Lila Lavan – White Nights

Lila is Hebrew for “night”. Lavan is Hebrew for “white.” So, lila lavan (לילה לבן) means “white night.” For the longest time, I thought it was an Israeli term, maybe even a secret one. Elie would tell me he had a lila lavan; or Shmulik would be out all night. Or, there were rocket attacks from Gaza and we knew that it would be a lila lavan. 

Lila lavan means no sleep – all night action. I looked it up on Google and there it is. It isn’t an Israeli term – references are made to nights of partying. All night of action. It isn’t secret.

But in Israel, lila lavan means a night in which our forces are at work, a night of no sleep. It means a night  in which the residents of the south will be hearing booms – ours targeting rocket launchers, ours when the Iron Dome explodes into action, and theirs, when all our efforts fail and their rockets hit our cities.

Thirteen rockets have been fired at Israel in the last 24 hours. Close to half a million people were the target.  I try and try to get one simple fact across to the many people I correspond with on Facebook, Twitter, and here on this blog.

This conflict is not about numbers – numbers can be manipulated. This conflict is not about whether their rockets are accurate or ours always hit their targets. This conflict is about culture – a culture that has no problem targeting infants, children, whole cities. Their culture that says Jihad is just and martyrdom honorable. And our culture that says differently.

When Hamas fires a rocket, they have no clue where it will land, just as we don’t. They aim in the general direction of one of our cities and fire. If they are having a good day, a school in Beersheva will be hit. If they are having a bad day – the rocket will land harmlessly in an open field. Terror accomplished; injury miraculously averted.

When we fire, we aim at a training camp, a terrorist cell about to launch rockets. If we are having a good day, we will obliterate the training camp, eliminate the rocket-firing squad. If we are having a bad day, shrapnel from our missile will hit a building or worse.

In this simple fact, is all there is to know. We do not target innocents, they routinely do. We do not celebrate the loss of their lives; they dance in the streets and hand out candies to celebrate the losses on our side.

Perhaps, the difference is also in the words lila lavan. It is not a night of joy and celebration but a night of no sleep, of action, of noise. On a good night, all our soldiers come back to base in safety having successfully accomplished their missions.

If tonight is a lila lavan for some of our soldiers, may they be safe through this night and may they hit their targets with precision and justice. And may the day come, when our white nights are only for partying.

5 Comments on Lila Lavan – White Nights

  1. Well, obviously, “we” have a lot more “bad days” than “they” have “good days”, since the mortality rate is about 10:1 (or 20:1 or 100:1) in favour of Israel, in that game…

  2. Even when the rockets are reported to land in “shetach patuach” (assumed to be open fields)- all that term means is that it didn’t hit a house. It isn’t necessarily an actual field; it could be the middle of a street, or a basketball court where kids are playing, or somebody’s backyard.
    People still get hurt when the rockets land in open fields- if not physically, then emotionally. Psychologically. The siren, the running for cover, the loud boom and the ground shaking- sure signs that that one was way too close.
    I know somebody who lives in Ashkelon and was recently standing outside when the siren went off, and had no place to run for cover. She saw the rocket in the air, coming right towards her. She said she literally saw her life flash before her eyes. Miraculously, she wasn’t hurt.

  3. Hi Avital,

    You are so correct. I remember some time during the Gaza War when each time I heard that it had hit an “open field” I would be happy…until I suddenly remembered – my son was sitting in an open field. I joked with friends, asking if I should start praying the rockets hit in the cities, but it was a horrible feeling because at least before I thought of that, I was able to hope the rockets avoided the cities – now I was hoping it wouldn’t hit in the cities and it wouldn’t hit outside the cities…which didn’t leave much ground to hope for anything. I’m so glad your friend was not hurt but you are so correct – damage is done, people are terrorized…with or without the impact causing physical damage.

  4. I wish Israel would change the way it refers to damage inflicted on human beings. A few days ago I read that someone had been “mildly injured” by being shot in the back. To us here in America, a mild injury is a boo-boo that your mother treats by kissing it and making it all better (maybe you get a bandaid, too). We don’t get emotionally worked up about someone who is “lightly” or “mildly” injured and wonder how it got in the newspaper in the first place. It demeans the victims of terrorism to speak of their injuries in this way. Get another reporting system, this is not helpful to your cause. The Palestinians claim that someone is dead when they don’t have a scratch on them, yet when an Israeli is badly hurt the report makes it sound like nothing by the words they choose to describe it, the same way Avital says that open fields is used and it’s a street or someone’s yard (or how about a place where farmhands are working). These words minimize the damage, and thus the threat. Yes, ladies and gentlemen of the world, we have lots of terrorist attacks here, but hey, no big deal, just some light injuries, an open field, don’t worry about it, no sympathy required.

    A lone soldier friend of my son was hit by schrapnel from a rocket attack near the Gaza border during the war and had to have his arm amputated. I bet it was called a light injury.

  5. Exactly the same way a Navy Officer feels when he see TV weather forcasters saying that the hurricane has “safely gone out to sea”.

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