Live Tweeting a Rocket Attack Alarm

From my Twitter account (@knotellin) less than an hour ago:

14:15     Air raid sirens in Jerusalem RIGHT NOW.

                Sitting on the floor, back to windows, under a stone archway. Waiting for boom or all clear.

                I hear military aircraft, presume they are Israeli.

14:19     Israel GPO tweeted explosion was heard. I didn’t hear anything and I’m not moving until I hear it’s okay.

14:23 Israeli police say no rockets struck within Jerusalem city limits.

14:29 Calming down, slowing breathing, getting up to drink some water and go back to what I was doing. Welcome to my life.

The first three tweets were pretty much one right after the other, as fast as I could type, hunched over the iPad while I sat on the floor between the kitchen and main room, back against the natural stone wall. I’ve corrected the speed-and-stress-induced typos in all of them.

It was over very quickly for us here. According to the army spokesman, the rocket fell south of Jerusalem and Bethlehem, in an unnamed Palestinian village. (Precise locations are not given so as not to assist the rocket launch crews in perfecting their aim.)

I’m calm now, but it will take a while to get rid of the tension headache.

It was surreal, sitting there and reading tweets about being cheerful and booksales and medical confidentiality issues with email while I tweeted the rocket alert and waited for an explosion. It was kind of good, though. A good, grounding reminder that normal life goes on and all this is just a little blip. Okay, a big blip, but still just a blip.

I don’t really know why I’m posting this, other than that it seem like a real good post for my “Scenes from my life” category.

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Cancer and War

“Israel and the Palestinian Territories Today” from news.bbc.co.uk.

Today is, I think, the sixth day of the Israeli offensive in Gaza. It did not come out of the blue, but many people believe that it is aggressive and disproportional. Some see it as a cynical political exercise at the expense of human lives, and still others believe it is a simple case of self-defense. I don’t intend to talk explicit politics in this blog, but I’d like to talk about how the situation affects me.

I live in Jerusalem, a city that is holy to Christianity, Islam and Judaism, so my area is a low priority for organized hostilities. My neighborhood, however is right on the Green Line, so it is a focus of what I call “street-level nationalistic violence” – violent attacks on individuals or small groups by a person who may or may not be part of a larger organization. These include bus bombings, stabbings, shootings and attacks with heavy machinery, as well as acts of nationalistically motivated criminal vandalism ranging from uprooting entire olive groves to spray painting racist graffiti at sensitive locations.

I have experienced being shot at and life under rocket attack, and I’ve blogged a little bit about my own experience in a bus bombing. Immediately following that experience I was virulently racist and radically right-wing. I’m not proud of that any more than I can take credit for the change that has occurred in me. However, having been such a person, I feel that I am well-situated to understand, at least on an emotional level, the more radical points of view in this conflict.

One thing that strikes me is the extent of “otherization” by both sides. With exaggerated and often false statements, people separate the opponent from their own daily experience by such a huge divide that the opponent almost stops being seen as a person. This is usually coupled with demonization, adding up to disgusting statements that serve only to increase feelings of anger and self-righteousness.

It isn’t unusual in such a situation to hear the word “cancer” bandied about. They are a cancer in the land. We have to cut out this cancer surgically. They are spreading and taking over like a pernicious cancer. I have heard all these statements by people on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

I was thinking about that in terms of my own cancer. As you know, I don’t like the bellicose vocabulary of oncology, terms like “fighting cancer”. In “Have I survived yet? Part I” I wrote:

I don’t use the vocabulary of war in talking about cancer because war has a winner and a loser and no one knows which side is which until the dust clears. I prefer the language of coexistence: living with. The cancer and I share space. That doesn’t mean I don’t treat the disease, and I’d have infinitely preferred not to have to share, but it does mean that I do not invest my mental, emotional and spiritual energy in battle and thoughts of destruction. 

Is it surprising that I approach the Israeli-Palestinian conflict the same way? Neither group is going anywhere and it is just not possible for one to destroy the other without being itself destroyed, so wouldn’t it be better (saner, more logical, easier) to find a way to coexist? Coexistence is not easy and it is not without pain, but I have found it infinitely less draining than spending my energy in hatred and struggle. (And there I am talking about cancer and war, both.)

One of the things we know about cancer is that it is a terrible drain on the body’s resources, physically and emotionally. Cachexia, fatigue and depression associated with cancer can be seen as evidence of this. We also know that war is terribly costly to a nation, in both economic and social terms. In fact, I would go so far as to say that is not “the other” who is the cancer on the land; the real cancer is war and aggression.

Okay. I know I sound like the love child of a peacenik and a bliss ninny. Even so, I think I’m on to something here. Wouldn’t it be cool to relate to war and armed conflict as a disease that needs a cure? Would that kind of paradigm shift lead to better results?

Protecting the Weak 1

Apology:

I have removed the Invisible Children video because of increasing questions about that organization. This doesn’t change the fact that children are vulnerable and need to be protected. I will be writing about the need and some of the solutions.

I’m sorry if I’ve misled or inconvenienced anyone.

Knot Telling