Folks keep asking me what it's like to be living in the middle of a war, and I have to reply that I'm not. I'm to the south of it. Which, after two intifadas and one Gulf War, is something of a relief. Not that either was really a war--it was more like the so-called "phoney war" England experienced in 1939-40. You know they're out there, and they want your destruction, but only rarely do you get immediate and intimate glimpses of it.
My internet provider is located in Haifa, so I keep thinking my internet access is going to be taken out one of these days, but so far, so good. Prospective-son-in-law Sharon's family is all in Kiryat Shemona, which has been frequently used as a punching bag by Syria/Hezbollah/PLO, etc. in the past 3 or 4 decades, but they are coping pretty well, although it got to be so boring in the bomb shelters they all packed into the family car and went to visit a relative in Katzrin, which is on the Golan Heights--not really much of an improvement, as it happened.
In the past week, two pregnant women who evacuated, with their families, to Jerusalem, have come to the clinic--not because they felt unwell, but because their relatives here thought they should. In vain they protested that not one rocket had landed anywhere near them, and the drive south--a matter of a couple of hours--was completely uneventful. They had been "in the war" and should be checked out. My daughter reports that hotels at both the Dead Sea and Eilat have jacked up their prices and have no vacancies. Usually, in the run-up to Tisha B'Av local tourism dries up as religious Jews don't go swimming during the immediate pre-fast period. This year, tourism is dead up north, but the south is revelling in an unexpected burst.
I try not to watch too much news, which is difficult as my husband is a typical Israeli news freak. Once upon a time, there was only one TV channel in Israel, and two in Jordan (one in English, during which King Hussein mainly seemed to endlessly review his troops, to the accompaniment of taped martial music, and the other in Arabic, which featured mostly Egyptian films). On Israel TV there was one nightly news broadcast, and on Friday evenings, an expanded "news magazine". Now we have three channels in Israel alone, each vying with each other for the longest and most complete news coverage. I wonder the very ants in the north haven't yet been interviewed. We get Sky TV, CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera, and Fox News too, via cable. Yawn. Massive yawn.
Sky at least keeps things in perspective. If they can broadcast some titbit of local British news, some Ministerial indiscretion or that a drain has burst in Puddleby-sur-Mare they will do so, in preference to news coming from anywhere not part of the British Empire. The BBC has recently been trying to be more even-handed, after coming in for a lot of criticism so first they screen a segment with some Nordic UN official proclaiming that Israel is in violation of human rights (kidnapping Israeli soldiers, showering Israel with over 2000 rockets, and vowing Israel's destruction is apparently in accordance with "human rights" where Israel is concerned). An "analysis" by their "Israel expert" Paul Adams in Jerusalem is next. Adams' experience, during his tenure here, was augmented--if that's the correct word--by the fact that he and his wife, a British consular officer, were living on an extreme Left-wing moshav during the time Israel withdrew from Lebanon. In 2000 there was a loud local lobby urging Israeli cooperation with Arafat, our "partner" in the illusory "peace process", a term itself coined by the Leftist international press. To listen to Adams today, who must be talking with Yossi Beilin and no one else, we are practically begging for forgiveness from Hezbollah for existing. Finally, the BBC, in the interests of fair play, interviews some Israeli government spokesman, who inevitably sounds as if he's on the defensive as he rebuts the previous reports. At least PM Olmert has gotten rid of all of Sharon's cronies, who had terrible English, and has recruited a number of native English speakers who are forceful and articulate. CNN has been relatively unobjectionable, and has been treading delicately, as often as I've seen it.
Fox News? We could nuke Lebanon and they'd approve. Their view of the world is so simplistic I bet it bores kids in third grade.
Condeleeza Rice is expected any moment, and I bet she isn't quite as gung-ho as Bush has been, and will talk about "restraint on both sides". Meanwhile the Clown of Tehran claims, according to one unconfirmed report, to have the capability to hit London, if they don't stop supporting Israel. Huh. Ah well, another day, another katyusha, or ICBM, or whatever.
Of course, the truth is somewhere in between. Of course our response is disproportionate; this isn't a duel with single-shot pistols at ten paces. I have never understood this--back in the first intifada, when kids with slingshots a la David and Goliath were attacking cars, we were accused of barbarism by firing rubber (and real) bullets at them. What should we have done? Built ballistae and hurled stones back at them? A fist-sized stone, propelled by a powerful slingshot, into the windscreen of a car can cause a fatal accident--as indeed happened to a nursing colleague of mine, driving home, when she was hit in the head and went off the road, was seriously injured, and lost the baby she was carrying. Lebanon, whether a Syrian puppet (Syria declared yesterday that no agreement between Lebanon, which is officially an independent country now, and Israel, would be considered valid by Syria without Syria's agreement as well. Interesting independence) or not, is one of the countries which declared war on us in 1948 and has never concluded any kind of cease-fire, armistice, or peace treaty with us, and whose formal position is that it does not recognize our independence. The situation is not that we are warring on Lebanon; it is that Lebanon is at war with us, and is using Hezbollah as its proxy. It really isn't relevant whether Lebanon controls Hezbollah or Hezbollah is controlling Lebanon. We are being attacked, full stop. Just because someone's cancer is slow-growing doesn't mean you give it an aspirin tablet in preference to all-out chemotherapy, etc. unless you're willing to have it kill you in the end.