UPDATE: DEAL MADE TO RELEASE GILAD SHALIT IN 3 DAYS. LET’S ALL PRAY THAT HE IS ALIVE. DETAILS TOMORROW.
As your humble servant mentioned yesterday, he is currently in Eilat for a few days. We drove here on Sunday morning from Ashdod to Beersheva to Mitzpe Ramon to Eilat–a ride of about 300 km that takes about four hours on winding roads through harshly barren desert canyons sprinkled here and there with green kibbutzim, and up and down dangerously switchbacked ribbons of highway that steeply descend into the Rift Valley.
Driving here, we purposefully took the same route along which the terrorist attacks occurred last month. No traces of those horrific events remain except for the greater visibility of military vehicles and personnel along the way. Once we passed the final checkpoint for Eilat, we headed for our hotel, checked in, and struck out for our favorite beach, Chof Al-Mog (Coral Beach).
You might think that after the terrorist attacks of the last month Eilat, few tourists would be here. Nothing could be further from the truth–the city is packed from one end to the other with people from all over the world. Yesterday we snorkeled with Swedes, Germans, British, French, South Americans, North Americans, and zillions of Israelis (this is a holiday week between Yom Kippur and Sukkot and Israeli schools are on vacation).
Even at 5 pm, it was still 41 degrees Centigrade on the beach with a 40 km wind buffeting us from the south, and we were still running to the Red Sea for comfort and beauty. Underwater, the angel, trigger, damsel, hawk, puffer, goat, clown, stone, and butterfly fish darted among the vivid corals in the icy water, and out on the beach the rugged, wadied mountains captured the surreal light and exposed in themselves every imaginable shade of red: amaranth, vermillion, carmine, carnelian, sinopia, and terra cotta.
By midnight we were sitting at our favorite beachfront café as we have done for each of the last 3o years, drinking wine, listening to waves lapping against the shore, and feeling like we were at the end of the world as we gazed down the full-moonlit blackened abyss that is the Red Sea. To the left twinkled the lights of Aqaba and northern Saudi Arabia, down the coast to the right pinpricks of light glowed from the Egyptian Sinai.
In a place like this, it is easy to forget if only for a moment, that Al-Qaeda is becoming entrenched less than 3 km away in that same Egyptian Sinai, Islamists reign supreme in Saudi Arabia, and the Muslim Brotherhood may soon take over Jordan–all groups that have sworn everlasting antipathy to Jews, and especially Jews living in Israel.
Even though you, dear reader, and I know the answer to the question, it tumbles out of my mouth anyway: why can’t the world let Israel live in peace?