Last night, for the first time since the war started, I finally felt that the war has affected my life. Around 11 PM, as I was working on an essay that was due two weeks ago about the Muslim Brotherhood, I went up to my friend Sarit’s house to smoke a cigarette. I knocked on the door and Sarit answered. Two dogs came out barking at me, even though they are usually very affectionate to me because I see them almost every day. As the dogs followed us into the apartment, Sarit said Shalom; I asked her Ma kohray (What’s up). As I turned towards the living room, there sitting on the floor, glued to the television was my friend Noah. Right away I noticed that something was wrong as she did not give me a hug and asked me Eh-hai-ya-ay-yom (How was your day?). As I sparked my cigarette she continued to ignore me never turning her eyes from the television.
Sarit explained to me what the anchors were saying on the television. Ten thousand Israeli soldiers had gone into Lebanon in a straight line across the border. A group of soldiers marched towards two houses a few hundred metres from a mosque, where intelligence reported that members of the Hizballah were hiding rocket launchers that were firing at Israel. The soldiers occupied the two houses and then a few minutes later, the Hizballah fired rockets at the houses, killing the Israelis.
I did not want to ask why Noah was constantly saying Ema-lah (Mommy). When there was a commercial break, Noah turned to me and said that the love of her life, Sharon, was sent to Lebanon two days ago, after three days of training in the North. The last time she had spoke to him was three day ago just after he had finished training. And since then he has not answered Noah’s calls or replied to her SMSs. She did not want to tell him how much she was worried, so instead she sent small sexual notes over SMS, telling him what she will do to him when he gets back.
When the news came back on, Noah was glued again to the television. A breaking news statement came on saying that two soldiers had been killed. Noah hugged a pillow in front of her and then picked up her phone and called her father, who was a famous anchorman in Israel. On the television they do not name the soldiers killed until the families of the soldiers have been informed. But Noah’s father being an icon in Israeli television, already received the names of the soldiers. Luckily, Sharon was not one of the two killed.
While watching TV, the commercials were all humorous. Every commercial break there was at least one Red Bull commercial, suggesting that if you drink Red Bull, you will be strong and energetic. This is enticing to most Israelis as many have to go to work the next day, after a long night of not sleeping, too busy worrying about their friends and family affected by the war. In between stories about the battle taking place, interviews with Israelis living in the towns that are bombed, like Qiriat Shmoneh, were shown. One clip showed Israelis living in the North buying Shesh-Besh (Backgammon) for their days living in bomb shelters. Later in the story, they showed a group of people coming out of the shelter, saying that the Hizballah doesn’t fire rockets at their Israeli town at night, and so its their time to get some fresh air. The TV showed Israelis sitting outside drinking Arak (A Middle Easter Zambucka-type drink that tastes like licorice). The next clip showed an Israeli girl singing a love song to her boyfriend who is leaving for milliohm (the Reserve Military). She cried as she finished the song.
As Sarit left to go to a bar and meet her friend Shay, who is leaving for Lebanon tomorrow, Noah and I went down to my place and drank some Arak. As we watched the news on my new TV, she told me that although Sharon and her are not boyfriend and girlfriend, she loves him and doesn’t know what she would do without him in her life. I did not know what to say. My friend was terrified about her love getting killed and then there was me sitting next to her, trying to consol her about a situation that I have never been in. I told her not to worry that I was sure Sharon was ok.
Although I know Sharon and consider him a cool guy, knowing that he was currently in a war had no effect on me. Seeing Noah clinch her fist whenever Nasrallah was shown on TV, asking me “why doesn’t the Hizballah stop, why do they have to do this to us?”, made me speechless. In this moment I felt that I had been thrown into a war that as a Canadian, I feel could have been avoided if Arabs and Israelis would talk through their problems instead of resorting to violence. I told her that if a father is killed, the son grows up to hate his father’s murderer and eventual avenges his father’s death. Noah told me that when she was younger, she thought as I do about the war with the Arabs. But after experiencing the Intafada, her opinion changed to believing that Israel has to be strong and that Arabs have to be taught that it is better to be friends with Israel than enemies. She said that humans are animals by nature. There are certain ways that humans learn similar to the way animals like dogs or horses learn. You give a prize for good behaviour and punishment for bad behaviour. But according to Noah, Israelis have been giving prizes for bad behaviour for too long, such as giving up land for Palestine in order to quell the terrorist attacks in Israel. While training horses you keep annoying the animal while it’s away from you and immediately stop when it comes near you. That’s how it learns that it is worth it’s while to be its friend. She did not say that Arabs are animals, but rather that through positive re-enforcement, Israel could achieve peace with its enemies.
On Israeli television today, they explained that the building that had been blown up a few days ago in Lebanon killing 57 people, blew up 5 hours after the Israelis finished their bombing campaign of the town. As well, in an American newspaper, which you can find below, it mentions that there evidence that before the explosion, Arab men had dragged bodies into the building. What the report was trying to show was that the Hizballah staged the explosion attempting to alter the international public opinion against Israel. The news showed that many foreign journalists had bought into this hoax and reported the situation in favour of the Hizballah. Another report said that a Lebanese doctor said that in 2000 after Israel left Lebanon, the Hizballah went into his village and built a bunker underground and put bombs in it and then built a school on top of it.
This could be true or Israeli propaganda but one thing is for sure, non-combatants are easily swayed by what is shown in the media. I have received various emails responding to my letters, telling me that I need to get out of Israel as I am being corrupted by the propaganda and supporting Israel in this war. The only thing that I can say to this is that “An eye for an eye makes everyone blind.” I do not support any war but I am beginning to understand how this war is affecting the lives of my friends and family in Israel, who usually support peace in times when Israel is not being attacked.
I was sitting at home. My friend said don’t you have to go to Ashdod now? I said oh shoot yeah. I turned on my computer, went to the bus web site and typed in Ashdod. The soonest bus was in one minute. Oh shit. I typed in Ashdod again and this time there was a bus 9 minutes after the hour.
I quickly grabbed my bag and ran out of the house. My friend gave me a lift to the station. As we got to the station, I kept on saying benzona, batzona. I saw the bus and pushed my way through until I got to the front of the line. I got into the bus and scrambled for a seat. I put my bag down and I was settled.
But I was hungry. So I left my bag on the seat and left the bus to get a bite to eat, knowing the line was long. While I was getting something to eat, this person bumped into me. I looked at him in the eyes and I was scared, but not sure why. He looked Jewish. Clean shaven, wearing semi-nice clothes.
Well I grabbed my food and tried to get back on the bus. The annoying guy who had bumped into me, saw that there was no seats available and started walking off the bus. Suprisingly my seat was fine and no one had taken my bag off and sat down. The annoying guy bumped into a guy getting on and there was a little spat. The big guy said “Why are you getting off the bus?” The annoying guy said “Oh, there is no more seats, I will try to get on the other bus.” “Trust me man, I just came from the other bus and its full, just stand!.” So the annoying guy stayed.
He found a seat to the right of me and sat down. The bus started moving. All of a sudden I heard a yell. “oh that smell,” I look out the window and saw a half destroyed car full of dirt and worms. “AHHH, he has a bomb!! My bus keeps on moving, I am scared shitless that we won’t make it out of the station before the bomb goes off. The driver wind around the track but we are still in the station.; The bus turns right following the crub then comes back left, I am thinking we are not going to make it. He then turns right again and we get on the road. But once we are away he is not stopping the bus, and he doesn’t look frightened nor does he call in what happened. I surprisingly don’t say anything.