Friday, August 04, 2006

Don`t mention the war

In a brilliant episode of Fawlty Towers, some germans come to the hotel and Basil, who is suffering from a brain concussion, cautions everyone not to mention the war but keeps offering the german guests things like “a Goering salad” and “something to drink before the war”. Finally, when confronted by the insulted germans, he defends himself: “Well, you started it! You invaded Poland!”

It is hard to talk about the war and it is hard not to talk about it. My beloved husband, who is a gentle soul and hasn’t a violent bone in his body, thinks that this time Israel is the justified side and that we have to fight this time, otherwise we will find ourselves in an extremely dangerous situation sooner or later, maybe sooner. A close friend who is like a brother to me is radical left-wing and is appalled by the militarism and agressivity of our government. They both try to talk to me about the war, and I have a hard time talking to them.

What can I say? I say I don’t know. What I do know is that I can’t stand to watch the news and the leaders’ speeches, that if I were the kidnapped soldiers’ parents I would be very angry that freeing them doesn’t seem to be a top priority, that it is absurd to me that people have to be killed, so many people. I don’t know if the war is justified: To me no war is justified. Do I feel confident enough about the war being wrong to go out in the streets and protest? No. Besides, protesting in the streets is very scary to me.

Am I irresponsible for not having a firm opinion to stick to and fight for? Or is that the responsible stance? Again, I do not know. “I do not know… I feel…” are phrases I hear also from my female friends. Maybe it’s a gender issue, though many women do have firm opinions. I do not know. I just wish for us all to be safe soon, for all the craziness to stop.

Lee Evron-Vaknin, 30, lives in Jerusalem. She writes prose and poetry and works as an editor at a “Keter-books” publishing house.


Blogger illan said...

Though i'm a man, i share your stance, if it counts for one.
i don't know what to do.

but i do know what not to do, and that must count for sth.

3:13 PM  
Anonymous lee said...

hey Illan. You're a multi-blogger!
Being a man is ok. I like men :))
Knowing what not to do is indeed something. What is it that you know not to do?

6:05 PM  
Blogger Paraglide Tandem Seattle said...

Thanks for sharing your perspective. I heard about your blog from a friend in Seattle Integral.

8:49 PM  
Blogger Carmel said...

thanks for dropping by. Integral perspective keeps me sane these days but merely understanding isn't of much help under the circumstances....

Carmel, Integral Israel

9:17 PM  
Anonymous avi said...

I am all for the war.
I would like to live, hence I would very much like to win this war.
No single appeasement venture has ever succeeded in the middle east, maybe it's time to ask why.

10:39 PM  
Anonymous Lee said...

Hi Avi
I don't really feel like going into the discussion, since what I tried to say was on a meta-discussion level. You are welcome to join the firm-opinioned men I mentioned in my post.

10:50 PM  
Anonymous Rick said...


Tell your opinionated male friends that this war is a symptom of a more pervasive and pernicous human problem: fanatacism. Tell them to stop quibbling about the symptoms, and ask them to help you figure out how to confront and eradicate fanaticism no matter where we find it.

10:56 PM  
Anonymous lee said...

Hello Rick,
That's an interesting perspective (and very opinionatedly put, by the way!:)).
Don't symptoms have to be treated sometimes, along with the underlying causes or even before them, when they are acute and life-threatening?
Figuring out how to confront and eradicate fanaticisn is a very worthy goal. If you have thoughts on the "how" I'd love to hear them.

11:13 PM  
Anonymous Rick said...

Yes, that was a bit opinionated. Curious, also, that I spelled it both correctly and incorrectly. I believe I have become entirely too reliant on spell-checking software.

I think there are two principles we have to embrace. The first is a refusal to accept fanaticism even when the result is an end with which we agree. Israeli fanatics are as dangerous to us all as are fanatics of any other persuasion.

Second, the most potent weapon against fanaticism is the truth. We have to tell the truth. We have to tell the whole truth, and that includes the parts that are potentially harmful to the things we hold dear. Intellectual honesty is the first step. (Not saying that you are intellectualy dishonest--just that I find the task of striving to achieve intellectual honesty to be never-ending.)

Oh, and there's one other thing. At the beginning of this war, there was a very interesting phenomenon taking place. Bloggers on both sides of the conflict were carrying on a conversation. Keep that conversation going, and eradicating fanaticism is the issue that you can confront together. The one thing bloggers have done is humanize each other through this electronic medium. Lebanese and Israeli bloggers have common enemy, and that enemy lives among each of you.

5:41 AM  
Anonymous lee said...

Thankyou, Rick.
I didn't notice any discrepancies in the spelling, but well, this isn't hebrew.
I agree with you on intellectual honesty. As for the bloggers' dialogue - it seems to me that some people are open to dialogue, and some aren't, and it's always the same people who will talk. But despair will get us nowhere, and it certainly is important, even vital, to keep this dialogue going.

7:00 AM  
Anonymous Biri said...

hi Lee
I always enjoy reading your post and your blog. Being a refugee from the north right now, staying in Jerusalem, i feel so confused. I feel like a puzzle of opinions, feelings and thoughts.
This war took my liberty, my cat, my home. I miss them. Mother Israel-land needs a lot of blood in order to continue living. I feel so tired. words give me hope nowdays. thank you for your words.

12:22 PM  
Anonymous Rick said...


Don't be discouraged about your inability to reach more than a handful of Lebanese bloggers. You can't effectively confront fanaticism among the people of Lebanon, but they can. In a similar vein, they can't confront fanaticism among Israelis, but you can.

An important part of that dialogue among those who are willing to talk is a discussion of what fanaticism looks like, and the varied ways it can manifest itself.

Try doing this: read through the various blogs sympathetic to Israel, and see if you can find expressions of fanaticism in those blogs.

5:03 PM  
Anonymous lee said...

Hi Biri,
thankyou for your warm comment! Do I know you at all (by a different name?)
I'm sorry to hear about you being a refugee like that. It makes me want to hug and kiss my cat :)
And I can relate to the puzzle of feelings and opinions.
And Rick, I wasn't thinking just about the Lebanese bloggers, But about both sides. Still, being discouraged is never a good policy, I guess.

6:07 PM  

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