Friday, June 14, 2002


According to an Israeli radio report, the Norwegians have their long johns in a knot over the discovery that the American fighter-plane they've ordered contains Israeli-made components. So let their airforce fly in balloons -- there's certainly no shortage of hot air in the Norwegian parliament.

I think they should consider Sam Levinson's boycott suggestions:

"It's a free world and you don't have to like Jews, but if you DON'T, I suggest that you boycott certain Jewish products, like:

The Wasserman Test for syphilis,
Digitalis, discovered by Doctor Nuslin,
Insulin, discovered by Doctor Minofsky,
Chloral Hydrate, discovered by Doctor Lifreich,
The Schick Test for Diphtheria,
Vitamins, discovered by Doctor Funk,
Streptomycin, discovered by Doctor Woronan,
The Polio Pill by Doctor Sabin, and the Polio Vaccine
by Doctor Jonas Salk.

Go on, boycott! Humanitarian consistency requires that my people offer all these gifts to all people of the world. Fanatic consistency requires that all bigots accept

Polio and Tuberculosis as a matter of principal.

You want to be mad at us? Be mad at us!
But I'm telling you, you ain't going to feel so good."

I hope the Norwegians have a speedy and complete recovery from their moral blindness and self-endangering stupidity.

Wednesday, June 12, 2002

This evening when I was leaving the university a colleague wished me a "safe journey home." Kind thoughts, and I appreciated them. But my "journey" is only a fifteen minute bus ride across the city, so I was a bit surprised by these parting words.

By the time I arrived home, a shahidiot bomber had fragmented himself all over a restaurant in Herzliya, mortally wounding a young girl. Earlier today three Israeli kids were injured, one severely, by a bomb placed under their school bus. There were also assorted shootings, and the army stopped a car bomb, destroyed bomb labs, seized weapons, and rounded up more suspected terrorists. In other words, a routine day.

The Herzliya bombing got relatively little play on the radio news, probably because of the comoparatively small number of injuries, the speed with which the wounded were evacuated, and the fact that, aside from the bomber, who doesn't count as a loss, there were no immediate fatalities. (The fourteen-year-old girl just died on the operating table a short while ago, and yet another family is devastated by a fool whose family is probably having a party right now to celebrate his deed.)

Not to be strongly affected by this constant terror would be insane. I can't let my children out of the house without some message of love -- it might be the last chance I get to express it. Occasionally one of the teenagers slips out in a silent huff, and that tears me up. What if, God forbid, something happens to one of us and we didn't use our last chance to say goodbye. . . "I shouted at you before you left! . . . What if You-Know-Who had got you, and the last thing I ever said to you was that you didn't get enough O.W.Ls?"

I can be plumbing the depths of these morbid thoughts while going about my housework. Then suddenly I discover that the upstairs neighbor has hung out his wash dripping wet, and the mountains of laundry I was about to bring in from the solar clothes drier are now wetter than when I put them out. Bliss. I totally forget about this war, and direct a few choice words at the garments leaking copiously all over my sagging clothesline. Thanks, jerk. You gave me a few minutes off from my preoccupation.

Last night I had a terrible nightmare. That too was a strange relief. In my dreams I was hiding from people who were trying to murder me, and I woke up literally shaking. The setting of my dream was Manhattan, and the bad guys were in the mafia. When I returned to consciousness I was so relieved that it was only a dream that the terror I'd felt in my sleep turned into the delicious kind of shivery fear you get from some movies or books, the kind where you will yourself into being afraid despite the obvious unreality of the situation. This sort of fear is fun because it is so obviously fake.

And meanwhile, the dissertation progresses. Another bundle of papers is packed up for my fearless advisor's perusal. I'm mere dozens of pages from the end of this project. (Of course there is rewriting and editing to be done, but today I feel the worst is over).

I was too wound up to sleep, so I started writing this post. Now it's after one a.m. and I'm too tired to post it. So that worked. I'll post it when I get up.


Friday, June 07, 2002

I wrote this Thurday, but Blogger was unavailable. I suppose if I tried to post more often, this would happen more often . . .

I heard about yesterday's terrorist attack as I was helping my youngest child get ready for kindergarten. I didn't need to look at a map to know that none of my family could have been caught in this blast, but the news still felt like a kick in the guts, and made it harder than usual to get on the bus to go to work. Now I know that just because everyone on the bus looks familiar doesn't mean that we won't be trapped in a blazing furnace in a few minutes time.

Usually the first reports claim that casualties are few and injuries light, and then the news gets worse and worse as details become clearer. Yesterday the first radio report was of a great many people terribly injured. Then the news got worse and worse.

My husband was already at work when he learned of the attack from an email with the "reassuring" message from a friend that he and his were safe despite the bomb attack "near here." At that hour my husband knew that four of our kids were on various buses on their way to school, and I was on a different bus heading to work. Try to imagine how long it takes to find a radio news report that is saying right this second where exactly the bombed bus is. Think about how clumsy one's fingers become on the keyboard and how slowly pages load when you're on the internet trying to find out if the attack took place anywhere near where your darlings are traveling. Think about the enormous relief in learning that your own kids and spouse are safe.

Now think about the unfortunate people who realize with dread and horror that their loved ones were in that area, and perhaps on that bus. Imagine what it's like to hear the reports about people trapped in the inferno, and to wonder if the couple seen embracing each other as they burned to death might be your neighbors, your students, your friends, your children. Think about how the hours passed for people making frantic phone calls to unanswered cell phones, terrified calls to the hospitals, hopeless calls to the morgue. No, I can't. That way lies madness.

Today the papers are full of photographs and brief bios of the victims, and the radio news repeats again and again their names and ages and details about the surviving parents and siblings. The details bring the pain closer. One victim just celebrated her 19th birthday, another planned to get engaged next month. One family recently lost a loved one in a previous terrorist attack; another family lost their son in an accident earlier this year, and now are burying their daughter. The broadcasts of tear-choked funeral orations delivered at the gravesides by bereaved parents, brothers, and sisters are almost unbearable. This is not abstract. Everyone here knows people who have been victims of terror. Everyone here knows that tomorrow the picture in the newspaper could be his. This reality is what makes the equations claiming that "x Israelis killed in terror attack is like y Americans being killed" so outrageously stupid. Most Americans don't have friends bearing scars from terrorist bombings; don't have friends whose children have been murdered by terrorists; and don't routinely pass sites where suicide bombers have killed innocent people.

As I write, the radio reports another terrorist attack, this time a shooting. We are dealing with child-sacrificing barbarians. They view mercy and love as weakness. Sooner or later, they are going to realize that they are mistaken.

In addition to the terrible pain and fear caused by these seemingly endless attacks, the attitude of the world at large makes me despair. Even the United States seems to cling to the insane idea that the terror can be stopped by talking to Arafat. He and his henchmen have made perfectly clear that they are committed to the destruction of the state of Israel and the slaughter of her citizens. They may be crazy, but they are deadly serious. We would be crazy not to take them seriously.

Update: The 18-year-old shooting victim has died of his wounds.