4.0918 More News from Israel (1/161)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Tue, 22 Jan 91 17:36:39 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 0918. Tuesday, 22 Jan 1991.

Date: Tue, 22 Jan 91 12:38 +0200
Subject: More News from Israel

22 January

Another quiet night; all of the SCUDs were directed - for the second
night - to Saudia Arabia and Bahrein.

The name of the game is sleep. So many people just can not sleep
properly. Fortunately for me, I am one of the lucky ones. A major
problem for the sleepless is what to do with the radio. If you leave it
on, it disturbs sleep. If you turn it off, you are afraid to sleep.
Why shouldn't some of us be neurotic? Wasn't the condition first
described by a Jewish doctor in Vienna? Examining Jewish patients? And
the other side of the coin is that - if it is not a Jewish disease,
i.e., a diaspora disease - why shouldn't we have it? After all, we are
now, in Israel, our new/old homeland, just like all other nations.

The noise of airplanes drones above us. This is quite unusual as the
Jerusalem skies are off limits to air traffic. We can not see the
planes, they are very high and the sky is very cloudy, with intermittant
light rains. The sound - to my unprofessional ear, at least - is that
of motors, not jets. I know that jets are constantly in the air, for
weeks now, to avoid being caught on the ground, to be ready to repulse
any air attack from Iraq. [We bombed them - a nuclear plant built by
the French - 6 years ago; they can certainly return the favor.] But it
still sounds like propeller engines. Perhaps these are the mother ships
which will be needed to refuel the jets on their 1000 kilometer trip to

Retaliation, national pride, perhaps strange concepts to most readers.
Some have commented on this to me after yester- day's posting. You have
to understand how we see - the nature of intergovernmental [and
personal, too] relations in that strange part of the world, the Middle
East - retaliation as deterrence. If we do not retaliate, this will be
seen by our neighbors as an invitation to attack us; alternatively, if we
do retaliate, they will be less inclined to attack us. Thus,
retaliation is still very much in the air here. We are praised by the
West for our restraint; this very same restraint is perceived by our
neighbors as a sign of weakness. And why this cruel word, retaliation?
It is defending our county. Which we will do.

National pride, the picture of Israelis returning to share our fate, to
be HERE, now, when the pressure is on. My youngest son, after 3 years
of army service in as a commando, now relaxing and touring the Far East,
calls in the early morning. He tells us that he is returning, cut- ting
his long trip short by months. We try to disuade him; what will he do
here? But nothing helps when he has made up his mind. I fear for his
safety but I am proud. He will come back, together with other Israelis,
together with immigrants from Russia who continue to come, with
immigrants from Ethiopia. I will be happy to see my son.

The news this morning is discouraging. It seems that much of the
coalition's successful bombing has been against dummy targets. Most of
Iraq's missile launchers are intact, almost all of their planes. The
communication facilities are still almost completely intact. It is
going to take much longer than we thought.

Life is slowly going back to normal. All are asked to return to work -
with gas masks. Schools will be opened tommorrow. Meanwhile some
factories are providing nursery services to children of workers in gas
proof rooms. The now ubiquitous gas masks are found on the shelves of
the nurseries. Radio instructions now include various less likely
scenarios [The Israeli penchant for inventing new words has not gone on
strike in the present emergency; the new word for scenario is now
universal - tarhish. There was a perfectly good word, tasrit. Perhaps
the association with movies or plays was perceived as being too
frivolous.]. What do you do when you hear a siren while in a car? If
you are in a built-up area, you turn off the engine, put on your gas
mask and dash for the nearest building, counting on there being a
shelter or on a good citizen who will take you in. [Actually quite
probable. I remember the bomb shelter hysteria in the States in the
50's, when guns to keep out neighbors was part of the standard
equipment.] If you are in an open area, stop the car, put on the mask,
keep listening to the radio. Life is going back to normal.

