Gaza – a narrow strip along the Mediterranean, bordering Egypt on one end with Israel all along its flank. Its connotations have never been anything but ugly. Dr. H. the linguist can tell you that the Hebrew root behind “Gaza” is Az, meaning “strong,” though it can also refer to “arrogance” (as in Proverbs 21:29). We can also transliterate it as Oz … Has anybody seen Dorothy, Toto, or that feisty wizard?
In antiquity it was the home of the Philistines, descendants of the “Sea Peoples” who invaded the region (known as the Levant by demographers) from western lands. Biblical references are entirely negative. Joshua was said to have “smitten” the evil Canaanites as far as Gaza, and Samson pursued his shenanigans there, meeting up with a certain lady of ill repute. Jeremiah went as far as to prophesy that Gaza’s inhabitants are to be stricken with baldness! (I’m looking in vain for bald Gazans in the news footage; can anybody help?)
The Romans, who experienced their share of grief from their unruly Jewish subjects, once tried to obliterate every trace of Jewishness from the land called “Israel” by renaming it “Palestina” in Latin, after the long-vanished Philistines. That’s the origin of the word “Palestinian.” A made-up name for a made-up land, now claimed by a made-up people, whom history had known as Ottomans, Egyptians, Mamelukes, and a host of other nationalities. There has never in history been a Palestinian nation or a Palestinian people. In fact, Jews immigrating to the Middle East in the early 20th Century called themselves “Palestinians.”
Now, however, we are told that this “Palestine” must be recognized as a legitimate, sovereign nation, and Spain has just gone on record as declaring that it will recognize the new state even before the United Nations votes on Palestinian recognition in September. Importantly, just over the weekend, Egypt decided to open the Rafah crossing with Gaza. A great humanitarian move, consistent with the “Arab Spring,” right? Think again. Israel fears that a torrent of terrorists, with their weapons, missiles, and nasty materials for bomb-making will come across the border as well. Do we wonder whom the missiles will be aimed at? As a former resident of Israel’s border city of Kiryat Shmona, I know exactly what it’s like to fear rockets landing in the town square … or on the building you’re living in.
“Baldness has come upon Gaza!” thundered Jeremiah. With the U.N. poised to add another nation to its roster (one dominated by Hamas and bent on annihilation of the Jewish state), I’m not even sure Rogaine will be of assistance! Yep, baldness has come upon Gaza, and blindness has come upon the world. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF, Israel. Hang tough. Desperate times are coming, but you’ve been there before. Leaving behind another Memorial Day, it’s good to remember Winston Churchill’s classic radio address during the darkest days of the Nazi blitz: “We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”