Are we at war yet?

Many people are asking: “So are we at war yet?”, “Has war begun yet”?

In fact, in Israel, “war” is a term used for budgetary reasons… and it is not a description of what is happening.

Several “wars” in Israel only received that name by the Knesset retroactively. For example, both Lebanon wars, of 1982 and 2006. Israel never declared war or announced that we are going to war.

The retroactive declarations were made in order to allow budgets – for the military, for victims’ compensation, for the building of shelters…

And to make it easier for the sufferers, knowing that they suffered in a “real” war and not just in some skirmish or “operation”…

But the word “war” carries a special weight.

People want to know how dangerous the situation “really” is. People want to know how scared or worried they “should” be, how scared they are “allowed” to be. Calling a current situation a “war” gives your fears legitimacy, “allows” you to feel what you are feeling…

Well, the truth is that in Israel we are never completely “relaxed”. We are never totally “out of danger”.

In this “100 Years War”, sometimes there is a “real” armed conflict, with people shooting from both sides; sometimes they simply shoot across our borders at anybody who happens to be there; sometimes terrorists go into a house and murder an entire familiy; sometimes suicide bombers blow themselves up in buses, restaurants or in a hotel during the pesach seder; sometimes terrorists with knives stab and kill people on the streets; sometimes they burn our fields and forests; and sometimes we have rockets landing on villages near the borders or on cities like Tel Aviv, Haifa, Beer Sheva…

And when all is quiet here, we still need to worry about Iran and its nuclear weapons…

So when can we finally relax?

Here I will tell you a story.

When my wife was pregnant, we did all the recommended pregnancy tests. One time she asked the doctor: “Which test is the crucial one? When can I finally relax?”

The smart doctor answered: “Once you are a mother, you can never relax…”

The same, I think, applies to life itself. Once you are alive, you can never relax. Life is full of dangers… war, crime, poverty, disease, accidents… emotional suffering…

All we can do is navigate amongst all the dangers, taking care of ourselves and our loved ones in the best way we can.

David Wolf

Israel, July 2018

About the Author
David Wolf writes about his experience of being a second-time husband and father. He has a daughter from his first marriage, and, with his second wife, has accrued three daughters, two sons-in-law, one grandchild and twin 8-year-old sons. He is a social worker in a mental health department and in private practice in Raanana.