Saturday, July 29, 2006

Dispatches from Israel's Home/War Front

Dispatches from Israel's Home/War Front

Jewish Journal Boston North July 28, 2006

One truism about my friends in Israel during wartime is that they write. Here are some excerpts from my mail received since the war began.

One writer grew up in England, one in Belgium, two in Canada, the others in the United States, and all made aliyah after age 18. All the men and most of the women served in the Israeli army. Every one has children who also served, or are now serving, in the military; at least one lost a child in combat. They have lived in Israel anywhere from 20 to 45 years

"The situation is not good, but we have come through so many things 'til now, I'm sure we will weather this storm, too. Besides, we have no choice but to stand firm and 'hang in there.' I'm reminded of England during World War II, and the talk then of stiff upper lip, chin up, etc. It's a shame that we have come to this once again in our lifetime, but most people seem to be able to cope with it. Israel didn't get to this point in its existence by being weak and helpless."
— Woman, town west of Jerusalem

"We came back from the country's center a few hours ago, and are under steady bombardment. A number of blackouts have already taken place. I'm off to work in an empty hotel."
— Man, northern kibbutz near Kiryat Shmona

"My son is up north. He was visiting his girlfriend, hoping for a little romantic getaway. Then the bombs began to hit, one only a mile away. Both of them finally got out Saturday night, only to be called back to the Army on Sunday. He was on his way to his base when he heard that his girlfriend's uncle was killed in the Haifa train depot bomb blast. They went back up north to the funeral, amidst the air raid sirens."
— Man, town outside Jerusalem

"I was alone at home on Wednesday morning when the shelling began. It was a bit frightening, but not enough to send me downstairs to the mamad [bomb shelter] to sleep. In retrospect, I probably should have! The house was literally shaking at times. Nevertheless, things go on as usual. The news reports are always more horrifying than the reality on the ground."
— Woman, Maalot, on the Lebanon border

"The older I become, the more unbearable it all gets to be. It will never let up, not in our generation, and not in the ones to come. On the other hand, I am glad that war-mongering Hezbollah is finally going to get what has been long and painfully overdue. Among radical Muslims, only power speaks and engenders respect."
— Woman, Jerusalem

"Thursday afternoon we were downtown in Jerusalem. Shops and cafes were busy. I'm wondering to myself, 'Don't they know there's a war going on?' We went to see a movie at the Israel Film Festival — very crowded. Last night we were invited out for Shabbat dinner, and the war did not dominate the conversation. Yes, it was mentioned in passing."
— Man, Jerusalem

"We do feel the tension. It is uneasiness, not knowing where and what will happen. But war is nothing new."
— Woman, Jerusalem

"In Haifa nothing much is moving; there is very little traffic and most people are home, We can hear planes overhead all day (too high to spot) and helicopters fly up and down the coast, which we can see from our living room window. Several people who live in the south have called and offered us refuge, but neither of us is interested in leaving."
— Woman, Haifa

"I don't think we should leave out the fear factor, especially now after so much escalation with over 700 bombs exploding inside Israel. On one hand, life goes on here — and that's important to know — but on the other hand, it's damned terrifying!"
— Woman, town near Jerusalem

These messages from Israel's home front are not about great heroism, but about great steadfastness; not about ideology, but about maintaining the nation; and not about despair, but about determination.


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