Friday, November 27, 2009

Property - That's Your Status

(I wrote this on Monday of this week - for reference to what 'today' means)

I've been chewing on this post for hours now, raving, like a smack fiend whose last fix was unimaginably long ago. Shortly you'll understand, but when I found out the news that prompted my desire to write this, I was determined to rush home and bang out a blog post filled with disbelief, frustration, and boiling, fiery, acidic rage. Red burning lava, black smoke curling from my ears, dripping fire from my eyes - full of fury and indignation. A post to capture a moment. The real life.

I did not rush home and write that story, however, or at least this story with that tone. I ate a big breakfast, took my time coming home, changed into comfortable civilian clothes, and played around on the computer. Watched a movie, even. It wasn't very good the first time I saw it, and the second time it was only mildly better. No problem, a movie is gold to a stressed soldier. After lounging like a king, but still feeling anxious and upset, I went for a 5k run. Jerusalem is tough, since it's all hills. Even an exhausting exercise hasn't helped, and I can't help but sigh and marvel at my luck. But the anger has subsided and ebbed into the cool numbness so familiar to those whose personal life is controlled by a removed, faceless, and immutable entity.

This morning we woke up at about 6am, and as usual were given half an hour to do our personal hygiene routine, clean the rooms, and have the morning gun check. Halfway through, however, my commander pulled me aside and told me that I was to put on my dress uniform and get ready to go home.

"What?" I asked.

"You're going home now until Wednesday, and then coming back Wednesday night to be on watch at the border," he mysteriously replied.

"What border?"

"I don't know, Egypt or Jordan."

This was highly strange, considering there are other, less intensive units than Golani that watch those two peaceful borders. I inquired if we were expecting a war or something, to which he replied negatively. It turns out that there is always a group there watching for smugglers, which is a huge problem especially on the Egyptian border where the fence is either a joke or non-existent. And why me? Because I'm qualified on a certain weapon system that can shoot flares. Apparently only this weapon system is used, which I think is dumb because there are a hell of a lot more people that can just use a laser to designate the target, and the police, with night vision, will see that beam bright and clear.

But all of that is moot. The army chooses what it chooses, and it probably has better reasons for its choices than some rookie immigrant big mouth.

Instantly after my commander told me that I'd be going home during the week and coming back on Wednesday, I had a terrible realization. You see, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday morning is plenty of time to work in the army. One could potentially imagine having that schedule and still getting to go home for the weekend. But I am infantry, and our life doesn't work out that nicely. No, no, I knew it would happen, and my commander confirmed it: I'll "close Shabbat" on this border base, alone. Everyone else goes home, except me.

Now, you might be thinking "Well, you got to go home for a few days during the week, so it all evens out." That almost is true, I grant you. However, closing this Shabbat will set me up for closing three Shabbats in a row. Just how the schedule works out. Not cool. In the army, and even in infantry, three Shabbats is punishment. If you mess up, you get three Shabbats straight stuck on base while everyone else goes home. I got three Shabbats because I'm weapons-hot.

But even that is not the reason I'm writing this blog. Most importantly, this post is not meant to complain about the army life. As a matter of fact, it's entirely the opposite. Even still, here's the real point of my frustration:

For the past month and a half I have been talking with a great and close friend of mine who currently lives in New York. Sara. She's bright, pretty, a wonderful friend who will do anything to help, always energetic, and she probably has the best sense of humor I've ever encountered in a girl. This friend is coming to the country for a week, and she's actually arriving the very same day I was supposed to get out for the weekend. It was meant to be awesome. Her family has the best meals, and I always get myself invited when she's around. I've been looking forward to her visit for well over a month. The schedule worked out great. I knew exactly which weekends I'd be on base, and which at home, and magically the dates lined up like clock work.

Until the army called on me, simply because of a weapon qualification I'd actually rather have nothing to do with! This incident, in my mind, as I sit here typing it, fresh with the dejection of missing such a close friend's visit, a friend I haven't seen for half a year and now won't see for at least another few months, is set to the backdrop of a speech given the night before, last night, by our battalion commander. In response to two incidents where soldiers from our company used their guns, both correctly I add, the brass wanted to go over our mission in al-Madina al-Muqaddasah. Brass wanted to make sure we knew our Rules of Engagement (ROE), morals and ethics of dealing with the local populations, and what the army and state expected of us in terms of personal and professional conduct.

