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Letter from Israel

Larry rich

Israel’s Emek Medical Center (EMC)Affiliated with the Rappaport Faculty of Medicine, Technion, Haifa, IsraelAugust 7, 2006 Once again, I will attempt to share with you life these days in Northern Israel … yet I want to make a clear distinction. From Afula (the most southern city hit so far) to Metulla (the northernmost town) and from the Mediterranean Sea on the west to the Golan heights on the east, there live approximately 1,500,000 people. Of these, approximately 200,000 Israelis live within range of the ‘short range’ katyushas that have them suffering day and night in sweltering underground bomb shelters (not to mention their direct exposure to the deafening cacophony of our artillery fire). The other 1,300,000 residents are within range and have been subjected to mid and long range missile attacks. I belong to this second group and it is our reality that I wish to share with you first hand. Life has changed for us. Our daily routines have been upset and altered. Those of us who can go to work and return home. The drive to and from has become an exercise in fatalistic thinking, as rockets have hit in so many areas along so many routes. There’s no use in looking out for them because if one has your name on it, you’ll never see it coming. Everything is different about the people I work with and love. Their faces and energy radiate an acceptance of a vulnerability that was not present before July 19th. It’s now 7:50 PM and dusk … the time we’ve been targeted the past few days. I hope the local sirens will not send me running downstairs to my little bomb shelter. I can be there in seven seconds. The context of every conversation has changed dramatically. “So, how are you today?” “Not so bad. No rockets yesterday evening in our neighborhood.” “Two hit nearby, but nobody was injured.” “Two alerts, but no bombs.” “I guess I’m ok, but those sirens drive me and family crazy. We can’t / won’t go out. Even to our neighbors. We feel safest in our own home.” And so it goes. We depart, saying things like, “Have a quiet day.” “May it soon end.” End? End what … the incessant attacks? Or the threat? That is the problem, for you as well as us. Our mutual enemies are not uncivilized … they are anti-civilization. They have learned that their long-range tactics undermine our societies … the way we live. They have planted deadly seeds in the fertile soil of fundamentalist blind hatred. Earlier this evening, I sat in my living room watching a TV news update. The report showed Kiryat Shmona during an air raid. The recorded sirens had me running to my shelter … until I realized my mistake. My heart was again pounding in my chest and I had to laugh at myself for the paranoia that has gripped me. We’re all on edge these days. It’s difficult to concentrate at work. Food doesn’t taste very good. The topics of our conversations are tainted with this despicable war. Daylight, dusk and nighttime have taken on different hues / meanings and look so different to us these days. We’re worried about our children, loved ones and friends. We’re worried about next year and we’re worried about you. We’re also united. All of us. All of Israel. And therein lies our strength. It’s now 8:30 PM. Maybe we’ll have a quiet night. Larry RichIsrael’s Emek Medical CenterDirector of Development & International Public RelationsAfula 18101, IsraelPhone in New York: 646-546-5970 Phone in Israel: 972-4-649 4417Mobile: 972-50-5737 641Fax: 972-4-652 2642Email: rich_l@clalit.org.ilwww.haemek.co.il


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