Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Time out/The End

It's amazing how quickly normality occupies territories, how strong is the force of life. The war ended so abruptly and although its smell of death was hanging in the air for a couple of more days, the force of life demanded us back. During the days of war it was hard to find a voice who'll break the consensus, but the minute the soldiers set foot on Israeli soil the ball was rolling, every one was blaming the army, claiming the resign of the political leaders, pointing the blind spots and the neglecting. So while the accusations fly, most of us just got back to our PhDs, to work. All that we felt we either set free or buried back. And we're taking a time out from this Blog. Secretly we always hoped it'll be temporary. We promise to get back should our lives change abruptly again, or if God forbid, Iran's president has a bad dream about the return of the secret imam riding an atomic bomb. But our true hope is that we won't need to update this Blog ever again and keep it as a souvenir. Was nice meeting you all.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

It isn't over till the hidden imam writes a poem

After a couple of depressing days of escalation, and so many soldiers killed daily, the war ended abruptly. That same day Hezbollah said they won't necessarily leave the south of Lebanon or disarm and Basher Asad said maybe it's time for Syria to fight for the Golan heights and after last night's IDF activity in Baalbeck maybe it is too early to book our vacations. But 24 hours after the ceasfire when no more rockets were flying around Israel, the real part of the war was officially over and people hurried back to normality. Docurel wrote about this, that creativity is the best answer to evil, and than it hit me. This is all about creativity.

Since we took over this piece of land we made wonders. We dried the swamps and created a modern high tech creative western country in such a short time. We Israeli people or even Jews in general, have a lot of creativity; that is undisputable even by our enemies. But I think this is really why we're so hated. We always stand on our feet and create, no matter what happens. And that freaks out people who can't create or are lazy, and they wait for someone else to do it and try to take it away from him. We must be the most hated people in the world, didn't you ever wonder why? Those crazy fanatic theologies are a good cover for pure jealousy on the part of people who are better in destroying than in creating.

Realizing that didn't make me feel much better since the war between the people who create and design realities and the people who are parasites of the creation, is not going to end soon. Parasites have good fantasy stories about the world order they want to create, but what they actually do is destroy things they don't like that belong to other people, and constantly deny reality. If we were to take our bags and leave the Middle East they'll find enemies within their own people who create, as it was before the Zionist movement existed. The countries who suffer from those extreme sects are always the ones who have more ability to create for themselves and prosper, like Lebanon or Iran in the Shah days. Because this isn't really about religion, ideology or oppression, it's about lack of ability to create the world you want from the materials of this reality.

Maybe we will never sit here in peace, maybe our society will keep living in an on going emergency state in a constantly post traumatic culture, but at least we're creative. As long as we create i know we wont' be extinct.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Down the rabbit hole of the Israeli soldier

The digital age is altering our perception and experience of reality in profound ways yet to be studied. In 1996, professor Kevin Robins wrote his influential article about the virtual unconscious in the post photography age. In that article he warns us softly that we've done so much to achieve freedom and shift the control back to the individual that we might just be loosing the balance, reaching a degree of control on things that alters them and alters us back. Digital photography is already taken for granted, the image can be controlled to the pixel level, reconstructed, molded, you name it. It is such a high level of control that you can barely trust it to reflect reality anymore. Even Reuters or "60 minutes" fall for these things.

Robbins's main claim is that in a photo you can reveal more than the eye saw, but a digital image/simulation reveals your subconscious. Towards the end of the article he expresses an ethical concern: what happens to a soldier that doesn't get his hands dirty anymore? A soldier that presses a button and the whole of Baghdad disappears? A soldier who shoots from a war plane after years of training on video games and flight simulators? Does he have the sense of killing a person or is he so detached from the human face through technology mediation? Will humanity turn into a cold blooded high tech murder scene? Robbins speaks of it briefly, almost tip toes around it at the end of his article. He thinks soldiers might suffer now from new kinds of virtual post-traumas caused by the perception gap between the simulation and the real, and says some of the first gulf war soldiers already show some new symptoms of that sort.

You've made it through the intro, sorry if it was too academic, I had to present the issue. I want to talk about the subconscious of the Israeli soldier, in light of that. Around 15 years ago, during the first Intifada uprising, it was my generation's time in the army. They had to invent everything the army uses today. From there things took a turn and we became what we are today. Before that we were a bit innocent in our fighting, it was war as we knew it, with tanks in the desert. One of the concepts invented was at first top secret but today known to all: the elite units called "Shimshon" and "Duvdevan", people who learned perfect Arabic and disguised themselves as Gaza citizens, taking a great personal risk. Many of them killed terrorists from a short range under this cover.

Many of those fine young men, who found themselves in these new challenging army duties, although having weekly shrink meetings, couldn't really stand the psychological pressure. An intelligent young man convinces himself he protects his country this way but part of him just doesn't like him wondering around at nights and shooting people in the head, even if they're terrorists. I remember the first generation of "Shimshon". A large part of those men changed their attitudes towards human life; it became a cheap thing you can bet on. So they bet on their own lives. They used to play "Russian roulette" with their guns and some of them shot themselves. Some of their friends who lived to tell could never get back to normal life; some are in mental conditions till this very day. I have 3 friends who served in those times and their way to cope with it was to become spiritual/ pacifist in quite extreme ways.

