Yves Shefner in Israel at War 2006

Life in Haifa and north of Israel during the 2006 war with Hezbollah in Lebanon

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Day 21 - The War from Hollywood

The trip I was working so hard to arrange for the last 6 months (readers of previous posts will recall it was delayed to the 13th of August because of Canadian passport issues) has finally happened. We got a call from the travel agent saying that we got through on the waitlist. I had 24 hours to arrange the trip. I got everything arranged and picked up Yarden. Luckily, he had come back from Tel Aviv the day before with his mother because things had quieted down and there was a cease-fire. We got on the plane just after midnight on the 2nd and arrived here about 22 hours later. We were in the air for so long that felt like we were still moving. I thought that they were having earth-tremors here. They’ve since gone away.

Although everyone was happy that we will be out of harm’s way, I felt very bad about leaving and I can think of a number of reasons why. The first is that I felt like it was my duty to stay, firstly to keep normal life going as much as possible. The north of Israel’s economy has been hit very hard and I didn’t want to hit it any harder. Second, I wanted to encourage others to keep on going by my own actions. Trends develop one person at a time, and I didn’t want to be part of the migration trend, I wanted to be part of the presevering trend. I also felt like I was leaving my fellow Israelis behind in the lurch. Not that I was providing any essential services or anything, just that you don’t leave your people behind when they are in trouble.

Yarden and I had planned this trip for so long and we both had gone to sooooo much trouble to arrange it – he had been really looking forward to it and the war had already scared him a little and put a cramp in his summer - that I didn’t have the heart to deal him such a large disappointment. I must admit, that while I was scared myself a few times being in the north, I tried to think things through calmly – there was little chance of harm – I am glad to have him out of harm’s way.

Then there is this Blog. I started to write it from the perspective of a resident of the north during a war that has so terribly affected the region. Now I will write it as someone who was in this region but is now enjoying himself at Disneyland. It sounds a little absurd to me – hopefully it isn’t and won’t be to the readers. What I will do however is continue to add postings for the next few weeks that we are here, based on what I hear from the friends and family I left behind and what I read in Israeli press, etc.

Bizarre Sensation
It is such a striking change from the sirens in Israel to the tourists at the Hollywood walk of fame, that I feel I have been teleported to another planet. Darth Vader, Charlie Chaplain and Mickey Mouse all wander around posing for autographs with the hoards of ahppy tourists. There is no hint of a war going on here except for the few gigantic American flags hanging at US customs. Yarden said they were a little intimidating.

Another absurd war note: we rested a little in the hotel room after walking around Hollywood and woke up hungry around midnight. We went out into the dark street to get a bite to eat nearby. What had been a nice street during the day was a little menacing at night. Maybe I had seen too many police shows on TV or too many action movies. We had to walk past a couple of empty lots and a small house with a huge chain-link fence around it that simply dwarfed it. There were bars on the windows and a couple of people that were drinking outside on the porch. There was a homeless person sleeping on a bench and a couple of other unsavory-looking types. I actually felt far more afraid right then and there, in Hollywood, USA, than I did for the last three weeks in a war zone! :-)

Perhaps the real irony is the town that has re-created so many wars and conflicts, is now scarier than the wars themselves.

Shalom to everyone back home! Our thoughts and prayers are with you. We pray for a quick end to this with minimum casualties - on both sides.

1 Comments:

At 15 August, 2006 11:59, Blogger Scott Permut said...

Letter from the Edge-of the Jezreel Valley

Today is the 31st day of the war since Hizbolla opened a missile barrage on our northern border to cover its attack on an army patrol inside Israel, killing 9 soldiers and kidnapping 2 others. They hope that once again they can enjoy their greatest pleasure of dangling someone's sons before the despised Jews and compel us to make some irrelevant concession to prove that they are even more heroic then their Sunni competition in Gaza, the Hamas. They know our weaknesses all too well. "The Jews – they love life. This is their weakness. We on the other hand love death. Thus we will prevail" So says Nasralla, the new Saladin of the 21st century and darling of the Arab street. The Palestinians in Jenin and Gaza hand out candy on the street in celebration as they did when the Twin Towers in N.Y. were destroyed.
The day began usually enough with our morning air raid sending us all scrambling out of bed to the shelter. Behind the wail of the siren we hear them-one, two, three low thuds of missiles landing in our valley. Not too close, this time. I look at my children in the shelter and think how they have grown since we sat with them in the shelter when Saddam rained scud missiles on us 16 years ago. Yes we have all grown and the world around us seems to have stayed as it was. Our neighbors still fire missiles at our cities and scream "war crimes" and "genocide" while they attack us relentlessly day after day, year after year, and the enlightened world nods its head in disapproving agreement .The attack is over; back to bed. I watch CNN when I awake-"Israel pounds Beirut"; "Israel bombs trucks coming into Lebanon from Syria carrying fruit". Yes, I think we tasted some of that fruit this morning. Fortunately, no report of missiles fired at Israel. Seventy, so far today, but CNN hasn't heard. Or maybe I was dreaming.
I went out for 5 minutes to test drive my car. The car has been making some strange sound. No, shit, it’s not the car making that strange sound; it's the siren again. But I am a 4-min drive from the house now and another minute to the shelter. Too late- as I follow the home front instructions for situations like this. "Get out of your car. Distance yourself from your car. Seek shelter behind a wall". I jump from the car looking for a nice wall. Nothing really catches my eye. There it is –a nice palm tree. Always liked palm trees. I crouch behind the palm tree as the siren continues to wail knowing that I'm just kidding myself that this is going to save me. Wow, a minute is real long when you're waiting for a missile to fall when you're hiding behind a palm tree. Thud, thud - off in the distance. Thank G-d. I'm not gonna die behind a palm tree. Back to the house for a well deserved smoke. Robin is getting ready for the funeral. One of the boys from the town was burnt to death in his tank with 3 others yesterday. His brother is a friend of Michael's. Michael, deep in his bunker on the Lebanese border, doesn't no what to do. "What can I say to my friend?" For once, I am at a loss to advise my child. What can you say? This soldier was 26-years-old.That's it. What to say. Nothing. I just hope the air raid sirens will stay silent long enough for these poor parents to bury their son. I just heard the news. Lebanon rejects the cease fire that we have already accepted. "No cease fire unless the UN acknowledges that Shabaa Farms is Lebanese territory". Is anyone paying attention? Thud, thud, thud.
Tomorrow is Shabat. Maybe things will be better.

Shabat Shalom,
Scott

 

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