Vignettes from life under conflict



In a seminar about the impact of military service on Israeli society, deeply debating whether the IDF is an Israeli army or a Jewish one, and whether it or its government are to blame for its mistakes.

The first incoming rocket siren sounds. We sit in the basement shelter a little sheepishly as 9-year-old ballerinas cry in confusion around us.


Going to bed prepared to head to the shelter in the middle of the night: sandals by the door, only one latch locked, wearing clothes, and leaving the window open to hear the siren better.

Wondering what preparations Gaza families make before going to sleep.


In Jerusalem when the second siren sounds. My office laughs nervously as we rush into the safe room.

A catch: there’s a big window in the room. The seconds are ticking away as two scrawny people try to pull the blast shield closed. Someone suggests giving up but others protest, the window is Gaza-facing. The biggest, burliest person reaches over and yanks it closed. A distant boom is heard — it impacted a kilometer away in Bethlehem. We go back to work, giggling nervously and incredibly thankful knowing we get 90 seconds of warning. Residents in the south and children in the Strip get no warning, they just die suddenly.


Walking in the shopping areas of Tel Aviv while showing some unfortunately-timed tourists around our neighborhood. Always keeping an eye on which building looks the best to find cover if the siren goes off.


Watching Twitter reports from Jerusalem about a bus bombing in Tel Aviv. Tweet appears: bus was five minutes walk from my apartment.


Texts and emails from friends around the world checking on me. Having to tell them oddly that actually we don’t think about it much and life feels pretty safe. Oddly.

The 1967 borders with minor adjustments: a visual primer


For all those who ask me from time to time what my solution is, this is it: the 1967 borders, with 1-for-1 land swaps to bring the bulk of major settlements within Israel, territorial contiguity for the Palestinians, and a shared Jerusalem. Palestine might be demilitarized to a small extent, but not without control over it’s own air and waterways. The settlements by and large come down, and if it takes economic incentives to bring the settlers home, then it’s a price more affordable than blood.

Regarding Hamas, a unity government may be necessary, otherwise Fatah would appear to be leaving 1.2 million of its people behind. Hamas needn’t sing the Israeli national anthem, it need only hold its ceasefire reasonably. Once a negotiated final agreement is signed, the fuel for daily villianizing Israel will be greatly undercut.

It’s not that simple, but these are the broad strokes. Those who don’t agree likely don’t believe (a) Arabs can ever be trusted, (b) Fatah is a moderate Godsend to the—  conflict, (c) Hamas’ leaders are pragmatic even if they’re fundamentalist, or (d) the occupation is bad enough but soon it will unite world opinion against Israel as an apartheid state.