Davka Nation

Reflections from Israel August 9th 2006

By Forest Rain, Lionheart 

We are the davka people. “Davka” is a state of mind, an attitude integral to Israeli society.

There is no comparable term in English. The Hebrew term, a single word holds much meaning. Often “davka” refers to a sophomoric rebelliousness, a thumbing of the nose, an attitude of: “you don’t want me to have or do that but I want to so I’m going to anyway, both because I want to and because I know it will annoy you”. At other times “davka” is a profound spiritual attitude.

Holocaust survivors have shown us “davka” in its most elevated state. After their freedom, their homes and their families were taken away they still had prayers and songs, love and compassion. In the most inhumane conditions they still had their humanity and they’ve taught us, the generations who came after them, that the sweetest form of revenge against our would-be-killers is to live and live well.

In the bible the Jews are often called a stubborn people. Biblical Hebrew says Jews are a people with stiff, unbending napes of the neck. In other words – a people who would not be cowed, not bow their heads, not yield to others. In modern day Hebrew, the word used to describe the home front, the civilians our soldiers fight to protect, is that same Hebrew word for nape of the neck, the “oref”.

Our Prime Minister recently remarked to us that Hizballah now knows that we truly are a stubborn people. It might sound like media hype, a clever play on words, but I am the “oref” and I know that what he said is true. We are a davka nation.

Israel is again at war. Like so many times before, we are fighting for our very existence. Many people don’t seem to understand that. Living with bombs exploding around me, sirens, people in danger, hurting and dying, it is impossible for me to ignore.

Each person has to choose for themselves the best way for them to survive this difficult time. Many have chosen to seek refuge in the quieter center of the country. This is a good choice for many, especially for families with small children.

A very rich Israeli set up a refugee camp for displaced Israelis. The camp is on a beautiful beach, provides many different types of entertainment and has all the amenities a city full of people need – shelter, food, places to bathe, medical care and security. He decided to use his extensive means to make sure that the refugees would be comfortable and even have a good time – that’s his version of davka – terrorists want Israelis to suffer so he’s going to do what he can to make sure minimum suffering occurs.

Many others have reached out to their fellow Israelis in the same fashion (albeit on a less grand scale). They opened their homes to family, friends and even strangers to shelter them from Hizballah’s violence. My mother and I have received many such invitations – from family, friends and even people we’ve never met in person. Ours is a very warmhearted, sincere and generous people. Their kindness is a beautiful thing to see.

My mother, grandparents and I (who all live in Karmiel) subscribe to a different form of davka as do many of the others who make up the “oref”. Thoughtful Israelis have invited us to join them in the center of the country. With great appreciation for their caring, we have politely declined. Well meaning people from overseas have repeatedly urged us to go south. To them we have also declined, perhaps a bit less politely. Our fellow Israelis understand davka, our friends from overseas have more difficulty understanding.

Below is a letter my mother wrote to an American friend who repeatedly urged us to leave Karmiel and move to the center of the country where it is safer for the duration of the war. My mother tried to explain the importance of the davka attitude to her friend. I don’t know how much her friend is able to understand… Can people outside Israel comprehend that our soldiers need to see us living here and living well? Below are my mother’s words and some of the responses she received to her letter. Maybe you will be able to understand why our davka attitude is so important…

August 6th 2006:

I already wrote you in detail about the personal aspects of why it doesn’t work for us to leave Karmiel.  About the logistics of dealing with my elderly, crippled, ill parents and then adding two cats from each household to the equation. You are seeing the situation from your perspective.  I described the practical reasons because I know that’s how your mind works.  But you didn’t get it.  So now I will try again because I am stubborn enough to not give up easily.

I think each person must make for themselves the decision of what to do during this war.  There is a time to stay put and a time to leave.   Those Jews who left Nazi Germany were far sighted; most of those who hoped that if they kept a low profile things would be OK were destroyed. Now for the first time in history Jews can fight back against those who want to kill us.   Now we are in our own country.

What will I do, here in my own country, in my own home? Will I choose to let myself be pushed around by a terrorist?   Am I ready to abandon northern Israel?  Who will stay and make a presence here if not me?

What I say I say for me, about me.  I do not denigrate any person who felt they should leave.  There are many good reasons to leave.  None of them apply to me. 

My parents, my daughter and I are living in Israel because we are Zionists who put our lives where our mouths are.  We are being attacked by Hizballah, they want us frightened, terrified, running away.  They want us dead.  I refuse to cooperate with Hizballah.

