Just wanted to let you all know that I’m back from my trip, which turned out to be a tour of riot zones, starting with Athens, which is undergoing tremendous turmoil. From our hotel, you could see the people massing for a march on Syntagma Square to protest the latest austerity measure imposed by the EU as a condition for a fiscal bailout. They have fierce demos in Greece, on both sides, with firebombs, molotov cocktails, fire hoses and police beatings. While we were there, a general strike closed everything down: all transportation, pharmacies, tourist sites, even traffic control in the airport. So much for our plan to tour the islands; but there was plenty to do in Athens, including the newly opened, world-class Acropolis Museum. Then we went on to Barcelona, where I’m told that the unemployment rate for people under 35 is an unbelievable 50%! Who wouldn’t riot? But the demonstrations we saw there were subdued and focused mainly on the rash of evictions that has resulted (naturally) from the general unemployment.
But our trip started in Israel, where we went for the wedding of our son, Jonathan, and his lovely bride, Ayana. No riots there…but now, two weeks later, the country is being bombarded by missiles from Gaza: over 800 in the past month. Apart from the personal anxiety for our family, this development leaves long-time leftists like me speechless. For years I advocated withdrawing from the Occupied Territories. In 2005, Israel finally withdrew from Gaza unilaterally, dismantling Jewish settlements and returning all the land to the Palestinians…and this is the result. It’s hugely disheartening that Israel actually shows more concern for the lives of Palestinians than Hamas does. Every missile they launch just shores up support for the hardliners in Israel, and leaves the peace camp with nothing at all to say.
I’ll return to regularly scheduled programming very soon–just wanted to say hi, I’m back, and to share these thoughts.