If Israel is doomed to be a nation that lives by the sword, as is commonly proclaimed on the streets of Tel Aviv these days, then I opt out.
This war is not different from the others. It’s just the same. It reminds us of the wars that preceded it. I was born into the Yom Kippur War and lived through two other “official wars”: the first Lebanon war, the first Gulf war. I remember as a kid: lists of soldiers killed in battle read on the radio after the hourly news; knowing the next name could be one of my friends’ brothers or fathers. I remember as a teenager: sirens, gas masks, and fireworks shows of patriot missiles chasing Scuds in the sky. I remember as a mom: driving in the farthest possible lane from a city bus, just in case it was the one carrying the suicide bomber that day.
Wars are all the same and this one is no different. For Israelis, they all go back to “that” war. That war that turned my great-grandparents into smoke, that horrible, monstrous act of genocide that keeps creeping up on us.
Jews were not a party in World War II. They were victims – they had no army and no choice. But Israel does have an army and a choice. Israel is choosing to endanger its citizens and soldiers, to ruin once again the lives of many civilians in Lebanon, in order to prove its strength and to keep“that” from happening again.
I think it’s not only a mistake, it’s a suicidal path. Nothing can ensure us “that” won’t happen — the gas chambers, the concentration camps, the ghettos. All that. Since it happened once it might happen again.
Some people justify Israel’s actions by arguing that Jews need a place to go to when anti-Semitism breaks out somewhere in the world. But as Yeshayahu Leibowitz, the philosopher and outspoken public figure, once said: the most dangerous place for Jews in the world is the state of Israel.
What does Israel have to offer Jews who come to find shelter? Right now it’s offering grief, fear and shame. If we’re doomed to be a nation that lives by the sword, as is commonly proclaimed on the streets of Tel Aviv these days, then I opt out.
And I did. When my son was born five years ago in Tel Aviv, the nurse complimented his good health by saying: “He’ll make a good soldier.” That gave me the chills. The babies he shared the nursery with will, in 13 years, be fighting the third, or fourth or fifth Lebanon war. I will do anything in my power so that my son does not become one of them.
This is one of the reasons I don’t live in Israel. In many ways I feel I’m in exile. I’m glued to the Internet and I cry for every civilian – Lebanese and Israeli, who is killed, wounded or traumatized by this war. I also cry for the soldiers and their families. I believe they are making a huge mistake and I don’t know how to make them stop.
Not that I agree with Sheik Nasrallah. In fact, he scares me. I think Israel should defend itself from Nasrallah and his kind. Israel should defend itself by joining all the people and governments of the Middle East who are concerned and threatened by fanatic Islam to figure out a way to disarm those guerilla warriors. Israel should join its neighboring countries to find a solution for the Palestinian refugees, it should take some responsibility for their situation and find a way to compensate them for their losses. And now it should also take responsibility for the damage done in Lebanon.
Some might say that I’m naïve. I’m not naïve – I’m desperate. This might be our last chance to put down our guns. I think becoming a responsible participant in the Middle East is Israel’s only chance of ever becoming a safe place for Jewish people. My children’s friends in Israel fear the hourly news followed by the list of today’s casualties, just like I did 25 years ago. This war is no different from the others. It isn’t another war that will make Israel a safe place to live.