Friday night in Tel-Aviv
Last night, as I was visiting my friend in Tel-Aviv we heard on the news that a Hezbollah missile hit the city of Haderah. Haderah is in between Haifa and Tel-Aviv, much closer to the center of Israel. "He kept his promise", I thought. Hezbollah threatened to go further south until he got in Tel-Aviv, and there it was, its first attempt, and it was getting closer to where I lived. My friend said that once a missile hit Tel-Aviv, she would run a way with her family to Jerusalem. She said she could barely sleep at nights as it was – she was so frightened by the whole war situation and she could not bear the thought of her 9 year old son get hurt. As it is, her son is tuned to the news (as all of his friends do) and already has nightmares: "What if Nassaralla hits our home? What if Hezbollah hits school? " He keeps asking her but she doesn't have a real answer. She, of course, tries to convince him that nothing will happen to him because "our strong army will protect us". But, he notices the uncertainty in her voice when she talks to him about it and he is still worried.
As I was leaving my friend's apartment around 11 pm I was thinking of how lucky I was I did not have kids (although I would like to have kids very much). I don't know how I would have coped with seeing their fears and worries. It hurts too much to see these little kids who are supposed to be dealing with kid problems, forced by this harsh reality to contemplate about war and death issues; issues even their parents are having problems coping with.
On my way back to my place, I was passing by Tel-Aviv's restaurants and bars that were filled with people hanging out. Traffic was busy as always on a typical Friday night and it seemed as if the war was hardly remembered as Tel-Aviv's night life was just coming to life. I have to admit that I kind of like the normality this city projects. It's like living in a bubble although I know this bubble can evaporate as fast as it takes a missile to get in Tel-Aviv. Yet, I like it that somewhere in this crazy country there is a place that never shuts down, a place that keeps showing us- the frightened, alert, upset, worried, frustrated "others"- that life continues and should be continued at any time no matter what. Yes, there is in it a sense of sanity amidst this craziness around us. I'd like to think of Tel-Aviv as a smaller equivalent of New York City. Like in NYC, many people who live in Tel-Aviv are "outsiders" feeling quite at home. It is a pluralistic city as it embraces people of all ethnic-social backgrounds. Furthermore, it has the mannerism of a cosmopolitan city as being the center of business and cultural life. It is a city that never goes to sleep offering diverse alternatives for escapism. Yes, "maybe this is what I need right now", I am thinking, "a place where I can get a way for a few minutes from my troubling thoughts I have been contemplating with lately". "Why don't I go into a bar, one of the many opened , and have a drink", I am thinking to myself while still stuck in the traffic jam…but then, "I do not drink, so why start now? I need to be sober and alert when the missile hit close to my home"…I am thinking. Finally, I decide to drive home as planned and get some news updates….
By now traffic was moving and I was heading home as my cell phone was ringing. On the phone was another friend of mine whose husband was called in by the army as a reserved soldier when they were just about to eat their family dinner. I should mention that this friend who is in her 40's has a 19 year old son who is in the army as well fighting against Hezbollah in Lebanon. Ever since this war started and her son was moved to Lebanon she stopped sleeping at nights. She was worried sick for her "baby" fighting in Lebanon. And now, what will she do? Both husband and son were called by the army to "serve" this country. She said she was worried about her husband not being cautious enough while fighting as he himself kept worrying about their son….
That friend made me think of the traditional roles (and outdated to my opinion) Israeli women have been fulfilling in the last 50 years; Israeli women have always been expected to contribute to the collective effort by simply becoming mothers who deliver babies, preferably boys, who could be one day soldiers protecting our lives here…Is that it? Are we doomed to be raising kids for the sake of our country's collective needs? What about our needs? And what about our children's needs? So, the various governments have been telling us over the years that we have had no choice; but what about our children's choice? How are we to protect their lives? Should we have kids at all? I am ending this post with some questions I don't really have answers to, but, as writing earlier, keep me busy these days….