At the same time, the battalion commander, a high ranking officer of course, took the chance to address recent demonstrations of protests by an infantry brigade in the IDF. Soldiers in the Shimshon and Nachshon Battalions of the Kfir Brigade have openly demonstrated against the army and state by holding up signs at a ceremony and during guard duty where reporters were found. In short, they are decrying suspected Israeli evacuations of settler posts within the West Bank. Just like in August 2005, when Avi Bieber refused orders to evacuate Israelis living in the Gaza Strip, these soldiers protested against the army, and the state, while in active service.

What our battalion commander said rang true for me last night, and this morning it all came around into crystal focus.

"You cannot pick and choose your orders and missions. When you are in active service, you must do as the army and state tell you to, not because you're not a human being, but because you are the army, and you are the arm of the state. When soldiers on the ground begin choosing which large-scale, government planned operations they will execute, that is the moment that the army begins to be torn apart. And more so for our country than any other country in the world, when our army begins to come apart like this, when it is destroyed and disintegrates and bulges from within, that is the moment when the state begins to come apart and disintegrate. When our army falls apart," he repeated, "our state will fall apart."

He went on to address those that really do have ideological objections to certain army decisions concerning Israeli residents in the West Bank. "It doesn't matter if you are an extreme right-winger, or extreme left, or middle-right, or middle-middle. You are soldiers in a mandatory army, and everyone here except for me and a handful of officers in the room are all in their mandatory three-year service. If the army gives you a mission that you disagree with, when the time comes to be released from the army, you can simply choose not to continue here. When you're released, you can say and do whatever you want. You simply don't make a career out of the army if you disagree with it. That's your only option as a soldier.

And moreover, even I as a career infantry officer, I have the same option as you. If our brigade commander were to call me up and say, 'Hey Ari, good morning. How's it going? Listen, by 11pm today you need to evacuate all the Israelis from that settlement next to your base,' well, you know what? That's my commanding officer, and he received that from someone else higher up. It's my job, no matter how much I might disagree with it. If you disagree, you have the right to be released at the end of your service, just like me. But in the meantime, you represent your state and your army, and the people rely on the army and state to be unified."

With his words ringing in my head, I sucked up my anger and disbelief after hearing that I'd miss Sara's visit and close Shabbat on some strange base, alone. A year ago I swore allegiance to the State of Israel and the Israel Defense Forces. I repeated, with electric adrenaline shooting through my veins, every inch of my body tingling:

I swear and commit to maintain loyalty to the State of Israel, to her laws, and authorities. To take upon myself without conditions and without reservations the responsibilities of the IDF. To obey all the commands and instructions given by the commanders and to dedicate all my strength and even to sacrifice my life for the defence of the homeland and the freedom of Israel.

The gods chose to give me, as we say in the army, כל הזין. Essentially, I'm being hosed. But I accept it! If it wasn't me, it'd be someone else getting the raw end of the deal, and I'd never want to pass on my own crap situation to someone else. I have given myself without reservation or qualification, and sometimes that oath isn't just pretty words repeated in important speeches. Sometimes it means you actually give without receiving, sacrifice without recognition; your word is occasionally tested. No matter how unhappy my lot, I will always strive to be the exemplar and paragon of that all-meaningful avowal.

And besides, there's always a silver lining - maybe I'll stop some smugglers bringing in poison targeting Israel's youth. But still, it would have been nice to have Thanksgiving with some Americans! Enjoy your weekend... I'm working.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

"Israel's Economic Miracle"

This post may not be directly army related, but I began this blog on a very different standing than its current theme. Without getting into it, I'll just say that I started writing Israeli by Day in order to clear up misconceptions about this country. When I first started getting into Israel, as in when I first came here and became involved, I was shocked to find out what my peers in my hometown thought of Israel. People just had no idea.

Not uncommon questions asked were if Israel has electricity, are there streets and cars, and if people speak Jewish. One girl even asked me, and she was dead serious, "do they sleep in tents in the desert?" Apparently someone's pre-school Bible lessons about Abraham still apply to modern-day Israel. The level of ignorance was so terribly high - what? Israel is on the Mediterranean Sea?! - that I just had to do my part to show that it is in fact a modern, sophisticated, and first-world nation.

