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This Is War

Try to imagine this: You’re at home in your airy apartment in Vancouver, Houston, Brisbane or Milan, watching the game on TV, reading the newspaper, rustling up dinner or perhaps helping you kids with their math (ugh!) homework. Suddenly the shrill scream of air raid sirens shatters the peace. A mistake, you think – some idiot pressed the wrong button – until the TV announcer says: “We interrupt thisbroadcast to announce that …”.

The sirens are real. Don’t even try to imagine it.

For the first time in your life you understand the true meaning of “paralyzed with fear”. Thoughts rush by. “This can’t be happening. Where did we put the gas masks dammit? What are we supposed to do now?” And even: “I don’t want to die”.

It happened to me in Tel Aviv on Thursday evening. Tel Aviv! Not Kandahar, not Baghdad, not even Hanoi. All day I’d heard the news broadcasts about the terrorist rockets being fired from Gaza into Israel, but the Israel that is 50, 60 and 70 kilometers away from Tel Aviv. Civilians killed and injured, terrible property damage, daily life completely disrupted. Somehow – somehow – that was in another world, on another planet.

We slept in our own beds last night, but with flashlights, bottled water and cellphones at hand, in case we had to rush to the bomb shelter. I also put my bathrobe on the chair; it’s impolite to go out naked, and I don’t wear pajamas.

The night passed peacefully. This morning I hesitated for just a brief moment before I went out for my daily jog along the Tel Aviv seafront. The weather is gorgeous. The Tai-Chi class was in full swing, the cyclists were out in force, the dog-walkers too. Afterwards I took a dip in the sea (summer’s end – it’s getting chilly) and wondered if I’d dreamt it all. Rockets, sirens and bombs in Tel Aviv? A bad dream. Yes, a bad dream.When I got home I couldn’t understand why my bathrobe wasn’t in its usual place.

We’re going to friends for lunch today. We’ll sit on the balcony swilling our wine, discussing politics, religion and finance – so what else is new? The world’s news media will analyze who started this war, who’s behind it, who’s at fault, who should do what to whom and when. There will be lots of “tsk tsk tsk” and “they (who?) deserve it” and simplistic “stop the bloodshed – just make peace”.

I’m going to start wearing pajamas.

Jonathan Danilowitz is a Contributing Writer for The Propagandist who lives in Tel Aviv, Israel.

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