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Me and My Imaginary Arab

By Varda Epstein
7/8/2014, 4:07 PM

I can’t speak for anyone else but when the siren went off in Gush Etzion last night, a rare enough event, I wasn’t scared and I wasn’t surprised. In fact, if I hadn’t felt the need to model responsible be‎havior for my children, I would have kept on working at my desk. More annoyed than anything else, I called out, “Okay, everyone. Get into the Mamad (safe room).”

It never became clear whether the danger had been real or whether that single siren was a false alarm. The rockets came close enough that area sirens were triggered. And who knows? One of them might have ended up landing in my area. It’s happened before. More than once.

 But the thing is, if a rocket doesn’t have your address on it, it isn’t going to hit you, and if it does, it will.

What’s the point of obsessing about it?

But if I lived in the South, with CONSTANT missiles flying overhead and sirens going off every second, 24/7, I’d definitely have PTSD. Any normal person would.

THEY are under fire.

Qassam rocket on display in Sderot against backdrop of murdered Israelis

Me? It’s pretty much life as usual, in spite of my concern for my people in the South and for our soldiers, my son who might get called up, my daughter in Beersheva.

Here’s the thing, when you live in Israel, something happens to fear: it changes.

At least it has for me.

And believe me, I’m not one of these people who say that Israel is the safest place to be. I actually have no idea why people say that. I don’t think it’s true.

But the fact is that when my time comes to die, and let’s hope that’s a long way off, by dying in Eretz HaKodesh, in the Holy Land, my life will have had some meaning.

I wasn’t always this phlegmatic. Last time around, during Operation Pillar of Defense, I got angry. I was overtaken by fury, I punched walls. I cursed.

Yet this time around I’m just mildly annoyed.

I know some of my friends are upset, scared, fearful, worried.

 But I’m not.

Maybe it’s genetic. I remember my mom visiting us during the Second Intifada. Her friends all expressed concern at the idea of her traveling to Israel during all the violence. She said, “Like it matters if a 75 year-old woman blows up?”

Maybe I’m under-thinking this. Perhaps I’m in some sort of protective denial that keeps me so calm, cool, and collected. 

Or maybe it has to do with the way I write.

When I write, I am thinking of the reader and his reaction to my words. I play the words back and hear them from the reader’s perspective, as I imagine it.

When I hear the siren wail, I am thinking of an Arab terrorist and his reaction to the thought of Jews cowering in their safe rooms. I am thinking of his glee at the thought of scared Jews, dying Jews, Jews shrinking into walls or crouching on highways, their hands over their heads.

I think of him rubbing his hands together in glee, prayerfully mumbling, “Allahu Akbar!”


And I’m damned if I’m going to give him the satisfaction.

Think of me as a permanent teenager if you like, stuck in time in perpetual adolescence. But the thought of that Arab terrorist, the one I imagine, is what dries up my fear quicker than Iron Dome takes out a Qassam.

I get all pugnacious-like. My eyes get squinty and my chin juts out. I think, “Take THAT, you piece of miserable Arab terrorist slime, taking joy in the fear and sorrow of my people. Well, you WON’T. GET. MINE.”

(I would actually growl at this point but that would be giving my faux foe too much attention. He’s simply not worth the energy.)

All my friends in the States are getting emo on me. “We’re praying for you!” they say. “Are you all right???” they ask.

And I’m sorry they’re suffering so on my account. Really sorry. Because I’m not suffering at all

I’d never give my imaginary Arab terrorist the satisfaction.