Saturday, July 15, 2006

No Peace from Lebanon
- an update (no.1)

15 July,2006

Hi all’,
An update. Everything (work, play and whatever is inbetween) is at a standstill while guns and rockets do their stuff. With time on my hands, I hit the keyboard. In English. All of you read English well enough. Some of you would need a lot of brushing up on Ivrit.

I’m sitting at the computer in the living room listening with half an ear to CNN, FOX, and/or Israel News. The other half is listening for the next first-of-a-series “BOOM” which will push me back into our inadequately-secure bedroom. All this while my fingers sail thru cyberspace at 2.5MBps reading e-mails and searching the world for more info.

Katyusha rockets have been dropping around us for the last three days at the rate of many per day. Deja-vu. Most have made it to Nahariya. So far one woman killed there, a good number injured to some degree, lots of shell shock. In Gesher Haziv a rocket went thru the roof of the teachers room in the local grade school next to our homes. Another rocket landed into a new section of the kibbutz where new homes are being built, others in fields around us………………

I’m back. A few moments ago we heard the whiiizzzz of a rocket, heard the fall, made for the bedroom, waited for the small barrage to end, waited a little more, and came back to the computer. Meanwhile, as before, we keep hearing rockets falling in the distance.
The kibbutz is partially empty. Families, especially those with children, packed up and made their way to relatives and friends down south. Sort of a forced summer vacation.
Our own children (Amir&Galya + Adar&Carmi), with two grandchildren (Ellla + Elisha), made their way to stay with Eitan&Sigalit in Tel-Aviv and from there to Givat-Brenner and Ein-Gedi.
We’re still here, as we probably will be come what may.
Yesterday evening we got together for a kabalat Shabbat at Helen’s house (+ Greenfelds + Meno Cohen). On our way there we pass many homes. A few of the old kibbutz, most from the new neighborhood. Very few lights in very few homes. No voices, no cars. Most people are away.
…..hmmmm……years ago…..what a difference.
(I hear rockets falling in the distance shadowed by the constant rumble of very high flying planes.)
1982 – sample year. We spent at least two weeks with our children in underground bunkers. Everyone was there. No one headed south.

A number of major differences between then and now:
One. Then we were in the age of the “Bomb Shelter”. Today is the age of the “Security Room”. Bomb shelters were a community happening; everyone was together with everyone, supporting, helping, talking, fearing, complaining, eating, sleeping, playing, crying, laughing, sharing and did I mention supporting? The security room in every home is a very private and personal affair; you and your children (if you have), your T.V. and radio, your telephone, along with your private anxieties, fears, and emotional abilities for coping with high-end claustrophobic tensions while trying to cope with the difficult emotions of your children. What a bummer.
Second. Today we all have private cars. What a technological difference!! Turn the key, and off you go.
Third. Our kibbutz world has turned private. Everyone for himself. You know that if you stay here, there’s no one but you to replenish that empty milk carton in the fridge, and there’s no one to help you with a frightened or crying child. May as well head for mom and dad or some other relative or friend down south. Sounds to me like the right thing to do.
(so why do some of us stay behind, regardless, in spite of, against logic, against safety, against prevailing winds or such? …….are we simply lazy or crazy or what ??)

Have no idea how long this will take. Days or weeks. Have no idea about the results. It seems that our strategic aims are to get chizballah far away from us and to bring the legitimate Lebanese army to our northern border. Seems right and justified to me. But problematic: I’ve never seen fighting in the last 40 years that has actually fully accomplished strategic aims. Here we have once again used a border skirmish (intolerable as it was) as a lever for an all out escalation to accomplish justifiable strategic aims. Not bad if the aims are actually accomplished; questionable if they are not; sorrowful if they land us in the long run with a battered Lebanon unable to cope with neither border nor the growing fundamentalist terror. Have I mentioned that I don’t remember fighting in the last 40 years that has actually accomplished strategic aims? Nevertheless, who can tell the future ???

Yesterday, Friday, I did not go to Sa’alem.
Sa’alem is a Palestinian village outside of Shchem overlooked by the jewish settlement of Alon-Moreh and the Jewish squatter farm called Chavat-Skally. Our jewish settlers from the area have overtly covertly and diligently interfered with the ability of the farmers of Sa’lem to enter their olive groves and work their fields. Intimidation is a mild description of what’s been happening. A few months ago a 74 year old farmer was beaten nearly to death for having dared work his olive groves. Only recently was he at last released from the hospital. He is only a sample. Olive trees are brutalized and at times set afire, especially in the groves closest to Chavat-Skally. The farmers can’t go to the groves nearest to Chavat-Skally without protection, and had abandoned those groves out of sheer fear. Many of those trees were torn, ripped apart, or burned . On Fridays I’ve been going up to Sa’alem with a small group of people making our way to the olive groves to be some protection for the farmers from the interference of the jewish settlers in the area…………

……..o.k. I had another early warning first “swoooosh” of a rocket overhead, went for the bedroom and counted ten to fifteen further rocket falls in our area, but not within the kibbutz. Meanwhile I’ve heard that a rocket fell on a house in kibbutz Sa’ar, next door to us. No confirmation yet. Hoping for a false alarm, a near miss.
…… I’m back at the computer. In the distance we continue hearing the constant rumble of heavy guns, flying machines, and non-friendly noise.

As for Sa’alem, about a month ago we got word of another section of olive groves where about fifty trees were mutilated. We came, saw, and helped undo some of the damage. Yesterday we were going to help bring water to the damaged and doctored trees. I called to tell our fellow volunteers that I won’t make it this week…..can’t get myself to leave this place while under fire. Obviously I’ve got a loose screw somewhere. My fellow volunteers told me that they’ve joined a “Peace Now” venture telling people to make their way northward to fill some of the empty guest-tzimerim that have been deserted by the tourist trade. Evidently, they too have a few loose screws.
Our son Adar called. He is leaving Carmi to finish her studies in Tel-Aviv and he’s coming back to the kibbutz. Feels he needs to lend a hand here. So he too has a loose screw.

That’s enough. Obviously sitting under these conditions leaves too much time on my hands, so I communicate and ramble and ramble. But now I return to CNN, FOX, Israeli networks and maybe some silly sitcom.
Be well. We are.
Aaron (and Iris).

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