It started as a small change in the tone of conversation in the office.
I had my head down so I barely noticed the shift from boisterous, animated conversation to the more subdued murmur of concern. Several people were gathered near someone’s desk looking over their shoulder at the computer screen.
A woman walked past and, by chance, caught a whispered word; “Dimona?”
I took notice that she turned on her heel and was now walking briskly back to her desk… dialing her cell phone as she walked… waiting… waiting… “Hello Ima, you’re home? Where’s Abba??”
A pause… then she allowed herself to collapse into her chair with an exhaled, “Thank G-d”
This was too familiar a routine, even though it hadn’t played here out in some time. I turned to face my computer and surfed over to one of the Israeli news sites. Sure enough, the headlines began:
Dimona suicide bombing attack
MDA treating casualties on the scene, say many wounded
by attack on Dimona commercial center…
I didn’t need to read more… I could probably write the rest of the coverage from memory, including the official duplicitous Palestinian denunciation and the official Israel blustering.
More groups of people gathered by computers… more people rushed away suddenly and more calls were hurriedly placed. The relief… the guilt at feeling relief… the quiet tears…
And so it begins again.
But as I tried to go back to work I found I couldn’t. The news held no answers… nothing but sorrow and speculation. I have always been one of those people who can make a little order from chaos… so long as I can sit down and make a list. Some might call it stream of consciousness, but I have found that when overwhelmed by a situation it sometimes helps to simply review things one knows… and let it lead you to what you believe.
So instead of looking outward for answers, I spent my lunch break contemplating a list of things I did know. Just the previous day I had written such a list in an attempt to quantify who I am and where I stand in these tumultuous times… and it began like this:
- I am a Jew.
- I am a Zionist.
- I am religiously observant.
- I am a settler… but then, so are those who live in Beer Sheva, Kiryat Gat, Petach Tikva… and Tel Aviv.
- I am a bleeding heart liberal when it comes to social welfare and civil rights.
- I am unapologetically conservative on homeland security and foreign relations.
- I believe there is no such thing as quasi-Zionism. Either Jews have a right to live here… or they don’t. Our claim to Tel Aviv and Haifa assumes our claim to Jerusalem and Hebron. If anything, our claim to the latter is much stronger than to the former.
- I view an attack on any Israeli as an attack on all Israelis. Once upon a time this was the cornerstone of our national defense policy. At some point we seem to have lost the strength of our convictions.
- I believe that there is no such thing as ‘peace victims’… acceptable casualties inflicted by an enemy during peacetime. If your knee-jerk response to that statement was to point out that Israel isn’t at peace… then why aren’t we at war? And if we aren’t at war, why are our ‘peace partners’ still shooting at us?
- I believe that a government that accepts attacks on its civilian population and upon it’s national sovereignty… and which continues to discuss peace with those who are attacking us… must be replaced. Negotiating terms with someone who is still attacking you doesn’t lead to peace. It leads to surrender.
- I believe that when any or all of the mainstream media in a country admits to engaging in deliberate collusion with the government to push forward a pre-agreed upon agenda (including not reporting – or at least drastically underreporting – attacks on ‘some’ Israelis), they should be discredited and replaced from the ground up by a legitimate fourth estate whom we can trust to serve as a watchdog… not a lapdog.
- I believe that any citizen of a country who sits quietly by while any other citizen is targeted by foreign military forces or by domestic governmental abuse, and rationalizes it because the victims are not part of the ‘mainstream consensus’, has confused mainstream consensus with oligarchy.
- We’ve all heard the rumors about the silent majority of Arabs who want peace with Israel (or at least aren’t actively in favor of annihilating us). But what does it matter if they exist or not if they remain silent? The net result is the same! The same can be said of our side. Even if the majority of Tel Avivis (and those who make up the geographic and gravitational center of the country) are personally enraged by the relentless attacks on Israel’s periphery (a statistic I’m certainly not ready to concede), they are unwittingly enabling the attacks to continue with their collective silence.
- I believe that our government doesn’t look to the people of Sderot or Kiryat Shmonah or even Jerusalem when making national policy decisions. Like it or not, the government looks to where the majority of the people live; Gush Dan (Tel Aviv and her environs). With that power comes added responsibility. When Gush Dan takes to the streets in sufficiently large numbers, the government listens. When they stay in their cafes sipping lattes, the government hears the silence too. Loud and clear.
By all indications, this may be a season of list-making for me.
And so it beings again…
David Bogner, formerly of Fairfield, CT, lives in Efrat with his wife Zahava (nee Cheryl Pomeranz), and their children Ariella, Gilad and Yonah. Since moving to Israel in 2003 David has been working in Israel’s defense industry on International Marketing and Business Development. In his free time David keeps a blog (www.treppenwitz.com) and is an amateur beekeeper.
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.