Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The In T View: Israeli Bloggers On The Israeli - Hezb'allah/Lebanon Conflict: Eliesheva from Lizrael Update

Pure and Simple Water Color Collage by Stebbi - Flickr

Millions of words have been written by bloggers on the conflict between Israel and Hezb'allah/Lebanon. But what do people really know? Those in the United States, protected by the geographical barriers of two great oceans, lack from the immediacy of this war. To know a conflict is to truly grasp its immediacy and intimacy.

Thus we sought out, through a series of varying questions, the opinions of those affected by this war, the Israeli bloggers, their homeland subjected to uncontrolled missile attacks and barrages, damage and destruction, lives lost, innocents dead, and a Israeli response to the Hezb'allah threat by bombings and incursions into Lebanon to seek out the purveyors of this latest round of Mideast hostilities..

In this In T View we present a young Israeli blogger Eliesheva from Merkaz, Israel who does a fine job at Lizrael Update, and is just about to get married. We wish Eliesheva the best of luck on her upcoming nuptials.

MG: How does your routine or perception change during a crisis like this? Do you become a news junky, call frequently to check on your family members and friends, worry a lot, spend more time with your loved ones?

Eliesheva: I became a news junky. I craved family time. I thought about it consistantly and it interfered with my focus at work and at playtime. At least at first I did. I think Israelis know they need to fight for their survival, they need to protect their lives, and they need life to go on.

It's a cliche but it's true. In the beginning when I lived here, everytime I got on a bus I thought about where the safest seat was. I watched who was getting on. I stayed away from the big crowds pushing to get on at once.

I don't do that anymore either. You live your life, you go to work, you have family dinners, you dance at clubs, you pray at the Kotel. You do what you have to do because that's half the battle of surviving here.

You always keep things conscious, they are always in your head because you have no choice. You also try to help in ways that you can.

MG: When or where do you think this current conflict will end?

Eliesheva: Sigh. I don't know. I was wrong in some of what I originally thought of the Iraq war and I know I'm no political analyst.

I think it's the next step in a process that's been developing for a while. Unfortunately, the 'Western world' tends towards the luxuries of laziness, ignorance, and being blinded by 'shtuyot' (nonsense). But the process is moving along whether everybody's aware or not.

Iran has finally gotten it's hands directly into the attacking Israel business. The Islamist movement is moving. It's growing, and it's only getting bigger. I think things will only move deeper and deeper into trouble, and it may not be tomorrow or next month, but we are definitely getting there.

People need to realize that not everyone in the world has the same values as they do - not everyone has money, not everyone is comfortable, not everyone has things - or even their lives - at stake. For a large part of the world the bigger picture matters - collectivism vs. idealism. It's about total belief.

It's about ancient belief. Not everyone views themselves as an 'indivdual' with 'humanitarian values'. It's time to take different cultures seriously and realize that they are different cultures to ours - and act accordingly.

Maybe we've (Westerners) woken up to it, but it's time to wake up before we're stabbed in our drowsy, yawning awareness.

MG: Does it take a special quality to be an Israeli? You seem to be surrounded by groups that want to drive you into the sea, subjected to bombings and rocket attacks, participate frequently in wars - Does it ever get to the point where you say, I've had enough, get me out of here? In other words, what keeps you in Israel?

Eliesheva: I think being 'Israeli' is a continuation of lifetimes, generations, centuries of being pursued as a Jewish nation. Now we're called Israelis, then we were Juden, before that Children of Israel and Hebrews. Whatever the name, we've been running this race to get to the finish line of freedom before 'they' catch up and destroy us forever. I'm not so sure there is even a finish line at all; this is an ultimate test of spiritual stamina for this tiny nation of historic people.

And I don't really get why we've always been targeted; why we can never be left alone. But that's how it is.

And why would a small people return to their biblical land in the conditions they find themselves in?

What keeps me in Israel is knowing that I'm a part of what needs to be done, surviving. I'm safer admitting that I'm Jewish and hope for a better Jewish life in Israel than hiding out abroad. Living in the States was great and very comfortable, but I didn't want to be comfortable somewhere else. I'm hoping one day, I'll be absolutely comfortable here, along with the rest of the Jews who are living here. For now, though, I need to help us hold our place.

MG: The Iranian government and the Mullahs and the religious junta that rule Iran have basically stated that they want to obliterate Israel, nuke Israel - When you hear about another country wanting to destroy you, what goes through your mind?

Eliesheva: When I lived in the States, I'd get horrified, angry, frustrated, sure.Now, it's different. I didn't think it could be, but it is. My heart burns. My head pounds. I can't see past myself and Israel for a few seconds, and just get ridiculously frustrated and hurt and angry. Then I come back to the 'real' world and realize, a lot of people think this all the time and don't say it.

I know that, and hearing it out loud just makes it worse but I should always remember that this is the case for a good chunk of the world. The other element of this is, with the Iranian president, it seems more of a reality and call for action. On some level, I see him pursuing this. He's behind Hezbullah. He's getting behind Hamas. There's the nuclear angle. This is reality.

And that is absolutely terrifying.

MG: Has Ehud Omert been a strong leader during this crisis? Do you have confidence in him or do you think Benjamin Netanyahu would have been a better choice to lead Israel during this period of war?

Eliesheva: I definitely don't think Bibi would have been a better choice. I don't think he's a good frontman where diplomacy and leadership are concerned. He's better at doing what he's good at.

As far as Olmert; look, I think we all miss Sharon. We'd all prefer him right now over anyone. And since that isn't an option, Olmert's there, and that's it.

I have no choice but to have confidence in him, otherwise, what can I believe? I think he's doing an alright job. At first I was definitely more worried with Peretz in the picture. Now, Olmert is growing into it. I hope he doesn't become jaded, though.

I think Olmert is a peacetime socio-economic prime minister. He wasn't meant for war. But this is Israel, the Middle East, and you don't always get to choose your future or your role or your fate here.

MG: Americans, other than when natural disasters strike, have no concept of what a shelter/bomb shelter is and living in one of them - if you've spent time in a shelter, could you describe the experience for us?

Eliesheva: Don't have this experience first hand...


MG says: Our thanks go out to Eliesheva.

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