Tuesday, November 20, 2012

My First War

It's funny when you think about it, that last week you were annoyed because New Girl wouldn't load, and today you're wondering if Hamas is launching rockets in your vicinity and whether you should shower now or wait until after there's a siren.

Everyone has their place, in this war. The soldiers get called up to battle, the citizens of the South continue to stand strong, and the students - we protest, we blog, we tweet, we pray, we do what we can.

It's hard to know what to feel right now.

It's hard because half of you is screaming that people are dying and rockets are falling and buildings are on fire and just because we can't see the children running to bomb shelters doesn't mean that they're not. And the other half is saying that we, the students, we fight by going to university, by continuing with our schedules, that we fight by living and by not being afraid. We gathered on campus today and sang Israeli songs and waved Israeli flags and the whole time you're wondering if this is making any difference. And there is not a moment when you're not on full alert for that siren, for the noise that you can feel with every inch of your body.

At home and in class, you just keep refreshing the Muqata, and Al Jazeera, and Ynet, and Times of Israel, and the rockets just keep on coming and the fake pictures keep circulating and you don't know why but you think that if the world just knew that the child covered in blood is Israeli and not from Gaza, everything would be over and maybe peace would come.

And then there's a lull, or maybe you just turned off the news because you needed a break from updates and sirens and suddenly there's a video of IDF soldiers singing Ani Ma'amin, I believe, and you smile because you're so proud to live here. And then there's a funny status about the rockets, and a ridiculous song about Hamas and it's all so silly because we're in the middle of a WAR, and then a soldier dies and everything stops being silly because he was 18 and you saw his picture and he could have been your friend.

My mom calls and asks if I'm okay and I assure her that yes, I'm far away from all the rockets but I'm making it up because the truth is I have no idea where the next one will fall. And I feel such a rush of pride every time I see one of the students on my program, who came for a year of the "Israel Experience" and are getting more then what they bargained for, write a status with the words Am Yisrael Chai - the nation of Israel lives on.

My heart hurts for the children who have grown up with the siren as a soundtrack to their birthday parties, for the soldiers who are risking their lives on the border of Gaza right now.

Israelis tell me that they don’t feel all of the things that I feel, and maybe its because this is my first war. Maybe. And I can already feel that mixed feeling of guilt and pride and fear ebbing away slowly as each day passes. I hope that I don't become callous. I hope that I stay tuned in to Galgalatz and listen for each siren because I want to stay connected to those down south who can't choose to turn it off.

Meanwhile, the world goes on. The Lions lost the football game, I watched Glee and walked home from school. The truth is that I'm pretty calm. Calmer then I thought I would be. Everything will be alright, because Hashem is protecting us.

Yoni Netanyahu said it best:

"...I would rather opt for living here in continual battle than for becoming part of the wandering Jewish people. As I don't intend to tell my grandchildren about the Jewish State in the twentieth century as a mere brief and transient episode in thousands of years of wandering, I intend to hold on here with all my might."

For a list of ways you can help out, check here: http://theycallmeshev.blogspot.co.il/2012/11/what-can-you-do.html


  1. You were here 08, i think this is your second war

  2. I think this is a beautiful post that captures anglo oleh/olah feelings. Thanks Shev.

  3. Did you think of the idea to order and send pizzas? That is a really beautiful and generous idea. But of course, no surprise there...

  4. I wish I had - I'm not sure who came up with it, but it's a great idea.

  5. Shev, you articulate it beautifully. I know exactly what you mean. As far as I'm concerned, though, it never changes. Although, that said, by living through terrorist attacks, car and bus bombings, kidnappings, wars and more, I've learned how to cope. Sort of. I've learned just how much news TV I can watch before I become clinically depressed. I've learned to allow myself light relief without guilt. I've learned to tell my friends and family that I love them whenever I can, and especially in a time like this. I've learned to love the online community and to not read the elements of the community who spew hatred and bigoted bile. I've learned to have sympathy for those who are manipulated and used as pawns, and to understand that it's their leaders who do this, ironically showing an abject lack of leadership skill. I'll never get used to war. I'll never fully rid myself of that sinking feeling each time I think of those under attack and how they're feeling, or whenever I hear yet another piece of bad news -- but it no longer stops me from living. Which I consider to be a victory.