From Israel and Lebanon
We do have a tendency to make dark jokes and satire when we’re under stress. Just before the coalition forces invaded Iraq in 2003, when there were concerns that chemical warheads might be launched by Saddam Hussein at Israel, I heard a couple of gas chamber jokes (all these Jews gathered in one place). And yes, we are under stress. Basically, we don’t really expect to be attacked – but then again, you never know. We never thought that Haifa would be attacked, either – until it happened. On the one hand I’ve noticed that strangers are gentler with one another in face-to-face interactions, but on the other hand the drivers are even more maniacal and aggressive than ever: today I saw two drivers executing death-defying U-turns on North Dizengoff during peak rush hour traffic, and there seems to be a lot more overtaking and honking than usual.
This morning a couple of Chinese reporters interviewed me for a pre-recorded radio show at my local cafe. Our waiter, Ido, is a gentle, perpetually smiling, slightly clumsy guy in his mid-twenties who wears his wild, curly hair pulled away from his face with a headband and shuffles around in sagging jeans and Birkenstocks. At one point he told me that he’d just received an emergency call-up notice for army reserve duty; when I translated this into English for the Chinese reporters, one of them looked at Ido with an amazed, “does not compute” look and said to me, “But he looks so normal! He’s going to put on a uniform and…kill?” I really balked at that word, I must confess. Hmm, I thought, welcome to my world of cognitive dissonance.
Lisa Goldman is a Canadian-Israeli freelancer, and if you read On the Face from June forward, you’ll have a great window on Israel as it enters into the war.
Both were found via TruthLaidBear’s essential Middle East blog aggregator.