The heat has abated somewhat in Israel on Monday morning.
Maybe the cease-fire has something to with it.
Maybe. Who knows what to think anymore?
I came to Israel two weeks ago in the middle of the war without a suitcase but with my American belief there was another way. That, contrary to Israelis’ mantra, “we had no choice,” there was another choice. That Israel was entering its very own unwise Iraq. That a ceasefire would be best for both parties.
But I’ve spent two weeks here, hardly in the war zones at all. I’ve spoken to a panoramic—schizophrenic—array of people: Left-wing Israelis, Israelis under fire, taxi-drivers, right-wing American immigrants, West Bank settlers, dismantled settlers, dislocated Northerners.
The news is no help either.
Read Ha’aretz or Ma’ariv and you get a completely different picture.
The war was necessary/the war was unpreventable/ the war was bungled. The army is going too much/too soft/too scattered. The ceasefire is a victory/a failure/an embarrassment.
Who knows what to think anymore?
“Reservists say they are ordered in for ten minutes, then pull back, then go in again,” a woman tells me today in the Judean Hills. “They are getting mixed messages. Israel is only using 20% of its strength.”
Watch CNN you get a different picture.
An Israeli commentator on a midnight news analysis show says we have no stomach to fight a real war. The host argues that you can’t fight against a guerrilla army successfully.
Who knows what to think anymore?
At least 154 Israelis were killed in the war; 115 of them were soldiers.
Hundreds of Lebanese were reportedly killed. “It’s not the same thing,” my settler friend says. But still.
Israeli novelist David Grossman’s son was killed in battle on Saturday. For many, this death was more shocking, if possible.
Perhaps it personalized the war for those few who had no relatives or friends in it; perhaps it’s because it happened to a national icon; or perhaps it hit the intelligentsia, because one of its heroes had suffered a fatal blow.
Uri Grossman, 20, died two days after his father came out publicly with novelists Amos Oz and A.B. Yehoshua demanding a ceasefire. They spoke to their son Saturday night, who was happy about the cease-fire. His tank was hit a few hours later. Ha’aretz reported that ever since the war broke out, the Grossmans had been worried about their middle of three children. Did they know? Or were they just like everyone else, scared to death for the soldiers.
Meanwhile, everyone is skeptical about the ceasefire. Some think it will last days, others think a regional war is just around the corner. In any case, northerners aren’t returning to their homes just yet and reservists are advised to hang out “just in case.”
Who knows what to think anymore? There are people who do—many, many, here and in the United States—but their certitude makes me more dubious.
I listen on the radio to a song by Sarit Hadad. She’s not particularly religious, but this anthem is:
Kshehalev bohe rak elokim shomea
Hake-ev ole metoh haneshama
Adam nofel lifne shehu shokea
Vetfilat ktana hoteh et hadmama
Shma Israel elohay ata hakol yahol
Natata li et hayay natata li hakol
Beenay dima halev bohe besheket
Oo’kshe halev shotek haneshama zo-eket
Shma Israel elohay ahshav ani levad
Hazek oti elokay asse shelo efhad
Hake-ev gadol veen lean livroah
Asse shehigamer ki lo notar bi koah
When the heart cries, only God hears
The pain comes from the soul
A man falls before he invests
In a small prayer that cuts through the tears.
Shema Yisrael My God, you are Almighty!
You gave me my life, you gave me everything
In my eye is a tear, the heart cries silently.
And when the heart is silent the soul screams.
Shema Yisrael My God, I am alone now.
Strengthen me, my God, make me unafraid.
The pain is great, there is no place to run.
Make it end, because I have no strength left.