Neither my wife nor I are feeling good about the Middle East this morning. Some background first: Elly is Jewish by descent and I am from an Episcopalian household. Although neither of us are believers in a God or practitioners of a religion, it doesn’t remove a cultural background from our family.
Our son Bud, who is now in his mid twenties and in the process of applying to grad schools, is, by default, half Jewish by cultural descent.
Israel has a Right of Return program which lets all American Jews (since it is his mother who is Jewish, Bud is, by cultural definition, as much a Jew as if both his parents were) which Bud was accepted in and is scheduled to make his trip to Israel very early in 2009. Everything is paid for by the Israelis and extreme precautions are taken to keep participants safe during the trip. Bud is in the last year that he qualifies for this trip… and after 2009 he will no longer be eligible… and he wants to go.
Now the Fighting over the Gaza Strip actions has brought Israel and Hamas to the point of extreme violence: missiles being fired by Hamas at Israel which have killed 4 people as of this morning, and jets bombing the Gaza strip which has killed over 300 Palestinians as of this morning. A 48-hour cease fire that was supposed to be in effect since yesterday didn’t hold, and they are back at it.
On top of that, Iranian fundamentalists are seeking their government’s approval to send suicide bombers from Iran into the Gaza strip to worm their way over the Israeli border and kill civilians deep into Israeli territory.
This is where our fear really bubbles up. No matter how far the Israeli organizers of this program go to keep their American charges safe, there is nothing stopping a suicide bomber attack at a seemingly safe location… a mall, or a movie theatre, or a cafe… and we could lose our son.
Up until yesterday, I don’t think Bud was really worried about it, but now he informs us that he has requested information on the possibility of getting his travel deposit (we pay the plane fare) back. I’m sure he hopes he doesn’t have to do that. And if he doesn’t go this year, he won’t be able to do it at all.
So we keep our attention glued to MSNBC and CNN and are waiting to see what happens… and we don’t feel very good about it.