This war has presented unexpected dilemmas that center around the question of solidarity with our people. As children we heard heroic stories of young Israeli men who, during times of war, immediately returned to Israel to join the army and fight. I heard that this is still the case in the current war. Families on vacation abroad and young people who were in far away places enjoying their post-army travels (“the big journey”) cut their trips short to join their friends who have already resumed their roles as soldiers. However, I’ve also heard of people who choose to leave the country at this moment. I don’t blame them, it can be terrifying to be in Israel during a war, especially for those with small children who do not have a safe room, or a shelter, at home.
The question of shelters also connects to solidarity in Israeli society, considering that in its 75 years of existence, the state of Israel has not taken adequate measures to ensure the protection of its citizens. Many public and private buildings lack shelters or safe rooms. Furthermore, over all these years, Israel has maintained the “Defense Regulations” indicating that we are indeed in a state of war. At the same time it has not compelled governments to insure the safety of its citizens during times when they need defending. I can safely assume (forgive the pun) that all the ministers in Netanyahu’s government have shelters in their homes, while many of their voters do not.
The question of solidarity is somewhat different when we consider people who do have a safe room in their apartments, and do not have small children. And still some of them chose to leave the country once the war started. I have to admit that it’s difficult for me to comprehend how one can make that choice at this moment. There is so much each of us can do to improve the condition on both the front lines and the home front. Just yesterday I read about seniors in Tel Aviv volunteering to assist other seniors.
Yesterday after spending some time in Kaplan with the families of the hostages in Gaza, we witnessed an ultra-orthodox bride and groom, accompanied by their “bridesmaids” (or the Jewish equivalent), dressed in colorful and beautiful attire, having a merry photo shoot in preparation for a wedding merely a hundred meters away from the families of the hostages. I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. It is true that celebrating a marriage is a mitzvah, but the extravagant dresses and the disconnected show of posing to the camera in such hard time, felt in poor taste.
It seems that solidarity is not a straightforward matter. However, it is clear to me that failing to provide the citizens of Israel with adequate protection in time of war is a much graver betrayal of solidarity than leaving one’s country or engaging in a tasteless photo shoot