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Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Rumors of War

It is axiomatic that the news media is the last to know in Israel. From the time we arrived here, we have been told "the taxi drivers know." This could simply be urban legend, as I would very much like to believe, but recently I have been paying more attention as the taxi driver contingent in Jerusalem somehow gets wind of things ranging from sports to diplomacy to gossip and has oftentimes proved correct.

The news media is full of dire reports of Syrian units moving up to the Golan; of an Arab daily in London claiming Hezbollah's "surprise" for Israel is chemical and biological weapons; Nasrallah's boast that he is more and better armed than last summer; the upsurge in diplomatic Double-Talk about how no one wants war but everyone will respond to Other's "aggression," and so forth....

[Note: in Arabic, hit and run raids across Israel's borders are "resistance" but Israeli military responses to such raids are "Israeli aggression" -- you need to get the vocabulary down to understand the rhetoric.]

We have found out through friends that reserve duty obligations have been high all summer, and lengthier than in past years. War? Or lessons from Lebanon last year?

Today, out of the blue, Yossi turned to us and announced, "Thank G-d you sold your house -- there's going to be war in September."

Understand that we've asked him before about Syria, Hezbollah and the rest of the restive neighbors, and he has been noncommital to a fault. Today's announcement was a surprise. While not the Oracle of Delphi, in view of his past equivocation on this very subject, we were moved to ask "Why?"

It seems that the taxi drivers not only read the same papers we read, and have the same relatives and friends doing extended miluim (reserve duty) all summer, but they also transport people who have knowledge that doesn't make it into the paper -- and no, these passengers aren't droppping classified information, but when (for example) someone mentions his son with XX Corps is home on leave from the Golan, and the driver knows that XX Corps is a special unit that only becomes operational on the border when war is pending, the drivers put 2 + 2 together and come up with something that looks like 4.

Do this with 3,000+ taxi drivers in Jerusalem, all gathering incremental bits and pieces of information, and you have a rumor mill that seems to churn out distressinly accurate information quite a bit of the time.

For once, I hope and pray that the taxi drivers are wrong.


Blogger Emah S said...

Up till now I've liked Yossi. This makes me not like him so much. :/ Especially since the house you sold is 5 minutes from my home......he wasn't insinuating that this "war" in Sept. is going to be in Buchman, was he???

sorry, I don't mean to make light of it.........well actually, yes, I do, that's the only way I know how to deal with this stuff!

nu? when ya' coming out here?

Thursday, August 16, 2007 at 9:20:00 PM GMT+3  
Blogger aliyah06 said...

Soon!! See email....

Naw, it's not his fault we're not close by--the Boy's school and the commute were the deciding factors. Buchman is still a fabulous neighborhood and my ONLY regret about staying in Jerusalem is that you're not here....but your quality of life will be MUCH better in Modi'in with the schools, lots of kids, young couples, and less commute.

Thursday, August 16, 2007 at 10:01:00 PM GMT+3  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know why Lebanon War, Part 3 is so distressing. I mean, I hear they're supposed to have better special effects than part 2!

Ok, a little black humor for the Israeli in all of us....

Friday, August 17, 2007 at 9:19:00 AM GMT+3  
Blogger Harriet said...

and I am sending my baby to you? Harriet (is this why you asked about anopen flight??)

Monday, August 20, 2007 at 6:54:00 PM GMT+3  
Blogger Jill said...

Interesting post! If the old saying is true...forewarned is forearmed then I hope that some of the residents in these areas take measures to provide & protect themselves. Mostly, like you...I hope against all hope that in this instance the taxi drivers are mistaken.

Monday, August 20, 2007 at 10:10:00 PM GMT+3  
Blogger tafka PP said...

I heard the same (not from a taxi driver, an even more reliable source) :-( I've been freaking out ever since...

Wednesday, August 29, 2007 at 9:01:00 PM GMT+3  

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