Thursday, August 03, 2006

How does one fire death?

I woke up at 5 am this morning. Noisy war planes were passing back and forth and my first thought was: in Lebanon, in 15 minutes from now, a woman like me will hear the same noise and will be filled with horrible fear. And here I am, ashamed of the fact this noise makes me feel.. Safe. Like it or not, it's mine. Support it or not, it protects me. Someone out there is willing to die for my sake though I never asked for it. Carmit wrote yesterday about choosing sides, but I feel the side was already chosen for me. There wasn't a real choice there. A terrorist aiming rockets at me doesn't check my value preferences.

My Zionism in a nutshell

The image of the Diaspora Jewish man was closer to Woody Allen than to Jacky Chan. Zionism carried the promise of reconnection both to the land and to the body; it was the story of the constant-victim taking responsibility for his life. It was a tempting story. But as Spiderman's uncle said: "With great power comes great responsibility" - power corrupts - the abused may become abusers since they don't know how to break the cycle. This country was and is attacked all the time from all directions. But when it started fighting back and won, it found itself in the new position of the conqueror. Holding on to places it doesn't want to be in and on the verge of loosing its sanity just to maintain some level of normalization.

Every time it tried to pull back and trust, it got just more hate and terror. So a lot of people just can't take this kind of thinking out of their minds, because it's dangerous to do so, it's an anti-survival instinct in these life conditions. Did you know that technically, ever since Israel was founded, it operates legally under orders of emergency conditions originating from the British mandate? Being always alert, even when everything seems normal for years, is our real trademark; you can see this Habitus even after years of immigration. It makes us devour life in present tense.

In my 20s I used to see the bright side of this Zionist army culture. I used to be proud of our fine boys who seemed so mature and independent compared to foreign collage brats. I had to turn 30 (and a bit feminist) in order to start missing gentle men, to realize the price of this imposed conquest culture in other areas of our lives, from the bed to the parliament. And yet, this wasn't the real price we paid for this new amazing Jewish hybrid. The real price was a deal with the devil; with death.

Death is never unemployed

The "sliver tray" is a myth I grew up on; this is the image chosen to frame the horrible toll of deaths in all the wars. "They gave their lives so you could live here" I was told and sang to. Am I supposed to forever tiptoe on a grave yard, filled with guilt and sense of debt? This new war claims its death toll already. We don’t have a professional army, everyone here serves in the army. And these days when all the army reserves are being drafted, we're talking about my friend's husbands and my students. I know war has its rules and there's a supposed distinction between soldiers and civilians, but being on this side of the fence, it's just hard to perceive a soldier as an abstract faceless symbol when he's your next door neighbor.

Last week my friend's little brother died in the combat of Bint Jabil. I was present when army officials told the family how brave he was, how he jumped on a live grenade to save other people's lives. I was full of anger when I heard that, I was angry that he didn't think before he did something so stupid, he has 2 small kids who won't even remember they had a father, what was he thinking??? But the family seemed to react differently. The hero framing seems to bring a sort of consolation to his loved ones. All I could think of is how smart it is to draft people when they're young, because the older I grew, it seems I'm less willing to die for a cause, any cause. Am I the freak here?

The whole country is waking up in the last two weeks, you see the "be strong" or "we shall win" stickers every where. This keeps reminding me of Sting's lines in "Russians": "There's no such thing as a winnable war, it's a lie we don’t believe anymore". However, in the Post-Zionist era I'm afraid we failed to create an alternative ethos to make meaning and construct identity. We must unite against a vicious enemy every once in a while, or else we'll be lost, alienated, comfortably numb. And Arab nations are no better than us, if they won't have us to hate they might start a civil war. The diverse Arab world feels so together against us, the "others". But we're not that different, are we? Every time I met Muslim people in my backpacking trips, we would hit it off immediately and find so much more in common than any of us with any other traveler. I could never hate a person because his country was hostile to mine. I can't really hate anyone, even when I fight them off.

Death is never unemployed in the middle east. Planes keep humming above my house as I speak. I hear our troops are fighting tonight too. I pray I won't wake up tomorrow to the news about more heroes of that sort. How many mothers and wives are sleepless tonight? How does one fire death?


Anonymous Idan Gazit said...

Hi Carmel,

Very eloquent post. Unfortunately blogger does not allow trackbacks, however I've written something of a response on my blog, and I invite you to read and comment. :)



1:04 PM  

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