– by Naomi
I just moved to Israel a month ago. You may think that it is a dangerous place but in reality, the every day life is almost the same as in Europe. Small details though remind you that you are under a perpetual threat: security controls at the entrance of train stations, supermarkets, university, omnipresence of twenty-year old in their military suit, the brief sign of terror in the eyes of those who were here during the bombing of last November whenever a motorcycle or a plane makes too much noise. This is definitely not Switzerland.
If you ever had the chance to go to Tel Aviv, you probably felt this: a sort of urgency to party, to love, to get married, to have kids, in a word, to live. It feels like a perpetual Carpe Diem, giving life a whole new meaning and an intensity that can only be felt in countries experiencing war. When someone wants to kill you, every day won against death sounds like revenge.
Chris Hedges perfectly explained this feeling in his book “War is a force that give us meaning”. As a war correspondent, he spent a major part of his life in insanely dangerous places, being close to being killed many times. He describes how war becomes an addiction because of the frequent adrenaline shot it provides and the simplistic vision of life it gives. Indeed, when your preoccupations are to find a shelter, food or to avoid snipers, you barely have time to wonder about the meaning of life and your carrier plan. You find yourself in the skin of a hunted animal whose motto might as well be “killing or being killed”. Not so surprising then to discover, when everything is over, the exactions seemingly normal people are capable of.
Nevertheless, when you see all those young adults eager for life, making projects and enjoying every instant, you may tend to think that this could be Real Life, how it should be. Not worrying about a hypothetic pension we’ll probably never get. The perpetual threat also gives a high sense of community to citizens. Because everyone has someone to remember during the day of souvenir of those who died during wars, the whole country seems to be only a big family, and your neighbor’s pain is yours. Hence they could not feel at home anywhere else.
The main problem with this situation is that it tends to give people a binary vision of the world and to restrain their interest for what is outside. How many times have I surprised people here for I knew about the holidays? They don’t realize there are Jews in Europe, or people around the world hoping for peace as much as they do. War might enable us to ask ourselves what really matters, but it as well impair our sense of empathy thus highly decreasing chances for peace. But a question remains: how can empathy be restored when the other in front of you just wants to see you dead?