The journalists suffered during their days of captivity, they were roughed up, sometimes seriously roughed up, and the woman among them was repeatedly groped. The worst part, in their telling, was that they didn't know what lay ahead of them, though they apparently knew rather early on that their captors were taking their American citizenship seriously. It's an easy bet that 99%-plus of their readership has never been treated as badly and never will. Sadly, it's also the case that 100% of the locals, had they been in the same predicament, would have ended much worse - as Mohammed did.
I've been watching the frenzied discussions in the US and Europe about military interventions, when are they allowed, when advisable, what may legitimately trigger them, what about them is all wrong. The more I watch, the more I grow envious. It must be a wonderful thing to be able to deliberate when you'll use force and when you'll lean back, shrug your shoulders, perhaps utter a few words of deepest regret, and then get on with your daily life secure in the knowledge that your daily life won't be much impacted by the whole deliberation one way or the other. It must truly be wonderful to live your life that way.
This isn't new, of course. I remember the evening we first arrived in Israel, in the summer of 1967. My parents, both of whom had lived as high-school students through World War II, and then had lived a number of years in post-war Germany where my father was an American officer, were as well educated as anyone, and were probably more aware than many Americans of what the world was like. And yet, in the cab up from the airport one of them asked the cab driver "if he knew anyone who had been in the recent Six Day War. "I was in it" he responded. Gasp. Half an hour later we reached Jerusalem and the cabbie needed directions. So he pulled over by a group of people dancing around a fire on an empty lot. A young teenager came over exuberantly and chanted "we won! we won!"
Apparently it had been a very immediate experience, not the "Middle East Crises" the media had been blabbering about for two months.
I'm not being facetious, or even particularly cynical or bitter. I'm simply pointing out a basic dynamic: the citizens of rich and powerful nations (or, in the case of most of Europe, rich and purposefully not so powerful) don't really have anything existential to worry about on the national level. True, there are rare cases of terrorism, but how many of those citizens knows anyone to the third degree of separation who was present at a terror event? And anyway, terror events don't threaten the national existence or anything like it. Unless hassles at airports can be tagged as a threat.
The rest of us live in a different world. Here's Sylvia, a regular reader and sometime commenter on this blog, in a comment she posted here about half an hour ago:
A rocket just hit I would guess maybe 20 meters or less from my house in Sderot a few minutes ago (I don't have a shelter yet).
This afternoon Grad rockets hit Ashdod the impact was heard in . This in addition to Beer Sheva and Ashkelon in the past 24 hours.
Although the area has been regularly hit by rockets from the Gaza strip in the past year, little attention has being paid to those Palestinian crimes, as if it's not worth our time, or as if those people don't count since it is neither Jerusalem nor Shenkin.
Instead we all engage in endless mental masturbation over which radical yoyo said what and how. Of that I plead guilty myself.
Yet, we should look at the lessons from the past. The world was shocked by Cast Lead because it was unaware of its context: eight-years of brutal, daily rocket assaults inflicted on unarmed civilians by the Palestinians of . And it was unaware because it didn't look sexy enough to the media including the blogging community.
Today, we are repeating that history and engaging ourselves in the same process of banalization of Israeli suffering. These things should be often, thoroughly and specifically discussed, not just mentioned in passing at best or else ignored. Context.