I’ve started writing a dozen letters – but haven’t finished or sent any. I have discovered I’m all too human. All too conflicted. All too emotional. And all too stressed.
I’m having heated mental arguments with practically every news report, op-ed, article, and post. It doesn’t matter left, right or center – I just want to argue because there are no easy answers, everyone is wrong and I’m tired.
My office is just within range of Hamas rocket fire – I’ve felt it shake at the impact of Grad rockets. I’m not worried for my safety as my office was once the armory of the village where we’re located and it is a “safe room”. But it is nonetheless unsettling. My office is one of the places people come if a siren goes off. I find myself staring at photos of my children more than usual while at work – and spending more time with them than usual when I’m home.
In their school today one of the projects is creating gift boxes for Israeli soldiers – brothers, sisters, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors and friends of the students. My 6 & 7 year olds, Gabi & Micah, are scared for their cousin in the IDF who just got a field assignment. They asked why she has to go to the war.
During dinner they asked if there are rockets landing in Tel Aviv. (They heard me and my wife, Varda, talking about a meeting in Tel Aviv). I’m a left wing, peace-loving, card-carrying liberal. I don’t live in the West Bank – or even Sderot. This is not a conversation I want to be having with my children – but I don’t have a choice.
Every time I hear a news report of a rocket hitting I pray to hear “no damage” at the end of the report. However, this is profoundly misleading. Along with hundreds of thousands of other Israelis, I’ve now heard the air raid sirens, run to the shelter, and felt the ground shake. I understand the deep emotional, psychological and spiritual damage even when there is minimal physical damage or loss of life.
I am mentally and physically exhausted from the anxiety & stress. But most of all I’m sad.
Sad that I have to think about whether going to work is safe – and where to run when the sirens sound.
Sad over the death of hundreds of Palestinian civilians.
Sad that my six and seven year old children know stories of people hit by Hamas rocket fire.
Sad by what I sometimes perceive as a lack of sensitivity to the horrible suffering and anguish of so many Israeli families – especially the children – who have been living with the constant threat of rockets for the years.
Sad at the conditions in which the Palestinians in Gaza have been living for so long – and Israel’s role along with Hamas in perpetuating this situation.
Sad to think that our children – young Israeli soldiers including kids from Gezer – are in the situation where they have to defend our people from those whose mission is our destruction – they and other innocents caught in the middle.
Sad at what this is doing to our souls.
Sad that thousands of Israeli children have been scarred for life – living in fear of rocket fire for more than 8 years and for whom the “color red” means “take cover.”
Sad at the image portrayed of Israel throughout the world right now.
And sad that this is how I’m bringing in the New Year.
At Gezer there were some refugees from the south of Israel staying for a respite. Their children’s’ first question upon arrival was “where is the nearest bomb shelter?” They still couldn’t sleep at night.
What’s a parent to do? What’s a country to do?
I’m a rodef shalom – a pursuer of peace. I pray for a peaceful two-state solution. I pray for a quick end to the violence and for successful diplomatic intervention. I pray for true leaders – Palestinian, Israeli and international – with the hearts, souls, courage and strength to take bold steps toward peace. I pray that all Abraham’s children will be able to sleep soundly at night.
I pray for shalom.