“Hang on tight, spur hard, and let’er buck.”
- Kinky Friedman
It appears that Israel really has had enough. About a half an hour ago I read a dispatch from HAARETZ.com. In a public address nation Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said, among other things:
“Citizens of Israel, there are moments in the life of a nation, when it is compelled to look directly into the face of reality and say: no more,” he said.
“And I say to everyone: no more. Israel will not be held hostage - not by terror gangs or by a terrorist authority or by any sovereign state,”“There is nothing we want more than peace on all of our borders,” Olmert told the Knesset. But he said, “Israel will not agree to live with rockets fired on its citizens,” he added. “Only a nation that can protect its freedom deserves it,” he stated.
Good for Ehud Olmert! Good for Israel! In this world with too many rats, terrorists, and international bullies there comes a time to make a stand
I learned a little bit about rats during my tour of duty in Vietnam back in the sixties. I, like everyone in my barracks, was fortunate enough to have a place to sleep and a footlocker to contain my few worldly goods. Knowing its value, I guarded my space zealously. But not all my barracks mates did. One airman, who I’ll call Foo the Farmer to protect his ignorance, tried the kinder/gentler approach to protecting his goods and it nearly did us all in. It all began for me when I started hearing high pitched squeals and scratching noises during the night, overwhelming even the thumps of air strikes or the light of the flares being dropped in the distance. The sounds came from what I perceived to be close to Foo’s foot locker. They continued for several nights and actually started to increase in frequency and intensity. Then in the mornings it would stop.
I resolved to figure the mystery out. The next time I heard the noise I got up and followed the noise to its source. It was coming from Foo’s foot locker. Having figured out the mystery, the only thing left to do was to let Foo know what was going on. So, in the morning when we got up for chow I approached him. “Hey, Foo, I think I figured out where that noise we’ve been hearing every night is coming from. It’s coming from your foot locker.”
“Oh, that noise,” he replied nonchalantly. “I knew about that already.”
“Oh yeah. It’s a rat that’s gotten into my digs.”
“Why don’t you kill it?”
“Hey man, every time I open my foot locker that thing just squeals away and gives me the heebie jeebies, so I just throw a candy bar in there to keep him happy.”
“Comeon, Foo, that makes no sense at all. Just kill the damned thing and be done with it.”
“I just figure as long as I keep feeding him he’ll leave me alone.”
“You know what, you dummy, all that rat is going to do is want more and more food. You keep this up and we’ll be overrun by rats soon enough. People will be getting bubonic plague. Take my advice and kill it.”
“How am I going to do that without ruining my locker or without getting bitten?”
I couldn’t believe the stupidity. “Look, you idiot, just shoot him or stomp him to death. Anything. Just get rid of him. And stop worrying about your locker. You can replace that. And if you get him soon enough he won’t be able to bite your fingers or your nose off. Just kill him and be done with it. Besides, if you can’t deal with the rat, the rest of us in the barracks can.”
It took some time to convince Foo to do the right thing, but he eventually did. And, yes, it was a bloody mess. But we cleaned it up in no time and everything went back to being as normal as it could be under the circumstances.
That’s one of the essences of the diplomatic approach that’s so often been applied to Israel. The operating assumption of Israel’s critics is that if the world keeps the rats in the foot locker, feeds them a bit, they won’t bother anyone. The approach makes no earthly sense, but that’s the strategy being recommended.
I also learned there comes a time when one must meet the neighborhood bullies head on. I learned the lesson early in life, during my teenage years. Back then when I wasn’t playing stickball with my brother, I would go to a park near our apartment to play pick-up basketball or football with other guys from my neighborhood. We would have fun till a group of neighborhood toughs would descend on the park like the barbarians on Rome’s gates. In order to keep things from getting ugly we would have to pay tribute to them in one form or another, sometimes a couple of bucks or a box or two of donuts. For a time it didn’t seem too high a price to pay for peace and stability on the basketball court or the football field. But it time the demands escalated. A couple of bucks became three, then four, then five. And so it went.
I don’t know exactly when I’d had enough, but the time did come. I determined I would pay no more tribute.
The next time they came by the approach was familiar. “Make with the bread,” the ring leader ordered.
The rest of the guys started digging for money, but I refused. “You can go to hell. You ain’t gettin’ anything from me,” I snarled.
Their mouthpiece was a teenage tough named Butchie Loder. He was a hulk of a teenager for the late 1950’s, about two hundred and twenty pounds worth. Compared to my one hundred and thirty he seemed absolutely massive. “It’s either the money or a beatin’,” he roared back.
The rest of his gang of thieves stood back, waiting for Butchie to act on his threat.
The stage was set.
Figuring I had nothing to lose, I ran up to Butchie and let loose with a right cross that hit him squarely in the face. Blood spurted from his mouth and nose and he lurched back, feeling the blood with his right hand as he did. He was stunned. I took advantage of my opening and continued my attack. I hit him twice in the stomach and heard him groan as the punches hit their mark. He doubled over and fell to the ground. I pounced on him and hit him several more times. The swiftness of the attack and its ferocity had left him helpless. As I swung away at him I kept repeating, “Your nothin’ but a mocking bird mouth. That’s all you are.” When I sensed that he’d had enough I got up. As I looked around I saw that his allies had fled the scene and I was surrounded only by my buddies. The battle that we had all dreaded to the point of appeasing the neighborhood bullies was over. We won.
I sometimes wonder what might have happened to our neighborhood if we had continued appeasing our tormentors. Where would it have ended? We’d all probably be living in neighborhoods ruled by thugs demanding tribute of us all.
I really don’t need to tell you the moral of these stories, but I can’t resist. It’s simple. Don’t appease the neighborhood bullies, deal with the rats, confront the terrorists before they can take over and rule by terror.
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