Archives for 2021

What it’s like for me

I imagine that what is going on in Israel is subject to all sorts of assumptions. Let me tell you what it is like for me.

For more than 20 years, every new apartment/home built in Israel has (by law) to have a sealed room.  This is a room that has heavily reinforced walls, ceiling, and floor and a door that when closed seals it shut when occupied in emergency situations. Some rooms are full sized rooms usually used as bedrooms. They have windows that open in and on the outside a heavy metal cover that the occupants can seal closed in times of emergency.  Once sealed, they are to protect us from bombs. missiles, rockets, and poison gas.

When an attack is imminent, we are notified by radio and/or phone app that our particular area is in danger. Depending where in Israel one lives, one may have as few as 15 seconds to reach the sealed room. In this current war, we in our city have about 90 seconds. Once inside, we must wait 10 minutes before opening the door and emerging.

Those attacking us, sending their weapons into cities to destroy, kill, and maim, are, of course, unpredictable and attacks can come at any time.

The destruction and deaths they cause are devastating, but we are strong and unafraid and try to conduct our lives normally. There are safe areas in stores and malls and hospitals and office buildings.

But here’s the part that pains me constantly: this war began when our enemies began firing at us, at the civilians. When our armed forces responded, we were told that we are wrong. We are criticized and are called “an apartheid state” – yet ask our Arab doctors, dentists, Knesset members, lawyers, pharmacists, nurses- and they will tell you that this is a society that is open to all of its citizens. If our radicalized Arab neighbors in Gaza were to make the decision to face the future with dignity and hope and to build a bright future for their children, we would embrace them and help them. It could happen.

Though never at war with us, the Emirates did not have diplomatic relations with us. But they decided to look to the future- to build a better future for themselves and finally, to build a future that includes us. When we visited in December, we found a warm welcome from people who see us as their cousins, all relatives of our father Abraham.

Israel does not want any innocents to suffer, not Jews, not Israeli Muslims, Christians, Druze, Circassians- and not the citizens of Gaza. That is why before any large action targeting the terror structures, the citizens of Gaza are warned and told to leave the premises.

Whoever says the people in Gaza are suffering- are right, but it is their own government, Hamas, that oppresses them. They cannot rebel because they know what the consequences will be for them and their families. If the UN, if the world, really cared about them, they would assist in freeing them from their oppressive government.

So while I sit in my closet (yes, my sealed room is my closet) and receive whatsapp photos of my grandchildren sitting in their sealed rooms, I wait for the day when people will understand that this is not a matter of who’s right- it’s a matter of people who want to live their lives (us) and people who want us dead (them).

My Sisters

What I have to say may be termed politically incorrect, but if you are a person with an open mind, I hope you will read it before you reject it. Too often people don’t bother to read things they believe they will object to and that is how people get stuck in rigid ways of thinking and unexamined beliefs.

A very long time ago when I was young, I had long curly brown hair and green eyes and no self-confidence. OK, maybe there was some self-confidence because I never really gave up on myself. I was not a popular kid. I didn’t really have any friends. There was the girl I walked to school with, but we never were really friends. There were the girls I went to camp with, but they mostly saw me as another piece of furniture. Maybe everyone felt that way- that they were unseen and dismissed, but I clearly did not know it. I was alone.

But inside of me was the real me- not the shy girl who had no friends, but a person with an active inner life who was constantly scanning the environment and trying to find the pieces I could put together to make it mine.

I don’t know this, but I am guessing I was not unique in that way. All over the world there were girls like me. Some had dark skin. Some had skin much lighter than mine. They had blue eyes and brown eyes, round eyes and slanted eyes, silky hair and frizzy hair that was brown or blond or red or black and they spent their days scanning the environment trying to figure out their place in it.

Some were lucky and had parents who nurtured them and encouraged them. Some had parents who pushed them to achieve- perhaps too hard. Some had parents whose lives were so difficult that they had little physical or psychic energy to deal with their children. Many girls ended up raising themselves.

Some had great ambitions and worked very hard to achieve them. Some took what was available and made the best of it. Some gave up. They simply could not overcome the obstacles that were laid in front of them.

All of them are my sisters. All of them deserve respect and kindness. None of them were born to oppress others and none of them were born to be oppressed.

Denying this is to deny their very humanity and the very attributes that link us together in a world that all of us must navigate.