Every time I've visited Israel, I've been unsettled by the ubiquitous presence of young men and women carrying assault rifles, slung over their shoulders as they go about the regular business of taking a bus, hanging out at a cafe, etc. I don't like rifles, and it's hard to get past the feeling that something isn't quite right when there are so many guns, handled with such familiarity.
Today, Israel commemorates its war dead: the soldiers, police officers, bus drivers, and passers-by killed in the course of the last nearly 100 years since Jews became a noticeable factor in the area now known as Israel. This is a day of regret, not celebration. Another country - virtually every other country - would have erected an triumphal arch somewhere to justify the war dead; but not Israel. Today, names will be read, photographs shared; stories told, about individuals whose loss forms a nearly unbearable sacrifice for the Israelis.