And so with that, I want to share this video clip from CNBC that my great friend Debbie sent me. I really encourage you to watch it, especially if you root for Israel. If you chant "Death to Israel," watch it and weep. Enjoy.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Palestinian Brit

During a routine mounted patrol, my commander and I jumped out at a street deep inside the city to stop cars. We wanted to only stop the ones with yellow, Israeli citizen license plates. There are many Arabs that live inside Israel proper and go to the West Bank for family visits, or even to work. It's not suspicious or a big deal to see an Arab driving a car with these Israeli plates. However, many times a car is stolen inside Israel, it tends to find its way into the West Bank - far away from regular police detectives and searches.

With our boots on the ground, we stood behind the patrol Jeep and waited for some yellow plates to drive in our direction. It didn't take long to get our first stop, only a few minutes really. The procedure that the residents know so well is quite simple: pull over here, turn the car off, step out of the vehicle please, show me your ID and driver's license and car registration, open the trunk, what's in the bag? Pretty tame stuff, obnoxious to them probably, but nothing so demeaning or humiliating as Reuters and the Associated Press (AP) report.

After a good while of checking the north-bound traffic, we moved to the other side of the street to check the opposite direction. There turned out to be so many cars coming in that direction, which leaves the city, that my commander and I were each checking cars on our own. Nothing too interesting. Every single one of them seemed to be a Jerusalem Old City resident visiting family. No stolen cars, so far. Nothing suspicious, besides no one having their driver's license or super-mandatory ID (dealing with those are always fun).

And then I saw the jackpot. A young guy driving a nice, dark Volkswagen turned off a side-street and came my way. I glanced at the plates only to notice that he had none. No license plates at all, yellow, white, or green. This was my guy.

I made it abundantly clear that I needed him to pull over exactly where I directed him. He slowed down and came to a stop, turned the engine off, and got out of the car. I informed him in my extremely basic vocabulary of Arabic what I wanted from him, and he complied silently. Driver's license and ID all in order, thank you very much. After instructing him to do so, in Arabic, he opened the back trunk. Empty. Good. Now, with all the preliminaries out of the way, it was time to question him about the missing plates.

I asked him in Hebrew what the story was. "I'm sorry, I don't speak Hebrew" he replied in broken tongue. "Great," I thought. I was going to have to go through the whole pointing and grunting routine, ending it with sternly growled Arabic words like "JEESH, lo auto!" Army, no car! They figure out pretty quickly what you want from them, because really they knew in the first place that you can't drive a car without license plates, but it's a major pain in the ass. I took a deep breath, and began to point at the bumper... "Nu?"

"I'm sorry," he asked. "Do you speak English?" This was something of a rarity, as the people we stop generally never try to speak anything other than Arabic with us. I never ask if they know English, as you really don't have to speak very much at all. The grunting and pointing usually works quite well, as does the ID database you punch their personal number into. But in this case, and since I was alone and could handle it how I wanted, I decided I would speak English with him - though I suspected that he actually didn't know very much of my native tongue anyway.

He had a strange accent, even from that first sentence. It sounded like something I had heard before. He certainly didn't have a Palestinian accent, but I couldn't put my finger on it. I ignored this, however, and finally after a long pause I responded.

"Yes, I speak English. Where are your license plates?"

"Well, you see, I just returned to al-Madina al-Muqaddasah and this is a new car. I just got it yesterday, and they haven't given me the number plates yet." He stood there with his identification card in his hand, nervously looking at me, obviously unsure just how much trouble he was going to be in. He was tall, about six feet three inches or so, just shorter than me. He had a solid frame, if not a little chubby, but of that constitution where you expect he is hiding respectable strength under a small layer of fat. His hair was dark black and curly, and his skin tone was similarly shaded. Black clothes and black shoes completed the theme. Everything was dark, but he seemed well off. This was not the poor Palestinian you pitied living in the slums.

"I already applied for the number plates, I'm just waiting for them," he repeated.

Number plates? I've heard that before, but where? And that weird, out of place accent? I looked around at the screamingly West Bank setting around me, subconsciously absorbing some unknown dissonance in this man, between being an Arab in this city, and speaking this brand of English quite well. Something was so familiar about his behavior, and his voice, and I felt that the atmosphere of our surroundings were throwing me off. And so I asked.

"What is your accent?"

With that question he nearly jumped out of his shoes. The man seemed either agitated or excited, but he showed nothing in his facial expressions to reveal just what he was thinking. He shifted back and forth on his feet, with his arms stiffly extended at his sides. Finally he broke into a wide smile, and nearly shouted, "But it's Briiii-teeesh!"

