After three weeks of war ... what do we know?
And a poem written by a young Israeli mother to her not-yet-born child
Three weeks into this war, Israelis now understand that it is going to be a slog. Many of those who imagined a decisive win over Hamas no longer do. Those who were confident that the hostages would soon be home (I was never among them), no longer are. Those who were shocked by the hate that bubbled to the surface around the around are still incredulous, but no longer shocked.
It is far from clear how long this is going to go on, and it is far from clear what the “end” will look like.
A few days ago, I gave a briefing to some of the American leadership of Shalem College on what—at least as I see it—Israelis are thinking about. Among other issues, I discussed
Israelis’ sense that we can no longer live under threat of attack from Hamas, or Hezbollah, or even Iran. Something fundamental in our equation has to change
That as grateful as Israelis truly are for American support, it is lost on few that two aircraft carriers mean that we are worried that we cannot actually defend ourselves without help, something that we were always taught would never be the case
This is clearly an event that will be in histories of the Jews written centuries from now. We know what changed because of the Kishinev pogrom in 1903 (Zionism became a mass movement). We know what changed because of the Hebron pogrom in 1929 (the armed conflict between Arab and Jews began). What will the histories say began or ended now, because of this?
Is Judaism also going to change? After all, most of the dramatic shifts in Jewish religious history emerged as a result of catastrophe (destruction of the Temples, or exile, for example). Will this be another example of that? What might change, not about Israel, but about Judaism?
Immediately below is a brief clip from the Q&A session that followed the formal presentation.
At the bottom of this post is the complete formal presentation, which we’re making available to our paid subscribers as thanks for your support of Israel from the Inside.
A few days ago, we posted a poem that captured some of the mood here. Even in dark days, this is a society of words—and poetry is cropping up all over the place.
So another poem, which I saw yesterday and which I thought was beautiful. The poem below appeared first on a Facebook post by its author, and was then widely shared. We’ve done a rough translation, and urge you to read it all the way through, and slowly.
Some of the spirit of young Israelis—cracked by not broken—comes through in a way that only poetry can make possible.
The brief excerpt of the Q&A from the briefing:
And now, the above-mentioned poem that first appeared in Facebook post and has by now been shared widely on Israeli social media.
Seventh month, my little boy This is not how I thought it would look I imagined us in nature and streams That your coming birth would fill our lives We were wrapped in excitement and comfort anticipating your arrival arranging, dreaming, nesting I didn't imagine that that pastoral imagine, little boy, would be replaced by sirens, missiles and shelters by sorrow that has spread like a blanket over the days and nights Endless concern for family and loved ones And an earth that trembles from its encounter with a brutal evil that we didn't want to believe existed My womb hurts from the horrors, my little boy Do you feel it, too? I'm trying to take a deep breath for you "You must rest, let go" But how do you let go of grief, explain to me When children are dying every day And children of another mother are in the hands of animals? This week I asked you, my little boy if you are sure This is where you want to come. To this world, to this earth I told you that you have time to change your mind And I will completely understand you, and I will have no complaints And then I felt you—you smiled at me And you explained it to me well that you do know where you have chosen to come that you have no misgivings, and that there is no mistake in the address You're coming to this land. I understood at that moment, my brave soul whatever you need from me It's not inventing a perfect world for you nor a womb that does not shrink in the face of horrors Or a body and heart that are not overwhelmed by sorrow, anger, and pain You need me to trust you and me that you know to where you are coming And that it won't always be easy here That you have insight, a plan and intent that my role in your life is to be by your side, but to let you experience And not to push humanity into a corner which includes sorrow, pain, disappointment and oversight So I promise you today and always, my child Not that when you grow up there won't be more wars... Only that I will always be here for you To embrace, contain, soften and nurse and to pour love and light into every crack and fracture When you're in pain, when the tears come When reality tempts you to get tough And your senses will seek to submit and become numb Mom is here with you all the way And in whatever path you choose to walk. This world isn't perfect, child And neither are we And I can't really guarantee you that we will succeed in creating a different, better reality here But I promise you with all my heart, That we will never stop trying.