The Soundtracks of a War Zone

IMG_2758On the large flat screen TV, I need a break from the news, finding refuge instead at the far end of the channel universe. That’s where the music plays. I alternate between the classical music station and the one that fills the airwaves every Sabbath with a lengthy playlist consisting of many of my favorite Israeli folksongs.

Here’s where I feel safe from news bulletins, images of people fleeing cars, cowering in shelters, carrying away the dead and injured from scenes of devastation. Here is where I believe that music can protect me from the conflict that appears to be escalating ever more towards a full-fledged military incursion, a heightening of assault from both sides. Here, where the voices are soothing, the music uplifting, is where I believe, that I can switch off – even temporarily – the screaming headlines, the fatalists and false prophets.

But clearly I’m mistaken: Every so often, a man’s voice enters the audio-sphere. In tones more monotone than mournful , he reads out one alert or more (in Hebrew): Siren in Yavne. The music continues unabated. Then, Siren in Oranim. Siren in Gush Dan. A new song plays. Siren in Ein Hashlosha. Siren in Beer Sheva. An hour or so passes. Siren in Segev Shalom. Siren in Nevatim. Siren in Ezor Meitar. Siren in Ezor Dimona and Yeruham. Tel Aviv. Ramat Gan. Herzliya. And on and on it goes.

Places I’ve never heard of, mere dots on a map, intermingle with towns and cities more heavily populated. Songs play without interruption. Siren warnings are a secondary soundtrack, merely superimposed onto the main songline. It’s an odd juxtaposition, beautiful tunes about joy, peace, hope, friendship, family and travel broken up with red-code alerts. Lyrics of one jarringly woven into and through those of the other.

Further south, Israelis, Arabs, Palestinians and tourists (on both sides) are bombarded by the wailing sounds of siren warning, by the sounds of explosions, falling rockets or Iron Dome missiles cutting them off at the pass. There is talk of cancelling the upcoming concert of a long-awaited legend, Neil Young. And then, amidst the threat of uncertainty and missiles, a long awaited but sudden burst of good news: my cousin L gives birth to her firstborn, a son. A baby’s birth in hospital is the right kind of wailing.

Meanwhile, up here, the only sounds under a blue or full-mooned sky, are those of birdsong, chimes, rustling leaves, and dogs barking. The only objects falling, leaves, acorns and pine cones blown off trees by a light breeze.


  1. What do you feel? Your stories tell me about the situation which is dire, but I don’t get a bead on how you are mentally coping or emotionally responding. Perhaps that’s a conscious choice. Still I’m curious.

    1. You might notice that I just modified the title of this post… I was up till late because there was shell fire and other stuff up in my area. Up close and personal… Phone calls and text messages well into the middle of the night, from/to all around the country. I got some useful ‘tips’ from a neighbor … Biggest challenges right now are to get a full night’s sleep and focus on the writing.. hmmmm… xo

  2. I’m not sure that I would cope very well in this situation. I hate violence and noise. In fact I think that I’d be a nervous, juddering wreck. I hope you are ok, Amit? I think Sherry has made a good point, how are you coping? On a happy note, great news about a new baby in the family 😀

    1. Yes well.. I know by now that my body never lies – heightened pain, uber-low energy, strange allergy-looking bumps on my face that show no signs of fading (yet), insomnia. More so as of last night.. this morning is quiet again… But yet, SO great to get GOOD NEWS!! xo

      1. Hi Amit, We suffered together through Lametti and Provost’s classes back in the day; would be fun to catch up. Feel free to write.

  3. Really interesting hearing about the daily realities. Unimaginable to live through. Hope you’ll be able to meet your newest little cousin, if you’ve not already.

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