Kirby Neumann-Rea/News-Register##Israeli newspapers from March-April 1979, including page one of Maariv with the word “Peace” interwoven in Hebrew, Arabic and English.
Kirby Neumann-Rea/News-Register##Israeli newspapers from March-April 1979, including page one of Maariv with the word “Peace” interwoven in Hebrew, Arabic and English.
Wikimedia Commons/Gringer##Gaza Strip, at 139 square miles, is about twice the size of Washington, D.C., and has a population of two million, making it among the most densely-populated places on Earth.
Wikimedia Commons/Gringer##Gaza Strip, at 139 square miles, is about twice the size of Washington, D.C., and has a population of two million, making it among the most densely-populated places on Earth.
By Kirby Neumann-Rea • Of the News-Register • 

Kirby Neumann-Rea: Gaza and the shattered vase

In the Middle East, no one is ever far from war. As I think of friends in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, threatened by Hamas, and in the north of Israel, threatened by Hezbollah, I am unsure how to respond to the terrible events now unfolding in the Gaza Strip and beyond.

I pulled “If Peace Comes” off a bookshelf this week, recalling its purchase in the summer of 1979, when we all believed peace in the Middle East was fully possible. I kept my copy, published in the weeks following the Camp David Accords, which produced a tenuous peace between Israel and Egypt.

At the age 21, I visited Israel just five years after the Yom Kippur War for a year in Tel Aviv. It was a time of peace, a watershed time for the Jewish State, after President Jimmy Carter helped forge a historic pact between two former enemies.

“If Peace Comes.”

The title intrigued me from the start. The question was, “if.”

As Hamas and Israel grievously battle each other, Israeli children are held hostage, Gaza is in ruins and terror reigns throughout. I fear we are near the inescapable conclusion that peace will not come.

As war returns to the region, I return to the memory of swimming on a particular beach in the Mediterranean — Sharm Park beach in the Gaza Strip, near Gaza City — on a student trip to the area in the spring of 1979. We tossed Frisbees and formed human pyramids on the pristine sand, and dove into exquisite surf on this restricted, contested and beautiful stretch of the Mediterranean Sea.

What else do I remember about Gaza? The urban desolation, the crowded conditions, the sewage running through dirt streets — problems our Israeli minders laid firmly at the feet of the locals.

We stayed on a kibbutz near the Gaza border. We played ping pong in a bomb shelter just a few miles from where Hamas took Israelis hostage last week

Later that year, on a student tour of the Golan Heights, we rode a chairlift up Mount Hermon, bordering Syria. It was the and scene of battles in the 1967 and 1973 wars.

We pelted each other with snowballs as we rode the lift directly over rusted hulks of Syrian tanks. But we did not mean to be light-hearted about spending time in these conflicted places.

On the same trip, we swam in the waters of the Banias, Yarkon and Hermon rivers, taking in the national treasure Octagon pool and another small pool in the Dan — one, we were told, that Syrian officers built for themselves in the 1950s.

These are among myriad memories of my 20th and 21st years, participating in transformative experiences that at times feel surreal.

Did I really float in the waters of the Banias? Were we so carefree on the slopes of Hermon? After all that has happened since, will year-abroad students still visit the corners of Israel?

It is hard to fathom at this point, but I believe we must retain hope. And if so, it lies with students not yet of college age.

In my 1983-84 visit to Israel, I got to know a friend of a friend, an American man named Lee Gordon. I learned a few years ago that he was the co-founder and current American director of Hand In Hand, a Jerusalem school that teaches Arab and Jewish students in the same classrooms.

I have yet to hear directly from Lee, but this week I received this message from his staff:

“This is a devastating time in Israel. All across the country we are reeling in shock and grief. ...Yet, words can and must convey our commitment and resolve. We at Hand in Hand, Jew and Arab alike, will continue to support one another. Our principals, teachers, community leaders, and staff are reaching out to students and parents.

“We are connecting as a community to voice our pain and fear. And we are strengthening one another for the long, arduous road that lies ahead. We will be bringing our students back to school in the coming days and providing them with the fortification of professional counseling and support to weather this time together.

“Hand in Hand’s Jewish-Arab schools and communities will continue the work of building a shared future — one with safety and equality for all.”

Political strife and war are powerful forces, but so are empathy and shared experience.

