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.