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Daily Life in Israel. March 2024

03/19/2024 12:25:41 AM


Rabbi Amy Sapowith

This week we hear from our Israeli contact, Ken Zwiebel, who provides us with an update on daily life in Israel. You can contribute to ongoing efforts to support Ken's community at the link found on our 'We Stand with Israel' section on our home page.

Daily Life in Israel. March 2024

Israelis are desperate to go back to “normal” 5+ months after October 7th. For people living not-in-the-north, getting back into a normal routine of work, family, eating out, and night-life — has become a reality. Missile attacks have ended and the always-on-edge living that defined the first months post-Oct 7 has all-but disappeared. Most post-army adults who were drafted into reserves have finished their service (for now) and are back in their normal lives. The exception to this are people that live in the north. Many families are still displaced (many from communities surrounding Gaza are, as well) and cannot return to their homes. Missile attacks from the Hezbollah continue to interfere with normalcy and daily life — even for those who have not been evacuated.

There remain other ongoing Post-Oct7 struggles, as well. The first centers around the hostages and what deal is possible and necessary for their return. This, of course, has created quite a rift in a society which is prone for such disagreements. There is no good answer. Underlying this disagreement is a second struggle — a political one — centering around Bibi’s ongoing leadership and whether Israel should head to elections, asap. I believe that many people are "ready" for the investigation into the "what went wrong" and many are already looking where to lay blame.

There remains acute attention to Gaza and the knowledge that the war is not over. Many families have soldiers still directly in the line of fire and fighting Hamas daily. Even if missiles are no longer part of our daily lives, those that live in the south still hear “booms” and see smoke from attacks. I live near an air force base and hear far fewer planes than before - but still quite a lot.

There is an additional sense and understanding that the “world is against us (as always)” and I think that Israelis do not understand how this is possible. Coupled with reports of rising anti-semitism in the world and seeing weekly protests in the USA, UK, other places - Israelis feel a stronger sense of Zionism and purpose than before. Furthermore, recent polls show a massive drop in Israeli public support for a 2-state solution. So, Israel is shifting post-Oct. 7th and no one knows where this will lead. Polls (if they are good for anything) show that Benny Gantz would win if an election were held today (by far).

Israelis don’t ‘despair’ for long and I believe that most Israelis see the day-after with optimism. Perhaps a little unfounded — but Israelis see a world in which Hamas is defeated, their ability to hurt us is minimized, hostages are returned, and the actual fighting is over. What that means for Gaza and the future of the Palestinian people remains to be seen.

Whereas at the beginning many people from abroad were actively supporting soldiers and urgently-needed equipment, this has morphed into helping communities that lost everything to rebuild. I think that the most important help centers around this and mental-health support for combat soldiers. There are an estimated 100,000+ NEW combat-PTSD sufferers in Israel and not nearly enough facilities or professionals to assist them.

More to come... 

Tue, April 23 2024 15 Nisan 5784