I have been racking my brain, digging with spades in my memory, and scanning my entire life trying to find a founding Israeli moment; a moment during which I felt, more than at any previous moment, that Israeli blood was flowing through my veins, or a moment I can point to and say it formed my life as an Israeli.
I have read what my predecessors wrote in this column. The events they described touch upon military service, the walk of life to the concentration camps, and the aliyah to Israel; biographical moments that make up the ethos we all share. I do not have such a moment, a founding Israeli moment.
What is a founding Israeli moment for someone who was born here in Israel, someone who is Israeli down to his very DNA whether he likes it or not? The journey to the concentration camps in Poland? The military service in the Palestinian territories, standing guard at border crossings, or the friendship established within tents, between people who came from different places and cultures?
I don't know. I do know that whatever is Israeli, for better or worse, is engraved in me and accompanies me through every moment of my life. Millions of Israeli moments, this is my life. Nothing special. I eat humus at least twice a week, and it comes naturally. I get into my car calmly, and within seconds find myself waving my arms angrily at anyone driving slowly or cutting me off annoyingly. It's an unconditioned instinct in me, and comes out of me before I even have time to think.
DualityI am the stereotypical Israeli driver. I curse at other drivers, "What a jerk," and at times, I am not comfortable admitting, I drive like a jerk myself. It's terrible, but this duality is an Israeli moment in itself.
I tried to fight it once without success, which is also an Israeli moment: Knowing you are behaving like a jerk, like an "Israeli," while swearing you don't want to behave that way. A day or two go by, or an hour or two, and once again the Israeli in you comes out. These are Israeli moments.
What else? An Israeli moment is that moment on a clear mid-day morning, when an alarm rips through the air in a shrieking blast, and everyone continues to behave normally. Is it a war? Bombs in the air? Rockets landing on our heads? No, just a drill. A sneak peek at the upcoming war.
And there are a lot of examples. Right now I am opening a red envelope. The broadcasting network is threatening me with fines and bans if I don't pay the bill. I can't remember the last time I watched Channel One, but I always pay and feel like a sucker. An Israeli moment, or what?
And woops, I try to send this article to the paper by email, and the internet shuts down. Restart the computer, and it still doesn't work. Restart the cordless modem and it still doesn't work. Where did I write down tech-support's number? Ah, here it is. One moment, I'm getting an answering service. The system is backed up, call back later. Wonderful! I just had another typical Israeli moment, just in the nick of time.