This war made me … skinny

The other day, a young Israeli woman wrote a blog that she since removed about emotional eating during war. She got a lot of heat for it, with all the “weightier” problems that people faced during Operation Protective Edge: death and injury of IDF soldiers, PTSD – especially for those under regular, direct rocket threat in the south — and the starving, deprived and tortured children shields in Gaza.

My problems in the States are incomparable to the challenges of those living in Israel during time of war; I’ve done it, and I remember.

But this war, in some ways more than any other I witnessed from abroad, had impact on all of us over here. Maybe it was the rocket app, which allowed us to shake every time a missile was launched – even though no matter how sophisticated, Hamas rockets will not strike Kansas when launched from Gaza. Maybe it was because the Israel-focused social media feeds never ceased; Israel is eight hours ahead so my friends there posted from 8 a.m. to midnight their time and my friends here posted from 8 a.m. to midnight central time, and all I read about was Israel. Besides, anything else seemed mundane.

Maybe it was the worldwide anti-Semitism, as close as Chicago, which caused my heart to beat a little faster.

Operation Protective Edge didn’t make me fat. It made me skinny … and tired.

I couldn’t eat because I was so full of emotion. I so badly want – need – to believe in peace and human goodness and I want the world to smile, even though I know so often there is such tragedy everywhere you look. I felt like I was going to explode from the hatred with every hashtag.

I was weighted down by my fears for my friends in Israel; why couldn’t I be there with them? Shouldn’t I be there with them?

I was diminished by my lack of ability to effect change. The war was, of course, a war of words in one dimension. But the real fight was in the holy land — in the bomb shelters, where Israelis came together and refused to give into Hamas, and on the battlefield against the terrorists, where the IDF (with the hand of God) faced the enemy.

I’m skinnier today because I ran too much. With every step I became angrier with the realization that while I could run without fear of needing to find shelter within 10 or 60 seconds, my friends in Israel were holed up in bomb shelters. I pounded the pavement every morning searching for sanity as my salty tears mixed with my salty sweat; sometimes I couldn’t tell the difference.

Going into Tisha B’Av, with only acapella on my headphones, I turned down the music to my inner thoughts. The Temple was destroyed because of baseless hatred, I reminded myself. I so badly want to love. One more stretch of road, and it would all make sense, I would convince myself, as I sprinted passed another stoplight, processing the social media posts, articles and videos in search of answers that would never come.

I’m tired because each morning when I normally would clean my house or make my children’s lunches I spent glued to the computer screen. Ten minutes became 30 became an hour of reading Israel news. Of watching tapes of terror tunnels. Of mourning the loss of another beautiful Jewish soul or budding Palestinian child, a child that could have made a difference, could have brought peace, if only his or her government gave him or her the chance.

So I had to stay up an hour later to make up the time I spent on Facebook, Twitter, Times of Israel, Y-Net, Ha’aretz, CNN. And the cycle repeated almost daily.

And now Operation Protective Edge is over and most of the reservists are going home. I’d like to let out a sigh of relief, but I guess that while I think Israel fought a much-warranted and successful war, I don’t think we won. Because we couldn’t win.

The operation was about stopping the rockets and dismantling the tunnels.

The war was (and is) against radical Islam, against anti-Semitism and baseless hatred. And I have a feeling we will need many, many more wars (and even more open minds) before those threats are diminished.

About the Author
Maayan Hoffman is director of international communications for a leading Israeli think tank and an American-Israeli journalist since 1995. She raises her large, blended family a bus ride from the Western Wall.
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