This pattern of the press playing patsy for Arab-Islamic terrorists has repeated itself to greater or lesser degree in many subsequent conflicts, with Hezballah even digging up corpses and taking bodies from refrigerators in order to stage “mass killing” pictures in 1996 and 2006 in Lebanon.
Just after the 1982 Lebanon war, I met Sara. Someone noticed our common interest in Arabs and Arabic, and brought us together. Sara teaches Arabic by profession, but today she is a mosaic artist. I am an orientalist/journalist/political scientist, and my doctorate studied how Yasser Arafat used his broadcast media to hold power.
After listening to hundreds of hours of Palestinian radio in Arabic, I know a few things about Palestinian discourse, nuance, and threat. This background is a mixed blessing, because it really hurts me during this period of tense waiting — when we are glued to TVs, computers, and radios — to watch the carefully coiffed TV news hosts mouthing the regular inanities about “the cycle of violence.”
Hundreds of rockets and mortar rounds have fallen on southern Israel in the last week, and thousands more have fallen in the last few years, mostly since Israel withdrew on its own from Gaza.
We still give electricity and water to the Gazans, although no one has ever explained to me why.
Most Israelis I know also do not know why, and most Israelis have common sense. They also stick together in times of war, even or especially when air raid sirens go off in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
At sundown on Friday, we got a siren. At first I thought they had started doing the Sabbath siren in this part of town, but it was a loud and eerie siren, with up and down wailing. That is an air raid siren. We are on a new street, and the siren is really in tip-top shape.
People were going to synagogue and some were just walking about in the German Colony section here, mostly tourists. The tourists got really scared and started running, and about 50 people huddled in our garage area because we are the nearest safe place to Emek Refaim Street in the German Colony. “Emek Refaim” literally means “Ghost Valley” in Hebrew, a kind of humorous name for an area that is always crawling with tourists. Thank God it was a false alarm. The terrorists shot something in the direction of Hebron or whatever, and it fell in an open field somewhere.
Afterwards, Hamas radio bragged that they hit the Knesset.
That reminded me of the big Arab claims during the 1967 war. Cairo radio broadcast — in Hebrew – that their forces had struck Tel Aviv and that their forces were proceeding on all fronts. The problem was that they used the wrong Hebrew word for “front,” instead using the word for “brassiere.” The result was: “Our forces are proceeding on all brassieres.” The Israelis had a good laugh, and we hope this war ends with a laugh and not a whimper.
As for Israelis, you have several kinds. In Jerusalem, we go to synagogue, go to the post-prayer Kiddush, eat our herring and kugel (maybe chulent), pray and go to sleep. In Tel Aviv, they go to the pubs, unless there is an alarm, and then they go to friends in another town. In Ashkelon and Ashdod, the newest sport is to go out to the anti-aircraft batteries and to watch the show. The police had to be called in to tell the folks (“the folks” is my tribute to U.S. politicians and media) to find some other form of entertainment.
And then there are the out-of-work politicians and know-nothing reporters who take up the airtime on radio and TV saying nothing, but trying to push their own careers.
Sometimes they remind me of the guy at the funeral who likes to build himself up by crawling on top of the corpse: he spends time talking about himself, so much time to remind everyone what a friend he was of the guy who just died.