In an article I wrote for the IHT-NYT last week, I explained that Israelis’ rush to get gas masks isn’t necessarily a sign of weakness:
Israelis have a way of being simultaneously frenzied and steadfast. If last week they seemed panicky, this week they seem dissatisfied that military action against Syria has been postponed. According to two recent polls, one by Panels Politics and the other by Hagal Hachadash, more than two-thirds of Israelis support an attack on Assad’s regime, even though many of them expect that they’ll have to take refuge from a counterattack afterward. Watch Israelis scramble for gas masks, and you might be fooled into believing that they are weak. They’re not. If Assad imagines that threatening Israel will convince it to urge the Americans not to attack Syria, he should think again.
Still, the numbers (from Ynet News) are interesting. Between August 25 and September 2 there were 213,000 Israelis who contacted the Home Front Command centers. August 28 and 29 were the busiest, with 61,000 calls and 60,000 calls respectively. That’s double the number of calls during the Cloud Pillar operation last year in Gaza. In those two days, 40,000 gas masks were handed out to anxious civilians.
Having said that, Israelis are climbing the ladder of the happiest nations on earth.
Some more house cleaning- This is from my article for Rosh Hashanah for the Jewish Journal print edition:
5773 was not a year of many great curses for Israel or for the Jewish people. We have a problem, though, with things that are not yet a curse or a blessing — those things that cannot end just because a year has gone by. We have a problem with summing up a year that was a year of transition — but transition toward what is still unclear.
And here's a bit from the one for Al-Monitor (English translation here) about Israel’s demographic insecurities:
In the current state of affairs, there’s an inverse relationship between what we want and what we have. What’s wanted — demographic disengagement — is apparently unattainable. What we might have — a move toward annexation that Jewish right-wing elements and Palestinian left-wing elements are toying with — totally contradicts Zionist logic and every public impulse. This is the reason that the jump from the 3 million Jews of my childhood to today’s 6 million Jews has not dulled the sense of anxiety: 75% is not enough, if next year, too, the demographic threat has nowhere to go.
Yesterday I predicted the eventual abandonment of Women of the Wall:
To be blunt: the Women of the Wall are no longer the big cause for either one of the movements (if they ever were the big cause). Both would sacrifice the Women if necessary – that is, they would both agree that WOW's cause (to pray as they wish at the women’s plaza) could be sidestepped in lieu of larger achievements.
Today, after I read The forward’s editorial from a couple of days ago (I somehow missed it when it was posted), I became even more convinced that WOW are in trouble – that is, unless the Israeli government revives their battle by being stupid on the other issues related to the Wall:
But it’s increasingly clear that WOW’s immediate goal is substantively different from that of the majority of American Jews who only wish to pray in Israel as they do at home, men and women together. WOW’s objective is more specific. They want a place at the Kotel itself where women can pray as they wish.