Saturday, January 28, 2006

Just a thought to throw out there . . .

I've been reading the newspaper articles (see today's NY Times), op-eds, and blog posts about how, now that the Palestinians have put their cards on the table, and their gov't is saying nice and loud they want Israel dead and in the water, well, now we can move ahead knowing what we are dealing with. And that might be a good thing, much better than dealing with people like Arafat and his cronies who say "we want peace" out of their butts, and "we won't stop until Israel is gone" out of their mouths when they think no one important is listening.

Hamas being in charge -- regardless of whether they were put in charge because most Palestinians really want Israel dead, or because they were protesting Fatah and don't really care whether Israel gets blown up -- could mean that now, when Israel defends herself, the Western world will get it. (I doubt that though; the West forgets these things really fast.) Maybe Europe, for example, will stop harassing Israel over stuff like the security barrier/fence/wall. Or it could mean that Hamas will become more moderate, because they'll have to if they want any money from anywhere. Or maybe something else will happen that's tolerable from Israel's point of view -- at least, more tolerable than what we've had for the last 5 years.

I've been reading all those opinions, and I hear it, and I hope it's true. I hope that in the long run, we'll see the silver lining in this cloud, and everything will be OK.

But, to tell you the truth, I've been feeling sort of creepy and scared the last few days. Couldn't figure it out for a while. But today I spent Shabbat by myself, eating in my apartment, reading, and taking long walks in the cool air, and I realized what it is. I'm scared of the next war. I'm scared that the PA will simply launch a war against Israel. I've never been here for a straight-out war before. The closest I came was in 1991, when I was studying here for a year, and my parents insisted I come back to America before the missiles started flying over Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. I returned to Israel the day after the war ended.

That episode, by the way, was a watershed moment in my decision to make aliyah. I remember the exact moment, actually, when I started considering moving here. It was in the El Al office in Jerusalem's City Center, where I'd gone to try to get a better ticket. The floor was wall-to-wall American students trying to leave the country. I felt really ashamed to be a wimpy rich American student, when there were so many Israelis -- such as the thousands of Ethiopians who had recently arrived -- who had no other place to go. The missiles would come, and they'd be under them, and they'd just have to be strong and deal with it, because they have no choice. Next time, I said to myself, I'll be here, and I'm not going to leave. I'm staying with my people through thick and thin.

But anyway . . .

It is really creepy having neighbors next door who aren't even pretending to want to negotiate with us, who are saying straight out they want my country destroyed and me in the sea. You realize that now that they are the government, they aren't terrorists anymore? Weird, huh? If you are the government, you aren't a terrorist, you're a hostile government.

You could well ask why I should be any more frightened of a straight-out war than I was of the situation we've had up until now, of terrorists blowing up buses and cafes, and the PA looking the other way.

Well, I certainly can't explain that in any logical way, except to remind you that by the time I moved here, the suicide bombings were just on the verge of starting to slow down. I wasn't here, for example, in 2002, during the worst of the intifada. Israel has gone through a lot during my lifetime, but I haven't been here for most of it; I've been over there, watching and worrying but not being directly affected.

And second, there is often no logic of what makes some people afraid and others not. When I moved here in 2003, I decided almost immediately that I will eat in whatever cafe looks good to me, regardless of what kind of security it has, or not. But riding on buses gave me the heebie-jeebies. Conversely, I have friends who rode the buses every day without thinking about it, but wouldn't set foot in a restaurant. Who knows why we compartmentalize things the way we do? I sure don't know. But for some reason, I feel I can take my chances with terrorists, but not with a war.

Though, if the war happens, I'll just have to take my chances. Because now I'm here. And I'm not going to leave.

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