Now it was my turn to jump out of my shoes, rock back and forth, and show the greatest amount of confusion seen since I joined the ever fascinating IDF. Honestly, if a shooting were to have occurred one street over, I would have been upset to leave this unexpected, curious case. I had to get to the bottom of how this man, in this city, being Arab, could have such a strong, thick British accent. I live with a British person, and many of my friends are British, and I was rightly astounded.

"What do you mean?" I asked like some dim-wit. "How?" I stood in front of him, fully squaring my shoulders towards him, though not aggressively, but rather entirely engrossed in hearing what he had to say. This was totally going to be the highlight of my day.

Laughingly, he went on to explain just where he picked it up. "You see, I was born and raised here, but I moved to London about 7 years ago. I have family that lives there, and I lived with them. I got a visa to go study there, which I did, but I was a bad student. So, I worked for my uncle. We own a bakery in London. I guess I just picked up the accent!"

"Really? So, why did you come back? You're crazy, huh? I suspect that London is a lot nicer than this place." Our relationship had totally changed from one of me in total authority, a semi-police like figure, to one of actual, real openness and familiarity. Not that I didn't have my hand on my gun's grip, or that there wasn't a magazine loaded, but he had been checked and clearly wasn't a threat. Just obviously daft, was all.

"Well, my father demanded me to come back. Over there I didn't do well in school and didn't finish. But really he was pissed off because of girls."

"Girls? What does that mean? You got caught with girls?"

"Yes! Well..."

"Well what? They're religious and it's forbidden to be with girls unless they're your wife?"

"No." He chuckled out loud a little and leaned against his car. I could tell he wasn't quite up for telling me something, but I figured he'd let it slip. I wasn't going to let it go, at least.

"If you don't tell me I'll have to impound your car," I joked.

"OK OK! Well, I was dating a Jewish girl. My uncle didn't care, but somehow my dad found out. And then as-"

I cut him off with the most genuine, deep, liberating laughter I had released in months. I could barely keep it down, and when I turned around I saw my commander staring at me quizzically. I waved him off, and turned back to this Palestinian-Arab-Muslim-Britain-Resident-Forbidden Casanova. He realized just how comical and ironic the situation was, and joined in my laughter. It was just too much.

"When I got back just a couple months ago," he drawled in his British cadence, "my dad even took my passport away!"

We laughed for a few more minutes, and I asked some more questions, none of which I can unabashedly post here. I wrapped it up eventually, admonished him again seriously that if he didn't get "number plates" (stupid British) immediately, the army would take his car until he put them on. And then as he was moving around to the driver side seat, I looked in and noticed in the cup holder a yellow, citrus themed can that I had seen everyone drinking. It was long and skinny just like a Red Bull.

"Hey," I stopped him. "What is this drink? Is it good?"

Excitedly he held it up to me, pushing it towards my hand. "Take it! I love them! Seriously, enjoy it!"

I declined only because of my professional obligation at the moment, but this interesting English speaker left me feeling pretty good about our work in al-Madina al-Muqaddasah. Maybe what all those angry Hamasnikim out there need is a little vacation outside the country. Let them see the beauties of Western life, and maybe a couple Jewish girls can talk some sense into them! No?

(By the way, I think I found Fizzeh Bubbelech in that yellow citrus drink!)

Monday, November 16, 2009

They Start Young!

A three-year-old girl just playfully threw a rock at me after I waved and stuck out my tongue at her.

How cute.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Golda Speaks

Taking a page my favorite Iraq War blogger, Matt Galagher, I'm gonna post a quote that I like here. It's my blog, and I do what I want!

"The Egyptians could run to Egypt, the Syrians into Syria. The only place we could run was into the sea, and before we did that we might as well fight."

Golda Meir

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Donating To Israeli Charities

I get a lot of emails from this blog. My personal gmail account is posted on my profile, which is actually pretty stupid of me in terms of the chance to get "spam-bombed," but I really like to have feedback. I can't even begin to tell you how many 17-25 year old people write me asking advice about the army, and Israel in general. Some people write simply to express appreciation for the blog, noting especially how little time I have to write it (about a few days a month, literally). I also get emails asking me about my personal opinions on relevant topics and news items. Supposedly my opinion counts?

