When I originally wrote these lines, the possibility loomed that the American war in Syria might already have begun and ended. In the spirit of the opening of the school year, the war is being termed a “punitive action,” as though Washington were bypassing the Security Council by creating a pedagogic council. The punitive strike is intended to attack the regime of Bashar Assad because Assad attacked his nationals, the citizens of Syria, though of course those who will be punished, finally, will be those very nationals. Some will become refugees and some will be harmed physically.
Possibly the members of the pedagogic council believe that Assad will then eat his heart out, toss and turn all night, feel ashamed of himself and perhaps even deprive himself of television programs (which isn’t all that terrible, given that this season of “Big Brother” has already ended). Assad will be reeducated and become a better ruler and a more congenial tyrant − after all, as U.S. spokesmen have said, the punitive action is not aimed at toppling Assad. The Syrian president will simply improve and will no longer dare annihilate Syrians with chemical weapons, but only by means of the conventional kind, as he has done very effectively to 100,000 (!) Syrian citizens over the past few years.
What’s important is not the killing per se − the United States is also killing quite a few people outside its borders in other educational wars, and inside its borders, by legal means. The important thing is how you go about the killing, and when it comes to that, the U.S. believes in conventionality. As far as the pedagogic council is concerned, as long as Assad stays away from creative methods, he has every right to go on killing as he pleases.
Of course, there is a very good possibility that the war in Syria will hurt us, too, as the Jews of the American squire. Naturally, as good Jews we must be thankful for the opportunity afforded us to demonstrate once again our loyalty to the biggest democracy outside the Middle East, Europe and Australia, to equip ourselves with gas masks, not to panic and to accept with love the possibility of huddling in the bomb shelter/sealed room and maybe even “taking losses” here and there.
Okay, if all this were in aid of rescuing the Syrian people from the reign of terror in their country, well, I too am an advocate of humanitarian missions. But I have no desire to cooperate with didactic operations. First, because I don’t believe in them.
Second, because even hypocrisy has to have a limit, and the 100,000 who have been murdered by conventional means, based on the methods accepted by the United States, will take no great consolation from the fact that they were not killed by chemical weapons, thank you very much.
I find it hard to believe that Syria’s citizens − those who will not be harmed by the punitive action − will emerge from this war with a new song in their hearts, knowing that henceforth they will go to their death conventionally.
The American people, for their part, can thank their president for ensuring that the war did not take place before the end of Labor Day, that is, before it became unacceptable to wear white shoes (as everyone knows, wearing white shoes is not done after Labor Day). A war in Syria might have affected the joy of the American holiday, whose ancient customs include mainly buying clothing and footwear at fantastic discounts in the mall closest to the celebrant’s home, and even in designer outlets in the big cities.
As for me, a war at Rosh Hashanah is absolutely not my cup of tea. To begin with, what would become of the abundance of items I bought with the holiday gift of NIS 300 that I received from my generous employer?
Second, on the day after Rosh Hashanah I'm supposed to attend a family gathering in the north of the country, a region best left unvisited because of its relative proximity to Syria and Lebanon.
Third, there’s the wardrobe snafu. According to even my most optimistic calculations, the war is set to erupt during the holiday period, a time when I am supposed to wear uncomfortable festive attire and also, if possible, shoes with low heels. How the hell am I supposed to go down to the bomb shelter in those clothes, holding Shoshana on a leash in my right hand and a decorative dish of some sort with salad / cake / dessert / rice with almonds and pine nuts that I prepared for the holiday repast in my other hand?
Besides, at Sukkot I'm planning to go to Haifa for a few days, to the film festival. You’d better watch out, Obama, if the film festival is canceled because of you and along with it the free plane ticket from Berlin for my son Amitai! I’m willing to be flexible when it comes to the Acre fringe theater festival − as far as I’m concerned, a festival that doesn’t pay its actors properly can be canceled.
Now that we’ve postponed the war until after the holidays, we come to the period known as the demi-saison, the season between the seasons. This period was invented by generations of seamstresses and fashion dealers in order to force all kinds of gullible women like me to buy peculiar items of clothing such as “tunics,” thin sweaters, scarves and light jackets.
Fashion-wise, the demi-saison is very appropriate for a war, as we discovered 40 years ago, in the Yom Kippur War. You can think what you like about that unnecessary bloodbath, but at least it did not involve any fashion blunders! What's more suitable for spending morning until night in the bomb shelter than some tunic or scarf in which to wrap yourself when it gets chilly and remove when it warms up?
It follows that October is the most recommended month for starting a war, especially because I plan to spend most of it in Canada and the United States.
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