NIMBY vs. OK-IYBY – the Movie

I spent 22 years living in Connecticut. It was a beautiful state to raise my children in with easy proximity to the coast, excellent schools, country trails, farms, and the MetroNY railroad to get you into Grand Central Station in 110 minutes. It may not have been a totally halcyon existence, but it was pretty damned nice. But the one watchword that has stuck with me is, NIMBY, an acronym for Not In My Backyard. This was a buzzword used to castigate neighborhood organizations that didn’t want the construction of a new sports field in their neighborhood (backyard) because it might bring too many cars, lawn chairs, and loud shouts of “Goal!!!!” spoiling their quiet weekend mornings. From where I sit today with the reality, not the fear of “perhaps,” but the reality of tunnels opening up into sleeping children’s bedrooms in the kibbutzim near Gaza, the construction and ballagan of a green pasture filled with happy, healthy, and safe children in my backyard sounds pretty good.

OK. So we don’t have sports NIMBY here in Israel. But we sure are feeling as if the greater world view is not one of NIMBY, but OK-IYBY, or “OK In Your BackYard.” Where is there any place on this massive globe known as Mother Earth that would be complacent to the reality of tunnels coming anywhere near their homes . . .even harmless little gofer tunnels. But for some reason, it’s OK-IYBY, or in our case, our back yard.

Maybe I should write a screen play for a new action movie starring Vin Diesel, Bruce Willis, Jason Stathon, and Dwayne Johnson (a dream team of heroes). [WARNING – this will be an R-rated, action packed movie]. The team is called upon to stop a heinous, meticulously coordinated terror attack upon scores of unsuspecting communities filled with young families, farmers, and many, many children.  The plot includes the undetected construction of numerous tunnels, patiently clawed out over the past few years without benefit of backhoes, cranes, and other heavy equipment . . . but shovel by shovel, propelled by a fervent and unflagging sense of zealotry. The tunnels spread out like the myriad terrorists cells who labor away to maximize the terror of their event. Unbelievably, and as only possible in a Hollywood movie, the tunnels openings are only inches beneath the crib of a newborn, behind the stacks of rice in the local supermarket, a basement in a house of worship. We see both sides of the story play out, drawn into the tunnelers’ unremitting patience and dogged perseverance toward their cause transposed against the communities’ life in their chosen community.

Cut to a  New Year’s eve celebration, with families gathered in a festive mood and filled with hope for a good year to come.  Children laugh, mothers smile and reflect on how much they’ve grown since last year and wonder how they’ll change in the next. New couples hold hands, glad for the excuse to be with friends and family for a happy occasion.  The camera switches to the tunnelers who, at the appointed hour, and in a perfectly coordinated maneuver, smash through the last inches of dirt and wall that separates them from their targets.

The tension mounts, the music starts to vibrate with a deep base thump, thump, thump that makes your heart start to race. Then . . . silence. You hold your breath, knowing that in the next moments, something unimaginable is going to happen. You know it’s going to happen, but you can’t stop it.

In the next instant, rifle muzzles vomit endless sprays of bullets, flashes, and death. Freeze frame to the faces of the surprised families caught in the carnage and screams of their families. Children run, hide, lovers catch last glances of each other as they fall. The scene repeats itself over and over and over as scores of terrorists mow down the revelers in a carnage-laden barrage of  fire that only Hollywood can aptly capture..

But where are our heroes? In the last scene we have seen them covertly working on a counterattack based on intelligence from their underground and contacts, but lamenting their frustration over their inability to prevent each and every rampage that is now playing out across the screen. The viewer finds themselves inching forward in their seats, their mouths agape, their fists clenched in their boxes of popcorn. No! No! No! they shout.

Silence reigns once again through the theater as the viewers have a pause to digest what they have just seen on the screen. You can almost hear their hearts thumping against their chests . . .

Then some wiseguys in the balcony break the spell as they yell down to those viewers in the front line of frozen like statues in disbelief. “It’s OK guys because it’s NIMBY.  . .It’s IYBY.



5 thoughts on “NIMBY vs. OK-IYBY – the Movie

  1. Hi Ellen Thanks for writing/sending So sorry all of you in Israel have to live like this – close up…every day It is not easy being a Jewish See my Australian cousin’s letter in next email Love to you and everyone is Israel larry and rai (in milano)

  2. Ellin … very,very ,moving. i lead a group of Jewish Home residents in current events. I plan to read your article them . They will be as moved as i am by your words.

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