Closed for missiles

There are no dedicated Italian bookshops in Israel, although one can still borrow books in Italian from the Cultural Center in Haifa and Tel Aviv. Some municipal libraries have a section for foreign languages, but usually this is limited to Russian, Spanish and French books. I was very happy to hear that a city in the South of Israel, Beer Sheva, had announced the opening of an “Italian corner” in the local library. The opening was scheduled for March 23rd, with the participation of the Mayor and the Italian Ambassador.

However, today I received the following laconic, one-line e-mail:

“A causa dei missili grad a Beer Sheva, l’apertura dell’angolo italiano è rimandata a data da destinarsi”

Which translates:

“Due to grad missiles in Beer Sheva, the opening of the Italian corner has been postponed to a date to be announced

Just like that: reality stroke in this intimate form, before I even had the chance to pick up a newspaper. Reality being: there are missiles falling on this country, one hour south of Tel Aviv. Actually, the country has been hit by more than 50 rockets over the weekend, while we somehow enjoyed the carnevalesque atmosphere of Purim. There have not been reports of casualties, but a number of people were treated for shock, and property was destroyed. Islamic movements have claimed responsibility for all the attacks. The experts argue that the escalation of violence between the Gaza strip and Israel, the most serious since Israel’s widely criticized operation in  December 2008 and January 2009, is likely to lead to a “Cast Lead 2” scenario.

As much as I abhor the thought of another military operation, I found myself asking this question today: what should be the reaction of a sovereign state being hit by missiles? It is a hard question. One which my pacific “European mind” cannot handle very well. Friends ask me why do I not pack up and return to Italy. They look at me as if saying: since you have a choice, get out.

A few reflections. It seems that retaliation is Israel’s preferred answer to terror attacks. This way the perpetual cycle of violence, whose equation is terror attack = air strike = more killings = more terror = more air strike = more killings, just goes on and on. Using attack as a deterrent, Israel can not bring peace. Innocent people are killed on both sides on the conflict, and the cycle goes on. Just a week ago, five members of the same Jewish family were murdered in cold blood, while sleeping in their house, a hideous crime which shocked the whole country. Papers all over the world have refused to publish pictures of the victims (the youngest one was 3 months old), something that Israel had expressly asked to do, in its struggle to be heard, to find some justification in the eyes of the world. Afterwards, eight Palestinians were killed by IDF shells. And today we heard of a bombing in Jerusalem, which have brought back the city to levels of terror it had not witnessed since 2009.

Who started it? The narrative of the two sides is very different and just as legitimate. In face of the current events, the only possible question seems to be the one focusing on the future: what could be a creative solution to end the conflict? If a two-states solution seems impossible, a one-state with universal human right seems utopian, and no-state is a paradox, what is left besides the inevitability of a continuous war?

I started this blog asking myself if something a-political could ever be said and communicated about Israel. Here I am, one year into business, forced to ramble thoughts on how to put an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

I even started to seriously wonder where is the bomb-shelter located in my building. A question I thought I would never, ever ask in my lifetime.

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2 thoughts on “Closed for missiles

  1. Nice post. A few comments:

    – Postponing the opening of the “Italian corner” seems a rather radical move. Worse has happened and events didn’t get cancelled. Perhaps Mr. Mattiolo was scared to travel to Beer Sheva? 🙂

    – You write in detail about the dead in Itamar, yet you neglect to mention that of the 8 Palestinians killed yesterday by the IDF 4 were civilians, of which 2 were children.

    – A one-state solution is not Utopian. It is a death warrant for the Jews living in Israel.

    • Dear Sharvul,

      thanks for taking the time to read. I am not surprised of the postponing of an official event, as over-cautious as that may be. I am more surprised to read “because of missiles”: these words shoots me back to the reality of the place I am living, which I am not always conscious of. One can become pretty oblivious living in Tel Aviv.

      As for Itamar, I was very shocked. You are right. Any death is shocking, but I think there is a difference between murdering babies with a knife while their sleep, with full intention, and having children die as a result of shells behind a wall. And then again, even the fact of sitting here pondering on which death deserves more words, makes me feel like I should go back writing about Dante and Organic vegetables.

      I heard some interesting thoughts about a one-state solution. I even heard a name, “Palisrael”. Or “Israstine”. Is there any chance for this not being a joke or a death warrant for the Jews?

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