Wednesday, July 26, 2006

This Time, Last Year

Israel sure finds a way to keep us busy during the Three Weeks, doesn't she? This time last year, I was listening to speeches analyzing the halachic status of the disengagement, explaining my refusal to wear any sort of wristband, and praying that Israel wouldn't have her first civil war. This year, we are all kept busy tracking Israel through the first real war in over a decade and trying to decide whether or not we would prefer it to erupt into a region-wide conflict.

Bit of a microcosm of there, the two extremes of a nation's troubles- civil war on one hand, violent conflict on the other- and at the same time, the two faces of Israel's foreign policy- concessions to win peace and war to fend off those who ignore concessions.

I suppose that could be a lovely transition into a post attacking disengagement, but I was never really into antidisengagementarianism. What strikes me about the two periods is the contrast in attitude.

Last year, I can remember only a deep sick sort of fear in my stomach. I was actually and truly terrified that this was a defining moment in Jewish history, a literal second chance at the whole sinat chinam/feuding factions thing, and I thought that we just might fail it. Hearing the news made me nauseous, to say nothing of the nastier sort of rumors and vitriol (Sharon starting the disengagement to avoid being indicted and so forth). And to make matters worse, I didn't know how I stood on the whole matter. I saw a lot with which I sympathized on both sides, and a lot that really appalled me.

Compared to that, this year is a psychological cakewalk. Good old-fashioned war, with all its clarity. No guilt, no indecision, no moral qualms. It's very odd. Last year's crisis did not end up involving any deaths, but it somehow terrified me much more than a barrage of missiles. I mean, maybe it's just because I don't actually live there, don't have to face the consequences of real war, while the moral conflict reached its fingers into my friends and community. But I think it's more than that. I have a strong, perhaps irrational, faith in Israel's ability to handle any war. Give us a target, give us something tangible to shoot at, and I'm not worried about Israel's future. Internal strife is more frightening, more elusive, something we have to fight with the less sturdy tools of propoganda, philosophy, and maturity. A war is just a war, an almost welcome chance to sort things out, while a huge protest movement is, well, a mess. It seems silly to be grateful for a war, but this year's crisis is something that I know that our nations, strong in its unity, having survived her most terrible danger, is well equipped to face.


Halfnutcase said...

i can totaly agree with the sinas chinam bit.

it still appauls me how people demonize people on the other side like that. (and i wish i could say i'm completely innocent of it, but i would like to beleive i do the best i can)

that was what bothered me the most about it.

Miri said...

here's the thing; Gush Katif is not over. the disengagement, whether it was the right or the wrong strategic/political move, caused a huge hell of a mess that isn't getting better - it's getting worse. plus, now there's a whole new batch of refugees (mostly from the north) for the country to deal with. plus numerous actual deaths, and many more wounded. I hear what you're saying abt a real war being more clear cut and easier to face psychologically - but the fact of the matter is, this isn't bringing internal clarity. it's just making a bigger mess.

shana said...

tobie, iran has nuclear missiles, israel is being pushed to end the war thus leaving hezbolla mostly intact,we have lost may of our soldiers and civilians, the entire north is traumatized- people can't leave shelters -they are literally being rained on with missiles, houses, property,businesses destroyed... this war is no picnic.

Tobie said...

I'm not saying that this war is pleasant or anything like that. I'm just saying that it doesn't twist my gut in quite the same way- I'd be much, much less comfortable about making aliya last year, for example, than I am this year, despite the fact that I'm probably in more physical danger now.