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Bonding, Israeli-Style By: Herb Keinon
Jerusalem Post | Tuesday, March 25, 2003


Many are the ways parents can bond with their children.

They can take the kids to sporting events, or do homework with them, or sit around a cup of tea and just chit-chat. It all does wonders for the parent-child relationship.

One bonding activity the books don't talk about, however, is trying on gas masks, sealing rooms, or preparing the security rooms for chemical/biological warfare.

But this, too, should be added to the repertoire. Taping plastic over the air-conditioner provides a perfect time for father and son, mother and daughter, to connect.

Bonding, Israeli-style.

There I was Tuesday night, putting the final touches on my sealed room removing the book shelves from my own personal bomb shelter so that the shelves don't impale the family if a missile falls close to my home and sends everything in the home flying through the air when my teenage son walked in.

"What are you doing, Dad?" my bemused son asked, eyeing me curiously as I perched precariously on a chair trying to reach the top shelf. He heard about sealing windows; we did it when he was two years old during the last American campaign in Iraq, but taking down bookshelves? 

Good question, I thought.

I live just east of Jerusalem, in Ma'aleh Adumim. Logic dictates that even if Saddam Hussein lobs a missile our way during the early hours of the war, as he did in 1991, the missile is unlikely to have my address on it since I live close to Arab villages, and it doesn't seem logical he would want to target my Arab neighbors.

But you never know.

Maybe Saddam will be aiming for Tel Aviv, but be off target. Maybe a Patriot or Arrow anti-missile missile will push the missile off course and into my apartment building.

You never know.

Indeed, "you never know" are the three operative words guiding my preparations, as well as the preparations of millions of my countrymen.
You never know, and "better safe than sorry."

That's the reason we tell the pollsters we don't think Israel will be involved in the current crisis, but are buying water and canned chick peas as if it is given we will be dragged in. There is a dissonance between what the collective mind says, and the gnawing feeling in the nation's communal gut.

The mind says we really have nothing to fear. Not only are we protected by a double anti-missile umbrella, the Arrow and the Patriot, but also because Saddam has no real good reason to hit out at us this time at least not in the beginning.

This is not 1991, when Saddam fired missiles here in an attempt to provoke Israel into a fight in order to knock the Arabs out of the U.S. coalition against Iraq. This time there are no Arab countries aligned with the U.S.

Nor does Saddam have the same potential he had back then. There are also serious doubts whether he even has any missile launchers left in western Iraq that can hit Israel, and both Israel and the U.S. are much better equipped this time around to deal with any contingencies.

Furthermore, if Saddam does fire chemical or biological weapons at Israel, not only does he risk a retaliation in kind, but he would also lose much of the lingering support he has elsewhere in the world.

That's what the mind says. But the gut has a mind of its own.

The gut says we've been through this before. Few people thought Israel would be targeted during the first Gulf War, but, indeed, we took 39 missiles to the chin.

The gut also says that while Saddam may not want to attack us early in the war, he may want to go down in a blaze of "glory" at the end when his back is against the wall and take the Jewish-Zionist infidel-dogs down with him.

And the gut also remembers the great snowstorm of 2003 the February storm where we were assured repeatedly by the authorities that the Jerusalem Municipality was prepared for any eventuality, only to find the city paralyzed for three days by a foot of snow.

The gut knows to take all the "it will be okay" (yihiye b'seder) assurances from the authorities with a huge dose of salt. So the preparations continue. We laugh at ourselves as we tape the windows, we deny to our friends that we are concerned, yet we continue to prepare.

And all this I explain to my son during that special bonding moment, that tender moment I hope to remember years from now, God willing, much as I remember bonding with my own father during a more normal activity like building a succa.




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