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If Not Peace, Then Quiet

By Paula Stern
9/1/2014, 10:09 AM

After a summer that wasn't, Israel's children - over 2 million strong, including over 150,000 starting first grade, returned to school today (and in the last few days). The radio on the way to work was filled with cute songs about "Shalom Kitah Aleph" (Hello, First Grade).

The sweet voice of a first grader, incredibly eloquent, wished all her fellow students well and said she wanted to learn English, Hebrew and Math. There was a review of the summer months, the status of the schools - a school in Ashkelon won't be opening because of the security situation, a few other problems, but overall, Israel returns to school today.

As the man on the radio said, "the main thing is that it should be quiet."

Can't argue with that - the main thing is that there should be quiet.

No, he didn't even dare to suggest peace, didn't hope for anything more than quiet. Quiet is a euphemism for no rockets, for no attacks. The soldiers were more alert at the checkpoints through which I passed to get here; checked the cars more carefully.

And as I begin my work day, they've added another floor to the building across the street. The top most floor that they have built so far is only a square cement box rising above the other floors. Except for this square and a similar one on the right side, I can still see through the building - only the poles are in place. These square cement areas, one on the left and one of the right are reinforced bomb shelters. There are two per floor - enabling everyone who will work there to seek shelter in the future.

Once that part is done, the rest of the floor is built. I don't know how many floors this building will be in the end. As of now, they've stolen my view of the Mediterranean Sea, so I can assure them they'll have a wonderful view...until someone builds in front of them :-).

The main thing is that is should be quiet. If not...we're still building bomb shelters on every floor, in every apartment and home. It's too much to think today, as first graders start their exciting journey, as the sun shines brightly on this country - too much to think that there will be another round in the future.

No, no peace - but for today, and maybe even, if we are lucky, a year or two, there will be quiet.

And in the meantime, we build....