Monthly Archives: July 2014

Looking Forward

Israeli-flagMurmurs in the media are talking of a real cease fire. As an optimistic person by nature, and somewhat of a pragmatist, my mind quickly turns to all the things I am looking forward to in the days “after”.

Not having to give my kids a long, neurotic lecture before they leave the house: “Do you know where there are shelters where you’re going?”; “You know not to be wandering around anywhere too far from a shelter”; “Make sure your phone is charged”; “Be careful, be careful, be careful.”

Not having to drive in a panic from my little rural town through what we know in Israel now as “open areas”, as those are the areas into which the Iron Dome allows missiles to fall because the risk is low of hitting anything. And not having to rethink my car journeys to make sure I don’t drive through open areas I can actually avoid, and rather take the longer routes through traffic.

Not jumping every time I hear a lawnmower start or a truck drive down the street, because they sound like sirens.

Not spending endless hours glued to the TV news, hanging on every word of every commentator, and hoping for some good news for a change, that doesn’t come. And not waking up in the morning and reaching for my phone to find out if anything has changed, before I’ve had my first cup of tea.

Not feeling compelled to read every Protective Edge-related article posted on Facebook, and getting irritated with the obnoxious, inflammatory comments posted by ignorant idiots from all over the world who know nothing from nothing. And not feeling mildly jealous when I see posts from friends on Facebook in other countries who get to complain about bad service, inclement weather and annoying neighbors. I also want to be able to complain about boring shit again on Facebook.

Not rationalizing that 43 missiles fired at Israel in one day is “better” than the 60 fired the previous day.

Not feeling deeply guilty that I live in a relatively quiet area of Israel while others live in virtual hell, rushing to shelters several times a day and night.

Not looking around for signs that point to shelters in every place I go to.

Not hearing airplanes flying over my house, which is under the current safe flight path from Ben Gurion Airport, and not experiencing the irrational fear of flying in our skies these days, on top of to my existing irrational fears of flying.

Not having my thoughts unduly occupied by the Hamas, the UN, the anti-Semites worldwide, Qatar, Kerry, and the moronic celebrities who for some reason think they’re as smart as they look.

But most importantly, I truly, and from the depths of my heart, look forward to not feeling the constant dread that more of our precious soldiers are losing their lives and that more families in Israel are joining the ranks of the bereaved; and to not be holding my breath for all my friends and family whose loved ones are serving our country and risking their lives to make Israel a safer place to live in.

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From Terror to Complacency in Five Short Days

Smoke from a downed missle

Smoke from the downed missile

Some more thoughts from our war zone…

It amazes me how Israelis, especially the youngest ones, adapt so quickly to situations and normalize them so fast. Once again, while we were on the baseball field somewhere in central Israel, at 16:30 today the sirens went off. Because we are in an open area, the sound of the siren isn’t very loud. I heard it and immediately ordered the kids near me (10-11-year-olds) to move into the safe rooms near the field. None of them looked very concerned. One quickly said: “But it sounds so far away. Why do we have to go?” My response was short and to the point (to say the least), and they all got up and hustled over the bases, past the dug outs, into the safe room.

Some claimed to have heard the booms, signifying that a missile  has been intercepted by the Iron Dome (may it be blessed). Just a couple of minutes into being the the safe room, the kiddies were restless and ready to leave. These situations create a short learning curve – within hours of the first missiles being fired last week, we understood that the danger comes in the minutes after the Iron Dome intercepts the missile, because that’s when the hot metal fragments come plummeting down to earth. So once again I had to exert my motherly authority and use my “strict” voice to keep them from scuttling back to the field prematurely. The players from the older team (14-15-year-olds) rolled their eyes at me. But I stood firm.

Glad I did. When we emerged, I noticed that not too far away, there was a significant display of billowing white smoke. Then the emergency services sirens started blaring from all directions. A brother of one of the players showed up with news – a missile had in fact been shot down and its fiery remains lay smoldering in a field not too far from us.

On the way home, with my 15-year-old son and two of his team mates in the car, I got a little jumpy when I heard a song that had siren-like sounds in the background. I quickly turned off the radio to check if the sound was coming from outside the car. And more eye rolling – this time from my son. “Mom, you’re being paranoid,” he said in his droll teenage monotone, without lifting his eyes from the What’s App screen on his phone. I confess that I am a little envious of this state of youthful complacency in the face of all this terror we are enduring. Oh to be 15 again!

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From Quiet Canada to Israel Under Fire

Filling a secure room with sweaty baseball players

Filling a secure room with sweaty baseball players

When the first missiles were fired into central Israel on Tuesday, my family and I were coming to the end of a short trip to Toronto for a family wedding. News from home, which first came in via What’s App messages to my daughter telling her that in our small town there had been an unprecedented air raid, was gut wrenching. We had just short of 24 hours to digest the awful news that no area of the country was immune to the rockets being launched from Gaza. The thought of flying into Israel, particularly into a Tel Aviv that was being targeted rather effectively for the first time, made me more than a little nervous. An online message from a friend slightly eased my fears – “You know the news is always darker from far”.

So true. In fact, the closer I got, ironically the less I feared what we were returning to. At the El Al check in counter at Toronto airport, I asked the attendant if there were a lot of cancellations. Her answer, in a heavy Russian accent: “No-one has cancelled. Very brave people.” That already made me feel better. Then I spotted a family of 6 who were clearly making aliyah, given away by a massive pile of baggage, punctuated by a large Mac computer box (no-one goes on vacation with such a piece of hardware). All I could think was this is the best and the worst time to make aliyah – the worst, well that’s obvious… missiles aren’t the greatest first impression; the best…things can only get better.

The mood on the plane did little to bring me down again. One tourist, about to spend three weeks in Israel, smiled broadly when he told a fellow passenger that the situation didn’t deter him because he likes a little action in his life. All around me, Canadian tourists were looking forward to spending time in Israel, undeterred by the less than sympathetic welcome they were surely going to get in Tel Aviv. Canadians, ey?

We landed, and Ben Gurion Airport was decorated with signs pointing the way to the air raid shelters. This was the only clue that something was amiss. Everything else was plain old normal – just the way we like to keep things as best as we can when the going gets tough. The nasty traffic on the way home was caused by our “normal” traffic accidents – five of them in total. And while the news stream was confirming many of my fears, and detailing the truly horrendous situations facing almost all residents of the South, life all around was going ahead as usual.

This morning, when the sirens went off while my son’s baseball team (that I manage) was in the middle of a pre-tournament practice game, we all quickly obeyed Homeland Security instructions and trooped off the field into the shelters. The experience of being in a small stuffy room with a team of very sweaty baseball players was far more unpalatable than the thought of missiles (no offense guys). We waited for the required 10 minutes, by which I mean an abbreviated 2 minutes, and returned to the field under the clear blue summer sky. The only hint of chaos was three tiny white puffy clouds in the distance – the last vestiges of the three missiles that had been intercepted by the Iron Dome minutes before.

One player commented that this was probably the first baseball inning ever to be ended by a missile attack. But I’m sure there were other moments in history that involved baseball and missiles. Either way, this was one moment that made me realize that hearing about an air raid from across the ocean is far more terrifying than being in one. In the midst of the chaos, I felt so much calmer. It really is less dark here than there. Still, I’ll be very happy when it’s all over and the only booms we hear at baseball are the sound of the ball cracking on the bat.

 

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