“More significantly than the forms of warfare, are the ideology and the political aims which guide them,” wrote Alouph Hareven, editor of “If Peace Comes.” Much has changed in the intervening 44 years, but ideologies and political aims remain largely untouched so far.

Recently I ran across other printed materials I packed home when I left Tel Aviv after my Linfield overseas year.

They include the March 27, 1979, edition of the Jerusalem Post, featuring this headline, “Israel and Egypt sign peace treaty declaring end to 30-year state of war. “Today, we celebrate a victory,” Carter declared in the accompanying story.

In a Post special section article, “The peace of the wise,” Israeli President Yitzhak Navon stated, “Peace is not a word. It’s a beautiful, fragile and precious vase. What matters are its contents.”

Those contents, starting 44 years ago, might have been equal rights and freedom for all of Israel’s residents. But that never happened.

“There does not exist in the Palestine Liberation Organization, as constituted today, any stable element which Israel can trust and on which it can base a long-term policy,” Hareven wrote in his book, tellingly subtitled “Risks and Prospects.”

Trust is a two-way street, of course. And there are some very narrow streets in the Holy Land.

Menachem Begin’s government and those to follow all had degrees of foresight. So did the PLO under Yassir Arafat of the PLO and Israel under Yitzhak Rabin in 1993, when the PLO recognized Israel and signed the Oslo Accords.

But enlightenment did not endure. Current Premier Benjamin Netanyahu has never moved to give the Palestinians “a stable element to trust and base a long-term policy.”

Israeli town-building in the West Bank became a long-term policy. Many Israelis were opposed from the outset, but it has pervaded and persisted.

Expanding the settlements became, literally, the law of the land. Any real peace with the Palestinians, survivors of the displacements of 1948 and 1967, and their descendants, thus became a long-shot at best.

Hareven drew this conclusion in 1979 as a hedge prediction:

“It is perhaps possible to illustrate the process of establishing trust by the process of forming of a crystal in a saturated liquid. In order to obtain a crystal, one must insert into the liquid a crystal grain, around which the bigger crystal will gradually assemble. Similarly, in order to establish trust, it is essential that some grain of trust – even infinitesimal – should exist, so that around it more trust can gather.”

He noted, with limited prescience, that trust existed between Israeli and Lebanese Christians, between Israel and Hashemite Jordan, and since the visit of Egyptian leader Anwar Sadat, “perhaps also between Israel and Egypt.” It does not exist, he said, between Israel and the PLO. And that’s been even more true of Hamas, long before the recent assault.

The PLO represents Palestinians in the United Nations General Assembly. But only Hamas wields any real influence on the ground, and it has been a bitter longstanding rival of the PLO and its offshoot Palestinian Authority.

There is no mention of Hamas in any of the literature I brought home in 1979, of course, as it did not exist at the time. The players changed, and they grew even angrier in the process.

The Hamas violence and terror of October 2023 is evil and inexcusable. But the anger it represents cannot be denied or diminished.

“It is important not to minimize or condone the heinous crimes committed by Hamas,” writes Orly Noy, a journalist and parent of a former Hand in Hand student, in an opinion article published in The Guardian. “But it is also important to remind ourselves that everything it is inflicting on us now, we have been inflicting on the Palestinians for years.”

Among those inflictions, Noy lists: “Indiscriminate firing, including at children and older people; intrusion into their homes. Burning down their houses; taking hostages — not just fighters but civilians, children and older people.”

Now Israel has announced a siege of Gaza, and is laying plans to invade for the fifth time, just as Hamas has begun shelling the nearest large Israel city to Gaza, Ashkelon.

Noy continues, “I maintain that there are crimes of abundance and there are crimes of hunger, and we have not only brought Gaza to the brink of starvation, we have brought it to a state of collapse. Always in the name of security.

“How much security did we get? Where will another round of revenge take us?”

In the words of Josep Borrell, policy director of the European Union, “Not all Palestinians are terrorists. A collective punishment of the Palestinians will be unfair and unproductive. It will be against our interests and against the interests of the peace.”

Lee Gordon passed along an e-mail from a Jerusalem friend who says:

“The ongoing siege of Gaza creates terrorists. And when we kill them, others replace them.

“In recent months, we have sought to appease them, allowing a few thousand to enter Israel to work. This pacification will never render them docile.

“As in Vietnam, we will never defeat them. They have little to lose, and they will fight forever.

