This is my LiveBlog. This is my Blog. I am alive. Working, sleeping, eating, writing, running, even moving houses. As I write, I hear a “boom” then check a web site with minute by minute news reports to see if it was a boom of the Iron Dome shooting down a rocket launched at nearby Tel Aviv. I know it’s not a rocket aimed at my city since the siren did not go off.
But as I was greeting the four movers a few days ago the siren did rise, and my family gathered intimately with them in our ‘safe room’ and we joked and bonded, preparing for a sweaty day together moving our things. Throughout the day we and the movers chatted about different things- what goes and what stays, the proper taping up of a box, our children, and, of course, the war. They spoke to one another in Russian but we could make out the conversation by the Hebrew words mixed in- that day Israel thwarted an attack by 8 Hamas terrorists emerging from one of the tunnels, and one of the guys recounted the story to us with dramatic hand motions indicating how we “wiped out the 8 terrorists as easily as if they were made of tissue paper.” We agreed that this was a good thing but inside I was nauseous from the idea that killing is still killing and that we should not rejoice in the taking of life.
Nausea has become a common feeling, along with depression and sadness over this current state of war. This feeling is shared by all of us here, in different ways, although many other emotions are mixed in with the reactions of all 8 million of Israel’s citizens. This morning I read about residents living in communities with a view into Gaza setting up plastic chairs to watch and cheering when they see a strike over the border. The rock in my stomach grows heavier.
Living here is surreal these days. I drive to the supermarket and hear an instruction from the Homefront Command that if you are going to be driving south please drive carefully since there are many tanks and army vehicles driving in that direction. Behavior in the supermarket parking lot, always a battleground, is as fierce as ever but in the market itself every speaks to one another more than usual, and sales of food have gone up dramatically as people stay home and eat to sooth themselves
At the end of moving day we battled our cat to get him in the carrier and when we started to drive to the new house a siren went off. We stopped the car in the middle of the street and left him there doubly terrified and I found myself comforting my daughter as we kneeled next to some stone stairs and she cried because she was upset that the cat was scared. Surreal. To top it all off our first Shabbat in our new house began with a bang as we ran to our new safe room while making dinner. I took advantage of the time there to clean the shelves from the dirt of the former tenants. Silver linings.
This morning I went for my usual run but my legs were as heavy as my heart. Instead of feeling strong I felt tired, physically from the move and emotionally from the situation. I stopped to stretch, bending over to release my hamstrings. Staying there, I looked up behind my legs and saw a street sign- HaKibush Street. Kibush, The Conquest, is a term from Israel’s immigration history referring to the aspirations of the country’s early settlers to make the land and the language their own through work, defense, and language. HaKibush is also the way some refer to Israel’s presence in the West Bank- The Occupation. “It’s the Occupation, Stupid,” was all that came to my mind, as this sign reminded me of the complexity of this country and reminded me more about why people like me feel so depressed these days.
Yes, it is scary to run to a shelter, at home or at work. But I have a shelter and I don’t have to go there very often relative to many others. Yes, it is sickening to read a headline “First Israeli Soldier Killed in Gaza” as if beginning a count, and at the same time to think about the hundreds of innocent Gazans who are being sacrificed by Hamas. And Yes, it is painful to know that we are ridiculed by the world in ways that show no desire to understand the media’s outrageous treatment of Israel and at the same time know that we do many things wrong. It’s Complicated.
My new house is very quiet, much quieter than the last place, but the noise inside grows louder. We go about our daily lives, we are shaken, we are confused and sad and we are angry. And we still hold out hope because there is no alternative.