Bottom line, I get a lot of emails. Recently, however, I had a very cool email from a teacher in America in response to my Foot Patrol post. With her permission, I am reprinting it here:

Shavua tov.
Can't remember how or when I first surfed to your blog, but I've been following it ever since. You always write very well, but this post in particular is magniv. I teach 4th grade religious school. Our new curriculum this year is Israel. I have decided that all of our tzedakah will go to Israeli charities. If you send me the name of your favorite charity, I will send our next $36 to it, in your honor. So far this year, we have raised money for Birthday Angels and Yad L'kashish, and our next project is Warm the Needy. If you don't have a favorite, we will send to PizzaIDF. Please let me know.

I recommended that her class donate their charity (tzedaka) to Friends of the IDF (FIDF), but specifically to the Wounded Soldiers Program. Any soldier who opens his eyes and sees their symbol, and specifically lone soldiers like me (chayal boded), will know that they really generate absurd amounts of money for the IDF and her soldiers. My battalion even had an entire week at an army resort in Ashkelon a couple months ago, replete with amazing food and ammentities - all funded by FIDF donors (actually, Haim Saban himself).

Now, I know I'm no fundraiser. But if you are feeling charitable, I have some ideas for good places to donate. Below is a list of IDF-specific organizations that support Israel's holy warriors (always wanted to say that):

Friends of the IDF (FIDF)

A Package From Home --- Their website is kinda lame, but trust me, I've heard good things about them!

The Libi Fund --- I see their logo everywhere in the army, also.

Yashar LaChayal --- These guys are great. They gave us Camelbak-style hydration packs at that resort I mentioned, and I even did a short video clip with my unit behind me cheering. I was thanking them in English. It was pretty awkward for me! Anyway, if you do donate to them, I personally hope you send money to the injured soldiers department.

One Family Fund --- This is actually a charity to support Israeli victims of terror. So, it's not directly for soldiers, but I suppose it's related. I included it because a good friend of mine is apparently a fan of it, according to the Fund's website. Also, I live really close to one of their buildings. Just another option for you!

In terms of all those pizza for IDF soldiers charities, I'm not going to endorse them. I haven't heard anything bad about them, or anything like that. It's just that I looked at their prices for donation, and it was a little ridiculous. 1 pizza and 1 soda for like $26 dollars? Why? A pizza in Sderot, which would be the place they'd bring Gaza-operating forces, probably costs like 45 shekels ($12). And the same for other operating areas in the West Bank. I just don't have experience with them, and the price is so high, that I can't really say anything! Sorry!

Anyway. If you want to donate, don't think any amount is too small! $10 here and there adds up!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

First Mounted Patrol

The most exciting mission one can get at al-Madina al-Muqaddasah, at least on a daily basis, is a vehicle-mounted patrol (VMP - my creation). In order to increase our visibility and have feet everywhere, without maintaining some unruly presence, is to keep an army truck in constant motion throughout the city. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week (yes, Shabbat too), we are out there, eyes open, ready to prevent, engage, and react. No matter where you are in the sprawling city, various military and police forces are roaming.

My first VMP came quickly after we began operations in al-Madina. My commander, let's call him Ranger since he really should have gone to special forces, came into my room where I was sitting on my bed, whittling away my time on Facebook Mobile. He asked me if I "wanted" to do a VMP. I laughed openly in his face, knowing he was asking me sarcastically. Weeks before we finally got here, I told every single commander, all the way up to my commanding officer, that I didn't want to miss even one assignment. I can guard for 24 hours a day, I told them all. And as a matter of fact, you better try to wear me out or I'll run away to America.

Taking my word seriously, they put me on the platoon's very first patrols. I couldn't have been more excited, just as I was with the previous post's foot patrol. Give me body armor and get me the hell out of the base! Let me loose, I growled. And with that I threw on the ceramic vest, and then my combat vest, chucked my helmet inside the armored Jeep, and told the Russian driver to "hit it already!"

We crossed the wire, Ranger checked the com system, the other soldier with me fiddled with his Camelbak hydration pack, and I stared out at the rolling, house-dotted hills of our operating area. My mind was racing with what could be, what would happen, what it would be like to hear on the radio that Bad Guy X was in Scary Place Y, and was about to carry out Terrorist Act Z. If that call went out, it would be going out to us, and that would mean me. And if-

Obliterating my unrealistic fantasies, the radio blared through the external speaker, echoing off the box interior of the thick metal walled Jeep.