“Unless we, the strong side, initiate talks that will head us toward a settlement that strives to provide them with a life worth living. Only then will it be possible to talk of peace.

“For this to happen, Israel requires bold leadership that will take us to the table. Netanyahu will not be the man to do this.”

The writer argues that Israel “must awaken to the reality of occupation and the inevitability of endless wars, until justice has its day.”

So far, 1,200 Israelis have died and hundreds have been taken hostage. And many more are expected to die, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

The Times article contains this quote from Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert at the Council on Foreign Relations: “This is a challenge of a magnitude that has never been faced before.”

I read Wednesday morning in The Guardian of the apparent massacre of more than 100 residents of Kibbutz Kfar Azr. I fear this is an atrocity with endless reverberations — and it needs to be made clear that this is not among the type of inflictions Israelis have carried out.

I understand the underlying, historic fears among Israelis. And this and other tragedies in Israel this week will do nothing to assuage such fears.

The nation was founded in the tragic wake of the Holocaust. Shoah, or “catastrophe,” is the Hebrew term for it.

In my visits to Israel, I heard first-hand from survivors of the Holocaust. None of it compared to the description an elderly man gave me, as we walked through a banana grove, of his own survival of Auschwitz.

In 1943 Europe, Jewish parents would cover the mouths of crying babies while families hid in terror. On an Israel kibbutz in 2023, mothers did the same thing as Hamas went door-to-door alternatively taking hostages and murdering people on the spot.

There are factions in our world that would eradicate the Jews if they could. And this sentiment abounds in Hamas’ sponsor state, Iran.

My souvenirs from that student year include a “Holy Land” map, printed in the 1960s, that shows no State of Israel.

Guest writer Kirby Neumann-Rea, managing editor at the News-Register, studied at Tel Aviv University in 1978-79 as a Linfield junior with about 200 other students. In 1983-84, he returned to Israel to work and connect with friends, spending two months as a film extra and three months doing kitchen and beach duty on Kibbutz Sdot Yam. “Israel has changed greatly in the past 40 years, in many ways for the worse,” he said. “But once you have spent any time there, the place becomes part of your soul.”



Excellent article. I think the buried headline is this.
"There are factions in our world that would eradicate the Jews if they could."

And that is the heart of the matter. When it comes down to it, take away all of the back and forth of what the Palestinians and Israelis have done to each other, right every wrong, and sign a peace agreement where both communities can live side by side. It will never last because there is a radical Muslim sect that wants the infidel dead. They don't want jobs, clean water, and good schools. They want dead Jews/Christians. Where do you go from there? It's not because of GAZA, it's been that way for 1500 years.

The news makes me sick. Literally.


Most of which I hear is gaslighting or propaganda being pro or against.

Post World War II you had two particular groups with different religious beliefs promised the same property.

Think of it like this:

You renting an apartment. Finding out others are renting that same space. Instead of one leaving. You both must Stay.


One group gets to use the bathroom. (Israel) the other doesn't. (Palestinian).

Palestinian is second class citizen. It can be compared to India on British rule, American Slavery, or convicted Felons right to vote in Florida.

Its nothing u did. It's your race, your culture pr your religion. They call it oppression. They are hardly alone, and Hamas does it as well.

The Palestinian liberation organization was a threat to Israel. Israel had this brilliant idea of supporting an enemy to go against this
threat" in hopes of both eliminating each other or weakening them enough.

This was called Hamas, partially funded by Israel to cause discord with the PLO.

Hamas did eliminate most of the Palestinian libertarians..


Now we have today.. Similar I supposed to Bin Laden... "Be careful of the monsters you create".

I hate thugs.. I hate terrorism.. I hate oppressive regimes...

There is no good guy here. There are plenty of victims.. innocent people killed by terrorist.. innocent people that will be killed through war crimes committed by Israel.



I think Bibi just wants some beachfront property to give to his benefactors....and his critics.

It won't be an occupation. It will be a takeover. They don't plan on letting the Palestinians back into that part of Gaza.


"My souvenirs from that student year include a “Holy Land” map, printed in the 1960s, that shows no State of Israel." The Bible documents who lived in Israel. The Muslim religion, which began in year 610 AD, has since tried to eliminate that Biblical history and its people... the Christians and the Jews. This is not simply a war of occupation, it is a religious war.

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