As terrible as the Intifada was, life had drama, and the social scene was kicking.

Ben Yehuda is rockin'

Almost four years since the beginning of the current Intifada, most papers in Israel are cautiously announcing its end. Shin Bet chief Avi Dicher is saying we are reaching the bottom of the barrel of Palestinian terror, and even Zakariya Zubeidi, leader of the Aksa Martyrs Brigade, has the balls to admit the whole thing was pretty much a failure.

Indeed, in 2002, the year I came here, there were 46 successful suicide attacks in Israel. In 2003 there were 18, so far this year there have been 4, and none since we killed Yassin and Rantisi in March and April, respectively. Nonetheless, it is important to note, that this has not been for their lack of trying; there were 22 attempted attacks just this June.

While news images still flash before my eyes when I sit in Café Hillel, or pass by the number 14 bus stop, the “situation” no longer affects my Saturday night plans.

When I first moved to Jerusalem, Ben Yehuda was a ghost town. Shops were closing because of lack of business. Now every Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, Hutzot haIr in downtown Jerusalem is packed and the “Big Discount for Brave Tourist” signs in store windows are no longer so relevant. Someone should throw a party. But alas, that is the problem.

While you saw the destruction, pain and terror throughout the Intifada on TV, what the cameras missed was the joy and music and Life with a capital L happening elsewhere.

When I came to Israel, at the height of the Intifada, I was swept up into this amazing community of young, single, hippy-religious, Zionistic people, who at some point were as crazy as I was to have moved here on their own. Despite stickers around town prompting us to Screw Fear, Party Jerusalem 2002, the truth was, people didn’t really go out all that much, and there was this mentality of avoiding crowded public places. So instead, we were always having our own parties and making Shabbats together. There were drum circles at people’s houses where Ashara would start free-style rapping about peace and love. Talk was existential and we believed in the revolution. Every holiday there were half a dozen places to be. We congregated on the Moshav and sang our hearts out at Ezras in the Old City. And there was the infamous Purim Party of 2003 (complete with several spontaneous verses of The Post Purim Pre War Blues). The Chevre, as we call it, was alive and well, spreading the joy to Am Yisrael.

Now, Jerusalem is waking up from four years of slumber. There are things to do and we can go out in relatively certain security. And because of it, the Chevre has gotten lazy. Nobody plans anything anymore. And while I feel terrible saying it, I’m starting to miss the “good ole days.”

About the author

Laya Millman


  • I appreciate the sentiment expressed by your post. The cammaraderie you describe is common and understandable by those undergoing a trial by fire. However, the bottom line is that you are looking back wistfully at a time (which hasn’t neccessarily quite passed yet) when all of Israel was held hostage to the whims of murderers. In that respect I think you might be exhibiting the classic symptoms of the Stocholm syndrome.

  • I owe Eevee for teaching me a great trick – using a dictionary. Sure, I should have learned to do it years ago; but now that I know it, let’s take a look at what says with respect to stockholm syndrom:

    Stockholm syndrome
    A phenomenon in which a hostage begins to identify with and grow sympathetic to his or her captor.

    Now, I read Laya’s post over and over, and nowhere could I find anything remotely like sympathy for the murderers who were keeping Israel ‘captive’ in your extended ‘stockholm syndrom’ metaphor. The classic signs of the real Stockholm syndrome is identifying with your captors and actively trying to promote their best interest after the incident. So, how exactly is it like the Stockholm syndrome where you identify with your captors, not, as in Laya’s post, with your fellow victims?

  • Stennis le Menace, Are we becoming the official dysfunctional couple of this site? We’ll see if ck can keep up his posting rate. We’ll also see if I continue to be amused by his arrogant know-it-all blather. Right now I have other fish to fry, or toads as the case may be.

    The problem with dictionaries is that while they are always technically correct, their reductionism does not always take into account nuance and interpretation.

    I am fully aware of what the Stockholm syndrome is. It was named after the famous Norrmalmstorg robbery of Kreditbanken at Norrmalmstorg, Stockholm which lasted from August 23 to August 28, 1973. In that case the victims persisted in defending their captors even after the 6 day detention was over. You may have heard of heiress Patty Hearst, who, after having been kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army, actually joined the group several months after her release.

