It’s not from lack of sleep. Though, to be honest, I don’t get enough of that either.
My tiredness is more mental. It’s the total emotional exhaustion you feel from the stress of running from crisis to crisis.
And I know a lot of people reading this are feeling the same way. Though maybe not to the same degree that I do.
Some of it, I will admit, is an occupational hazard.
I spend all day following and reporting the news. At any given moment, I have at least a dozen tabs of news sources open on my computer. The television that sits next to my computer is on literally all day, tuned at various times to CNN, the Knesset channel, which is like C-Span but for Israel, and local news. My email inbox is filled with news updates and alerts, press releases and messages from readers.
I have felt like this for quite a while. But in recent weeks and months it has gotten much, much worse.
Many of the crises have been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. But it started way before.
I can’t put my finger on when it started to be so hard for me. Let’s be clear, here in Israel it always feels like there is some crisis brewing. If it is not the government on the verge of blowing up, it is one of the borders on the verge of blowing up. Or attacks on settlements and the roads that connect them to each other and to major Israeli cities. Or a shortage of hospital beds. Or a teachers strike. Or a bus drivers strike. Or a heatwave.
You get the picture.
I feel like I have been on this treadmill since at least the end of March 2018. This was the beginning of the weekly protests by Palestinians on the Gaza border. They were protests the world called peaceful, but felt menacing. Palestinians in Gaza began launching explosives tied to balloons and kites over the border to southern Israel, burning thousands of acres of forests and farmlands. Some of the explosives were hidden in colorfully wrapped gift boxes, or in soccer balls, just waiting for an Israeli child to grab.
In March 2019, rockets were launched on Tel Aviv – closer to home than comfortable and intercepted by the Iron Dome close to the hospital where my husband works . Less than two weeks later, a rocket landed in a moshav in central Israel, a heartbeat away from many of the places I visit on a regular basis.
And more than a month later, hundreds of rockets rained down on southern Israel, with the minute-to-minute news coverage that accompanies it.
Even as those rockets were falling, our government here dissolved seven months early and we voted in national elections in April 2019. And September 2019. And March 2020. Each time the rhetoric got more divisive. And the parties and politicians got more desperate. And it has not ended. We are as I write this, on the cusp of yet another dissolved government, and a possible fourth election in 19 months.
And in the middle of all of this, our prime minister was indicted on corruption charges and appeared in court – a first for a sitting prime minister. And we almost annexed all or part of the West Bank, leading to world condemnation.
And listening to the rhetoric that comes out of the White House. And the Black Lives Matter protests throughout the United States and around the world, including here in Israel.
And we are in the middle of the coronavirus crisis. The thought of actually catching the virus is stressful, as are the extreme economic difficulties in the country. The stories and pain of those suffering economically, and our own personal difficulties involving parents, children and social distancing, feel like too much on top of the news about how it is ravaging the U.S. and the world.
The weekly and nightly protests in Jerusalem and around the country against the prime minister over the economy, his alleged corruption and possible annexation. The horrible animosity between the protesters and the counter protesters. The rhetoric that comes from both sides and the social media posts that highlight it.
My head aches, my stomach hurts and it is hard to breathe sometimes.
Let’s be clear. I am no snowflake. I am way too old and have been through way too much national tragedy and personal hardship for that.
We arrived in Israel 20 years ago, less than two months before the start of the second intifada. We watched as hundreds of Israelis were killed – including neighbors and friends, beautiful teenagers and young mothers and babies. Day and night coverage of attacks, every time you turned on the radio or the television. In many ways, I have been on that treadmill ever since.
Marcy Oster is a former Clevelander who covers the Middle East for the Cleveland Jewish News from Karnei Shomron, West Bank.