Teenagers are filling in for drafted reservists at Jerusalem’s Machane Yehuda market. (photo by Gil Zohar)
With the horrors of Oct. 7 embedded in our minds, in our hearts and in our souls, Israel has come together in so many ways, including for war. The effects are so broad and deep. Here is a bird’s-eye view from my narrow perch.
- All the booms in the air, coming from far-off (and not-so-far-off) mid-air missile collisions – bravo Iron Dome! The swoosh of our fighter jets overhead – bravo Israeli Air Force! And all those customized Red Alert apps buzzing away on everyone’s cellphones – bravo Elad Nava, tech entrepreneur extraordinaire! It’s starting to sound like an orchestra out there.
- Social media was calling for Israelis to sing, to go out on our patios at 9 p.m. and belt out Hatikvah. We did. And it felt great! So darn cathartic. What a sense of solidarity. As it turns out, on this particular evening, Hamas warned Tel Aviv of a missile barrage at 9 p.m. Guess our singing acted as type of musical Iron Dome, as no barrage arrived. Which is not to say Tel Aviv hasn’t had its share of missiles, just not at this particular time.
- Driving to work, traffic slowed down considerably due to some “jackass” up ahead. Turned out to be a convoy of military jeeps carrying weapons and personnel to our north. As I passed them – 12 vehicles – I slowed down (in the left lane), gave a friendly honk and a thumbs up to each. Twelve times. Cars behind me did the same.
- With 75 seconds to reach our safe room and with missile attacks being random with no real pattern, the stress and uncertainty prevents me from enjoying my private bathroom time, sitting down with a newspaper or book or my smartphone. But not under current circumstances. Just want to get in and out of there as quickly as I can..
- Same for showering. No more basking under a warm spray of fresh water. No more humming a few showtunes while lathering up. Nope. Just a quick soaping and get out of there. For shaving, I’m getting use to a three-day growth cycle.
- And, getting really personal … in the bedroom with the wife, I am now suffering reverse performance anxiety. I just get it done and move on. Don’t want to get caught with my pants down when the sirens sound.
- Bravo to McDonald’s – giving McHappy meals free of charge to our soldiers. The restaurant stepped up, and many businesses are doing the same. From banks, to other restaurants, to retailers, providing goods or services at discounted prices to relieve some of the burden weighing on the country. Wonderful to see this coming together.
- I miss my exercise routine. Was swimming a couple time a week. Now, not. The pool closed due to homeland security restrictions limiting gatherings at places of leisure. Who would categorize exercise as leisure? Anyway, I don’t think I’d hear the missile alert with my head bobbing in and out of the water while doing the breaststroke or front crawl. More so, there’s no running along the poolside, so would not make the saferoom in time.
- We are not immune to panic buying. A few nights into the war, based on some rumour or other, I went grocery shopping to stock up on water, canned goods, candles, matches, toilet paper…. Didn’t get out of there until almost 11 p.m. The checkout line snaked all the way to the meat section. It was long, the joke being that, by the time we reach the checkout counter, Netanyahu will have negotiated a hudna (truce in Arabic). Ha.
- I keep saying I’ll do it. Need to put more than just a half dozen bottled waters and a few inhalers in our safe room. Should stock it with canned goods, more medicine, flashlight, battery-powered radio and other survival aids. Maybe tomorrow.
- If someone forgets their house key and knocks at our now always-locked door, they need to say a password before we’ll open the door. The theory being, if a Hamas terrorist is holding a gun to their head, they won’t say the password. Talk about paranoid. Probably run-of-the-mill war-related stress.
- Joe Biden. His Oct. 11 “Don’t” speech was amazing! Talk about geopolitical alliances, commitments, pacts, and the such – I won’t. I’ll simply say I fell in love that evening.
- Joe Biden. His Oct. 18 “We’ve got your back” speech was TREMENDOUS! I fell in love with him. Again. With a lightning visit to Israel, he kind of reminded me of Clint Eastwood in his glory days. He had that “make my day” squint in his eyes. Might have been him struggling to read the monitor, but he came across as a Dirty Harry kind of guy.
- There are still a handful of Israelis – OK, maybe more than a handful – who just don’t get it. Now is not the time for divisiveness and finger pointing. There was utter failure. But the hard questions and difficult answers will come later. Now is the time for unity!
- My wife and daughter volunteered at a high-end event (my wife works in the industry) to help arrange 1,000+ meals for our soldiers. There will be some very satiated soldiers enjoying gourmet meals in cardboard boxes and with disposable utensils.
- And the sweet smell of my wife’s chocolate chip cookies and brownies baking in the kitchen. She slaps my hand as I go for a cookie: “Not for you! For our soldiers.” It’s that spirit of coming together.
- My daughter left the house early the other morning and returned about an hour later with a huge orange garbage bag full of…. “What’s that?” I inquired. “Laundry. From a family in the south who was evacuated to some hotel. Mom volunteered.” As much as we get preoccupied with the war, with survival, sometimes it’s the mundane that really makes a difference.
- Ouch. Our currency at its weakest since 2015. Pretty painful when you are sending US dollar instalments to your son studying in the States.
- I know the diaspora is busy raising money for Israel at speeds and amounts like never before. But don’t stop once you give. Give more. This war will cost Israel billions. If you have given, please give again. Sderot is Israel’s front line. Israel is the diaspora’s front line.
Bruce Brown is a Canadian and an Israeli. He made aliyah … a long time ago. He works in Israel’s high-tech sector by day and, in spurts, is a somewhat inspired writer by night. Brown is the winner of the 2019 AJPA Rockower Award for excellence in writing, and wrote the 1998 satire An Israeli is…. Brown reflects on life in Israel – political, social, economic and personal.