Israel at War

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Thinking back, trying to recreate my conversations with worried friends about this war with Lebanon, about the Iranian missiles, the Syrian machinations and the assumption that Hezbollah’s leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, has the ability to strike any place in the country, even Tel Aviv, I realize that there was a small gleam in almost everyone’s eyes, a kind of unconscious breath of relief.

And no, it’s not that we Israelis long for war or death or grief, but we do long for those “old days??? the taxi driver talked about. We long for a real war to take the place of all those exhausting years of intifada when there was no black or white, only gray…

Etgar Keret, The Way We War, The New York Times, July 18, 2006
Men at a table in Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv, July 26, 2006 [DDanzig / Flickr]

The American-Israeli blogger Alison Kaplan Sommer wrote on July 25 that her Israeli husband is reminded of the summer of 1982, when there was also war and World Cup soccer. Israel has to fight a war every decade or so; every citizen spends at least two years in military service, and a grudging acceptance of the inevitable return of war seems part of what it means to be Israeli.

Is this, as Etgar Keret suggests, a better war, a clearer war for Israel? A war like the ones they remember, in 1967, in 1973? Israel has perched on the edge of the sea for most of a century now; what does it do to a country to live under the threat of violence, and with the need to strike back hard, for four generations? On our own blog Potter — with close family herself in Israel — writes:

There is no “once and for all??? here. To think so is clueless. Israel may fight so “hard and furiously??? for survival in the wrong way that it may accomplish the opposite: destroy itself.

Potter, in a comment to Open Source, July 25, 2006

War, of course, can’t define an entire country. There is dancing yet in Tel Aviv, people falling in love in Haifa. But is it possible to use the lens of this war with Hamas and Hezbollah to take a picture of a country under constant pressure?

Ari Shavit

Political essayist, Haaretz

Gadi Taub

Professor of communications and public policy, Hebrew University

Writer and essayist

Allison Kaplan Sommer

Associate Editor, Israel21c

Blogger, An Unsealed Room and Isreality

Extra-Credit Reading List

Guest, A Letter to Lebanese Reporter, OneJerusalem, 7/29/06

Idan, A Window into Israel, Pixane, 7/16/06 (from Israelity)

rockofgalilee, a trip to the front lines, Galilee This:, 7/26/06 (from Israelity)

Etgar Keret, The Way We War, The New York Times, 7/18/06

James Carroll, New conflicts in an old war in the Middle East, The Boston Globe, 7/17/06

Deborah Solomon, A Haifa Life, The New York Times, 7/30/06

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