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Friday, June 22, 2012

On Fear and Complacency

             For my last blog from Israel I wanted to write about the French tourists who dominate the beaches of Tel Aviv (as well as other beaches), and how their presence there constantly reminded me of my shock and despair when a month before our wedding the man I ended up marrying forty-eight years ago cheated on me with a French tourist who he had met on the beach.  But I never got to write that blog. Like other things I write about, the story is part of my memoir War Widow, which my followers can read once the book will be published.          
            Since I was approached by some of my readers who were waiting for my promised blog on my conversations in Israel about the political situation there, I chose to write about the complacency I detected there, in spite of the regression in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and the growing likelihood of another Palestinian uprising if meaningful negotiations are not resumed.      
           I sensed that complacency everywhere: in social gatherings, on the beaches, in cafes and restaurants, in concert halls, and in the theatre.  Most of my friends agreed with me. Others who live elsewhere referred to Tel Aviv as another state that is removed from the Israeli reality. But when during supper in a charming Tel Aviv restaurant I discussed with my cousin the apparent contentment I sensed, she got terribly upset.        
         “How can you talk about complacency,” she asked me angrily, “when we send out children to the military, worrying to death during their service?”    
         “How can you talk about complacency when everything we read in the daily newspapers affects us? Aside from the headlines about the Euro crisis, there is hardly an issue that does not distress us, whether it is Iran, Egypt, or Syria. The uncertainty about whether Israel will attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, what kind of governments will emerge in Egypt or Syria and how those governments are going to relate to us causes me extreme anxiety, and I am not alone.”    
           I proceeded with an analysis of Iran’s rationality, and the Egyptian military which will not give up its privileges by permitting the Muslim Brotherhood to reign, regardless of the elections results there. And in any event it is not in Egypt’s interest to abrogate the Camp Davis peace accord it had signed with Israel in 1979, and certainly it is not in the interest of any leadership there to instigate Israel. Syria is a different story though, with an unknown outcome after the fall of Assad.        
        “Your analysis is based on expertise, and most of us here are not experts,” my cousin said.”
“Do you read reports about settlers’ behavior in the territories, and some of the things that are going on in the checkpoints, in your name?” I asked her?    
        “I do not want to read anything that upsets me,” she replied. “Life here can be stressful enough.”             
          Therein lies the complacency I detected, I thought. It begins with fear.

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