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Saturday, May 29, 2010

"We Are Willing to Die for Our Country, Not for a Gas Well"

While walking with the dog late last night along the main thoroughfare of my community, I came upon the following banner, stretched between two palm trees, reading:

"We are willing to die for our country, not for a gas well".

The banner had not been there the previous night and provided much to consider concerning changing values and political awareness, as Pancake and I continued our midnight stroll.

No, as all who regularly read this blog know, I do not live in Louisiana. Rather, I live in a small Israeli coastal community about an hour's drive north of Tel Aviv. And yes, Israel has remarkably hit upon relatively (by Israeli standards) large deposits of natural gas off its Mediterranean coast, one mile under the sea, which could supply Israel's energy needs for many decades to come and eliminate the need for imported coal.

Ten years ago, any such energy discovery would have been caused wild Tel Aviv Stock Exchange gyrations, but would also have been ultimately discounted when it was realized that yields would not cover extraction costs. Not this time. It's the real thing, yet in late-May 2010 no one is dancing in the street.

Is the lack of joy the direct result of the BP spill off Louisiana? Quite possibly. Like others in my town, I do not want to see the Caesarea beach, the site of ancient Roman aqueducts, awash in pollutants, with giant sea turtles flipped over on their backs and kingfishers gone from the skies. Can the government act responsibly, learn from the Louisiana spill, and ensure the safety of our environment?

But whereas I can easily imagine today a multitude of banners in Louisiana protesting offshore drilling, somehow I can't conceive of any of these banners linking offshore drilling with a willingness to die for your country. What's cooking in Israel? Obviously, my Caesarea neighbors are more astute and attuned to reality than I thought.

The situation in Israel's north grows grimmer by the day:

Netanyahu on Saturday acknowledged to Italy's Berlusconi that Hezbollah is operating Scud missile systems on a Syrian military base near the town of Adra, northeast of Damascus.

Hezbollah's Nasrallah said last Tuesday that Hezbollah can now inflict the same measure of harm that Israel caused Lebanon during the 2006 war and threatened to sink any shipping approaching Israel's shoreline in the event of renewed fighting. Earlier this year, he threatened to attack Ben-Gurion Airport. Lest we forget, Nasrallah will long be remembered for his declaration, "If they [Jews] all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide."

In an interview with Haaretz, Brig. Gen. Uzi Moskovitch believes a confrontation with Hezbollah will occur in the coming years and acknowledges that there will be long-range rocket fire on Israel (http://www.haaretz.com/blogs/mess-report/and-how-is-the-army-doing-1.292613).

The imperfect storm is brewing. Yet my neighbors in tiny Caesarea, whose children have died in past wars and will lay down their lives in future wars, retain their optimism and demand that the integrity of their coastline be preserved.

Impressive.

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