Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Marla's War

A little over a month ago, The Jerusalem Post ran an excellent piece called “Giving The War Its Name.” In it, they asked eleven prominent scholars and thinkers from across the political spectrum what the current war we are embroiled in ought to be called. The answers they received were quite compelling:

- Shalem Center Fellow Michael Oren suggests naming the war for the last attempt at any real dialogue between the sides with “The Camp David War.”

- Likud lawmaker Yuval Steinitz goes further back to the very start of dialogue with “The Oslo War.”

- Norman Podhoretz, Editor Emeritus of Commentary Magazine, also picks up the Oslo theme, but with a more pronounced pejorative: “The War That Oslo Wrought.”

- Meretz Party member and Deputy Speaker of the Knesset Naomi Chazan focuses on the intertwined relationship of occupation with “The War of the Occupation.”

- Richard Perle, Chairman of the Defense Policy Board of the US Department of Defense, honors Shimon Peres, Yossi Beilin, and Shlomo Ben-Ami with “The Idealists’ War.”

- Palestinian journalist Daoud Kuttab focuses attention on questions of sovereignty, calling it “The War for a Palestinian Land.”

- Dore Gold, former Israeli Ambassador to the UN, claims that this war has actually helped Israelis recover moral clarity and conviction, hence “Operation Justice Recovered.”

- Israel Channel 2 Commentary and Jerusalem Report correspondent Ehud Yaari opts for a simple numerical calculation: “The Sixth War.”

- Author and Mekor Rishon columnist Amnon Lord also takes a numerical approach, giving us "Meoraot Tashsa” where “Tashsa” is the Hebrew date acronym for the year the war began.

- Deputy Prime Minister and head of the Yisrael B’Aliyah party Natan Sharansky doesn’t mince words or blame, calling it “The War Against Peace.”

- And finally, noted novelist and political essayist A.B. Yehoshua examines the issue of borders from two perspectives – where to put a border, and whether to have one at all – with “The War of the Borders.”

An interesting exercise, to be sure. But all of these names, quintessentially objective in nature, seem more suited to operations of intense limited duration with many casualties at once. That’s how I always thought of war growing up.

The war we find ourselves in now, by contrast, stretches on seemingly without end and claims its dead and wounded in tortured trickles, 5 here, 10 there. By its very nature, this focuses us on the individual.

And so, for those of us who have been personally affected, the war must have a personal, subjective name. No, names. This war has as many names as those who have been lost to it: "The War That Took Ari," "The War Where We Lost Yoni," "The War Where Dalit & Yaakov Were Shot."

And for Jody & me, it will always be Marla’s War.

Tomorrow marks three months since Marla was killed. If you haven't read about Marla yet, you can find essays and links by clicking here.

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