Israel and Gaza

01.08.09

I was lucky enough to spend a week in Israel over the holidays. Good times, good friends, relatives and parties, shopping and nightlife. All the good stuff. I absolutely adore visiting Israel, and was thrilled to have the excuse of a friend’s wedding for a fabulous trip.

Oh yeah, and a war broke out in Gaza on the morning I arrived.

Being in Israel during the start of the Gaza war was interesting in a lot of ways. For one thing – and this should come as no surprise – the Israeli press and the international media have nothing much in common.

For another thing, the black-and-white, either-you’re-with-us-or-with-the-terrorists dichotomy that’s so common among the Jewish communities in the diaspora isn’t really the picture on the ground in Israel, where three Israelis in a room will have seventeen opinions.

Certainly, the opinions of the people I know and spent time with during that week ran the gamut, from left-wing to right-wing to in-between to “just shut the news off”. Times like those, I feel it’s usually better to listen than to speak. After all, I’m not the one who lives with the situation, fights in the wars to defend the country, or otherwise has to deal with the consequences of any action or inaction. It’s not that I don’t feel like I have a right to my opinion; it’s more that the situation is more complicated than our black-and-white outsider viewpoint, and much more human. So I did a lot of listening.

The blogosphere has certainly been active, of course. On the left, Lisa Goldman has some of the most important, sensible commentary that nobody wants to hear right now. Which is exactly why you should read it, agree or disagree. I know I’ll get flak for this, but I’m posting it anyway. Actually, that’s probably why I feel the need to post it.

For what is probably a more mainstream perspective, Imshin has been a must-read lately.

Meryl Yourish has had daily round-ups on her blog, for those looking for more frequent updates.

The latest PR tactic on Facebook? QassamCount, a “donate your status” app that updates automatically with the count and location of rockets launched into Israel.

Mostly, my thoughts are for the safety and security of the IDF soldiers on the ground, of the people living in Sderot and Ashkelon and Ashdod and all the other places within range of rocket fire, of civilians on all sides of the conflict, and of everyone who lives with the threats and instability.

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