It is day 4-ish of this awful war and I can’t sleep. It is 11:28pm. There have been a few barrages of rockets today in Beer Sheva, including a bad one just after dinner this evening. I am sleeping on the couch next to the bomb shelter in a friends’ house. We have barely left the house in days. The kids, ages 3 and 5, are starting to ask questions- about good people and bad people, and who is safe and who is not safe. We do our best to keep all of our spirits high- playing games, playing music, cooking nice meals and staying as active as possible without straying more than several steps from the bomb shelter in case we hear the air raid siren. We shower with a buddy standing outside, try to keep two adults around the children at a time in case we need to scoop them up to run, and we do this all with the best humor we can muster.
I wonder why I can’t fucking sleep.
Our friends and family are all under the same rocket fire and as the Hamas’ rocket technology and access has improved, the entire country is under attack so there is no place to escape to. Direct hits on and around homes happen every few hours. We check in with each other, see what the others need and then realize that we couldn’t provide it for them anyway. We can’t get to them, too scared to travel by car in this area. I don’t want to be a scaredy-cat but I don’t want to take risks with my life easier. Ask yourself what you would do.
All the while, my Facebook feed fills up constantly with Op-Eds and blogs about these anomalies that everyone seems to know so much about – “Israelis” and “Palestinians”. The experts writing about us have managed to take us, all we know and all we experience and feel, and boil it down into adorable 800 word articles with a beginning, middle and end. It must be nice for things to be so simple in your mind, Mr. and Mrs. Opinions writer.
“What Israelis Don’t Know About Gaza” What do you know about what I don’t know? Do you think that I am blind or simply so insensitive that I can’t care about more than one type of person as a time? Saying that we are being misled or uninformed implies that if we knew better (and we do know the difficult truth) we would change how we act. We are civilians, we aren’t shooting, we aren’t calling the shots and we aren’t to blame just because we are Israeli. Do you think that all Israelis are so ignorant that when we read Israeli news we think that we are getting the entire story and there is nothing more going on beyond what the IDF reports? No. We know the death toll and the pain and suffering in Gaza, and I don’t condone it. But neither am I not responsible for it, I refuse to take that on.
“ALL the TRUTH about what happening in ISRAEL” Do you really think there is one truth? Please tell me you shared that as a joke, with full knowledge that in a life full of diversity there is no one real truth. If I want to be safe does it automatically mean to you that I want other innocent people to die? If I support my troops- young people in mandatory national service- and the Iron Dome that saves my life and millions others’ multiple times a day- does that mean that I can’t also pray for peace? Palestinians feel like sitting targets and they are devastated and terrified, surrounded by destruction. The truth of this statement does not delegitimize my fear or the State of Israel. Israelis do not need to be insensitive or ignorant and Palestinians to not need to be liars who are not really hurting- we are many things- we are all of the feelings- and our truths are real.
Likewise none of us need the bloody, horrifying , vivid pictures of this war splashed on our Facebook feeds. I am living it. I am fucked up enough without it, thanks. Vivid imagery, just like shifting blame, and comparing truths and death tolls won’t change this reality. It implies yet again that if I saw the horrific things people are suffering from this war I would know and therefor act to stop it. But I am not causing it and have no control over it.
I don’t blame Gazans for the Rockets being aimed and shot at me and mine, I blame Hammas. So I suggest you send your higher than though information, your blame and your vivid, traumatizing images to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Which brings me to leadership. All of us innocents- citizens, activists and writers- we are barking up the wrong fucking tree if we think that Netanyahu and Bennet and their coalition or Abbas and Hammas are going to stop this war if we ask nicely. Both of these leadership marriages made in hell will burn the whole fucking country down around us if we let them. No amount of opeds, shares, Facebook shaming or petition signing is going to change these guys.
What we need is new leadership- and not just any old regime change. We need Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela sized leadership balls. We need a Gazan Ghandi (Mahatma and Indira, both will do) or an Israeli Alice Paul and her iron-jawed angels to stand up, strategize, talk to each other and end the extremism ruling this region. I’m not even talking about making a final agreement yet, I’m talking about ending this pointless cycle of war where NO ONE wins.
I don’t think that this is some wild fantasy. Slavery, the KKK and Jim Crow in American history showed us some of most horrific forms of extremism and violence. However in time and with great leadership, we rose above it. There is still much to improve ipon but the constant, violent race wars, the institutionalized discrimination, violence and murder are behind us and America has its first black president. This is admittedly a loose and flawed comparison but it is enough to let me believe. Frederick Douglass learned to read and MLK had a dream- leaders like these rose up to change their country.
I believe that we- the very diverse people that the world calls Israelis and Palestinians- don’t have to live this way. I hope that today, at this very moment, the future leaders that will be brave and charismatic enough to lead us out of this cycle of violence, are being kept safe… because we need them.