Gaza is unlivable and Tel Aviv is surreal. Then there’s all the rest.
I spent today at a meeting of Israelis and Palestinians in East Jerusalem, planned well before the current escalation. Around 7:30 a.m., I was showering when sirens went off, followed by three low booms. Since the shower is about the only comfortable place in the sticky coastal area these days, I didn’t move. It no longer seemed interesting enough to post on social media. At 8:30 a.m. I picked up two colleagues and we drove 38 miles (60 kilometers) from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. With a bit of morning traffic, we arrived just after 9:30 a.m.
H, a Palestinian conflict resolution expert in her 40s from a town near Hebron, was also supposed to attend the meeting. She left home, about 23 miles (37 kilometers) from Jerusalem as the crow flies, in time to be there at 9:30. At 10:30 the organizers began getting text messages from her.
I asked for her permission to publish them here, almost unedited. She agreed on condition that I do not use her full name.
“I am still trying to leave Hebron. Dura my home town is closed because of clashes last night after settlers kidnapping a 15 year kid beating him breaking his legs and tossing him way out of main road..Shabab got angry and it was a long night. Will do my best but please know I am trying. Writing after stopping on the side of the road too dangerous! ! Last night in gaza my family lost members of its extended clan!!crazy shit all around!!!!fuck this life I cannot take it anymore.”
“Ok. I gave up. I am back to Dura. My brother was with me and so he also decided not to continue to Bethlehem. Muhammad Dudeen, the kid who was killed in Dura two weeks ago was a cousin from my mom’s side. My 14 year nephew is talking about martyrism all the time. My niece who speaks English, French and Arabic is not sure if she wants to leave home to do a one year study abroad. My brother tells me in an angry voice that those who call for another intifada do not know that we want to just live and hear nothing about death unless it is for natural causes! Cancer seems more human than being blown up to pieces while walking in the street.
How can we take that darkness out of our lives? How can we humanize ourselves and the other when children are paying the price of this senseless death. Did we fail as social justice activists to advocate for just peace and non-violent resistance? What and how can we pick up the pieces of our shattered humanity?! Is giving up an option? Is it even reasonable? How can we move forward when children are watching and witnessing and experiencing this loud noise of hatred and violence?”