Israelis have been asking themselves when the next war will be since the last one ended. We joke about it and hope that the war won’t ruin our vacation plans (wars seem to have a way of happening in the summer, though not always).
Don’t tell me to “stay safe”
Don’t. Just don’t. Sometimes kindly meant words are the worst.
On May 8th Trump pulled out of the disastrous Iran Deal. Almost immediately afterwards Israeli citizens were warned that there would likely be an attack from Iranians based in Syria and communities in the Golan were instructed to make sure their bomb shelters were open.
And they did attack, shooting 20 large missiles at Israel. Thankfully not a single one hit their target and instead the IAF wiped out much of the Iranian infrastructure in Syria in the largest operation in Syria in 40 years. The perfection of the military maneuver, brilliantly timed with the preceding diplomatic efforts was nothing short of stunning.
But I digress.
As soon as friends abroad heard about the instructions to open bomb shelters messages started pouring in saying “stay safe”, speaking of the threat Israelis face with missiles pointed at us.
Kind, caring people, genuinely concerned and yet very annoying.
It took me a while to figure out my reaction. Why should these well intended words grate on my nerves so much? Is it the word “safe” or possibly the word “stay”? One assumes that safety is possible in the reality we live in. The other assumes that we have been safe and can remain so. Both assumptions are completely disconnected from our reality.
I think that’s what aggravated me.
No one seems to understand the tightrope we walk. Either people see Israel as a completely normal country whose citizens live privileged lives or as a dangerous war zone of constant fear and horror. Neither is true. BOTH are true and that is a reality too complicated for most people to comprehend.
We don’t fit in the boxes that suite other people. We are a category unto ourselves.
Israelis live in the shadow of existential threat every single day. We raise kids and go on picnics with our families. We create beautiful art and world changing inventions that improve every aspect of life. We help people in trouble, all over the world, all the time WHILE our own lives are in danger.
We are happy and live life to the maximum – while people are constantly trying to murder us. This isn’t an expression of paranoia or an exaggeration. This is a simple statement of fact. In the same vein, the instruction to open bomb shelters was not a sign of a sudden escalation in danger, it was purely a logical precaution considering the immediacy of the danger that is sometimes a moment away and sometimes happening in the specific moment.