"Patrol, this is HQ."

"HQ, continue."

"We've got a report of rocks being thrown at Fizzeh Junction."

"Copy that. Patrol en route. Over."

Not two minutes in, we had a directive from the radio control room to engage. Rocks being thrown sounds so cliche for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and I thought the same thing at first. But Fizzeh Junction in al-Madina is really the junction of a walkway between two Arab neighborhoods and a high-traffic shared road. Palestinians and Israelis both use the road, and cars travel at about 80 km/h or more. If you hit a windshield with a nice sized rock at 50 mph, you can expect a life-threatening crash.

So off we sped, racing towards Fizzeh. Mere minutes later we were approaching the junction, and amazingly enough we spotted large rocks on the highway. Our driver whipped the back end of the armored truck into the direction of the neighborhood we suspected the rocks came from, and just like a movie I threw the doors open, ducked my oversized frame through the opening, and jumped out of the vehicle ready-to-roll. I glanced left and right, and then up past the barricade blocking the neighborhood from the highway.

As if some CNN production of the Second Intifadah was filming, a conflictual period I watched half-knowledgeably from my cozy high school and college perspective, I spotted the offenders. About seven or eight teenage boys were going crazy nearly 150 meters in front of me, jumping up and down, waving their arms, and yelling unintelligably in Arabic towards my commander, my platoonmate, and myself.

With rocks in their hands. From awkward Virginian Jew to Israeli-American Golanchik, I had transformed into the Intifadah's image: rock thrower versus IDF combat soldier.

Now, you may think that throwing some rocks is just harmless aggression. I hear you. 150 meters for a 16-year-old to throw a rock isn't as dangerous as throwing a Molotov Cocktail. Sure. But let that kid throw that rock, and you dodge it, no big deal. But the next day, and don't think I'm exaggerating here, he'll roll backpack-sized stones on the highway. Give an inch, anyone will take a mile.

And with that we could have shot non-lethal rounds at the obvious law-breakers. Tear gas, rubber bullets, flashbangs; any of those things would have been well within our rules of engagement. These kids were throwing rocks at cars passing at high speeds. Deadly, and deserving of a serious response.

But rather than going in full swing, our first days in the deployment, my commander and I instinctively ran towards the group. We're both sort of... hands on. But the teens had their distance, and we had a clear directive at the time to not enter too far in that neighborhood without at least a squad-sized force. And so they mostly dispersed as two six foot four hulking, trained combat soldiers bore down on them. I dropped into kneeling position as we reached the barricade, putting the remaining rock throwers in my magnified reflex scope.

Red jacket. Blue shoes. Black shirt with gold colored chain. White jeans. Green Nike shorts.

Details to remember. For when? Well, you never know. Who says we wouldn't get the word to go door-to-door?

And we walked back to the Jeep, quietly reflecting on our first contact with the most cliche element of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 16-year-old kids in the beginning of October, noon on a weekday, not in the school on the other side of the junction. Yes, that one right there! Another 150 meters away from the street! And yes, soldiers trained for an all-out war with Syria fighting what? Kids that don't realize how deadly their actions can be? That's it?

But it's important, and you know it. It's not battling your way to Damascus, but it's good work. If you don't believe it, you haven't been there. You know why I say that without reservation? Because the majority of the Arabs in these areas just do their job, love their families, and move on. We sat at Fizzeh Junction for another half an hour, with many individuals making their way across the highway to a neighboring area where all the schools and universities (yes those too) and jobs are. And we asked about the kids, and they all rolled their shoulders and shrugged their eyes.

"I don't know. Stupid kids. I just do my job and go home. Morning 'til night."

When you hear that sentiment over and over, you kinda start to believe it. And in a strange way, and as a side note you don't have to believe me, you find yourself thinking about that average individual. You see a kid throwing rocks, and you think about that 25-year-old going to his university class on computer science. You remember and see his face because you checked his ID and quizzed him on it. Those of us that care for peace can't help but feel the disappointment when you respond to one of the troublemakers, so misguided, so myopic. When he throws rocks over and over, we increase our presence. And though it's exciting, you know it's not taking the process forward. Over and over.

Cause and Effect. Action and Reaction. Incident and Response. Cycle and Cycle and Cycle and Cycle.

"Patrol, this is HQ."

"HQ, this is Patrol. Continue."