The Permanence of Memory

Remembering her late and greatly beloved mentor, Caitrin Keiper writes:

It is the custom to put pebbles on a Jewish grave. Flowers wilt and die, but stones are everlasting; they signify the permanence of memory.

Two dear friends were getting married in the city where Amy is buried on what happened to be the anniversary of the day she died. My family flew in early with the intention of paying our respects at the cemetery the day before. I picked up some colorful pebbles from the gift shop of the science museum where she had worked in college, and practiced again and again what I was going to say, how I was going to pour my heart out and tell her how much I missed her and how adrift I was, with the latent, irrational hope, not exactly sanctioned by either of our faiths, that somehow things would clarify when I did.

I did most of the talking, but even so, I didn’t have the heart to give the speech I had imagined. What’s the use? She is gone, she cannot hear me, it’s sad and terrible and futile, and I don’t really know why I came. I tried to arrange the pebbles somehow, but they kept slipping down the polished surface of the gravestone. I re-gathered them into a pile as best I could, and left.

At the wedding the next day, her widower, the love of her life, came up to me. He too had gone out to visit her, first thing in the morning, and been speechlessly moved to find her grave covered in a rainbow of stones. Did I by chance have anything to do with it?

This, I realized, this is the point. I am not here to receive a message but to give one to someone who needs it far more. There is purpose at work here.

Read more at Plough

More about: Death, Friendship, Mourning

Why Egypt Fears an Israeli Victory in Gaza

While the current Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has never been friendly to Hamas, his government has objected strenuously to the Israeli campaign in the southernmost part of the Gaza Strip. Haisam Hassanein explains why:

Cairo has long been playing a double game, holding Hamas terrorists near while simultaneously trying to appear helpful to the United States and Israel. Israel taking control of Rafah threatens Egypt’s ability to exploit the chaos in Gaza, both to generate profits for regime insiders and so Cairo can pose as an indispensable mediator and preserve access to U.S. money and arms.

Egyptian security officials have looked the other way while Hamas and other Palestinian militants dug tunnels on the Egyptian-Gaza border. That gave Cairo the ability to use the situation in Gaza as a tool for regional influence and to ensure Egypt’s role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would not be eclipsed by regional competitors such as Qatar and Turkey.

Some elements close to the Sisi regime have benefited from Hamas control over Gaza and the Rafah crossing. Media reports indicate an Egyptian company run by one of Sisi’s close allies is making hundreds of millions of dollars by taxing Gazans fleeing the current conflict.

Moreover, writes Judith Miller, the Gaza war has been a godsend to the entire Egyptian economy, which was in dire straits last fall. Since October 7, the International Monetary Fund has given the country a much-needed injection of cash, since the U.S. and other Western countries believe it is a necessary intermediary and stabilizing force. Cairo therefore sees the continuation of the war, rather than an Israeli victory, as most desirable. Hassanein concludes:

Adding to its financial incentive, the Sisi regime views the Rafah crossing as a crucial card in preserving Cairo’s regional standing. Holding it increases Egypt’s relevance to countries that want to send aid to the Palestinians and ensures Washington stays quiet about Egypt’s gross human-rights violations so it can maintain a stable flow of U.S. assistance and weaponry. . . . No serious effort to turn the page on Hamas will yield the desired results without cutting this umbilical cord between the Sisi regime and Hamas.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: Egypt, Gaza War 2023, U.S. Foreign policy