Terrorists only succeed when people like me succumb to fear.  They wish to make it impossible for me to live in my home. Guess what? I live in my home anyway! They wish to make it impossible for me to be calm and happy. Guess what? For much of the day I am able to feel peaceful and even sometimes happy.

This is not easy.  It takes great will power and intention to accomplish this – but I do say with pride: I live; I support my friends, neighbors and others who are in this difficult place with me. I love and appreciate my family. I enjoy and appreciate my cats, the cool evening breezes and the other beautiful things in my life. I even find things to laugh about.

Try to terrorize me?! Guess what? I am not afraid.  Pour your hatred on me?  No, I do not respond in kind.

Please don’t, for a single moment, think I say these things lightly.  I am writing this on a black day; today there was a direct hit on a group of reservists who were gathering and 15 of our beloved were killed. And just half an hour ago an attack on a building in Haifa has left at least one dead and 100 people wounded.  No, I do not speak lightly. 

I am proud of this little country I live in. I am honored that I am able contribute what I can to Israel. Just being here, lending my presence, my money and my spirit helps to sustain this home for the Jews. The war we are now experiencing makes it more important that I be part of the resistance. Perhaps you see me as irresponsible, in denial or a needless risk taker.   I see myself as courageous, having principles, serious, a defender, a resister, optimistic and stubborn. I will not collaborate with Nasrallah.  I willingly take on the risks of staying right where I am, in my home.   So do each of my family members. You can ask a lot of things of me; just don’t ask me to be a coward.

Dr. Nili Marcia, D.C. 
The Marcia Center for a Healthy Body, Mind and Spirit!

Only Love Prevails 

Below are some of the responses my mother received to her letter. Most of them come from others who, like us, are also currently under siege from Hizballah missiles:

You make so much sense to me – we haven’t left here either, not at all. We think exactly like you do…
Let’s hope that quieter, better and happier times are round the corner!
Keep your head down!
All the best,

Beth and her family live in Tuval, 15 minutes drive but only seconds as the crow–or katusha–flies from Karmiel.  

Dearest Nili,

I love you! I’m proud of you! Good for you! I’m with you, we’re all together. Hopefully others will begin to speak out [as you have done].

A big hug,


Dina, a good friend, lives in Yuvaliym, a small village overlooking Karmiel. From the window of her home she has watched the smoke billow up from the impact of katushas hitting Karmiel. Dina was on the phone with my mom when the katusha about which I wrote BOOM! slammed into the ground right behind our home. 

Dear Dr. Nili,

I read your e-mail and my heart was pounding from excitement and admiration to you. It reminds me of the time in Israel when the kibbutzim were right at the borders of Israel and they had to fight and protect the country. That was home and no one thought of abandon home.

Rick and I are[on their sailboat] in Turkey at the moment and we plan to return to Israel soon. In spite of Rick’s parents requests not to go back to Israel I think we should. If anything would happen to my family or friends I would like to be there and help and not to say “I am sorry that I was not there to help”.

I believe that we all have our destiny and we can’t run away from it. If something has to happen it will happen no matter where you are.

I will call you when we will return to Israel.

Take care,Love, Tsipy

Rick and Tsipy live in Herzilya. 

Shalom Nili,

You have stated our hearts so eloquently. Thanks for putting into words the reasons why we have resisted these same kind of pleas from those who love us and are urging us to leave our home.We stand with you in spirit, truth and love.

Bob and Donna 

Bob and Donna live in Tveriya which has been hit by many missiles. 

Dear Nili.

Congratulation, beautifully written.

Nili because of people like you this nation will go forward and will never allow those ones that wants to eliminate us win, as in strong spirit and mind from people like you , the self example that you are setting as a standard way of thinking and doing ,we all learn and follow you .I salute you and wishing you health and happiness for many years to come .

You deserve all good things that this UNIVERSE is providing.

Please give my blessings to Forest Rain.

Love, Kuti.

Kuti and his sweet wife Shula live in the center of the country. They belong to the group of lovely people who have invited us to come stay with them during this war. 

Yes, we are definitely a davka nation…

Stubbornness is often perceived as a negative trait but when people are trying to kill you it’s a very desirable quality. I am surrounded by people who are profoundly stubborn and I am very grateful for it. I’m pretty stubborn myself…

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