Israel’s recent civil defense drill, labeled Turning Point 3, tested the ability of the Jewish state to respond to multi-front attempts at its annihilation via missiles, rockets, suicide bombers, a bomb-toting ship in Ashdod port, and natural disasters, among other mediums. The thoroughness with which existential threats were tallied was matched by the thoroughness with which the Israeli public was notified of them, and, according to a May 31 article on the Jerusalem Post website, persistent air raid sirens were set to be augmented by cell phone messages indicating incoming simulated attacks.
According to the Post, the IDF was “also reviewing technology that would enable it to send little ‘pop-up’ screens to computers that are connected to the Internet.” The enlistment of popular technology in the struggle for Israel’s survival was justified in a single line from a June 2 article on the Al Jazeera English website, which stated that “[i]n central Jerusalem, many pedestrians appeared to be ignoring the wailing air-raid sirens.”
Another article on the Jerusalem Post website advertised the possibility that even the hearing impaired could, with the help of beepers, acquire a Pavlovian response to stimuli like Iran and Syria; demographics unaccounted for in Turning Point 3 consisted of the security guard at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.
The Haaretz website explained the etymology of the “3” in Turning Point 3, which was the “third large-scale Home Front Drill to be held since the Second Lebanon War in 2006 and the founding of the Defense Ministry’s National Emergency Administration.” The etymology of “Turning Point” was not divulged, although it may have referred to impending rectification of US-Israel relations as the third turning point happened to coincide with Barack Obama’s visit to the Middle East. Options for the first two turning points would then be George H. W. Bush’s withholding of loan guarantees to Israel and George W. Bush’s threat to withhold loan guarantees from Israel in the event that settlement expansion did not cease; the US government had meanwhile failed to appropriate Israeli techniques, or to send American citizens text messages about Iraq.
A June 1 editorial on the website of the Jerusalem Post offers one interpretation of why security drills are not necessary elsewhere in the world: “We Israelis live in a very different reality.” It may be challenging to defend the reality of a reality that consists of rehearsals—or of terminology like “Turning Point 3” and “Task Force on Isolating Iran”—but the efficacy of rehearsals in reshaping reality cannot be denied.