Last night at dinner in my evacuees’ hotel in Eilat, I sat next to a table where three men were recalling the history of Israeli wars.
“What was that war,” asked the first man, “when we captured Jerusalem back? Was that the ’73 war?”
“That was ’67,” said the second man.
“But in the 1948 war,” began the third, “we captured–”
The second man cut him off, “But we didn’t have all of Jerusalem until 1967.” It went back and forth like this through the 20th century, and then they talked about what to do in 2023. Was it okay to bomb a hospital in the middle of Gaza if Hamas was hiding in the hospital, etc.
Suddenly, a 2-liter Coke Zero arrived at their table. Alone at my table, I thought how thirsty I was for the Coke Zero. And how, if I can tolerate listening to their conversation, I can learn so much, understand so much. About my country. About myself. About trauma. So, even though I was uncomfortable, I got up and asked, “Is it okay if I take a little bit of Coke Zero?”
And they said, “Sure,” adding a blessing, Bi’vracha.
I would’ve put an exclamation point on that sentence, but the only exclamation points we have here are red alerts. Like the one yesterday: it sounded like the entire Israeli Air Force was flying over the hotel! Later I got a call from a friend in a safe room on our kibbutz, Ketura, fifty kilometers north, during a red alert in the Arava. My friend captured an image off the TV showing a statement from Hamas–how they were going to deploy a missile to Eilat.
Then the TV said, thanks to the Arrow anti-missile system, the one over the Arava got shot down.