Thunder

by | Nov 14, 2023

Day 39

Is that thunder? I think that might be thunder. Or is it an explosion? Or is it just the kids upstairs playing? People who have never lived in a war zone, under the threat of missiles impacting their homes, have no idea what it is like to live in a constant state of hyper-awareness. Is that the beginning of a siren? Do I need to run to the safe room? Oh, no, it’s a whiny motorcycle. Is that Arab in my grocery store carrying a knife? Or is she a person I can trust? Is that Palestinian car slowly pulling up beside me trying to pass, or am I about to be shot at? Are those Arab kids on the side of the road just hanging out, or am I about to have a Molotov cocktail thrown at my car?

My phone starts buzzing. A lot. There’s another rocket barrage to the center of the country. And I wonder, “how?” Considering how much we’ve destroyed in Gaza, and how little fuel and other supplies they’ve got, it’s hard to believe that Hamas still has the ability to shoot any rockets at all. And while the amount of rockets has gone significantly down, only about 50 rockets a day instead of hundreds, you have to wonder – are they being resupplied? Snuck in on the aid trucks? Clearly, we understand what their priority is. It’s not the sick and injured in their hospitals, it’s not the women and children they are using as human shields, it’s not feeding the people of Gaza. They have one goal and one goal only – to destroy Israel, and they will continue doing it until they breathe their last breath.

Hospitals. One of the things on my mind this week is the hospitals. A couple of days ago it was announced that despite what the news may be reporting, the IDF had NOT attacked any hospitals in Gaza. And although they are preparing for operations in and around some of the hospitals in Gaza, every effort is being made to make sure to get patients out of the way before any fighting takes place. This is one of the reasons this ground incursion is taking so long. We make sure that we avoid as many civilian deaths as possible.

News has just come out that the IDF has killed a Hamas commander who had held approximately 1000 Gazans hostage at one of the hospitals. That’s right. Even those who can leave are being prevented from doing so by…Hamas. Surprise, surprise. Hamas WANTS civilians killed – lots of them. Why? Because their warfare tactics aren’t only about murdering Jews, they really do believe in the Nazi principles. One of the things that the Nazis did was to dehumanize the Jews. It’s only when you dehumanize a population that you can get others to support their destruction. After all, no one complains about exterminating cockroaches – they aren’t people. So, by killing their own people and then claiming it was Israel who did it, they can make us monsters in the eyes of the rest of the world and get people to believe that our destruction is somehow justified. It’s so backward, that it leaves me dumbfounded.

Something else that leaves me dumbfounded is the amount of educated, good-hearted people who really don’t have any clue about the nuances of this situation and blindly accept what they are being told without actually researching the facts for themselves. That part I can partially understand because I understand that it’s human nature to rely on others and trust that the information you are getting is truth. This falls under the motivational triad – three things that all sentient beings are motivated by: the pursuit of pleasure, the avoidance of pain, and the conservation of energy. That last one, the conservation of energy, is why people just accept what they are told as truth. It takes too much energy to do your own research – unless you are highly motivated to do so. For me, the fact that my very existence is threatened by this information, motivates me to put out the energy to research the facts. Cooking, on the other hand, not so much.

This week, someone very close to me in the US posted a meme that included a heart-shaped Palestinian flag. This person meant well. The point of the post was actually that everyone deserves human rights, and you can’t say you are for human rights and then deny the rights of one group. It’s true. But what most people fail to realize is that across the board, whether we are talking about college campuses, the Democratic party, gay pride events, or the Red Cross, the one group whose human rights are consistently ignored and/or denied, is the Jews. Had the meme had a flag of Israel and a flag of Palestine, it wouldn’t have triggered the response in me that it did. But when I saw it in my feed, it felt like a stab in the back and a slap in the face. All at once I was both deeply hurt and nail-spitting angry. This person, who is very close to me and very good-hearted didn’t understand that posting this meme right now was tantamount to supporting those who are shouting “from the river to the sea.” This person didn’t even realize that that chant literally means that they are calling for the complete annihilation of the Jewish people, and specifically, Israel. I live between the river and the sea.

Back to the thunder. In Israel, it basically only thunders in Autumn. That’s because we really only have two seasons in Israel – the hot and dry season, and the cold and wet season. This year we’ve actually had an unusually long Autumn, with cool temperatures at night and warm temperatures during the day – not hot, not cold. But now they are predicting rain, and the temperatures are headed down. And my son is embedded in an artillery unit up north. He’s not at a base, he’s out in the elements, sleeping in a sleeping bag, in makeshift tents. In the mud. And cold. He may be grown and married, but he’s still my baby.

