Deja Vu All Over Again
I grew up during the Cold War, a component of which was the Cuban Missile Crisis. It occured to me yesterday, as I was teaching my son what to do when/if he hears air raid sirens, that he has never heard that sound while growing up.
I grew up with air-raid sirens; with drills on how to take cover in the classroom; find places to take cover while walking home; where to go in case of an atomic bomb dropped in our vicinity. One of my clearest memories is that of helping my mother move supplies to our daylight basement and watching her seal the windows against attack--the 7th Fleet was based in the San Francisco Bay Area at that time, and while the Fleet was steaming towards Cuba, armed for battle, we all knew that the bases around the Bay Area were prime targets. I would awake at night to the periodic testing of the sirens when we lived back East; I heard them every Friday during the day in California when the system was tested. Air raid sirens were the background music of my childhood, along with San Francisco's foghorns. I'm not sure when I actually stopped hearing them or when they were discontinued. Both foghorns and air raid sirens now belong to an earlier time, before I married, before we had ever heard of Al Qaeda, before I became a mother.
My son asked me what an air-raid siren sounded like. My husband, another survivor of the Cold War, tried to imitate one. Then, there was breaking news of a barrage of missiles heading for Haifa--and on the news, we could hear that familiar-to-us-adults but nonetheless eerie ululation of the air raid sirens in Haifa.
"Is that what it sounds like?" the Boy inquired.
"Yes, and when you hear that, find cover immediately," I told him. "You won't have much time, and it's better to be indoors, even if only in a stairwell, than to be outside. Outside is where the shrapnel flies around and kills people. Lie down on the floor if you can," I added sternly, trying not to sound overly concerned.
There are Israeli children in bomb shelters all over the north tonight. One child reportedly died with his grandparent while walking the streets of Safed when the first missile hit there. A father died yesterday. Fathers and fiances died en masse in Haifa last week in one strike. Husbands and sons are dead and in captivity on the borders of Israel.
Disengagement from Gaza, Withdrawal from Lebanon, trusting the promises of the United Nations.....yeah, we're so much safer now, right?
There's a Scots proverb we in Israel should adopt: "fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me."
If we don't want to hear air-raid sirens again over Israel, accompanied by the whump of landing missiles, the screams of wounded citizens, the cries of the mourners at funerals, then the government had better not be fooled twice.