Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Dance Macabre on December 31, 2008

December 31st, 2008 at about 9:00 pm. The New York Philharmonic Orchestra is performing their New Years concert which is being carried live by PBS.

The piece the orchestra just finished was “Dance Macabre” by Saint-Saens. With just a little bit of effort, the listener can hear the percussion section mimic the sound of the crash and clash of bone on bone and envision the unrestrained whirling of the dancing skeletons – unrestrained until, exhausted, they collapse in a heap.

Elsewhere in the city, the UN Security Council is meeting to consider a resolution calling on Israel to cease its five-day bombing offensive against the 1.5 million mostly Palestinians who inhabit Gaza.

Israel, supported by the United States, insists that it is targeting only the militant Hamas terror organization that is responsible for ending the six month ceasefire declared in June 2008. For some two months, Hamas has been firing increasing numbers of mortar rounds and short-range rockets from Gaza into southern Israel – landing at increasingly greater ranges.

So far, the Israeli aerial assault has seemed to have had little impact on Hamas other than to kill some 400 people in Gaza – mostly terrorists or other Hamas “security forces” if one believes the Israelis. Without question many of the dead are non-combatants; even the Israelis have to concede that point as they decry the mixing of military and security facilities of Hamas with the abodes and businesses of “ordinary” Palestinians.

The U.S. will undoubtedly veto the resolution if it comes to a vote because it will call on Israel to stop bombing without insisting that Hamas first stop firing rockets into Israel. The Israeli cabinet has already spurned a call by France for a 48-hour ceasefire to allow medical supplies and humanitarian aid to enter Gaza. Israeli tank units are in position for a ground assault similar to the sweeps they conducted before they pulled out in 2004.

If this turns into a ground offensive, there will be many more skeletons – but they won’t have music and will not be dancing.

On that note, I end 2008.


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