More Cloudless Myths

Categories: Israel
By Barry Steinberg

I always recall my first days in this country, where I claim erroneously, that weeks elapsed before any clouds appeared overhead.

They were clear hot and very blue summer days. This first mythic impression remained with me, just like the rasping of its buses, the drafts of hot air through their opened windows; the peculiar fumes of uncommonly different fuels in those days preceding air-conditioned transportation.

It is almost a certainty that gray clouds converged and fused, dissevered into a motley of spindly nonentities diffused by the sun, receded into space. How memorable were such clouds?

Since this conflict’s inception, those same summer clouds, scions of a memorable winter day, with its western rain splayed upon our thankful faces, have reminded me by their constancy that those first impish cloudless days are myths.

During this crisis there have been two such mornings, viewed between the bowers of our arching litchi tree and the pergola, where my ATV is hitched. Cloudless skies indulge themselves, [it must be summer weather] as gunners at the nearest pits stir turbid coffee. The shooting probably resumes when they are done. How else can we account for this reprieve or that? This is especially because the crew of rocket launchers have usually left the early morning alone, enabling us to work the orchards with the falsest sense of personal security.

This morning, the clouds were back in force, a hovering liquiescence partially concealing Adamit. Another southerly fog skimmed hilltops enveloping Qorein before dissipating in the gleam of the brightening sun.

There has been much speculation about the activities of Hezbollah’s rocket launcher crews. Why do they keep the early morning sacrosanct and refrain from spoiling it with their deadly missiles? The same question can be asked of the cooler night-time weather and their unusual silence on this subject, when most normal people are home sleeping. Sometimes they allow their Sheikh to do the talking for them and we are made breathless when he feigns to address us, with fresh threats and few blandishments.

Ever since Dave’s cruel death on his bike earlier in the week, I have reexamined the scope of our own farm activities. How banal it might seem, stitching a pipe in a place that jackals had mauled, that was fated just once in this brusque history of this world, to be struck senseless by a tumbling missile, careering out of “control”. There are, unfortunately, other things in this breaking sky beside misty clouds.

Maybe the trajectory has had something to do with the woeful whine of artillery shells creasing the air at Irbin this morning. The longer lasting ascent slows into a direful wail, and I am chilled by its future prospects.

Despite all this, the rocket launcher team is still in its morning huddle, its muddled coffee bestirred by the squad’s strange doctrine of death. It is anyone’s guess when the next salvo will arrive, and from where, out of this great gray limitless expanse.

By sunrise, Mahmoud had arrived in his VW Transporter. At Sheikh Danun, Mahmoud’s neighbors were in a panic. Rockets randomly exploding about the village will have that effect.

“I just want it to end” he protested.

There was a terrific bombing of Beirut last night, and this after Sheikh Nasrallah’s explicit warning to raze part of Tel Aviv. Hezbollah is interested in a ceasefire where it can claim a reasonable military victory. The sheikh obviously miscalculated the Israeli response. He was interested in the kind of mutual “understanding” that had prevailed in the aftermath of the Grapes of Wrath campaign of 1996. The Israelis are not interested in a reprieve in the fighting, or any undertaking with this organization, which is accustomed to taking initiatives at the other party’s expense; whether Israeli or their compatriot Lebanese.

So it was Israel’s turn, early this morning, before the rocket launchers’ huddle heated up and recaptured some of that momentum lost in the past few days of fighting.

About Berry Steinberg

Barry Steinberg was raised in Brooklyn and Long Island. He first arrived in Israel in 1969, participating in a kibbutz volunteer program. In 1971 he was part of the second contingent of western immigrants that reestablished Kibbutz Adamit in Western Galilee. He remained there until 1989 when I moved to Kibbutz Eilon. He have worked as a fruit farmer in both communities. He represented Adamit at Mapam and various kibbutz federation functions. Barry developed strong ties with our Bedouin neighbors of Arab al-Aramshe. He was involved in the earlier stages of Aramshe's integration into the local regional counsel. He am married with three sons.
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