November 9, 2006
time out. we're going off until saturday night. maybe sunday morning. this is a common practice in my country. the weekend away. to relieve the pressure. We are going to the Sheraton Hotel on the Dead Sea and I expect to by lying in the mud. Unless of course we get shot on the way (a woman was shot yesterday in a terrorist attack on the very road we're taking) and then I'll really be lying in the mud.
November 11, 2006
Bracha Kopstein's son was buried on thursday, November 9. Bill Katz. I didn't know him well but you don't let a 95 year old woman bury her child on her own. And I know Bracha from when she was on the Yiddish reading circuit and came to Rochester in the sixties. "Karen," - she left a message on my machine - "I'm all alone!"
So we went to the Dead Sea a few hours late, watched the sun set on that beautiful road from Arad, and forgot everything but the sea for two days.
And when I came back I was made aware of some pretty insensitive things I've been saying in these pages. But the details - and the pictures - will have to wait for tomorrow. first i have to pick up the dog and unpack.
The first point: Here's a letter: First the quote from my diary and then the comment:That's what I meant - you dehumanize the way you see the other, and you can make mistakes - like blowing up a whole bunch of schoolchildren miles away from where you were aiming. You don't make mistakes like that when you're thinking of the fact that they are human beings, with motivations and needs and feelings. I would have thought that didn't need to be said. But it does.
Do I think the 'other' thinks of me as a person? I don't, but i don't think I could possibly be considered if i don't consider first
And now I've understood that 20 people were killed because of a mistake of 200 meters, not miles. The greater the tragedy.
I recently discharged from the army and had the dubious pleasure of taking part in the war (I was in AMAN) so I have some experience with these things. The combination of extreme sleepiness, tiredness, irritation and irresponsibility (sadly, a very common trait in the IDF) causes these disasters, not disrespect of human life. Just to state a few examples:
During the previous Lebanese War, 4 Israeli soldiers were killed because a tank gunner didn't bother to check whether he was facing north or south and fired on an Israeli base, one of these soldiers was his childhood friend.
Almost 20 soldiers were lost to so-called "friendly fire" in the 2nd Lebanese War, sometimes because of mistakes exactly like this one, sometimes measuring in the meters.
In fact, my own grandfather was severely hurt in a mortar shelling because during WWII he gave his own coordinates instead of the Romanians' and believe me, he was thinking of the fact that he was a "human being, with motivations and needs and feelings" only he didn't sleep for a few days and was very hungry so it was easy to write 325.221 instead of 279.223...
People often make mistakes, only the mistakes of soldiers (as of doctors, cops, lawyers and drivers) result in death - often of themselves.
Second: My apparent relief at the avoidance of violence in Jerusalem because of the "Gay Pride" compromise wasn't an agreement that Gay Pride shouldn't take place.
The Sheraton at the Dead Sea was magnificent, an incredible escape. The moment you go down to the desert you forget all the dangers in the world. They're in the desert just as much as they are in Tel Aviv, but it doesn't seem that way. The nights are starry and eternal - the desert breeds monotheists i once read. And even though I had only a tiny taste of it, and that's probably as much as someone like me could take, it seems true.
November 13, 2006
I haven't had time to describe the conference on Aliyah yet. So here are links to articles about the conference Karin Kloosterman at the Jerusalem Post
, Vivian Eden at Haaretz
and Daphna Berman at Haaretz
There may be more.
I seem to have put my foot into it. Because I don't read my diary I have no idea what exactly I wrote about Beit Hanun - but I know I didn't intend to blame the Israeli army for anything more than a mistake. I may have been carried away by enthusiasm of the argument for recognizing otherness, but as most of you know, some of my best relatives are soldiers. And I know how humane they are because they tell me about their conisderationsas well as their dilemmas.