Jerusalem – I can’t sleep at night.
It’s not because of the rockets, although Israel is under constant rocket fire. And it’s not because of iron dome, although it makes loud booms.
The other night at our Jerusalem hotel our six-year old daughter was awoken by the sound of the alarms as a Hamas rocket headed toward the capital. She was frightened. Her older sisters calmed her. They ran to a shelter. Iron dome made its boom and she tried to go back to sleep, jarred by the experience.
But my insomnia is not due to fear for my children as we feel safe in Israel.
Rather, it’s a damned app on my wife’s iPhone that is slowly killing me. It rings in middle of the night. It beeps constantly during the day. It buzzes when we eat. It’s slowly driving me insane.
If you read about a crazed bearded man in Jerusalem who went screaming through the night, that would be me. And it would be the app’s fault.
It’s called Red Alert, and it dings whenever a rocket is fired toward Israel by Hamas. Every minute or so, it rings. It rings at high noon, and it rings at midnight. It rings when I’m in the shower (sorry for the image) and it rings when I swim in the beach. It rings when I pray and it rings when I eat.
The damned thing never stops ringing.
I beg my wife to turn it off. I try to bribe her by promising that I’ll buy her the new iPhone the day it comes out. But she won’t turn it off. We currently have six children living, studying, or visiting Israel. She wants to know where the rockets are flying.
Given my wife’s non-cooperation, my only other option is to call up Hamas and try and bribe them. The app is nothing but a slave to the rockets. And if the rockets stop, the app will lose its power. “Hey, Hamas, this is an American Jew named Shmuley. Listen guys, I’m trying to have a family vacation here. And this rocket-buzzing-kill-all-the-Jews stuff is a real bummer. Just not conducive to relaxation, you know what I’m saying? So I got a deal for you. Five new iPhones if you guys stop the rockets? Heck, I’ll throw in ten free unsold copies of my 1500 page book “Moses of Oxford.” Now that’s real torture.
Sometimes my dreams incorporate the buzzing of the app. I imagine myself, floating peacefully over the earth, looking down at creation, feeling free and unencumbered. When suddenly this quaking sound sound shatters everything below.
I awake, and it’s the damned app.
“Debbie, turn the thing off. I’m pleading. I’m begging.”
But the app has become as much of my life as respiration.
We breathe rockets, we inhale their fumes, we dream of their long tail.
I could crush the phone, but I can’t stop the rockets. I could delete the app (my wife would just replace it), but I can’t stop the sirens.
Somehow, even as an American visiting Israel, the app has become encrusted into my DNA.
And if one stupid phone app can drive a visitor to the point of a nervous breakdown, just imagine what the actual rockets can do to the people who live here.
So I have a simple idea. All those world leaders who condemn Israel for fighting Hamas to stop the rockets – which explode and murder women and babies – should simply have the app installed on their phones for a week. Then, when you see Ban Ki Moon with moon-sized craters under his eyes from lack of sleep, and you see Erdogan even more unpleasant and irritable than he already is (if that’s even possible) due to insomnia, you’ll understand why no country should be asked to live under the constant barrage of murderous rocket fire.