Forgive me followers, for I have sinned. It has been four months since my last post. I accuse myself of the following transgressions:
- Being unable to face reality
- Being unable to admit obvious truths
- Sinking into total and utter denial
- Disconnecting myself from current occurrences
Looking back now, I think that what triggered the apathy described above was the growing realization at the time that there was no chance of success for the renewed peace talks. These chances were extremely low from the start due to the leading characters in question and a constellation of other internal and external factors, so no surprises there. But what really depressed me was the fact that Israelis accepted this failure with total apathy. So why should I care if no one else did, right?
Attacks by Palestinians on the one hand, and price tag actions by Jewish extremists on the other – all were not enough to disturb my slumber. As the political discourse was taken over by fundamentalists on both sides, it was so much easier simply to ignore the noise and retreat into a comfort zone consisting of day-to-day happenings and routine. The future never seemed gloomier, but it all just passed right over me.
Something began to stir within me during and after the kidnapping and murder incident of the three teens a few weeks ago.
What disturbed me most wasn’t the tragic incident itself but the venom, hatred, and racism pouring out of thousands of Israelis over the Internet. Like never before, a wave of verbal violence coursed through the various online social networks calling for immediate revenge and blood. One of the most prominent groups to emerge on the web was “The People of Israel Demand Revenge.” Tens of thousands of Israelis joined this group after hearing that the three teens were found dead, driven by its call to hurt the Palestinians as punishment for the act of terror. Internet users suddenly had no qualms about showing their faces to all. There were soldiers, young men and women and adults, all of whom took selfies of themselves holding makeshift signs demanding that the blood of the three teens be avenged. Some of the signs were brusque and violent.
The floodgates were open, and anti-Palestinian incitement became rampant. I felt sick to the stomach reading the hateful posts, tweets and blogs, some written by well-known right-wing politicians. This tsunami culminated in the sickening act of vengeance committed against a 16 year-old Palestinian from East Jerusalem who was kidnapped, beaten and torched to death. What topped it all for me though, were the hypocritical public outcries: “How could Jews do such as thing?” or “How could we have come to this?” – some uttered by the very same politicians that only a few days before were busy calling for blood! As I have pointed out myself time and again, the writing has always been there on the wall for all to see. Those denying this are either blind or fools.
My last post was way back in March. Israel had just executed operation “Full Disclosure” – the seizure of the Klos C cargo ship with tons of weapons on their way to Gaza. The victory pictures broadcast to the world of neatly sorted rockets, now take on a different meaning. The country then was awash with the same feelings of patriotism and solidarity felt by Israelis now. Today though, these feelings are reinforced by a very real feeling of fear. Despite the protection offered by the Iron Dome defense system, the psychological effect of intermittent sirens, safe rooms and explosions cannot be discounted. And in times of war or extreme violence, hatred offers a twisted form of solace for those in fear.
Like love, hatred is all-consuming and at times, also devastating. If Israel was all about hate, there would be no reason for living here anymore. Yet I have not lost my faith in this country and its people. I have not lost my faith in the chance for peace. I believe violence cannot solve anything and only propagates the tragedy on both sides.
As I led my family into our safe room at 6:00 this morning following a siren heralding approaching projectiles from Gaza, and explained to my 5 and 3 year-old boys for the first time that there were bad people in this world, I couldn’t help feel this fear. I felt it coarse through my veins and fester into a vile black poison. But at no stage did I let this cancerous feeling infect my consciousness. I will not allow it to manifest into hatred. I will keep on reminding myself that on the other side, hundreds have lost their lives and thousands more their houses. The tragedy is real on both sides of the line – we cannot allow ourselves to forget this even if at times it seems like the other side has.