Bob Fenton

Day 156

Enjoying the music on the radio this morning the millisecond between the radio stopping its broadcast and the army radio taking over to announce what areas should enter shelters reminds me that yes… there is a war going on and we are vulnerable:  “enemy aircraft infiltrated airspace in the south. Kiyrat Gat enter shelters!”

A number of visitors this month all ask, “where is the war?” as daily life continues (for many of us) with no lack of food, water, fuel, electric (for many of us) and coffee houses and theaters back in  operation. I am waiting for “the second shoe to fall.” I don’t understand how life goes on and the economy sustains itself with 220,000 soldiers pulled from their jobs and an estimated 20,000 injured on their way to rehabilitation programs. Many people have been released from reserve duty; others have received calls to return.

Walking to Friday night dinner with my family there is an increasing number of people carrying assault rifles as they walk with their children and spouses. I am repulsed by the scene and devastatingly saddened by the need. I find it difficult to sit through conversations about the war; of those kidnapped; of this dysfunctional government; and of Gaza being plowed under. The pain is too great.

The anguish of this war falls in the shadow of profound despair of the country’s changing acceptance of ongoing war as a way of life, something that had not existed previously. A new generation has grown up that doesn’t know Israel before the occupation of the West Bank and accepts the injustices that this creates. The government’s attempt, before the war, to curtail democracy by removing the checks and balances on the legislative branch from the judicial branch remains a loud warning sign for our future. I am concerned about the sustainability of the country.

Nothing justifies the barbaric attack of Hamas on October 7th, rising anti-Semitism around the world and the fact that Israel is the only country whose destruction has become a goal of its enemies, however this is the future we are facing. We are being prepared for a prolonged war in the north against a stronger and more technologically sophisticated enemy. Israel does have a right to defend itself, yet there is a larger diplomatic and political game that needs to be played in order for the country to survive and it is being ignored. Netanyahu’s plan for “the day after”, calls for expanded occupation and no final move forward towards peace. It is unsustainable financially, politically and practically especially as we alienate our allies who have helped make this country a reality.

It is true that there is a growing opposition to the war expressed in Saturday night demonstrations, but only elections and a new government will determine the future of our country. With over a hundred thousand Israel’s displaced from their homes with no date for return, over two hundred Israeli hostages being held by Hamas, daily missiles still being shot into the towns in Israel, and a rising death toll of soldiers, we have clearly failed to address the present threat with the creativity of “the start-up nation”. Where are the leaders who were willing to give their lives for a different future.  Where are today’s Menachem Begins, Anwar Sadats, and Jimmy Carters; Yitzhak Rabins, Yasser Arafats and Bill Clintons?   It is time for change.

About the Author
Born in the United States I have lived in Israel for over 30 year and have been involved with NGO's working on child welfare, and Jewish-Palestinian relations. In the past I have worked at Hand in Hand Center for Jewish Arab Education developing bilingual, multinational schools, and programs where Arabs and Jews learn together and at Neve Shalom – Wahat al Salam Jewish Arab Community where Jews and Arabs live together. NSWAS operates a guest house, school, spiritual center and educational seminars. Over the years I have represented and provided research and consultation to major foundations contributing to Israeli society.
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