Words of the Week

As has been the case lately, I’ve discovered so many words worth sharing that I’m compiling some of the most compelling–and I may be back again with more before this week has ended.

Joanna Chen, “The Silence Within Silence” (Los Angeles Review of Books):
“Yesterday there was a ceasefire. The night before, the booms did not stop. At 3 AM the house shuddered and the walls shook. At 8 AM, as the ceasefire began, silence fell upon the house. I stood at my front door with a second cup of coffee. The cat kept close, curling herself around my bare feet. At 8:05 there was a final crescendo, a deafening boom from the direction of Gaza. A bird lifted into the air, and before I saw the bird I heard its wings beating: one, two, three. I listened to the silence that followed as if I were listening to it for the first time. There are nuances to silence, there are degrees and shades to silence. This was a heavy, ominous one and it lay upon the air the whole day and did not move.”

Rachel Delia Benaim, “An Open Letter to Selena Gomez, from Two 12-Year-Old Fans in Southern Israel” (Jewcy):
“Noa’s family has lived in Yad Mordechai since the kibbutz was founded in 1936. They came here to escape anti-Semitism in Europe. They built the kibbutz up with their own hands. They defended it from Egyptian invaders in 1948—there were only fifty kibbutzniks with twenty outdated guns between them, facing hundreds of trained Egyptian soldiers. But the kibbutzniks, Noa’s family, persevered. They then lived in peace with their Arab neighbors in Gaza. Sure, there were tensions and flare-ups, but for the most part they lived in peace. And then just after Noa and Yarden were born, the rockets started.”

Hillary Clinton, quoted by Jeffrey Goldberg (The Atlantic):
“There’s no doubt in my mind that Hamas initiated this conflict and wanted to do so in order to leverage its position, having been shut out by the Egyptians post-Morsi, having been shunned by the Gulf, having been pulled into a technocratic government with Fatah and the Palestinian Authority that might have caused better governance and a greater willingness on the part of the people of Gaza to move away from tolerating Hamas in their midst. So the ultimate responsibility has to rest on Hamas and the decisions it made.”


“Let’s step back. First of all, [former Israeli Prime Minister] Yitzhak Rabin was prepared to do so much and he was murdered for that belief. And then [former Israeli Prime Minister] Ehud Barak offered everything you could imagine being given under any realistic scenario to the Palestinians for their state, and [former Palestinian leader Yasir] Arafat walked away. I don’t care about the revisionist history. I know that Arafat walked away, okay? Everybody says, ‘American needs to say something.’ Well, we said it, it was the Clinton parameters, we put it out there, and Bill Clinton is adored in Israel, as you know. He got Netanyahu to give up territory, which Netanyahu believes lost him the prime ministership [in his first term], but he moved in that direction, as hard as it was.”

Fania Oz, “Why Bother Delving Into History?” (Christ und Welt):
“Let me insist: History and nuances are crucial. Gaza’s 1,800,000 residents include many refugees of the 1948 war and their descendants. That war was started by Arabs, who rejected the UN resolution to divide the land into a Jewish state and a Palestinian state. Israel won. Palestinians fled, and some were driven out. For many years, Egypt ruled Gaza and did not allow its refugees to leave or to rebuild their lives. Since 1967 Israel and Egypt share the responsibility for this bad situation. But Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2006, only to see Hamas taking power and putting southern Israel under a barrage of rockets. Why not negotiate peace? Because Hamas wants Israel demolished and all Jews killed; its Charter says so explicitly. Also, to be fair, because Israeli governments and the Israeli public have grown more hawkish, abandoning hope to reach an agreement even with the relatively moderate Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank.”

Eylon Aslan-Levy, “Obsessive Gaza Coverage is Fanning Antisemitism” (The Guardian):
“Sometimes the hyperbole gets close to incitement. When people accuse Israel of ‘genocide’, invoking the Holocaust or likening Gaza to a ‘concentration camp’ or wielding placards that equate the Star of David – a Jewish symbol as well as an Israeli one – with the swastika, they reveal a deep ignorance of both the past and present. As Dave Rich of the Community Security Trust has argued: ‘It’s a totally false comparison that plays on Jewish sensibilities in order to provoke a reaction. Another word for that is Jew-baiting.'”

Dennis Ross, “Hamas Could Have Chosen Peace. Instead, It Made Gaza Suffer” (The Washington Post):
“[B]ecause Hamas is incapable of changing, it needs to be discredited. In the short term, humanitarian and reconstruction aid in Gaza must be managed so that Hamas cannot exploit it politically or militarily. The Obama administration should insist that the crossing points cannot be reopened until adequate safeguards are in place to prevent the diversion of the assistance. Not only would this permit the PA to reestablish itself at the Gaza crossing points, but it could also prevent Hamas from seizing materials shipped into the Gaza Strip. For the longer term, the United States should organize a Marshall Plan for Gaza contingent on Hamas disarming. If Hamas chooses arms over civilian investment and development, it should be exposed before Palestinians and the international community.”