This commitment, along with many similar promises from European and Arab countries, comes just days after a rocket slammed into a school in Israel, causing massive damage. I didn't hear the UN condemn this attack, nor did I hear President Obama suggest the US would be interested in rebuilding the school.
According to the principal, if the attack had happened 24 hours earlier or later, rather than on the one day of the week when school does not meet (Saturdays), at least 30 children would have died (read here that one classroom was probably obliterated) and another 100 injured (read here classrooms on either side of the destroyed room).
Today, children in Ashkelon didn't go to school because parents refused to send them to what could easily be a death trap. Parents are complaining that the schools aren't fortified. One parent said that approximately $600 per child is needed to fix the schools in Ashkelon so that they can withstand a missile attack. Perhaps Secretary of State Clinton would spare a mere $600 per Israeli child who lives in the war zone? I'm sure it would come to a lot less than $900 million.
More importantly, we are losing sight of something more basic. Schools should be fortified to withstand lightning and earthquakes. Perhaps tidal waves, not that Israel has seen anything like a tidal wave in centuries or more. What other natural disasters might occur - schools should be the first to be fortified, but a missile attack is not a natural disaster. It is not natural to target children, nor is it anything close to normal to celebrate when they are among the dead and injured.
Perhaps I am naive, but I still want to be angry that Israel must fortify its schools against incoming missiles and I am still not ready to suggest that the responsibility lies with Israel to protect rather than Hamas to stop attacking.
Along with that - Gilad Shalit is still being denied the most basic of human rights - communication with his parents and a visit from international first aid volunteers to confirm his physical condition. I'm sure that $900 million dollars could at least buy him that visit.
European and Arab countries have offered more than 4 billion dollars in aid to rebuild Gaza. Again, if $900 million would buy Gilad a visit, perhaps 4 billion would buy his freedom. The world has focused on the concept that Israel must release over 1,000 terrorists and murderers - perhaps what is wrong here is the simple assumption that this equation needs minor tweaking but in essence is correct. Gilad is not a murderer or a terrorist. He was simply a 19 year old boy, a young soldier protecting his country. If the aid being offered is to better the situation of the every-day Palestinian, than along with that should come an immediate and profound improvement in Gilad's life. No aid should reach the Palestinians until two basic realities are established:
- No more rocket attacks
- Gilad Shalit is free
Until these two realities are met, I'd like to put forth to the American people one more simple fact. What Israel knocked down once...it can easily knock down again if the Arabs again use these locations for bombing Israel and planning attacks.
If you build it...it will fall, again - if Gilad doesn't come home and the rockets don't stop. Yesterday a rocket was fired at Israel. Sunday, a rocket was fired at Israel. Saturday 6 rockets were fired, including the one that damaged the school in Ashkelon. It is only a matter of time before Israel is forced, again, to respond to these attacks.
Until the rockets stop and Gilad comes home...do you really want to pour $900 million dollars into Gaza?