As recently as two weeks ago, I was trying to design a national Flash Mob that would bring to the public's attention what is was like for Israeli civilians to go about their normal lives, only to be forced to dash into shelters at the sound of a siren warning of an approaching rocket from Hamas.
Entitled Gimme Shelter, the purpose of this endeavor was consciousness-raising. As Israel was being rebuked publicly for its military actions in Gaza -- where the attacks originated -- I wanted to convey the threat it was facing in a creative and attention-getting manner. The anti-Israel counterpart to this idea was the Die-Ins that were being staged to simulate the Gaza civilians who killed by Israel's retaliatory fire, the tragic consequence of combatting an enemy who hides its arsenal in civilian locations.
For Gimme Shelter, I envisioned organizing groups of participants in major U.S. cities to gather casually in pre-selected public locations, milling about in faux leisure, only to be made to stand at stark attention at the planned public sounding of a shofar blast -- a tekiah gedolah -- in simulation of a siren's wail.
After the first shocked seconds, the participants would scurry to a safe location. Seconds afterwards, flyers would be distributed to onlookers and a statement would be read, identifying the exercise as a public action designed to alert Americans what Israelis face several times a day at the hands of Hamas.
Dramatic and disruptive, the purpose of Gimme Shelter was to simulate terror locally; to permit Americans to experience, for even a millisecond, the threat of attack in their very cities, the shock of needing to protect oneself in the course of daily life.
In New York, I envisioned such an event unfolding at Lincoln Center, with Flash Mobbers dashing into the 66th Street subway station's various entrances. Because of the wideness of the plaza, I planned on at least two shofar blowers. Stunning tourists and locals alike, captured by media which would have been alerted ahead of time, Gimme Shelter would be hasbara in action, building empathy and understanding for Israel's campaign against Hamas.
This idea appealed to me as recently as fourteen days ago, when we/I thought that the falling rockets were the chief threat against Israel.
But Gimme Shelter was a concept with an exceedingly brief shelf life.
My idea was based on a delusion that the threat was coming from above. Now we have learned about the tunnels, a network of carefully executed passageways from Gaza into Israel, designed with one purpose, to visit death upon Israelis. Now we have learned of a nearly science-fiction-like scenario -- a subterranean threat -- and the very concept of shelter has changed.
Hamas is the deadly threat we could see as well as the deadly threat that was invisible...until very, very recently.
There is a horror in the revelation of the terror tunnels, not only a horror at what was planned, but a horror that the building of this network was, quite literally, beneath the radar screen of Israeli intelligence and the world at large.
According to reports, a large scale threat against Israelis was in the planning, scheduled for Rosh Hashana.
This was a valuable, critical finding, an inadvertent discovery.
But this revelation has been very expensive, costing Israel dozens of lives and the Palestinians hundreds more because of their leadership's cynical disregard for their safety.
Compounding the shock of the existence of terror tunnels -- built with funds that were intended to provide a new infrastructure for Palestinian life -- is the fact that the discovery of these underground portals of destruction have had little impact on a public whose favorite pastimes is condemning Israel, and Jews everywhere.
There is a sickening metaphorical appropriateness in the construction of these tunnels.
Jews are not supposed to believe in the concept of Hell...and yet Hell has come to Israel in the form of the terror tunnels.
Gimme Shelter was a great idea for about two weeks. Now it is irrelevant -- quaint and naive.
Now, an appropriate public action might feature armed terrorists emerging from subway stations to shoot at civilians. The role of onlookers would be to skip over the bodies of the slain, sidestepping the horror, ignoring the threat to themselves, voicing support for the shooters.
Naturally it is insane to stage such a happening. Insane and irresponsible and yet irresistible.
I sit in my Manhattan apartment, trying to conceive of a public action that illuminates the new, horrifying reality in Israel and around the world... and come up empty.