Iwo jima and Gaza

Over the weekend, as my thoughts drifted to our Israeli soldiers (and my future son-in-law) surgically striking Hamas Terrorists and tunnels in Gaza, I thought a lot about my grandfather. Specifically, about a conversation I had with my grandfather when I was a teenager.

My grandfather, Poppy, “Sonny” Eisenberg, was an officer on the USS Ashland in World War II. He saw a lot of action in the Pacific from Iwo jimain Japan to Red Beach in the Phillipines. He was away from his wife and newly-born daughter for two-and-a-half years, fighting the Japanese and others throughout the Pacific ocean.

I was learning in school about the destructiveness of nuclear bombs and one Friday night over our weekly Scrabble game, I asked him whether he had any misgivings or sadness when US President Harry Truman dropped the Bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. “Misgivings?” he said, staring me in the eyes, “I was happy and proud of America and our President.”

I was a bit stunned by his response. My Poppy loved people. All people. “Surely,” I said, “you must have been sad for the all the people who were not fighting the war who were killed?”

He looked at me and said “Nope. Had Truman not dropped the Bomb the war would not have ended and more innocent American and Allied lives would have been lost. The American way of life, life and growth itself, would have been threatened. It needed a decisive action to end the War.” He was firm with me.

My Poppy explained further that the Japanese had developed a death cult. During his years at sea, he had watched Japanese Kamikazes hurl themselves at the ships of his colleagues and comrades. He watched how they invested their money in burrowing tunnels, fortified tunnels, in Mount Suribachi on Iwo jima, investing in tunnels and weaponry instead of industry or bettering the life of its people.

He also said that people who live under a violent, terrorist, regime without protesting and overthrowing it, are not immune from responsibility. He pointed out that there were evil people in the world. Hitler was evil. The Japanese Kamikaze were evil. Evil needed to be rooted out wherever it is so that those who love life and freedom could continue to build our world and so the Japanese people could rebuild their society and become the economic giant that they became in the 1980s.

This year was the 20th anniversary of my Poppy’s passing. As I look at the death cult of Hamas in Gaza, the tunnels they built and the evil they represent, his words ring truer than ever.

[Originally published on 20th July 2014 by MIchael Eisenberg]