I came to Israel in 1997, happy and starry-eyed. I was in love with my new surroundings, my new world, from day one.
And merely a year later, the Second Intifada began. The dream took a break. For the next seven years it felt like non-stop stress. Constantly checking the news, never knowing who to trust. And attending way too many funerals.
My transition back to Israel four years ago wasn’t exactly smooth. But the difference in life with a constant threat of terror versus life without that threat was palpable. I arrived back to a different Israel. It almost felt like we were slowly but surely putting the past behind us, and moving toward a happier, calmer future.
But apparently that wasn’t meant to be.
My World is Returning
And I’m feeling what I used to feel in the past again. The stress and fears are returning.
But I’ve woken up to a new reality, one that was inevitable. Yet one that in every generation we hope will change, but never does.
My teenage daughter loves Tik Tok. OK, to me it looks like some corny app where kids do the same stupid dances as each other, and that’s about it. Basically, it’s just another social media site, nothing more, nothing less.
But one time she actually made me see why it’s meaningful to her, and I really understood where she was coming from. And stopped any and all teasing.
She said that Tik Tok was the only place she ever went in which she felt truly safe and comfortable, where she could be herself without being judged.
The Reality is Changing
But recent events robbed her of that. Now her little fake reality is filled with 24/7 criticism of Israel. And it doesn’t take the most critical observer of things over here to realize that the way Israel is portrayed and judged by the world is monstrously biased and inaccurate.
I can go on for pages about the stupidity I read on a daily basis. Everything from portraying the situation as unfair because Israel has a missile defense system, as if any other country throughout the history of the world should feel guilt at its ability to defend itself against an aggressor. Or I can rant about the absurdity of phrases like “disproportionate force”, a concept that only seems to apply to Israel. The notion that any nation would react to missiles landing in their backyards with anything less than the most extreme response is laughably inane.
But it doesn’t matter.
If you agree with me, you’ll nod. You’ll laugh at the craziness. You’ll point out another thirty absurd things you’ve heard in the last 24 hours.
But if you disagree, there’s nothing that will change your mind. You’ve already been convinced by Trevor Noah or some silly meme that you saw. Or the media’s ridiculous presentation of what’s happening. Or worse, you are some diseased idiot who has filled Twitter with things like #hitlerwasright.
You don’t want an intellectual conversation. You don’t want facts. And you have no capacity to hear from those of us living here about what we actually witness on a day-to-day basis.
And so the world is upside down once again.
Can’t Escape the Reality Check
I can’t escape the daily reality check, as the news is filled with horror stories from the Gaza Strip and reports of increased anti-Semitism worldwide. I’m forced once again to know that modernity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Every time I think for a moment that we are exiting a world of hate and venom, a world of wars and violence, something happens here to remind me that ultimately nothing has changed.
What were they waiting for? Does anyone really think that Hamas is lobbing thousands of rockets in Israel over legal land disputes of just a few families?
Was Hamas waiting until they had a sizable stockpile of weapons? Or until Trump was out of office, fearing he would give Israel the green light to do anything it needed to protect itself? Or maybe they were just holding out for a decent excuse to which they could artificially attach their rage?
An Inevitable Pattern
But the pattern is old. And inevitable.
The conflict has never been resolved. Possibly never will be. And every so often our neighbors will decide they want to express their rage against Israel. And it can take so many forms, everything from rocks to knives to riots to suicide bombers to hapless rocket attacks.
We will then defend our nation… because that’s what you do when you’re under attack. And negotiations will rage all over the world, in a futile attempt to curb the violence. All the meanwhile we will be locked in a public relations war against an enemy with no moral compass, so they are impossible to defeat.
Yes, Hamas launches rockets from residential areas. Why? Do you think it’s because of great real estate prices? No. Because they have no regard for human life. If we don’t respond to their attacks because they are surrounded by civilians, then they get to harm us freely, without concern. If we do respond, we risk injuring or killing non-militants. Thus leaving us looking like an awful nation, no matter what we attempt to do to preserve people’s lives.
And trust me, I really do feel for the lives of those harmed when we defend ourselves. And I understand why ordinary people don’t stand up to terror organizations. The risk is too great. And I have all the sympathy for those who simply can’t fathom a risk that terrifying.
But listen: The simple math begins with Hamas. It all goes back to their disgustingly immoral behavior. Remove that from the equation, and we get to respond without moral implications. They know it, so it’ll never happen.
And yet again, I find myself angrily shouting logic in a non-logical atmosphere. This discussion is hardly one that could end with just saying the right words at the right time. More than likely, we will have the conversation for the next several weeks or months. There will be lulls. But we’ll come back again to this, full circle, just like we always do. If not right away, then again in a few years.
And the pain of death, destruction, and fear are all oppressive.
But they’re pain I’ve known before. This is pain I’ve dealt with.
My Children’s Reality
Watching my children wake up to the reality of a world that might hate them simply because of being born Jewish is new to me.
Every parent knows that children are already living in a post-modern reality. They play freely with other children, disregarding race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, wealth, and the countless other differences that create distance between adults.
Biases will form and our biggest hope as caring parents is the biases form as slowly as possible, with minimal damage caused through our own words or actions.Biases will form and our biggest hope as caring parents is the biases form as slowly as possible, with minimal damage caused through our own words or actions. Click To Tweet
But my children’s world was just thrown into the fire. They are no longer seeing the world with blinders. And they are way too aware of how much hate and anger lurks out there.
I hoped they’d grow up in a world different than the one I’ve been exposed to my whole life and has existed forever.
No such luck.
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