A Story from Israel

A post from a friend:

We were in Israel just before Covid began in 2020. Our guide was 9 months pregnant, studying to be a rabbi, and amazing scholar and teacher for us. Emma reached out to her in this terrifying time. This is what she wrote back. It’s an important, human read:

Thank you so much for thinking of me😊 We are ok. Trying to keep it together and stay optimistic… Here is something i wrote on FB the other day… This post is in English, for all my friends and family around the world.

My parents brought me to live in Israel when I was only 8 years old. Besides the heat and the palm trees, my first memory is from the first Golf war in January 1991, when we were woken up every single night and went to the bomb shelter while wearing a gas mask.

I grew up in Israel of the nineties.

I remember every single bus explosion, but I also remember the joy and the tremendous hope brought to us by the Oslo accords and signing the peace treaty with Jordan.

When the violent second Intifada started, in September of 2000 I was drafted to the Army, and spent the next 3 years of my life fighting the enemies in Gaza and defending my country. Missiles flew above my head and snipers aimed at me daily.

After my military service I moved to Jerusalem, which became my eternal home and unconditional love.

During my academic journey at the Hebrew University, I was fortunate to meet those “enemies” for the first time in my life. They were Arabs, and they were smart, interesting, intelligent, gentle, but the most important thing about them was that they didn’t want to kill me, instead, they very much wanted to be my friends.

Those encounters 20 years ago and all the others that followed, changed me. And I thank God about it every single day.

My beloved country is burning from within. This wave of violence and hatred is at a completely different level from what we are used to. My heart is breaking a thousand times every single day while listening to the news, and all I can think of is how scared the Jews and the Arabs are from one another, each thinking that they are the enemy of the other. I truly understand, because I remember myself thinking exactly that. Most Jews and Arabs in Israel don’t have the opportunity to meet, because if they did, they would understand that all of us are destined to share this land and live together. It is not going to change, even after this round of violence. And at the end, when it is all over, all of us will still be here and we will need to learn again how to live side by side. Most importantly we will need to look in the eyes of our children and tell them where were we when our country was burning.

So I want to tell you where was I tonight, together with my husband and my children, and together with many hundreds of other parents, grandparents and their children. Jews and Arabs. Young and old. We came together, to meet, and to show one another how sorry we are for the situation on the ground and to testify that we choose to get along and to live together.

Love. Hope. Solidarity. Compassion. Kindness. Generosity. Big hearts.

This is what I saw tonight. This is my country. This is my people. These are my Jewish and Arab neighbors. Thank God for all of them.

And since you will not hear about it on the news, i will attach a few pictures of this beautiful evening in Israel, just outside of Jerusalem, where we, Israelites, Jews and Arabs, chose to love one another, because we are all equal human beings and also because we all belong and love this land so very much.