Everyday life in an extraordinary place.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Elephant Under the Rug


This Postcard from Israel was originally written on 15 June 2005.

A dinner party and a blog entry might not seem to have much in common. But these days, when all anyone can see, hear and debate is the planned disengagement from Gaza and part of the West Bank, almost everything seems to relate to that hot topic. Between the forest of orange ribbons (anti-disengagement) and the babble of a thousand radio and television talk show guests (both pro and con), one would think absolutely nothing else was happening in the entire universe. Both the meal and Imshin's well-written thoughts expressed a different response to the current clamor: silence.

On Monday, I attended a dinner party with seven other people. We sat, ate, and talked for four hours. We discussed our children, people we all knew in common, wine, vacation stories, and countless other things. Not surprisingly, the subject of the disengagement eventually came up. What did surprise me was the speed with which the topic was changed. Faster than you could say "hitnatkut" (disengagement), we had moved on to a conversation about which of the local supermarkets had the best prices and selection of cheese. This was no shy group of timid individuals, but a vocal and opinionated bunch of sabras and immigrants who usually have plenty to say about everything.

Imshin has her own reasons for what she wrote, and I wouldn't presume to say what those are, especially since I have never met her. But I found it interesting that she wrote that blog entry on the same day as the dinner party. I would imagine there are other people out there who are starting to feel the same way right about now: Enough already, let's talk about something else.

Those who are adamantly for or against anything will always be more vocal than those who either aren't sure how they feel or have mixed feelings. Beyond that, I think most people who are against something are more strident than those who are in favor. So fervent are they that the rest of us end up feeling like we are drowning in a tsunami of slogans and rhetoric (not to mention blocked highways, burning tires, and superglue in the locks of government buildings).

On the one hand, I find it strange to avoid talking about something that could easily determine the future of our country. The whole issue of whether or not terrorist organizations will step up their activities post-disengagement is something many people (including those who do support disengagement) fear. Separate from that is the dread many people feel over the possibility of violence between settlers and the Israeli army. Will Jewish settlers be willing to shoot Jewish soldiers? If so, how will the army respond? Those thoughts are both frightening and sickening.

On the other hand, if we can create our own personal oasis of tranquility in the midst of this anxiety and uncertainty, what's wrong with that? Why not try to forget for awhile, or at least avoid confrontations with family, friends and complete strangers? My typical response, when the news gets to be more than I can take, is to stop watching. That doesn't make the horrible events being reported go away, but at least I don't add to my store of awful memories.

The problem is, I have discovered that trying to avoid the whole subject of the disengagement is rather like trying to ignore an elephant that is hiding under the living room rug.

(c)Amy Samin

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