Lila is Hebrew for "night". Lavan is Hebrew for "white." So, lila lavan (לילה לבן) means "white night." For the longest time, I thought it was an Israeli term, maybe even a secret one. Elie would tell me he had a lila lavan; or Shmulik would be out all night. Or, there were rocket attacks from Gaza and we knew that it would be a lila lavan.
Lila lavan means no sleep - all night action. I looked it up on Google and there it is. It isn't an Israeli term - references are made to nights of partying. All night of action. It isn't secret.
But in Israel, lila lavan means a night in which our forces are at work, a night of no sleep. It means a night in which the residents of the south will be hearing booms - ours targeting rocket launchers, ours when the Iron Dome explodes into action, and theirs, when all our efforts fail and their rockets hit our cities.
Thirteen rockets have been fired at Israel in the last 24 hours. Close to half a million people were the target. I try and try to get one simple fact across to the many people I correspond with on Facebook, Twitter, and here on this blog.
This conflict is not about numbers - numbers can be manipulated. This conflict is not about whether their rockets are accurate or ours always hit their targets. This conflict is about culture - a culture that has no problem targeting infants, children, whole cities. Their culture that says Jihad is just and martyrdom honorable. And our culture that says differently.
When Hamas fires a rocket, they have no clue where it will land, just as we don't. They aim in the general direction of one of our cities and fire. If they are having a good day, a school in Beersheva will be hit. If they are having a bad day - the rocket will land harmlessly in an open field. Terror accomplished; injury miraculously averted.
When we fire, we aim at a training camp, a terrorist cell about to launch rockets. If we are having a good day, we will obliterate the training camp, eliminate the rocket-firing squad. If we are having a bad day, shrapnel from our missile will hit a building or worse.
In this simple fact, is all there is to know. We do not target innocents, they routinely do. We do not celebrate the loss of their lives; they dance in the streets and hand out candies to celebrate the losses on our side.
Perhaps, the difference is also in the words lila lavan. It is not a night of joy and celebration but a night of no sleep, of action, of noise. On a good night, all our soldiers come back to base in safety having successfully accomplished their missions.
If tonight is a lila lavan for some of our soldiers, may they be safe through this night and may they hit their targets with precision and justice. And may the day come, when our white nights are only for partying.