Saturday, January 10, 2009

Joe the Plumber's First Dispatch From Israel


When Pyjamas Media asked me to be a reporter on the war in Israel my immediate reaction was "yes." But my fool mouth has got me in trouble before, so I told them I would sleep on it.

After some extra thinking I said "hell yes." You know why? Because one voice has been lacking in the midst of all this war. That is the voice of the average man.

The elites in the world think they run everything, but if I learned one thing about global politics from my 17 years as an unlicensed plumber, it's that elites just mess everything up.

Think about it. When was the last time you heard of an average guy messing up the economy? Or an average guy starting a war? Never happened. Only elites have the time to think about that stuff.

Average guys just wanna look out for their family. They don't have time for starting a war.

What would they even want to start a war about? Things are looking fine to me here in America. As long as you don't come for my guns or one red penny more of my hard-earned money or to make me join a union or get my plumber's license I got no gripe with you.

So I boarded a jet to Israel to find out the real story of the war between Israel and Gaza. It was a long flight and they served chicken with something called rice pilaf. Very interesting stuff. I will have to see if we can get it back home.

I got off the plane and my guide was a very nice guy named Moshe Ben-David. You pronounce it "moy-she." Moshe said that first he would take me to ground zero where the Gazans have been shooting rockets at Israel. Then he would drive us to a hill where I could see the fighting in Gaza.

"The attacks are frequent," Moshe said.

"How many people died?" I asked him.

"A lot of people over the many years it has been going on and recently one," Moshe said back.

I nodded sadly to him.

"So it's sort of like your 9-11?" I asked him.

"Hmm," Moshe said as he thought about my question. "I think you could say that. Yes."

Israelis struggle to recover from brutal Hamas rocket attacks.
The tragedy of the attacks for people like Moshe is that they come so suddenly. No one expects the rockets. Imagine a 9-11, only the planes could land anywhere. They could land among the family of the Israelis.

"A siren sounds and you have one minute," Moshe said. "You have to get to the shelter or your basement."

Moshe took me to a neighborhood not far from the border with Gaza and showed me some buildings that had been damaged by rockets. He pointed to a room where the rocket had blasted into the floor.

"A baby was sleeping only two rooms away and a few hours before this rocket hit. If he was still sleeping he could have been slightly injured by debris."

Moshe showed me pictures. One picture was of a child who was dusty. Another picture was of a man making a very upset face.

"What happened here?" I asked and pointed to the face.

"Oh," Moshe said sadly. "He is upset because a rocket hit his yard."

After the rocket attacks became too much to handle the Israelis were forced to act. With their airforce they used precision guided bombs to attack the rocket launchers. Some of these were situated in mosques and inside of the houses of families and at weddings and UN hospitals.

"The Hamas are monsters," Moshe said. "They use everyone as human shields. We have no choice. There are, unfortunately, some civilian casualties."

Nobody wants Gazan civilians being killed or injured, especially not the Israelis.

"We care so much," said Moshe. "We never want to hurt anyone, but we have to defend our settlements."

The hundreds of women and children killed by Israeli air strikes, artillery, tanks, and machine guns are a tragedy.

"And the UN ambulance the tank shot," Moshe added to the list.

These are all tragedies, but sometimes sacrifices have to be made in the name of security. If a serial killer grabs your wife and your baby and uses them as human shields you have to do what needs to be done.

You have to use your brain in situations likes that. You have to shoot the baby because it can't take care of itself without a wife, but with a wife you can make a new baby.

"That's a good metaphor," Moshe complimented me.

I smiled and we walked out to go to Moshe's truck. On the way out two kids and an older man with those little hats came running and said they were settlers.

"Like pioneers in America," Moshe told me.

The one teenager was named Abraham and another was named Tzabar. They were brothers. Their mother had been wounded badly by a rocket.

"Shrapnel hit her in the foot," Tzabar said in a foreign accent. "She was sitting on the couch and BOOM the rocket hit outside and shrapnel hit mama in the foot!"

They were very excited and upset. I asked them about their mother.

"She is okay now, but she is at the Marriott in Tel Aviv now."

The older man was Sol Rozen. He lived near the boys and he saw another rocket hit a dog.

"One second it was standing there just fine," Sol described to us. "The next second there was no dog. I looked around and around and then I saw him up in the tree. He was okay, but he was very scared. He did not know how he got up in that tree. Damn them!"

It was good to meet with the average Israelis I had requested. I shook their hands and wished them luck.

Moshe drove his truck to a hill. From the hill we could see explosions in Gaza. There was smoke and helicopters. I could also see some tanks driving around.

"Watch there," Moshe said.

I took this one with my camera phone. Surprisingly, Sbarros in Israel look similar to those in malls in America. The pizza tastes just as delicious too!
He handed me some binoculars and pointed. I heard a jet overhead and then there was this big flash of light and then like a full second later there was this boom that shook my head.

"Wow!" I shouted. "That's a huge fireball!"

There was a huge fireball forming. It looked like a mushroom cloud it was so big. It wasn't a nuke though, just a really big bomb.

We had to go after a little bit because the tanks were driving into a school for the deaf and Moshe said he didn't want me to get stressed out.

"Come on, bro-heem," he said. "I'll buy you a slice of pie."

He meant Sbarro pizza. They call pizza "pie" in Israel. We went to the Sbarro and I got a pepperoni pizza slice and Moshe got one with black olives.

I wanted to talk to some average Gazans about what was going on, but Moshe said it was too dangerous.

"Maybe after all the rocket launchers have been destroyed," Moshe said. "Then it will be safe to go to Gaza."

That is my report from Israel. Stay strong America.

The End.

- Joe "The Plumber" Wurzelbacher