Friday, August 11, 2006

The In T View: Israeli Bloggers On The Israeli - Hezb'allah/Lebanon Conflict: West Bank Mama

Please, come and get me... by Petite Corneille - 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 female Israeli blogger, West Bank Mama, who's living on the edge, raising a family in the hot zone of Samaria on Israel's West Bank, and describes it all in her nice blog, the aptly named West Bank Blog.

MG: How has the Conflict personally affected you?

West Bank Mama: The war has affected me "personally" by changing my blogging - I write mostly about the war now, instead of about general Israeli politics and about my own family life as an Orthodox Jew. It has affected many of my close friends much more seriously. Four of my friends have husbands who have been called up for reserve duty in Lebanon, and a few have sons fighting there. I try to offer emotional support to these women, and here and there do something nice for them by inviting them for a meal. We also hosted some kids from the north of Israel who needed to get away from the bomb shelters for a while - so they came to our settlement in Samaria and we spoiled them for a few days.

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?

West Bank Mama: I think that Ehud Olmert has been fine so far - which honestly surprises me. If you read my post about his speech to the Knesset, you will see that he is on the center/left of the political spectrum in Israel, while I am firmly on the right, and his proposed "convergence" plan may very well end up with me being kicked out of my home. So I have no reason to like him - but I think so far he is going in the right direction. He perhaps is showing a bit of hesitation to expanding the war, but on the whole "so far, so good". As far as Bibi is concerned - I honestly don't know what he would have done better.

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?

West Bank Mama: I live in Samaria (what we call the Shomron, which is its biblical name)in a house built after 1991. After the Gulf War Israel passed a law that all new homes had to be built with a special room called a mamad. This room has to be reinforced so that it could sustain anSo far the central area of the country has not been bombarded with rockets, but if it is, I would go into my special room (which I have stocked with water and some non-perishable food) if need be To make a long story short - I don't know what it is like to be in a bomb shelter - but if need be I have my own "personal bomb shelter" in my own home.

MG: Does the world have the wrong impression of Israel? Do you feel that you're misunderstood?

West Bank Mama: I think that in some parts of the world Israel is completely misunderstood. We are a modern democracy - with ancient roots. There are some in our country who are completely secular, a large number who are "traditional" and a significant minority who are religious. This means that we fight amongst each other quite a bit - but underneath we love each other as brothers. When an enemy comes against us we fight fiercely to defend ourselves. In protecting ourselves we unfortunately sometimes kill civilians, but we never target them, despite what our enemies say in their propaganda.

MG: Should Israel invade Syria, or are you worried about Syrian missiles and Iran's response?

West Bank Mama: I am not sure that this is the time to go after Syria, although they certainly deserve it! We are fighting on four fronts already (in Gaza, in Judea and Samaria where I live - constantly going after the terrorists, in Lebanon, and on the home front in the north of Israel - fighting fires and tending the wounded from the rockets.) Personally I think Syria can wait - but if they threaten us we can take them on also.

MG: What would you say to your compatriots in the Lebanese blogosphere?

West Bank Mama: I would ask those in the Lebanese blogosphere to fight for their freedom. I they don't take advantage of this opportunity - when Hizballah is being crushed - then they might not have another chance. We were all thrilled to see the demonstrations against the Syrians - because here in Israel we hope to make peace with Lebanon, and we knew that this will only happen if the country truly is free.

Hope I answered your questions!
Regards, Westbankmama

MG says: Our thanks go out to West Bank Mama.

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