During this second Lebanon war I kept thinking of the pilots of the war planes, Israel's best sons, hand picked. They rattle there up in the skies hitting their targets like in the flight simulator, like in the video games. And than they come back home, watch the news and see the pictures of the dead, civilians, sometimes children, who were caught in the fire. What happens in their virtual subconscious? How do they connect between their buttons and this frozen blooded body? Do they feel that horrible life draining feeling of "I took someone's life"? Is the virtuality of it making it easier or worse to bare?

Sorry fore those heavy questions, people, that's my way of dealing with the aftermath.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I am pissed off!

By Yael Israel

I'm pissed off, I'm mad, I'm furious, I'm so angry, I feel like blowing some faces. And I'm freaking out inside me from the unbearable pain.

And what do I get from this? The excuse for this bloody war, namely, bringing back our kidnapped soldiers failed miserably: not one of them was handed back to us and most probably they will never be returned. We failed to immobilize Hizbollah or to disarm them. And now we are standing naked in front of the whole world, while Syria who is lurking for years in the shade, waiting for us to weaken, is rising its ugly head, threatening to fight us. And now when Syria has sufficient proof, it might attack us.

This current Lebanon war is the worst war in the history of the State of Israel. Why? Because we are the only ones responsible for all the our failings. The situation now was unlike that of the 6th Day War or the Yom Kipur War, because we were'nt dragged into a war. We initiated it. It seems that a grave intelligence failure such as happened at the Yom Kippur War led us to this. However, back then we faced a surprise attack, but now we are the ones who initiated the attack. This war is even worse then the First Lebanon War, as at that time, at least our citizans were not harmed.
But this time we really messed up. The mess was so great, much greater than that of theYom Kippur War. The Israeli citizans suffered the most. Nobody estimated that this "little" military operation will turn into a real war. Dan Halutz, our Chief in Command, relied on his air force, and being terribly naïve or simply too busy with his stock investments, and thus unable to judge the situation, truly believed that his fancy air force will finish the job at one strike, so nettly, just as the naive Americans during the first Gulf War, who believed that attacking the enemy with their newest air crafts for a couple of nights will be sufficient to defeat them. Our Prime Minister and our Minister of Defence surely believed Halutz and his empty vain promises, who probably spoke so proudly about his beloved air force, and so they gave their consent for the attack; agreed to rush hastily into it.

Im not saying that the our PM and his ministers are not to blame. The very fact that the PM and Minister of Defence are in power blames them. But Im afraid Halutz have promised the PM & Minister of Defence, who have no clue in military issuses, as everybody in Israel suspected it when this usless pair rose to power, that everything will be OK and that his fancy airforce will finish the job. And the rest is history: our attack wasn’t a short clean cut operation, in which our soldiers leave the battle field without a scratch, rush home to their loving wives, expecting to be praised by everyone, but a big failure which left our army with its pants down: shortage of food & water, no basic equipment, no proper orders, and above all, led by Generals who underestimated the power of the enemy.

I am not sure which one is best: a moran Minister of Defence such as Peretz, a killer Minister of Defence such as Sharon (during the first Lebanon War), or a stoned Minister of Defence who is unaware as to what is going on around him, being too busy stealing archeology items, such as Moshe Dayan at the Yom Kipur War?

But one thing I know for sure: I do not forget nor forgive. I'm mad and I refuse to forgive. Too many people were hurt in this war. Too many people lost their self respect. And all of us lost our shaken feeling of security. We all received a preview of what is going to happen here in the future, but its all in vain. Just in vain. We'll have to fight this war again some time in the future, which means, that this war was not only unnecessary, but also develish.

I admit that if any one among the men responsible for the biggest mess in the history of Israel, would feel so guilty to a point of taking his own life or die of a broken heart (as happened after the Yom Kippur War to Chief in Command David Elazar ) , my heart will not grieve over him.

Monday, August 14, 2006

A letter addressed to the author David Grossman

By Yael Israel

Dear David!

We never met in person. Once, and now it seems it was ages ago, I interviewed you over the phone. That's all! But when I head about the death of your son, Uri, in the last days of the Lebanon War, I was struck as if I lost a dear friend. Please accept my condolences for his death. I want you to know that I share your endless pain. Yesterday you and your family members have become members of our endless, tragic, inconceivable Israeli bereaved family. This teaches us again that death does not skip over any of the houses in Israel, whether right or left, whether warmonger or war opponent.

At the beginning of the war I was in a state of a shock. As the days went by, I still felt as though I'm in a nightmare. As the war continued, I felt so mad, much more than in our previous wars. And now, when all is left for us to do is to count the dead, the wounded, the cripples and the devastating results of the destruction; when your dear son, Uri, has joined the growing number of deaths that our nation has counted in the last few days, just a moment before the cease-fire begins, I am at a loss of words, as words cannot begin to describe my pain. As I am writing this, my tears are running down.

I do not know any of the people who died in this damn unnecessary war, I didn’t know your son Uri, but I feel that I lost my own children, my own flesh and blood - young and old, citizens and soldiers, women, men, children and babies, Arabs and Jews. I dread getting up next morning, after the cease-fire have begun, when the counting of graves begins. I dread seeing the horrible destruction, and I wonder, who will take care of the wounded, the crippled, and the people who lost their homes, in a country led by a government that abandoned us all during the war.