it. All that is left to do today as we watch the news of Israel's ongoing ground action in Gaza is pray -for the safety of our soldiers, the residents of the regmn and the innocent Palestinians caught in the crossfire. For their sake. and for our own, we Israelis hope that in 2009 the Palestinians will some- how, miraculously, change their tune. Faye Bittker is the director of the Depart- ment of Publications and Media Relations at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ON THIS PAGE ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE VIEWS OF HERITAGE MANAGEMENT. I <x  CENTRAL FLORIDA'SINDEPENDENTJEWISHVOICE   ISSN 0199-0721 Winner of 4O Press Awards Editor/Publisher HERITAGE Florida Jewish News (ISN 0199-0721 ) is published weekly for $37.95 per year to Florida ad- dresses ($46.95 for the rest of the U.S.) by HERITAGE Central Florida Jewish News. Inc., 207 O'Brien Road, Suite 101, Fern Park. FL 32730. Periodicals postage paid at Fern Park and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes and other correspondence to: HERITAGE. P.O. Box 300742, Fern Park, FL 32730. MAILING ADDRESS PHONE NUMBER p P.O. Box 300742 (4071 834-8787 Fern Park, FL 32730 FAX (4071 831-0507 email: I Jeffrey Gaeser Editor Emeritus Associate Editor Assistant Editor Gene Starn Lyn Payne Mike Etzkin Society Editor Bookkeeping Gloria Yousha Paulette Harmon "Account Executives Barbara do Carrno Marci Gaeser Contributing Columnists Jim Shipley Ira Sharkansky Steve Levine Tim Boxer David Bomstein Gail Sirnons Production Department David Lehman Teri Marks }:uis Ballantyne Elaine Schooping Gil Dombrosky HERITAGE.FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JANUARY 16, 2009 themselves with hatred and turning into anew enemy of b )th Israel and reconciliation. I've char ged my tune. I've seen how swapping land for peace does not work. It is perceived by fafiatical Muslim regimes as a sign of weakness, not an attenpt at compassion and compromise. I've listened" to the news reports of missiles by the thou- sands being lobbed into Israeli schools, nurs- ing homes, villages. I've seen footage of the destruction caused by homicide bombers, and the effectiveness of the wall along the border of the West Bank. I've watched mourners grieve as the bodies of kidnapped Israeli soldiers were returned and buried in exchange for the release of the most vicious terrorist criminals. None of this helped cement my pacifist beliefs. All Of this turned me in the direction of the more hawk-like, hardcore militarists who want 10 blows struck for every single blox aimed at Israel. Even in this latest round of fighting and hostility, as I saw bombs rain down on Palestin- ian towns in Gaza, as I saw pictures of crying mothers and dead andwounded children, I have struggled to maintain a sense of empathy and concern for the innocent, the civilians whose lives have been shattered by the conflict. Israel has stated that its mission is to halt the flight of missiles from Gaza into bordering areas of southern Israel. It has targeted the tunnels that are used to deliver both supplies and arms into Gaza. It has said it will not stop until the effectiveness and leadership of llamas is crushed. Which priority comes first--the cessation of rocket fire. or the destruction of Hamas? It has become clear, to anyone who listens with a critical ear. that halting the missiles (an almost impossible task given their portability and numbers), is in fact secondary to Israel's real intent--wiping out the Hamas infrastructure. And who can blame them? Hamas is a terrorist organization, whose great- est goal is not the rebuilding of the Palestinian economy or the resurrection of the people of Gaza and the West Bank. but the complete and utter destruction of Israel. On that basis, when I hear that a Hamas leader has been killed, and with him his three wives and many children, I find a h01e in my heart where sympathy used to reside, l am surprised at how cold ! feetwhen-I hear that government buildings have been blown to bits, and television stations that broadcast news, weather, cartoons and propaganda have been targeted and flattened. But the cost is still very high. The death toll is now 50 percent civilians, 50 percent Hamas fighters. One story in the New York Times says it all: "The emergency room in Shifa Hospital is often a place of gore and despair. On Thursday, itwas also a lesson in the way ordinary people are squeezed between suicidal fighters and a military behemoth. Dr. Awni al-Jaru, 37, a surgeon at the hos- pital, rushed in from his home here, dressed in his scrubs. But he came not to work. His head was bleeding, and his daughter's jaw was broken. He said Hamas militants next to his apart- ment building had fired mortar and rocket rounds. Israel fired back with force, and his apartment was hit. His.wife, Albina, originally from Ukraine, and his 1-year-old son were killed. "My son has been turned into pieces," he cried. "My wife was cut in half. I had to leave her body at home." Blame Hamas for using the most insidious. unscrupulous tactics, shielding themselves by utilizing residential areas as staging grounds. And look, too. at Israel's response. Harsh. blunt. effective. Necessary, perhaps