Sunday, August 5, 2012

Unsettled by Syria and Iran

Today, I'm unsettled (which, I have to tell you, as a settler, can be really unnerving).

While Elie and Shmulik were in the army, I made a point of not posting where they were - and I'll continue with that. I will say that Elie is in miluim - and for the longest stretch so far. He was tucked away safely last week in the south and I was pretty calm until I heard my week of calm was cut short and he was on a bus somewhere else.

I don't really want him to be where he is now - which is so incredibly childish because they didn't ask me when he was in the army; why would I expect them to ask me now when he's doing his reserve duty? And truthfully, it's silly because even ifWars come quickly to the Middle East. They are like storms in that way - sometimes, you have clouds and warnings for days until the rains come; and sometimes, before you know it, it's pouring outside.

That's the way I feel now. Pressure is building in so many directions and from so many sources. When Elie went to war, back in December, 2008, I actually didn't know where the war would be. He was scheduled to  be moved to the north, where Hezbollah was threatening to burn the earth under our feet; he was days away from that move...and yet it was clear that Gaza was more likely to happen. They were firing dozens of rockets daily and so, if they didn't stop, I knew that there would happen a war in Gaza and if Elie had not been moved north, he would be moved south (which is what happened).

When he called and told me, "I'm not where you thought I was," I knew I couldn't ask him where he was on the phone and so I simply asked, "are you north or south of where you were." He answered, "south" and I knew they'd taken him to be part of the Gaza war.

I don't really believe Elie will be involved in this coming war...but yes, I do believe war is coming again. It will be my third war, I think, if you don't count the ongoing and forever war of terrorism. There was the Second Lebanon War in 2006 and the Gaza War in 2008/2009. That doesn't count the Second Gulf War - there was terror for me in that war, I even wrote about it in a series of articles that I called Diary of An Almost War. We didn't get hit by any missiles, but there was the fear that we would; there was the order to check gas masks and to put them on our children.

Elie was 15 years old and took command, even then. His school had been chosen as a model. The army came in and taught the kids how to react; what to do in a chemical attack. Elie would come home and explain to me and I would sit there, my stomach churning, as I listened. Aliza was about 2 years old; Davidi was about 6. They told us open the masks an hour after I had put them to bed. I wanted to let them sleep. I didn't want to wake them up.

The US was expected to go in around midnight - and they did. I was unsettled, scared, knowing war was coming and not knowing what it meant. We were being threatened by missiles - and we didn't know where they would hit.

It's similar now - Israel has no doubt that if the US acts against Iran, we will come under rocket fire. At what time of day will this happen? Will we have warning, as we did last time? And if Israel is to take action - will we know? I doubt, in all cases, we will have much warning.

And, if Syria decides that the government of Assad is finally falling - will they attack Israel hoping to divert world attention and the attention of its own people? And what of their puppet, Hezbollah? Will they attack in the north - or even deliver on their promise to aim at Tel Aviv this time?

It's all too much, really, on a beautiful day in August. I took Aliza shopping last week. We got her books for next year, some shirts for school and a little garbage can for her room. I still have more I need to buy for her before she returns to school. I want to take some days off and take the kids for some day trips, and maybe a  few nights of camping.

And this morning, as I drove Elie to catch a ride to where he'll be this week, I also drove a young woman, recently married, who lived near us for years before we moved 3 years ago. She followed Elie into a similar unit as his, though she didn't go to the Commander's Course but she is a combat soldier and is doing her reserves duty this week and next, as Elie is.

Her mother is a widow, having lost her husband to illness when her children were very small. Her son is in an elite unit in the Givati brigade. Her younger daughter was drafted into the army a month ago; and now her oldest daughter is doing three weeks in the reserves. Can you imagine having three children - and knowing all three are in the army at the same time?

I can't - I'm unsettled enough having one in. So - that's where I am - unsettled about Syria, unsettled about Iran, deep in the summer in Israel trying to be mother and businesswoman, teacher and writer. Unsettled.

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