Israel: Leper or Light Unto the Nations? Part 3: From Woodstock to the Promised Land

And I dreamed I saw the bombers

Riding shotgun in the sky,

And they were turning into butterflies

Above our nation.

Thus sang Joni Mitchell in “Woodstock,” a song of haunting beauty that she wrote in 1969 at the height of Vietnam War protest. Like all peaceniks, she assumes that “our nation” (technically, she was Canadian) is responsible for the hostilities, and if its bombers would just turn into butterflies, peace would reign.

In many places in Israel — a small, cramped country — you can hear the bombers in the sky on training flights. It most piques your interest when you hear them at night. Usually they’re just practicing night flying, but it could mean there’s been—or is going to be—an incident somewhere.

Or — in rare cases — you might hear just one bomber in the sky very late at night, in the wee hours. It can be scary: what if it’s not one of ours? Or, assuming that it is — why now, when they know it’s going to wake up and annoy (and scare) thousands of people?

Sometimes — after a bombing incident in, say, Syria or Lebanon — you’ll read a thousand speculations in the media on whether Israel was behind it, while Israeli officials remain tight-lipped and ambiguous. It may be, though, that everyone in a certain area of Israel actually knows pretty much what happened — because they heard the bombers take off from the airbase at a certain time and can see from the reports that the incident occurred shortly afterward.

There is probably no one in Israel, no matter how far to the left, who really wishes in his or her heart that the bombers weren’t there or would turn into harmless, fluttery entities.