This week in Israel: War?!

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

Shai, who stopped blogging a few months ago, has written a post called A New Reality, in which he describes the atmosphere in Tel Aviv for the Guardian’s newsblog.

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.

2jk, a veteran Hebrew blogger, has started a blog in English because he believes in discourse. In his first post he describes attending an Arab Israeli dialogue group in Malta, several years ago:

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.

But nothing.

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.

And Tel Aviv resistance dedicates the first post of his new blog to the Lebanese bloggers.


  • Location, Location, Location

    Lisa has posted a great chatty round-up of the action in the English-language Israeli blogosphere over at Global Voices Online. It’s more fun and easier to follow her links than to slog your way through the blog aggregators, even though…

  • Israel/Lebanon: Good readings to complete

    Afer close to 70 comments on myblog in less than 48h (and about same quantity in Loics post) i arrived to the conclusion that it would be best to enlarge the scope on that conflictto few links i found really

  • The only innocent victims of wars are the children, mostly. The adults have had the time to decide their paths, civilians or not. Look at the Arabs of Palestine, mothers and fathers who send their children off to blow themselves up. The Lebanese are not friends of the Jews either.

    It’s extremely heartening to see Israel finally moving to wipe out Hizbollah. Hopefully Hamas too, and no one would cry in the West if Syria and Iran were to find the same fate. All those terrorists are coming from a very small number of areas, and we all know which ones.

  • It’s great and very important to hear (read) the voices and opinions of the Israeli bloggers who are also caught-up in this terrible war. I stopped by GVO yesterday to read what bloggers had to say about the ongoing conflict in Lebanon and Israel and was shocked to see roundups by Lebanese, Indonesian, and Palestinian GVO editors and contributors but nothing from the Israeli sector of the blogosphere.

    Thanks for this roundup of blog posts from the Israeli bloggers, Lisa. Israel is “in the house” at GVO doggone it, and as a card-carrying member of the GVO community that’s the way I want it to be.

  • As long as the discourse continues between the citizenry, the better the chances this won’t go totally wrong. At least the information is from those most affected.

  • […] Global Voices Online � Blog Archive � This week in Israel: War?! (tags: israel blogging war) […]

  • From my vantavgte point in the US I too am updated only by what the press and free bloggers have to say, it is to say the least frustrating…hourly I receit Psalms and then sit with remote to the TV in one hand and mouse in the other ready to answer emails from friends in Tzfat, ( Safed in English) where my husband and I lived for fourteen months. The tears flow often at the words of people still there, and even more often at the pictures of the destruction of our Lebanese neighbors homes, and infrastructure. It all reminds me of a story that my grandmother once told us: There were these two young men who really hated each other, they went to the same school and as the years passed and they grew older so did their hate. One day the two met on the way home from High School and begin to beat up on one another, the one grabbed a brick and smashed it against the others head the other used a baseball bat and soon both were lying bloodied and near death there on the street. An Ambulance was called to the scene, and the fathers of the two young men arrived shortly too…”He said horrible things about you ” the one boy said when asked why they had fought by his father. The other young man told his dad ,”You always told me that you hated what his dad preached!” Then there came upon the scene a grandmother, bent, walking with a cane, when she saw how horribly both young men were hurt she lifted her eyes to heaven and whispered something no one else could hear. Then walking up to the two father’s who were standing side by side she pushed herself between the two and looking each in the eye she commanded them ” Tell them that you are brothers! Look what your years of denying who you are has done to them!” One young man was crippled for life from his wounds the other lost his sight…Israel…Lebanon “Don’t you know that you are brothers?” Abraham had two sons….awaken to the truth. Jews and Muslims are brothers!

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