Israel is at war and the Israeli blogosphere is on fire. There are so many posts to mention that I can hardly think where to start. Since the events of the past week turned Israelis’ reality upside down literally overnight they are trying to make sense of it all – and many are doing so online.
As I wrote in this post, this is probably the most blogged conflict in the world. The post contains links to Israeli and Lebanese blogs that are hosting ongoing conversations between commenters and bloggers from both sides of the border. This is possibly the first time in history that citizens of two countries at war are able to maintain direct communication and express their feelings to one another in real time. I quote Shachar, an Israeli who commented on Lebanese Bloggers Forum:
I'm an IDF soldier stationed at the Lebanon is border, but got back home for a funeral of someone I knew.
We can’t see all the bombing on Lebanon here from Israel (naturaly we’re focusing on bombs at Israel), so you’re pretty much updating me on what’s going on.
I don’t want to start arguing about who’s right and who’s wrong, the finaly word is that it’s not right that civilians get hurt in the process, from both sides.
I’m sending you my best wishes from here, and hope that you and your family will be strong and be alright until this horrible situation will be over.
At the same time Ami, an Israeli blogger who switched from Hebrew to English in order to reach an international readership, is hosting an open thread for Lebanese commenters on a blog post called Hello Lebanon, Hello Israel (scroll down for English). He invites Lebanese commenters to comment with the words,
I don’t know what will come next, but I was thinking to my self_ maybe we could take advantage of the Blog power and open a channel to…all
Bloggers analyse tactics and goals
Yael sums up the Israeli and Lebanese positions in this post and notes that they are remarkably similar:
So to sum up: The Israelis want Hizbullah gone. The Lebanese want Hizbullah gone.
Why don’t the Lebanese army and the IDF team up to jointly squash Hezbullah like a bug??!!
If this was coordinated between them the strength of each could counter-act the weakness of the other for success with very little loss of civilian life.
In a starkly worded post called A Difficult Lesson, David recalls a vicious bar fight between two sailors that he witnessed whilst serving in the US Navy. One soldier was constantly provoked by another, who was much smaller than him; in the end the smaller soldier, who turns out to be a very strong fighter, beats the larger sailor until he begs for mercy. David describes the fight in vivid, painful detail and uses the incident as a metaphor for the current situation between Israel and Hezbollah.
Robert, a veteran journalist and author who writes excellent daily opinion pieces at his blog/newsite Ariga, wrote a must-read analysis and background piece on July 13, one day after the incident that provided the catalyst for a wider conflict:
Until the assassination of Rafik Hariri, the businessman-politician who financed much of the reconstruction of Beirut, it was impossible to imagine a Lebanese government taking action against Hizbollah, because of its Syrian patrons. But the assassination unleashed a powerful anti-Syrian movement in Lebanon and something deeper, a sense that the time had come for Lebanese, rather than sectarian interests to rule. Hizbollah, the last of the ethnic-religious militias, is an obstacle to that newfound sends of Lebanese nationalism said to be the new mood in Lebanon. Thus, the declared goals of the Israeli military moves, as enunciated this morning by Defense Minister Amir Peretz, is to make the Lebanese government send its army to the Israeli border to replace the Hizbollah positions there. If Beirut won’t do so, he said, Israel would make sure that Hizbollah does not return to the border.
Imshin posts a translation of a letter to Maariv newspaper that describes the French Army's violent reation when nine French soldiers were kidnapped in Cote d'Ivoire in 2004. The letter compares France's actions to Israel's response to the Hezbollah incursion and implies that French President Jacques Chirac is being hypocritical when he says that Israel's military actions are disproportionate.
Taking the national pulse
Here in Tel Aviv the situation is relatively calm, albeit grim and angry. While people in the north sit in their bomb shelters, those of us in the centre can do little more than check the news every five minutes.
After each round of missiles you wait to hear if anybody has been killed. You wait for the evening news to see if anything has moved on the diplomatic front. You wait to see whether the Israeli Defence Force will decide to send in ground troops.
Allison is back to power blogging, with constant updates and anecdotes written in her typically breezy, amusing and insightful style. I recommend checking her blog several times a day. Some of my favourites include having to clean out the bomb shelter in her home, her response to the Home Front Command’s instructions to “be alert”, and a description of the forced togetherness created when residents of the north seek shelter with friends and families in the south.
The group blog Kishkushim is by a group of Haifa University students who are providing live updates of what life is like in their city as the missiles fall. Like Allison, they are updating constantly and providing some very insightful, intelligent perspectives. Recommended.
Here is an amusing description of a conversation overheard between two Arab-Israeli students in the university library.
And here is a live-blogged description of taking shelter (with the laptop, of course!) as the siren announces incoming missiles.
And here is a roundup of news reports from the Arabic language media after an Israeli fighter plane was mistakenly reported shot down.
Karen Alkalay-Gut (July 17 entry) describes the feeling of unity that war brings:
One strange result of this strange situation is that most people are relatively united around here. That old idea that if there are two Jews together there are three opinions doesn't seem to follow now. Even though I would have liked to handle a lot of things differently in many of the events we've been through in the past 30 years, I am at the moment, along with almost every one else, behind the government, behind the army.
New Israeli blogs
Several new blogs have popped up to blog the conflict:
Live from an Israeli bunker is by a 17 year-old Haifa resident who describes his blog, which has already gained the attention of the Washington Post, thus:
A live blog from an Israeli bunker via laptop and wifi. Provides a unique and unprecedented insight into the rapidly escalating situation in the Middle East. Experience the events thru the eyes of the people who live them, and perhaps get an idea of how it's really like over here. This is much more human and accurate then the major news channels.
We engaged in discussions with all other members there and exchanged ideas. Especially the Israeli and the Palestinians, since my former party, Meretz, and Fatah were in good relations. The problem was with the Lebanese. The four girls from Lebanon refused to acknowledge us and did not talk directly towards us. I felt really ashamed of the horrible crimes committed in Lebanon, where some of them were my country’s, but i couldn’t understand why aren’t they even yelling at us? I wanted some way to talk with them, some mean to be able to communicate.
In order for discourse to exist, there needs to be two sides who are willing to talk. I’m not sure that my government is, but I am.
Ouriel, who previously blogged exclusively about hi-tech, switched over to political blogging with a post called Enough is Enough. His sharp criticism of Hezbollah resulted in so many responses that he felt compelled to write a follow-up post called A blog war will not happen here.