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but part of the reason I’m writing less often is that I’m actually finding it easier to concentrate on work. Even with my baby up north in the mud. The war is, unfortunately, beginning to feel more routine. War should never feel routine. Even though we are in relative physical safety where we live, there are still 240 Israelis being held hostage by terrorists, and people are still dying. War should never feel routine.

Today I watched a recorded interview with Elyon Levy, the spokesman for the state of Israel. He was being interviewed by a British “journalist” who kept asking really stupid questions. “But what about the Palestinian children?” And every time, to every stupid question, Elyon didn’t miss a beat, explaining that none of this would be happening had Hamas not done what they did. Gazans would be suffering had Hamas not committed its brutal massacre on October 7th.

Stupid questions. Stupid people on autopilot blindly swallowing whatever they’ve been told. Stupid people regurgitating untrue and ridiculous soundbites they’ve picked up from the news or the internet. I’ve always been a teacher, I come by it naturally, and so when I meet people who are clearly uneducated in the topic they are talking about, I feel the need to educate them. But I don’t really have the energy to deal with all the ignorance floating around the internet these days, so I’ve decided to put this drive to educate into something that won’t completely pull me in and sap all my energy. I call them infomemes. They aren’t infographics because there are no cute little pictures. Just a word, the definition, and a coherent explanation – the facts – as to why the word is being used incorrectly when referring to Israel. So far I’ve done one on genocide, apartheid, and ethnic cleansing.

When I started my online magazine 3 years ago, one of the things I had to explain over and over again is that I firmly believe a person has no right to have an opinion on something they know nothing about. So people either need to shut up or get educated.

It’s never been easy to be a Jew, but nowadays, having to constantly justify my existence, and not “only” to justify my existence, but to justify it against a sea of false information that is being accepted as truth when it’s not, is Sisyphean, an exercise in futility and utterly exhausting.

Written by Penina Taylor

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I’m still having issues with sleeping, but I managed to get almost 6 hours last night. That’s not bad, honestly.

First thing I do is check my phone. Is everyone ok? And then the news sites. And then I make a mistake that I make over and over again – I check social media.

On my Instagram feed there’s a famous speaker and author that I really respect speaking out about what’s happened here. Amazing. I knew this guy was great. But then I make the real mistake. I look at the comments. NEVER ever look at the comments. I know this. I know there’s a lot of awful people out there.

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What was that? I mean, obviously it was some sort of aircraft, but it was really REALLY loud. At 3:15 in the morning, I had only had a few hours sleep, but the jet passing overhead sounded like it was close enough to scrape our apartment building. Ok, well, maybe if I don’t think too much I can get back to sleep. After all, I haven’t actually had a good night’s sleep in several days now.

I closed my eyes and had barely drifted off to that place that feels so good when I was awakened again by a very loud jet. This one wasn’t as close as the first one, but super loud. Enough louder than the air traffic we’ve been hearing 24/7 for the past 3 days that it woke me up. I squinted to check the time, without my glasses on, and really still ¾ asleep, that was not an easy task…3:18. Wait…what? Only three minutes since the last one? I must be mistaken.

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And who is like Your people Israel, a unique nation on earth…

And who is like Your people Israel, a unique nation on earth…

I managed to get a few hour’s sleep. Not enough to function well, though. I’ve got to get more work done or this month is going to be hard in more ways than one. I check Facebook again to see if I can mark myself safe in the crisis – this will help lower the amount of people asking me if we are okay. I appreciate the concern, and it’s heartening knowing that so many people care about my welfare, but it’s hard to answer everyone. Facebook still hasn’t listed the war as an option and I am livid. There are ways of doing this that don’t have to be about “taking sides”, but ignoring the situation is abominable. Nope, still no option.

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Drawn like a moth to light, I cannot put down my phone. I cannot shut down my computer. What’s the latest count? Who has been found? The booms continue, although much more distant now. The buzz buzz buzz buzz buzz of my phone has a few more minutes between each set. But it’s 1:30 am and I have to work in the morning. So reluctantly I head to bed. Sleep is fitful, but I’m exhausted.

I get up, get dressed, as usual. I get my coffee and sit down to work. One website…just one…no, I need to work. I try to work. But websites and LinkedIn profiles seem so trivial at the moment. I am so distracted.

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Buzz buzz buzz buzz buzz

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