Yesterday, the country prepared for war.
Not because one is imminent. And not because one is not.
But because preparedness is smart.
(Ironically, the exercise, according to The Times of Israel was “originally scheduled to take place three weeks ago, but it was postponed due to tension with Syria.”)
Israel, in my experience living here, is not a country that typically takes preparation very seriously.
It’s not unusual for my colleagues to request at the last minute a well-written document; it’s commonplace that a good idea will pop up one day and its execution due tomorrow. Dahoof — the Hebrew for urgent — is so overused in my workplace it’s completely lost its meaning for me.
However, when it comes to complete annihilation, Israel sadly does need to take preparation seriously.
That’s why, in addition to fire drills, earthquake drills, and now, even “a crazy, deranged gunman is loose in our school!” drills, my kids have to learn what to do in case of a chemical weapons attack by Syria or rockets from Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Some — Israel’s detractors, and people unfamiliar with the situation but with strong opinions and loud mouths — will say, “Well that’s what you get for living in a region led by occupiers/ultra-orthodox/fanatical/secular/gay-marriage friendly/Russian/ Holocaust surviving/ left-wing /militant /engineers!” (Choose your own responsible party).
But is that what you would say to someone living in Tornado Alley? “That’s what you get for living in Tornado Alley?” That’s what you get for voting in a government who doesn’t think it’s practical to make storm cellars mandatory in new homes?
I can’t imagine any compassionate human being would say such a thing.
And yet, such a question is one I could imagine many people saying to an Israeli:
“That’s what you get.”
But it’s completely and utterly imaginable.
The next time you find yourself having such a thought, imagine my 4 year old sitting in a circle in a dimly-lit bunker that’s 12 feet x 10 feet, listening to her teacher read her and 29 other children a story while sirens blare.
In that same moment, imagine saying to my daughter or her teacher, “that’s what you get. That’s what you get for growing up in Israel.”