A Scary Month for Fitzjerry
Holy mother fffff…ederal funds rate, we locked our mortgage at 7.999 percent. Our monthly payment, just principal and interest, is $4,870. With taxes, insurance and HOA, it could exceed $6,500.
I should note we’re getting about a $23K credit from the builder and realtor toward closing costs, which include a 1-0 buydown. The rate will be only 6.999 percent the first year, and my optimistic expectation is to refinance by early 2025.
Until then, we can convince ourselves furniture is overrated and use lack of disposable income as a cover for withdrawing from all social activities. Back when my wife and I knew it all, we were too cool to be house poor. Now my family won’t have a couch. The optimist could point out this reduces the ratio of hardwood floor cost to surface area exposed.
I’m sure many Gazans wouldn’t mind sprawling out on those bare floors right now. What an unseemly segue, but there is no graceful way to lament a new-construction house in the same month as the onset of a long brutal war. The reeking privilege has to be acknowledged.
F. Scott Fitzgerald had this amazing description of intelligence as being able to hold two contradictory ideas without short-circuiting. I suppose this could be bastardized into justifying hypocrisy or callousness, but in general it’s a good and useful thing.
I see my First World challenges and try to make sense of them: this mortgage, my extraordinary penchant for penny-wise, pound-foolish behavior such as celebrating saving 60 cents on a Target Circle deal while investing $200K in stocks that appear to be racing to zero rather than buying a house, any house, when interest rates were a joke, and why Halloween isn’t pegged to a Saturday every year, as Thanksgiving is to Thursday, to facilitate trick-or-treating for young kids and sexy costume parties for young professionals.
I see the rest of the world through media and try to comprehend it intellectually, morally, emotionally: body bags the size of my kids, rules of engagement when the enemy has none, “independently verified” news reports, the efficacy of dropping thousands of bombs when terrorists hide in tunnels and children starve above them, the efficacy of any two-state proposal when one side does not want the other to exist at all.
It’s hard to reconcile these worlds in one reality. Everyone could benefit from Fitzjerry’s idea when trying to process Israel-Palestine through their cognitive, social and information bias. Virtually all of my knowledge about the conflict I learned in the last few weeks, and 90 percent of that from The New York Times.
I’ll claim some objectivity being an East Asian, North Texan atheist. But in my social circles, Jews outnumber Palestinians 50 to zero. I officiated a wedding ceremony this same weird month and felt honored to sign a ketubah and handle the glasses for the exhilarating Mazel Tov smash.
So there’s bias, but I’m open to adjusting my opinions with more information and exposure. I would be thankful for corrections rather than being allowed to continue to talk like an idiot. If someone has food in their teeth, real friends tell them.
Follow my logic here and help me fix where needed. Israel has accepted two-state solutions over the last 75 years, but it’s surrounded by Arab countries that would rather go to war and use displaced Palestinians as pawns. Israel won those wars. Generally when you win a war, there is some occupation of the defeated’s territory.
Israel’s last two major wars including this one came after it withdrew from those territories. I just feel like Israel, living under 24/7 existential threat, is held to impossible standards, like somebody is trying to stab you in the heart and it’s all you can do to get him in a headlock, yet people are shouting at you to let go even while a hand is still thrashing at you with a knife.
Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005. The Palestinians elected Hamas and haven’t gotten to vote again since. They are either supportive or at least tolerant of Hamas — and its unequivocal goal of killing as many Jews as needed to eradicate Israel — or they are forcibly ruled by them, in which case it would seem to me Hamas is more of the oppressor than Israel.
The term “open-air prison” is thrown at Israel a lot to describe the plight of Palestinians in Gaza. But Hamas isn’t a bunch of fringe terrorists operating solely underground. They are a social movement and the government of Gaza with the unfettered obsession of destroying Israel. Are you expecting a Holiday Inn? Why does Egypt, an Arab country, enforce the blockade too?
I would love to see how we the people of the United States would handle 2 million Native Americans governed by terrorists on the coast of South Carolina. We don’t know how to handle our homeless, our migrants. We don’t know how to choose our House Speaker, second in line behind an octogenarian president.
I would love to see how the 30-plus Harvard student groups that signed a letter holding the “the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence” would do living under a Hamas regime. Let me know how your next protest goes. If 100 percent of the blame goes to Israel, check my non-Ivy math but that means 0 percent goes to Hamas. Considering what they did, that’s just gross.
I’m not saying the conditions that enabled Hamas to seize power had nothing to do with wrongs committed by Israel. I’m saying it’s a hard, hard problem and people who reduce it to 100-0 might be Harvard smart, but not Fitzjerry smart.
The people of Gaza are either imprisoned by Hamas, complicit in their genocidal mission, or unlucky folks just trying to get by in hell on earth. In any scenario, I think it’s reasonable for Israel to do what it takes to eliminate Hamas.
Of course what it will take exactly is the question, and it would be offensive for me to comment ignorantly on the appropriate number and location of bombs or nature of a ground invasion in one of the most densely populated areas on the planet against a full-fledged military operation with no qualms about using human shields and civilian infrastructure.
Something it will definitely take is genuine effort and concessions to work with Palestinians to build up alternatives to Hamas and a path to fair, good lives for them, a thought I’m pilfering from a Pulitzer columnist’s opinion piece on Israel’s unenviable quandary. Otherwise victory will be a mirage, as every American-made, Israeli-fired missile surely creates more recruits for the next iteration of Hamas out of traumatized orphans and parents.
Fitzjerry intelligence here is the ability to hold the suffering of innocent Palestinians and Israelis in the mind at the exact same time, the legitimacy and logic behind both sides’ claims to the land without trying to declare a winner, the settlements and attacks that never should have happened, the mistakes and transgressions of flawed opposing leaders.
It’s tough to be that smart, especially if you grew up with a one-sided experience in the Middle East. It’s easier if you live in Frisco, Texas, home of the training facility of the five-time Super Bowl Champion Dallas Cowboys, future Universal Studios for kids, no bomb shelters and our new house.
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