    Broadly stated, the Stocholm Syndrome is a psychological state in which the victims of a kidnapping, or persons detained against their free will, prisoners, develop a relationship with their captors. I don’t know what you know about Israel, you certainly don’t know much about language, but the intifada literally held the country hostage to the whims of suicide bombers.

    People eschewed public transportation, stayed away from city centers and public places, and were constantly in fear for their lives and the lives of their loved ones. This was precisely what the terrorists wanted – one of the goals of terrorism is to create exactly this sort of fear and insecurity.

    This post by laya ostensibly describes a coping mechanism that she and her (laya is a woman I assume) friends developped in order to deal with the prevailing state of affairs. She now misses her coping mechanism – this more than implies an almost symbiotic relationship between laya, the victim and her captors.

    Classic Stockholm syndrome. It might not fit in nicely with your little dictionary definition, but it does correspond to commonly understood clinical definitions.

  • Dysfunctional couple? I thought it was just complex verbal foreplay! I guess you can add ‘personal relationships’ to ‘Israel’ and ‘language’ on the list of things about which I am ignorant.

    I suppose I agree that dictionaries are reductionist: that’s kind of their point. So, I tried to look up the commonly understood ‘clinical definition’ in the DSM IV, but no luck. (If it was, you’d probably reject that as overly reductionist as well.) Luckily for me I have two reputable universities nearby (I’m sure you can guess which ones since I live in Jersey!) so I consulted with people in the cognitive psychology program (and a friend who had done a clinical psychology degree) all of whom told me that using the word as you do has about as little to do with the ‘real’ syndrome as getting a cold has to do with cancer.

    Enjoying a phenomenon does not entail liking or sympathizing with the cause of the phenomenon. I’m pretty dubious that it even makes it more likely. Similarly, for Laya, enjoying emergency conditions doesn’t imply anything very interesting about her sympathy with either the people who caused it, nor with (more importantly for a ‘classic stockholm syndrome’) the cause of the terrorists. If someone gets cancer and enjoys the time he has with his newly sympathetic family, does he thereby display ‘stockholm syndrome’ if he gets cured and he begins to miss the family who start ignoring him again?

    There is of course one thing Laya could do if she were suffering a classic case of stockholm syndrome. We can wait and see if, like Miss Hearst, Laya starts donating money to palestinian groups, enquiring about positions within, giving state secrets to Hamas… My friends in the various areas of psychiatric and psychological research told me I should probably bet agaisnt that.

    But forget this blatant appeal to authority on the matter. I’m willing to rest content that we’re all overly reductionist and ignorant of language. I’m lucky to be in a (dysfunctional) relationship with someone who knows so much more than we do. I hope the constant pseudo-philosophical bickering hasn’t interfered with our sex life.

    How much do I love the new blog Jewlicious? Looks like they’ve been up and running for a month now, and they’re already soooo much better than the beter-known Jewschool, whose “Orthodox anarchist” bullshit got real old real fast. Hey, we get it, Je…

  • I have gone through Laya’s write – up and the resulting arguments that ensured. I have always believed it is best when people argue because its about the best way to learn. I went through the dictionary first, then I burrowed into texts and finally I consulted history papers all in a bid to tie Laya’s reminiscence with the Stockholm syndrome.
    Unfortunately it failed to match, I can confidently say that the story by Laya and the incident of August 23 – 28, 1973 bear no relationship.
    Eeveee has jogged our memory to what transpired at Kreditbanken in Norrmalmstorg, she has also related it to case of Heiress Patty Hearst, who was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army, and that somehow she later joined the group after her realize. Her understanding of both the syndrome and the happenings in Israel is not in doubt but it would be unwise to create confusion and mislead people by arguing from a superior point of view and bamboozle readers with terms and quotations and dates. What is right is right, and what isn’t will never be, no mater how hard one tries to make it be.
    Since Laya did not admit that she felt like protecting Hamas or any other Islamic fundamentalists, or even donating or actually joining forces with these groups, her story is not, and can never be related to the syndrome.