A different perspective

It has occurred to me just how bizarre my world has become

They say that the eye of the storm is the calmest place to be. I concur wholeheartedly. To the outsider, Israel would appear to be a hotbed of tension and alarm, a sliver of land where worry and fear are etched onto the face of every civilian, every mother and father of a soldier, every veteran of past battles won and lost. But to this particular Katamon-dwelling son of Israel - it's anything but. The World Cup captured my attention for the month of June and the England Premiership restarts in earnest in August. So it is wonderfully timely that the anticipated July-long lull has been filled by the latest Middle East war. Truth be told, that's about as far as the current hostilities have impacted on my sun-bleached, palm-tree-shaded world. Of course I care. Of course I follow the developments with a keen eye and a finely tuned ear. Of course I mull over events with my mates every time we talk, speculating on the whys and wherefores until the cows come home. But of course, that's exactly how the armchair supporter watches football, too. It's all a film. It's all entertainment. It's all so near, yet so far. Jerusalem is, for once, not in the firing line. And that's hugely significant - for all the Katyusha barrages, for all the dead and wounded up North, here in the capital the mood is no different today than it was two weeks ago. Of course, all it would take is one exploding bus, and the capital would be paralyzed with fear - but, thank God, that hasn't been the case. Yet. Thus, in my manor, life goes on as normal - or as normal as normal is for young men my age. We get up, go to work, play football in the park, drink in the bars... and do it all again the next day. I watch the news round the clock - but then again I always did - while my disinterested and soap-opera-addicted roommate pouts and asks me to change the channel. That's pretty standard for the generation of Israeli youth I mix with. They've all served in combat units for three years. They're all tired of living under constant threat. They're all dreaming of Goa and Laos as the bombs fall. As for me, I've also served in the IDF. I was only discharged last January, and my last tour included three months on the exact same base attack by Hizbullah at the start of this war. I've watched soldiers cross into Lebanon via the exact same gates that we used when out on patrol. But it's still like a film to me. Unless I get called up. Which could happen - but I bet it won't. I served in a Nahal unit far down the line of serious units. In my opinion, if they call up my unit, it's time to say goodnight and book a one-way ticket to Uganda. So impending call-up (or not) aside, life goes on. My circle of mates and I are too young to remember the wars of '67 and '73, so we don't have anything to compare this with. I guess it's like the first time I ever rappelled - I wasn't scared at all. The second time was far worse - I had the memories, and so I was more cautious and apprehensive about the dangers involved. And along with my naivete, I am also lazily complacent about our chances of winning (whatever winning means). I've been brought up to believe that Israel always wins - from the days of the Romans, the Greeks, the Nazis, the Soviets, to the present wars. And then, being in Jerusalem is the best place to be because of the "chessboard effect." As in a game of chess, where the first line of defense is to surround the king with a few pawns and a rook, so the security wall and the ring of soldiers around the capital have achieved the same thing. The conflict has by and large been pushed out to the edge of the board - to the South and to the North. What would cause my life to change? If they hit Bip (the comedy channel) in the same way that our boys blasted Hizbullah TV off the air. If we had to sleep in shelters (because I need a regular supply of felafel in a pita). And yet, I do notice that despite my complacency and cynicism, I react to the situation, too. A few days ago, my friend Alex and I joined the pool on Rehov Emek Refaim. He wanted to join for a year. No, I said, let's just sign up for six months. And even that might be optimistic, I thought, if Syria steps up to the plate.