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.