Yesterday, my wife and I go to visit a Russian family whom we have
adopted, our fourth. They are all wonderful people and each family is
different, each with fascinating stories. This is a new family for me;
my wife has already met them. We carry our gas masks and presents, a
carrot cake my wife has baked and a radio. We decide to walk, we need
the fresh air, the excercise. They live 20 minutes away, near the open
air market, Mahne Yehuda, in an old, religious neighborhood. The
apartment is large, newly painted but very old under the paint. The man
wears a kippa, bears a long brown, curly beard, is short and delicate
looking. His wife is short, fat and has dyed bright red hair. They are
from Perm, near the Urals. They were both teachers. I look at their
sealed room; it is a joke, totally inadequate. I point this out to
them, all in a mixture of elementary Yiddish [mine] and elementary
Hebrew [theirs], but they are only interested in employment. They have
a daughter with 3 children who came with them and is now living in a
Tatzpit [a small group of families on top of a hill] in the Galil]. They
are happy to be here; I am happy they are here: more good material for
Israel, one less family to suffer degradation in the USSR.

Life coming back to normal. We walk through the shuk, the open air
market. It is already dark, but the lights are brilliant and the shuk
is teeming with purchasers of the marvelous fresh fruits and vegetables
available, and nuts and dried fruit and spices. Some of the stands,
only a very few, are empty, closed. Where are the owners? Have they
fled? We buy some oranges, some cucumbers and smoked fish.

Back home. Another day in Israel.


The southern part of the country is now back to normal life; other than
carrying gas masks with them, it is back to work for the citizens of
Ashdod, Beersheva, Eilat and surrounding regions. Schools will probably
reopen there tommorrow. Some Universities are cautiously reopening,
although the end of the first semester was advanced a week. The
Universities are now in inter-semester and exams are to be given. All
trains - only a minor form of transportation here - are now running on
full schedules.

A fair number of Tel Aviv citizens have chosen to leave the city. They
are camping with relatives and friends in what they perceive to be safer
parts of the country. Kibbutzim are crowded with guests and hotels in
Jerusalem, Eilat and Tiberius are enjoying a small boom.

How do citizens of Israel feel about the governmental decision not to
react to Iraq's attacks by retaliation? A great majority appear to
think that this decision was correct; the left, of course, totally
surprised by Shamir's "mature" [as they see it] decision, are enamoured
of Shamir now. Government critic, MK Dadi Zucker of the Citizen's
Rights Party, spoke of wanting to embrace Shamir, but for Zucker's
self-confessed embarrassment. The hard line Moledet Party insists on
retaliation, now.

Most Israelis are for retaliation in some form. National pride demands
it. How can we passively accept an attack, gratuitous as it was, by a
foreign nation? The problems with retaliation are both distance and a
proper target. The choices seem to be between a massive attack or an
elegant one. There is a feeling that the airforce is capable of a
massive attack even at the distances in- volved which will require
refuelling in mid-air. But can we compete with the coalition? What can
we do that they can't? The possibility of an elegant retaliation seems
more attractive; it would involve limited risk - in numbers - and
achieve an important and visible goal. The killing of Saddam comes to
mind as a possibility. Is this feasible?

Meanwhile the threat of attack on us still exists. The missile
launchers have not been taken out action. The Iraqi airforce is still
intact, its performance capabilities a question mark. Anxiety here is
controlled, people are going back to work.

Another blow to Israeli pride has been the arrival of US Army personnel
to operate the Patriot missiles. Israel has prided herself by never
before using foreign troops to fight for her. There is some consolation
in the training of Israeli crews by the US teams and the knowledge that
the Americans are not here for long.

What we can be proud of is the performance of the Civil Defense, the
hospitals, the Army, the Airforce - airplanes are flying all the time so
as to be ready and not attackable on the ground - the radio and TV and
the general population, who have behaved - almost entirely - in an
intelligent, praiseworthy fashion.

__Bob Werman