“Airplane!” my son shrieks while the sky rattles as fighter jets rip through the clouds.
He spreads his arms, roars like an F16, and zooms across the grass.
My daughter is older–and she notices what her brother has missed.
“There are a lot of planes today, Mama.”
There are a lot of planes today because no matter what you want to call it, this country is at war.
The kibbutz where we live has been exquisitely quiet. But still, while the kids run around and eat their after-school ice cream, you’ll see that the parents look a little more tired than usual as they check their phones for SMS alert updates, or calls from the army calling them back to their units. Because just 10 minutes south of us by car, our neighbors are scrambling toward bomb shelters.
Just 20 minutes south of us, two men and a pregnant women were body slammed by a rocket and killed on impact.
Just 40 minutes south of us, the Gaza strip is on fire–and their children are just as scared as ours.
And the whoop whoop whoop of a rocket siren will haunt these children for years. Or so I’m told by the children who have grown up to remember the sound that shapes their nightmares. Even now. And probably even always.
I won’t get into the politics of this war, because the politics don’t really matter when families on both sides of the border are losing sleep. And are losing their children.
I won’t get into the politics of this war because at the end of the day it won’t matter who started it or who finished it, or who reached across the barbed wire to shake hands first. What matters is that life is on hold on both sides–and the fear roiling to the surface churns out bilious rage that will nourish and sustain our mutual animosity until the next time.
And, believe you me, there will be a next time. Because this conflict is a raw and gaping wound between two sides who both feel like they are under siege. The smoke and shrapnel are blinding. And when you’re scared–like, really, really scared–you shut down and lose sight of the possibilities.