The last war was traumatic. The problem is that it is unclear where we are at this juncture. We can only offer alternatives letting each person try and figure out how close he is to acceptance.
Life goes on, you know. There’s a Comics Festival at the Tel Aviv Cinemateque. Even David Broza has emerged from the bomb shelter and returned to regular performances with ‘Maiyumina’. Let’s think logically for a moment what has happened here: A limited military offensive, 156 painful deaths, and now a few years of quiet. Countries – unlike people – are cold bodies. You look at the situation, assess the profit and the loss, and take decisions based on the outcome.
It isn’t coincidence that it took the Tel Aviv stock market exactly one week to get back to normal. Did someone remember that the average toll from road accidents is close to 30 deaths a month? Did someone remember that six months ago every newspaper in the country reported that we are not prepared for earthquake and forecast disastrous consequences?
Life in Israel is like that. Every so often a security problem arises and everyone immediately decides that they are fed up and want to leave for Los Angeles. It’s absurd.
Did you see Olmert’s speech last week? It was clear he would avoid the issues. The war is not a disease but symptoms. You can’t start the debate while the war is going on since it started a long time before.
In a country where the social gap between rich and poor is the widest in the world, the decay that sets in affects even the most necessary of institutions. Look at the combat units: It’s a black and white army consisting of Russians and development towns. There is no way to repair this, if we don’t start here and now to create a culture of responsibility.
The chief of staff that sells his stocks and then tells the government to attack –
he needs to go. The prime minister that starts a large scale offensive without first holding at least one serious consultation – he needs to go. The defense minister is a joke, only it’s at our expense.
The abducted Israeli soldiers have not been returned, thousands of katyusha rockets are still pointed at us, Nasrallah on television looks like his only problem was that he ate too much humus while he was in hiding. There are only two options – either they take responsibility or we force them.
Let’s for a moment put all rational arguments aside. I have no pretensions of assuming I understand what happened here more than the next guy. All I know is that I have one son in the army and another who will enter the military in another seven years. I know Lior was only interested in a combat unit.
For this war to have been justifiable, something has to come out of it. Some new agenda, some conclusion, a direction of some kind. I want someone to call me and say A, B, C – this is what we need to do.
If necessary, I will live in a non-air-conditioned protest tent; if necessary I am ready to volunteer to do reserve duty, they should send me the form to volunteer – yes, even at my age – but I am not willing to accept that these wars are a writ from heaven. I have no intention of living by the sword all my life – the very thought makes me nauseous. The reality is that something has to change.
So let’s replace Olmert, but with whom? Bibi? Leiberman? Shelley Yachimovich? And let’s suppose they dump Halutz, where do we find a chief of staff to take his place? Finland?
It’s time to admit that they beat us. Not just in this war but in the next one as well. Deterrence has been shot to hell, if someone is looking for it, it is buried in Bint Jbail. Everyone knows what will happen now anyhow. We’ll make noise about a commission of inquiry.
Afterwards they’ll demote the guards at the entrances to the army bases and in the end we’ll turn on the television and see the same people who have been in the same positions for 30 years, wearing the same suits. Twenty years they’ve been telling us that there is no threat to Israel’s existence.
Excuse me, when a grandmother and her grandson sit on a balcony in Tiberias to drink tea and a katyusha rocket kills them both, what kind of threat is it exactly? Maybe it’s supposed to be a metaphor?
Let me quote from an article by Dr. Yigal Glicksman on the stages of grieving: “This is the last stage of the process. There is an acceptance of the loss and the beginning of the process of adjusting to the new reality. I don’t mean that acceptance means forgetting, or that the pain, loss and sadness end. Acceptance means adjusting to life that beyond the loss, it is now possible to find other interests and new activities.”
We are not there yet. Many studies have been devoted to the subject which indicate the process can take between three and 12 months. My own experience says the process never finishes. You can only acknowledge that your life has changed and so have you. I would gladly pass on this having happened but in many ways it made me a better person.
Countries – this time like people – are the sum total of their memories. It is not coincidence that for the last two weeks there has been much looking back at Golda and Begin, the first war in Lebanon and the Six-day War and the Yom Kippur War.
Trauma has a way of waking up its dormant relatives. When the acceptance finally comes, we will acknowledge that when we are beaten we become a better society. It will happen this time too, mostly because we have no choice.