hizbullah supporters 248.88.
(photo credit: AP)
I really need to clean up my office. But as much as I have procrastinated, in this case, cleaning my office is not just about cleaning my office. There are external things that motivate me to do so finally. Soon. I hope.
My office is in the shelter of my house, way out of sight so the clutter does not bother anyone. I have always been a person who collects and saves stuff. Usually there's a reason. Sometimes I just hate to throw things out. There is lots of clutter, but it's organized clutter.
I have been meaning to clean out my office for a long time. But now I really feel I have to. Most people do big cleanings in the spring, or as seasons change. Jews have an extra cleaning holiday, Pessah, which is like spring cleaning on steroids.
But my target date is June 2. This is the day during which all Israelis will participate in the country's largest drill ever in preparation for the possibility of a war on three fronts. It's not that such a war is imminent; it's just to be prepared. Or is it? Because my office is the shelter built to military specification, we need to have access, just in case. Until now I have lived with piling clutter and an almost equal disregard for the fact that my window has a sliding steel door, that the door itself has an air tight seal and that the walls are all made of steel reinforced concrete.
It reminds me of a summer on kibbutz in 1982 at the beginning of the first Lebanon war. Until then, children anywhere within range of a Lebanese (or PLO) missile slept in their communal bomb shelters. Shelters had to be kept clean and stocked; drills getting in and out were common. That summer, my kibbutz turned one shelter into a mini nightclub. Another was where a friend practiced his drums.
BUT TIMES HAVE changed and today all of Israel is in the range of rockets from Iran, Syria, Lebanon and/or our friendly neighbors in Gaza. The IDF Homefront Command has issued instructions and set up Web sites in Hebrew, Arabic, Russian and English. They list a wide array of scenarios as what one should do in the event of an earthquake, missile or rocket fire, a mortar attack, a terrorist attack and more mundane things like a fire or a flood or hazardous material leak.
We are told to make a family emergency plan that details what to do in various types of emergencies. We are to stock our shelters and safe rooms with things like emergency lighting or a battery-operated flashlight. Extra batteries. A complete first-aid kit. A fire extinguisher. A battery-operated radio. A change of clothes and shoes for each family member. Minimally one liter of water per person. Medications and a copy of regular prescriptions. A whistle. A three-day supply of preserved or dried ready-to-eat food. Special supplies for children and infants, or for family members with special needs. ID papers, other important documents and medical documents. Spare eyeglasses. Matches and candles. A multipurpose knife. Items for personal hygiene.
So in addition to cleaning up, I need to be stocking up. Should I involve the kids so they feel empowered and prepared, or will this just scare them?
Recent news stories that are seemingly unrelated got me wondering whether June 2 is a date picked by chance, or is it connected to the upcoming Lebanese (June 7) and Iranian (June 12) elections. There is a concern that either Hizbullah or Iran might use the election campaigns to create a conflict with Israel that would strengthen their support at home. There have been reports of Lebanon uncovering an Israeli spy ring and of some of these spies escaping across the border. This is meant to underscore to the Lebanese that we are a threat that only Hizbullah can deal with.
And there are other reports placing full blame on Hizbullah for the murder of the former, and very popular, Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. And more reports of Egypt uncovering and arresting 50 or more members of a Hizbullah cell operation in Egypt. These give Hizbullah a black eye and decreased confidence among the public.
There have been (unrelated?) reports of Iran sending naval ships into international waters. Are they just stretching their legs and going out for a cruise, flexing their muscles and showing the world that they have the ability to do so, or could they actually be going on an exercise bringing them closer to our shores? Could either the Iranians or Lebanese (Hizbullah) use their election campaigns to attack us or create a situation where we are forced to respond?
All I know for sure is that there's a lot of work to be done. Either way, I really need to clean my office now.
The writer is the Israel Representative of the American Friends of Magen David Adom. He made aliya in 2004.