Last summer, to get away from the war in Gaza with its air-raid sirens and cascade of terrible news, my wife and I decided to head north, and to rent a small cabin in the middle of nowhere for a few days.

The tzimmer (from the German "Zimmer," for "room") is a ubiquitous Israeli institution. There are thousands of little cabins all over the country, some more upscale and some less. We picked the one that claimed to be the highest altitude tzimmer in Israel. The higher up, it somehow seemed, the better.

If we'd hoped for quiet, we were about to be disappointed. At night, there was shelling from Lebanon; during the day, artillery landed not too far away as Syrian and Islamic State forces battled it out.