Wednesday, November 21, 2012
The Best of Times, the Worst of Times
Rockets rain down on Israeli cities. A bomb blows up a bus in central Tel Aviv. Civilians and soldiers are killed and wounded. Houses and cars are destroyed. This is war, but as in war, Israelis are united today and stronger than ever before.
A recent poll published in Haaretz stated that 90% of the population supported the decision to launch the Pillar of Defense operation against the Hamas terrorist infrastructure in Gaza. Even rock star Aviv Geffen, a longtime symbol of the peace movement, spoke in favor of the action. Rallies have called for even stronger strikes at Hamas. While most of the population is against launching ground operations, today the country stands firmly in support of its government.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are not particularly well-liked by many Israelis in normal times, but in times of war, their approval rating must be going through the roof. Elections are scheduled for January, but the divisive nature of campaigning has been put on hold until the conflict ends.
There are no politics in war. Today, Israelis are all one party in this struggle.
Some one million Israelis are living under the threat of rocket attacks, and now, with the onset of bombings on buses, all Israelis are potential targets. Constant alerts send residents of Sderot, Beer Sheva, Ashdod, and elsewhere into shelters to give them some protection against incoming rockets. Passengers traveling on buses or walking city streets have no such warnings against suicide bombers.
We are all in this together. As a nation, we forget our differences and put aside our daily routines as we together face the challenges of living in a nation at war.
And war brings out the best of us. Residents of the north opened their homes to those living in the south under constant bombardment, to offer them at least a few good nights of sleep. Donations have been collected to help the victims of terror rebuild their homes and their lives. People have stepped up to help neighbors and friends whose husbands and sons have been called up to emergency military service. Blood has been donated. Pro-Israel rallies have been staged around the world to counter the demonstrators who claim that Israel is the aggressor.
The Internet has become a battleground for the opposing sides, where everyone can take up arms. Memes, graphics, and pictures have been posted and shared, demonstrating the justice in Israel’s cause for the entire world to see. The hypocrisy of international media coverage of the war has been exposed over and over.
It is not yet certain if a ceasefire will last. And if there is quiet, will anything have changed? Will residents of the south be safe from the danger of rocket attacks? Will residents of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem be able to again walk their streets without the fear of bombers lurking in the shadows?
The one thing that I will regret losing when the war ends is the sense of unity among Israelis. If only we could be as united in times of relative peace.
Originally published on The Times of Israel.