The Tel Aviv bubble has burst – or it is in denial. Or a bit of both. Whatever the diagnosis may be, the fact that rockets from Gaza have reached the city for the fifth time in four consecutive days (rockets were just fired at around 18:45 while I was writing this), even if they have mostly not made impact, is shocking, and it is certainly a wake-up call.
As Amir Oren said in Haaretz’s opinion pages today:
The significance of rockets fired on Tel Aviv and Jerusalem should not be underestimated. Since 1948, no Arab country, except Iraq in 1991, has managed or dared to do what Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad have done. Other than the Jordanian Long Tom shell fired at Masaryk Square in Tel Aviv in the Six-Day War, and despite the city’s vulnerability to air and artillery attacks, Tel Aviv, symbol of the Jewish state, has remained untouched.
Tel Aviv has been touched, at least south Tel Aviv, even though it is such an easy place to remain oblivious in, and be self-absorbed in. Even though there have been almost no rockets and no injuries. When sirens go off, you get a sense of what it means to lose control, lose your breath, lose freedom – freedom to live, freedom to move and freedom to have a semblance of control over your life – in your own home. Total helplessness and vulnerability.
Of course it’s nothing like what Israelis are going through in the south, or remotely even close to what Gazans are going through. It’s all relative and hierarchic, and middle-high class Tel Avivians like me are near the very top of the food chart, with those in Gaza currently at the very bottom. So there’s no comparison.
But that doesn’t make the sirens followed by booms any less scary and awful. Regardless, Tel Aviv is geographically now a part of one of the local wars Israel periodically wages with one of its bordering neighbors. It is no longer immune. And as crappy as that is, maybe it’s exactly what needs to happen – that Tel Aviv now needs to also be part of this cycle of violence – that the daily routines and the bars and the nightlife and the hi-techs cannot function normally. They tell you to continue with your daily routine, but who the hell really can? And who the hell really should?
When your life is largely dependent on the whims of belligerent men in powerful positions, and the whims of their prized weapons – whoever you are, it’s the same feeling.
So, the only thing I can think of that’s positive right now, is that maybe this means the status quo will break, because it must break. Even though I am currently in the minority of Israelis against the IDF operation, against all the deadly things dropping from the sky, Israelis will have to realize that the only way out of this mess is to resist all forms of violence.
As an Israeli history teacher from Kfar Aza, on the border with Gaza, wrote a few days ago:
Does defending the well being of citizens mean a war of armageddon every few years? Hasn’t any politician ever heard of the expression ‘long-term planning?’ If you want to defend me – then please: Don’t send the Israel Defense Forces for us in order to “win.” Start thinking about the long term and not just about the next election.
I may not feel the national sentiments that people here think I should feel – and I won’t be able to ever know what it feels like to be a Palestinian. But I live here, and this is how I feel.