Finding myself in the Middle East

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Ancestral Memory

I can't watch the video of the car bearing Ahmed Jabari being blown to smithereens. I feel the heat, the terror, the blood, the moans, the death. I try to remember his large frame manhandling the emaciated and shocky Gilad Shalit, but I still can't. I can't. The fear. The moans. The blood. The death.

Outdoorsman says that buses and trains are off limits for now. He always gets a little fussy when Hamas says things like, "now it is all out war!"

I always feel like they are just shouting in the dark, scowling like a scolded 2 year-old and saying, "Now I'm REALLY angry!" Because I never thought that they needed an excuse for terror, just the resources.

Still, you never know.

I will avoid buses.

A couple of years ago, I spoke to a Rabbi about a few things that were bothering me about living in Israel. I said how I couldn't stand the way that my kids were talking about "goyim." I hated the word "goyim,"too.

"In America, we have respect for everyone!" I said hotly.

The Rabbi smiled indulgently. "Listen," he said. "In America, the goyim are not trying to kill us. For now. Here, they are. So, we don't really like that. So we don't invite them to our Kumbaya sing-a-long."

(I might have made up that last line.)

It was like someone had thrown water into my naive face.

Because they are trying to kill us. There have been an insane amount of rockets this week alone. Thousands of people--families, kids, old blue-haired women--while I was curled up in my bed, spent last night in their shelters, waiting for the all-clear.

When I was in Neve, a girl in my apartment was shot while waiting for the bus. I missed the Cafe Rimon bomb by fifteen minutes, though I heard all about it from the girl in the room next door to mine. She threw up in the toilet and cried on the floor of the bathroom for hours.

It is so hard to wrap my mind around it. I see them in my park. One man puts his daughter on the swing and smiles at her as she squeals. A woman rocks her baby to sleep. My neighbor says, "You have to glare at them when they come! They have to know that they are not welcome here!"

Instead, I watch them, father and daughter, swinging past the green trees in the clear blue sky. And I think, no. It can't be. Look at him, smiling at her.

Outdoorsman makes a face when we are in the old city and a nun walks by in heavy black fabric. I say, they are our friends. Outdoorsman says that for a Jew, I have a very very short memory.

Today, while I was bringing Turtle to gan, a man passed by. He walked slowly, hunched up around himself, and wore a child's backpack. Short hair, short beard. Arab.

I wrapped my arms around Turtle and walked faster. I scolded myself for leaving my cell phone at home.

Vagabond? Or terrorist?

I wasn't sure. But from my heart, straight into my mind, shot one single word.



Princess Lea said...

As a grandchild of survivors, I was raised to be pretty paranoid. Many who have been raised in America do not understand why the men of my family are fond of caps and always keep their tzitzis tucked in.

While I live in the supposed unbiased America, my antennae are constantly attuned for any antisemitism. And when I visited Europe, it was quite palpable.

Nuns are harmless old biddies now. In Europe, my mother was even sent to Catholic school as a child because my Babi like the kindergarten nun. But can we forget so quick the atrocities Catholics practiced upon us?

As Jews, while we are a supposed light unto the nations, we are also hated. Nature of the beast.

My Israeli cousin said that even those who were willing to work towards peace have had enough. They know it is not going to to happen.

But then you see an Arab man with his daughter, meet an Arab woman with her son, and on that individual level you can see them as human. As parents, as families.

We don't say full Hallel on Pesach because we do not rejoice in the death of our enemies, even the ones who have killed our children. What makes us different is that we have mitleid, that we can feel for others.

To be wary, and to have compassion. A hard balance.

Tzipporah said...

Being a light to the nations means moving past hatred of the nations, and instead sadness for them.
This is a timeless responsibility that often seems futile and occasionally seems all out wrong; against all rational logic.
And still, the job is ours to fill.

Otherwise, all we stand for and all we've been through is meaningless.

JerusalemStoned said...

Princess--you have outlined the issue beautifully...

Tzipporah--where does common sense come in? In my heart, I am happy that Israel is giving aid to Gaza. But does it make sense? I am not talking about hatred. I am talking about legitimate terror of those who have the power to hurt us.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...