by Shiela Steinman Wallace
Louisvillian Dr. Rich Edelson was in Israel for an International Neuropsychological Society meeting when the attacks from Gaza started. “Some people left early,” he reported, taking advantage of the offer some airlines made to exchange tickets without penalty, but he chose to stay.
“We were in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem,” Edelson said. “We heard sirens, were evacuated to shelters and heard explosions.” Despite the attacks, he continued, “Things really, oddly enough, were not disrupted.”
One day, he recalled, they were eating dinner outside when the sirens went off. “The staff at hotel said, ‘go to the shelter.’ We were in it for 15-20 minutes, then they said, ‘OK, all clear,’ and we went back to eating dinner.”
“It was a surreal experience,” he continued. “You know the war is going on and you can hear it going on, but its not personally threatening, even though, in a greater sense, it is very threatening.”
While he was there, there were still tourists, people praying at The Wall and people going to museums. In Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, people shopped and ate in restaurants. “In that sense, life continues,” Edelson said, “but you do feel mounting tension as the situation goes on and on and on.”
Toward the end of his visit, it became difficult to get out of the country. There seemed to be more people leaving than coming in, so the airlines were cancelling flights because planes weren’t available in Israel.
Based on stories from the English language Israeli and international newspapers, Edelson believes the real purpose of this conflict “is that Hamas needs support from other Arab countries and this missile launching is designed to bring them the financial and political support they need since they are so much better at being terrorists than at governing.”
At this point, he observed, Hamas has alienated Syria, Iran and Hezbollah by siding with Syrian rebels and those entities have cut their support for Hamas. “I have to wonder if Hamas keeps shelling Israel for the purpose of sacrificing enough Palestinian lives to get the Arab support they want,” he said. So far, they have not gotten that support and the violence “feels very futile and very brutal.”