even mandatory given the cruel clash of cultures, personalities and beliefs. It may be the only thing that ter- rorists respect. It may be te only tactic that carries real weight. But the cost is very high. The road to peace in the Middle East in long and hard and littered with land mines. Let's not forget that. as much as we love and support Israel. there is still real damage and loss and heartache on both sides. Let's say a prayer, not just for the Israelis killed and wounded in action, but for all the innocents whose lives have been hurt. And that's the good word. The opimons in this column are those of the writer and not the Heritage or any other individual, agency or organization. Send your thoughts, com- ments, and critiques to the Heritage or email dpbornstein @gmail. com. They aren't just memoirs By Jeanette Friedman Steven Speilberg's ShoahVisual Foundation When I was a little girl, at Passover Sed- ers in our Ultra-Orthodox home, my mother would tell the story of how she was smuggled out of the Warsaw Ghetto, and say, "On the day I left, my mother made me promise that one day I would write a book to tell the world what happened to us." I already understood that such a book would not be an adventure story. It was a sacred testament, a witnessing of a horrible past that decimated our fami- lies. The Yizkor books, the "Black Books" of memory that proliferated in the 1950s and 60s underscored this truth. Until the 1980s, most survivors were too busy to write their memoirs. They were still in survival mode, busy with business and family, philanthropy and community. Most of them felt they couldn't speak English, had no educa- tions, and left book writing to "the experts." Some couldn't talk at all, some couldn't stop. The "story" was at the core of their being, and for their children, often what was left out the storywas more compelling thanwhatwas in it. Alexander Donat, a Dachau survivor who once published a newspaper in Warsaw, founded the Holocaust Library in 1977, and books by survivors began to slowly appear. Then at the World Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors in Israel in June 1981. a concerted effort was made to collect survivor stories. As a volunteer at the Center for Holo- caust Studies in Brooklyn in 1972, Iwas trained by Dr. Yaffa Eliach and Dr. Bonnie Gurewitz on how to interview Holocaust survivors on audio tape and conducted a how-to workshop in Jerusalem. Video cameras were prohibi- tively expensive in those days, but attendee Syd Mandlebaum began toting a huge video camera on his shoulder and created the core of the Fortunoff Video Archives of Holocaust survivors. Dr. Judith Kesternberg created a methodology for effectively interviewing child survivors, who added their stories to the testimonies. This was followed by "Schindler's List." While based on a true story, the book by Thomas Keneally was categorized as fic- tion because, as he says, "I had written as a novelist, with a novelist's narrative pace and graphicness, though not in the sense of a fictionalizer." interviewed 52,000 survivors on digital video. It was a massive effort done for the good of humanity. It is what Menachem Daum, the filmmaker who made the award winning film, "Hiding and Seeking" calls "Holy Work." But even Holy Work can be corrupted. I make a large part of my living helping Holocaust survivors write their memoirs, and the toughest issue confronting them in getting the story on paper is disregarding the advice they got from their "Writing Courses," even if that advice came fromthe best teachers, edi- tors andworkshops inArnerica. That's because "Writing Courses" teach their students to write for publishers and movie producers--people who are obsessed with hitting the box office highs and the best seller lists. Those teachers and editors have no obliga- tion to the truth of memory. They are there to train their students to write best sellers and movie scripts. Survivors are told to start with a bang, to play with the chronology, to be dramatic, to create dialog, to stress details and make them stronger. In other words, they encourage survivors to embellish, to twist the details here and there to make things more interesting. I was asked to edit one book, a truly dramatic story, valid on its own, that made even me cry. When we were done, the author complained that I hadn't turned the book intoBeachMusic. a best-selling, very hokey and disturbing novel where the Holocaust survivor throws herself off abridge in the first chapter. She sought out another well-known editor and also fired him because he. too. refused to embellish facts. Sometimes it's not the survivors but their offspring who cause the problem. One survi- vor was a simple man who became a partisan hero during the war. Someone in his family decided that his "character" wasn't "pumped up" enough. Yet another family demanded that I produce a best-seller. My reaction to those people is to say "Ciao bella," and give them the rules I use for writ- ing memoirs with survivors. This sometimes breaks my heart and empties my pockets, but I insist on following the rules I created for the people I work with. One: Do not write your memoirs if your Friedman on page 19A