Paul Greenberg

"It took a few minutes for the news to come on the radio and TV (from the perspective of the Tel Avivians who run the media in this country, Haifa is some exotic place only technically in Israel) and we found out that six rockets had fallen in the Haifa area, and that there are no reports of damage or injury, thank God. We heard none of the booms, so the rockets apparently fell into the sea or a considerable distance from here.

"FLASH! From the next room I can hear Jolene and Rivka consoling themselves over this further scare by watching Oprah on TV."

I particularly appreciated the way the professor talks about those uppity media types in Tel Aviv, much the way we unstylish red-staters talk about those talking heads in New York or Washington.

My professional friend did lose his equanimity when he heard that one of the Katyushas fell near a favorite restaurant: "Now that I take personally, for the following reason. One of the many advantages of living in Haifa is that one need not invest a lot of effort in choosing restaurants, since there are so few kosher ones. One of our favorites, while strictly kosher, is staffed almost entirely by Arabs, who really know how to be hospitable (Jewish waiters in Israel are usually teenagers; enough said); the place is owned by Jews, the maitre d' and most or all of the staff are Arabs, and the patrons (Jews and Arabs) are willing to subject themselves to kosher food. In short, the restaurant is Israel the way it could be, if our neighbors would only allow it. Oh, and the food is also pretty good . . . ."

You can almost picture Walter Pidgeon harrumphing parenthetically while puffing on his pipe as the bombs fall and everyone keeps a stiff upper lip.

Surely, somewhere in Beirut or Baalbek, a professor of Arabic studies is trying to check out a student's Ph.D. thesis on the great Arab thinker Ibn Khaldun while grumbling about the air raids cutting into his reading time. He and my friend would probably get on famously - if only they were allowed to.

As my mother, who knew something of living through a war, might put it in one of her wry moments, which were frequent: Life is beautiful - if they would just let you live.

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.