A twitter feed associated with Hamas’ military wing, Izzedin al-Qassam, posted this photo of a chocolate frosted cake to celebrate what it’s calling a victory over Israel in the week of fighting that ended last Wednesday. Hamas called the operation in which it launched 1,506 rockets at Israeli civilians “Shale Stones,” and on the chocolate cake that phrase appears in Arabic, as does an M-75 long-range missile. The green used as the decorator gel is a color closely associated with Hamas and other Islamist movements.
That gleeful boast stands in sharp contrast with another food analogy, this one employed by a famous Israeli writer who was caught with his family on the highway when an incoming rocket siren sounded.
Etgar Keret describes the scary scene in The New Yorker as he, his wife Shira and son Lev were driving to visit family outside Tel Aviv. When the siren wailed, they pulled over, got out of the car, and tried to get their son to lie down. The Israeli Home Front Command tells those caught in their cars far from shelter to get out, lie down and cover their heads. But the seven-year-old didn’t want to lie down.
“Lie down already,” Shira says, raising her voice to be heard over the blaring siren.
“How’d you like to play a game of Pastrami Sandwich?” I ask Lev.
“What’s that?” he asks, not letting go of my hand.
“Mommy and I are slices of bread,” I explain, “and you’re a slice of pastrami, and we have to make a pastrami sandwich as fast as we can. Let’s go. First, you lie down on Mommy,” I say, and Lev lies down on Shira’s back and hugs her as hard as he can. I lie on top of them, pressing against the damp earth with my hands so as not to crush them.
“This feels good,” Lev says and smiles.
“Being the pastrami is the best,” Shira says under him.
“Pastrami!” I yell.
“Pastrami!” my wife yells.
“Pastrami!” Lev yells, his voice shaky, either from excitement or fear.
His son notices one slice of bread – his mom – even has ants crawling on her like in a real picnic. Then they hear the distant boom. The child is disappointed the rocket fell so far, because now he won’t be able to find a metal scrap like his friend did the day before.
Believing there will be more missile attacks, Keret suggests maybe one day they can play “Grilled Cheese.”
These two stories side-by-side -- the Hamas victory cake and the Israeli’s poignant appeal to protect his son -- bring the key issue in stark relief: Hamas launches deadly rockets and aims at children, then gleefully boasts with candy and baked goods. Those Qassams, Grads, M-75s and Fajr-5s are packed with explosives, nothing like the benign M-75 so amateurishly drawn in green decorator gel. Case in point: a school hit in Ashkelon, Israel last week was struck for the third time in a decade by rockets launched by Palestinian terror groups in Gaza.