Today was Dorit's birthday and her mother had arranged tickets a month ago to a play at HaCameri - Tel Aviv's municipal theatre. The play was "Was it a Dream" - a love affair between a leading actress of the 1930s, and a poet of the time. Of course, it was completely bizarre to be attending a play while there is a campaign of mass murder going on in Gaza. And, no surprise, the theatre was full. The audience behaved like every theatre audience - dozing during the slow parts, clapping occasionally, tittering at jokes. I managed with the conversational Hebrew, glancing up at the English titles when the dialogue included poetry.
The Gaza offensive is purportedly intended to produce the kind of peace that will allow ordinary Israelis anywhere in the country (including the Occupied Territories) to pursue ordinary affairs - like going to plays - without worrying about rockets raining down on them. The only difficulty with this objective is the insanity of the execution. Or maybe the campaign isn't quite insane, but deliberately designed to perpetuate the conflict. With regard to its stated goals - the reduction of the threat of rocket attacks on its territory, and "a change in the security realities of the region", Israel will fail miserably. The campaign is just an amplification of Israel's previous modus operandi, which hasn't managed to cow Palestinians into submission over the 60 years of Israel's existence or the 40 years of its occupation of Gaza and the West Bank. If Israel's intention is to keep Gaza and all Palestinians hostile but weak, perhaps it will succeed for a time. One motivation for that would be to delay a permanent peace agreement, which Israel knows will necessitate painful concessions.
Whether by madness or intention, the Middle East will be a less stable and more dangerous place after this campaign. Remembering the Joni Mitchel song, perhaps peace was just a dream some of us had.