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Hagai El-Ad Headshot

Escapism Is Not An Option

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When I was younger, or so the legends go, the wars here were more robust. They used to come once a decade or so, coherent, conventional, with a clear beginning and ending. And now, I blinked my eyes, and suddenly it is January of 2009. It's a month of Broadway closings, I read. And yet, the newspapers here may fill with the pictures and stories of dead soldiers, young lives lost in one of our "new wars." Of course, Gazans die by the scores with no personal attention, lucky to get their names in a list, let alone a picture. Their families, I suspect, nevertheless remember.

The "new wars"? It's the new kind of legendless warfare we have here, without the need to wait a decade for the next proper round. They come about pre-packaged in smaller sizes, more convenient to handle, every year or two. They never quite end and one simply blurs into the next. In the five years since those cool NASA rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, landed on Mars, we already had at least two of the new kind. I really like watching the images from Mars, without all the bloodshed there's a real sense of tranquility there. Less explosions, I guess. Even peaceful, perhaps.

Keeping connected is so important nowadays. One can enjoy downloading episodes of This American Life right into a cellphone or iPod, and listen to them on the way to work on the other side of the globe. At 7am, after another day of blood, Ira Glass' voice is smoother than the local news anchors, and so is his program's content. It's really great to stay closely connected this way, with no need to escape.

In just six weeks, Morrissey's new album, Years of Refusal, will be out. I already love Throwing My Arms Around Paris, and who wouldn't? I just hope that the war will be over by then. Who knows how many pictures could accumulate, or how many lists lengthened, in 42 days. You know, those rovers don't move very fast - in 42 days they'd travel no more than 4 miles, barely crossing the Gaza strip at its narrowest point.

I guess that even Mars isn't far enough.