Despite the byline of this blog, I try not to get too deep into politics. One of the reasons I try to avoid it is that, as I have stated, it makes me mad. Let’s be clear: The only politics that interest me are the ones that affect me. Is that a narrow view? Perhaps. But honestly, I am too busy to follow anything else. And if that weren’t enough, I have a fiery enough personality that I don’t want to get involved in issues that don’t directly involve me. What does involve me takes enough of a toll, thanks very much.
But this is not politics. This is life; this is war. I know I said I was just going to stick my head in the sand, but it’s kind of not possible. It’s not possible because there are so many people in this country who are hurt and killed by Hamas and other terrorist groups. And it’s not possible, because in the middle of an ordinary day, I hear an air raid siren. And it’s not the first time, either; this happened on Friday, as well.
Probably, most of my readers have never heard such a sound. World War 2 has long since passed, and America never really had air raids then, anyways, except in Pearl Harbor. And the Europeans reading this blog, like the Americans, are probably too young to remember the air raids, even if their grandparents will.
Correct me if I am wrong, but I am suspicious that Israel is the only country that has constant air raid sirens sounding, from threats outside its borders. Somehow, I have a feeling that no other country would put up with such a thing. I am not talking about the Syrian or Egyptian revolutions. Those are inside wars, civil (or not-so-civil) wars. I am talking about one country being under constant threat from an outside group, from enemies not part of that country’s nation. I think we are the only ones who have to deal with that. Which is why it makes me mad that everyone gets mad at us for defending ourselves.
Do you know what an air raid siren is like? No? I’ll tell you:
You are in the middle of a normal day, and suddenly you hear the siren. Hopefully, you are not in the shower or on the toilet when it goes off, and also hopefully, you are fully dressed. Here in Jerusalem, as I said previously, we have a whole minute and a half. When you hear the siren, and realize what it is and that it is for real (something that takes about 3.5 seconds), you panic.
Then you run. Wait, you need shoes. You have a whole minute and a half, so you can take ten seconds to find your shoes. You find them. Then you grab your shoes and your kid and start out the door. Wait, you need to either leave it open or take a key. You find the key and run. Wait, you need your phone so that you can call your spouse to make sure they’re okay. You grab your phone. Then you run, with shoes, keys, phone, and kid.
You make it into the bomb shelter, and put your shoes on while trying to call your spouse. Um, no reception; it’s a bomb shelter. You move to a slightly different spot in the shelter, and get a bar or two of reception. You call. No answer. Then the lines are all busy, because every single person in your entire city, and those around it, that also heard the siren, are trying to do exactly the same as you: call their loved ones. Then you call and it goes through, but disconnects. And again. And again. Then it doesn’t go through. And again. And again.
You think, “Well, he/she probably doesn’t have reception, either,” or “Maybe their battery died and that’s why it goes straight to voicemail.” Let me tell you, thinking that your spouse’s cell phone died in the middle of an air raid is a pretty scary thought. There’s always the scarier thoughts than these, too, but I will not list them, for obvious reasons. You comfort yourself that your spouse will call you from someone else’s phone if theirs died. It’s not too comforting a thought. Finally, finally, one of you gets through and you both get the reassurance that everyone is fine.
And finally, the radio declares where the rocket fell, and whether there were any injuries or casualties. Then, you wait another five minutes (you should stay in the shelter for ten minutes after the siren goes off), and go back to normal. The adrenaline is still rushing, your hands are still shaking, and every motorcycle sounds like an air raid siren.
After about forty-five minutes, your hands stop shaking, but the adrenaline rush is still there. After seven hours, you can’t hear an air-raid siren on the radio, a bus going down the hill, or a motorcycle’s engine starting up, without saying, “Shhh,” to everyone around – because you want to hear if it’s a siren. And this fear, this imaginary siren, accompanies you throughout the entire day, and sometimes even when you sleep. It gets to the point where you wonder if you should shower – because if there’s a siren, it will take you about a minute and a half to get dressed and get your kid out the door. And all you have is a minute and a half. Then you think about those people who have fifteen seconds, or zero seconds, and wonder how they live. You wonder if they have gotten used to it, and if you ever will. You wonder if getting used to such a thing is good. And you wonder if you are nuts for living in a war zone, and if you should just buy plane tickets to go somewhere else.