Thursday, January 02, 2003

In Tal's discussion section an attempt is being made to compare the situation in South Lebanon, per Hezbullah activity there, with that in the "territories". Some seem to think the fact that Hezbullah does not use suicide bombers to attack Israeli civilians, and only targets Israeli soldiers (inside Lebanon before the Barak withdrawal, as well as in Northern Israel after that), is an indication of their long-term goals being different from those of the Palestinian terror organizations.

This could not be farther from the truth. The reason that IDF was in Lebanon all this years to begin with, were the almost daily attacks on the civilian population in Northern Israel (by Fatah at that time), before Israel finally invaded Lebanon. The long-term goal is the same: to drive Jews out of Israel. The tactics are different, as to be expected, since the situation in these three areas are different. Accordingly, the tactics the IDF uses in all those areas are different as well.

Some seem to think that because of these differences, these are two separate wars, and have to be considered separately. It may be so from a purely military point of view. But all military actions have always to be motivated by political considerations. This, I think, was the mistake made by Barak when he pulled out of Lebanon. He was thinking like a general, not a politician and a head of state. This move, if considered in purely military terms. may have made a lot of sense. Of course, it was also motivated by short-term politics, i.e. the Israeli public that was not willing to take any more losses in Lebanon. But I, and many others, have no doubt that we are witnessing the long- term effects of that move now in WB and Gaza, as well as throughout the Arab world.

What we have is two, or maybe three fronts (if WB an Gaza are viewed separately) of the same war. And that war, in turn, is part of a larger war that has been going on maybe since the the attack on the U.S. Marines barracks in Beirut in 1983, and that hopefully will take a major turn in a month or so.
Last night I have discovered that my computer was infected with Klez.One of the things it did was to send an infected e-mail to Rami, without telling me first. So I spent the rest of last night fumigating, instead of blogging.
Speaking of blogging: it will continue to be very light, as we expect company tomorrow, until Tuesday. And then it's back to school, and hopefully back to the routine.

Monday, December 30, 2002

Tommorow is my favorite holiday of all time. I don't know if it still is, but when I was growing up in Russia in the 60ies and 70ies, it was also everyone else's. Is there anyone reading this who grew up there at that time? I bet you remember the traditional New Year "Ogonyok", and all the old favorite Soviet comedies on TV (don't you, Americans, sneer at Soviet comedies: they are still hilarious even today!)

It was, of course, most of all a celebration of winter, just like Christmas is in the North. And snow. Lots of it. There was never even a question will there be snow on New Year's eve. Then there was the tree and the decorations. In the atheist worker's paradise New Year had replaced Christmas. It never bothered me. I was too young to really know what Christmas is, not to mention being Jewish. I loved the winter. I loved all seasons, but maybe I loved the winter best because of the New Year. It was on New Year eve that I first was awake on midnight. I suspect that is when I became a night owl.

When I moved to Israel I was 14 and I immediately fell in love with that country. It was sunny, it had a real deep sea, most of all: it was completely free. I remember being shocked when I saw a couple of my new classmates hugging and kissing on a recess. I learned about the Jewish holidays, and learned to love them. There are only two things that Israel does not have, and that I always missed: a real forest, and a real winter. And, no real New Year celebration.

All my life I have been nostalgic for some other place, and some other time. While a kid in Russia, I always felt that I did not belong there. When I came to Israel, I felt that I finally was home. I felt that way ever since, but after a while I also developed nostalgia for the place where I grew up. It was even stronger because I knew I couldn’t go back. And when it finally became possible to go back, I did not really want to. I intuitively felt something that I was later told by people with experience: that you can never return to a place you leave. Because a physical place is also a place in time, and time does not stand still, even when physical places do.

When 16 years later in Missouri I saw my first snow, I was in heaven. People thought I was crazy: wait until you drive on this thing!
I did not care. But the snow in Missouri is not half as reliable as it is in Russia. And Christmas is not the same as New Year of my childhood. It would have felt very weird for me to go out and buy a Christmas tree, let alone decorate it. You cannot go back in time. And, I was nostalgic again – this time for Israel.

Well, guess what: now, after 3 years, I miss Missouri. My son, who was 5 when we left, misses it too. Most of all he misses the unreliable Missouri snow. Who would have thought? We all miss Israel, too. Even my son, although he mostly misses the family, which he knows very well from mutual visits. We hope to finally move back this summer. Interesting phrase, that, “move back”. Maybe I should just say “move”.

I might be very busy tomorrow, so I now would like to wish you all a very happy New Year. I hope you don't miss too many places, and even fewer people, because I hope that you are surrounded by all the people you love. Besides, people and places we love are never really gone – we just cannot touch them, that’s all.

Have a wonderful 2003, and thanks for reading.

This reminds me of a family I know. Their son was in preschool with mine. His mother is an Indian Muslim (although not a practicing one), who was born and grew up in Africa. The father is a Jew from New England, and is an atheist. They met while studying in England.

In that preschool they celebrated every possible holiday out there (as opposed to our stupid public school).When I asked my son what holiday does Salam celebrate, he told me that he does not celebrate anything. When I got to know his mom better, we became friends, and I asked her about this. She said that her husband opposed to a celebration of any religious holiday, due to his atheism. She also told me that she would celebrate anything: Hannuka, Christmas, whatever - as long as there was some kind of celebration at home. I really felt for her.