My work ethic keeps telling me that a blog post is long overdue. But as much as I try to bring myself to write one, I can’t.
I’m in Tel Aviv right now, and it’s hard to bring myself to go to the beach. It’s hard to walk the streets, to shop, to be a tourist, when the fact that the country is at war lurks perpetually in the background.
It’s not that Israel isn’t always at war, in some way, shape, or form, but it’s never felt as direct and inescapable to me as it does now, and not merely because I’ve heard the air raid sirens. There’s a real body count, and my cousin could get called in. His friends have already been summoned to report.
He said there is a phone call and you have a couple hours to pack your things and show up wherever they tell you to show up.
Can you imagine getting that call?
Can you imagine being one of the thirteen soliders killed today? Being one of their mothers or wives or sisters or cousins? Or simply knowing that your brother/father/son could be next?
America goes to war, of course, but it’s much easier to avoid. The country is so big and the war always so far away. Here, in Israel, you can hear the rockets explode in the air. Here, in Israel, everyone knows everyone. Everyone has someone in the army or in the reserves. You are only one degree away from potential devastation. There is a closeness, a claustrophobia that simply does not translate back home in America, where our greatest concerns are paying the rent and where to park.
Here, soliders go to war to protect their country, and not only to protect their country but to protect their country from neighbors, people who live just over there, who are born and bred to hate from childhood. The intensity of that venom terrifies me. These are soliders with no agenda other than to destroy. It is not merely that they want land but that they want to annihilate, and that is a scary concept to confront.
I cannot imagine being one of those soliders in claustrophobic Gaza. Given four days to evacuate, while the civilians were packing their things and fleeing to whatever marginally safer area was available, Hamas prepared for the soliders, virtually booby-trapping the town. The entire town feels like a death trap, and the civilians who stayed behind must feel entirely vulnerable, the crossfire everywhere, the fighting seemingly endless, a scene of complete chaos. And Hamas would not even agree to a two-hour ceasefire today so that the United Nations could go in.
So what can I write about? What is there to say other than to hope for it to be over soon? Everything else pales in comparison. Everyone wants this to end soon, and yet people keep wasting their time doing things like burning down the Israeli embassy in Turkey and hacking the websites for Israeli businesses. Really? What will that accomplish? How will that help anything? As long as terrorists are smuggling into Israel, as long as terrorists are shooting rockets at Israel, Israel will defend itself. Israel has agreed to the last three ceasefires, but Hamas refuses to comply. And so we are here, seemingly locked in battle, and there is nothing left to say.
I so enjoy your musings, but may not be able to continue reading you, so great is my feeling of distaste and disappointment at this past entry.
As a sensitive and intelligent person, your lack of insight into the reality of the situation from a historic perspective is astonishing. Israel has no legitimate right to the land on which it lays. That said, Israel is, and so there is no going back in time and erasing the egregious, fatal mistake Zionists made when they established Israel smack dab in the middle of (what must have been a foregone conclusion) what would come to be a conflict area.
The death tolls are incomparable. 18 to upwards of 500? I cannot imagine the horror of living in a disputed territory, having no legitimate homeland to speak of, and being both bombed day and night while also being deprived of dignity, access to medical care, and basic human rights during not only escalations but also during day to day life.
It’s lamentable from every angle, but I rest assured that the Israelis are on the better, stronger, more wealthy and powerful end of this deal.
Some perspective, please. War sucks, but the deck is stacked and it sucks far less for one side than for the other.
Hi Francesca, I appreciate you writing, and of course I appreciate your opinion. That said, we will have to agree to disagree. I see the situation as far more complex. I agree that the Palestinian situation is beyond tragic, and the situation in Gaza a complete nightmare, but I cannot as easily as you place the blame on the Israelis for that. Egypt is just on the other side, for instance — why do they not open up their borders for their brothers? And Israel has agreed to every ceasefire, including the humanitarian one requested by Hamas just yesterday — and Hamas keeps shooting rockets. Israel has also built a hospital for Gazans affected by this nightmare, sending doctors from throughout Israel down to help them. There is a lot more going on than by at first be evident.
Thanks for your thoughtful response. I realize that the complexity of the situation is far deeper than many Middle Eastern scholars can explain with any precision.
It is so difficult to feel so much sorrow and anger from abroad and to have so little that can be done to assuage it. You make a truly important point about the lack of response from neighbors. This is one of the great mysteries of the conflict, and one that I am intermittently made aware of.
Its a no win situation, and I hope that you are safe and sound within it.
Francesca, thank you so much for your response and for your thoughts. <3