Perspective from Jerusalem: After the Kidnappings in Israel
I arrived in Israel eleven months ago, and it’s been one of the most liberating times of my life. I’ve begun to carve a little niche for myself in the writing world, and have time to pursue my creative projects as well. Life is beautiful.
But the past week has been one of grief, turmoil, and confusion. It has left me struggling for words.
Four teenagers are dead, all killed at the hands of the other. Three were Israeli, one was Palestinian. None of that should even matter, because four mothers are weeping for their sons, and four fathers are grieving for their boys. I have wept, prayed for peace, and slowly come to the realization that we will only witness true peace when we are able to recognize that it is our differences that are killing us. Humanity, as a whole, must learn love.
The night that Israel‘s three boys were buried, I witnessed an outburst of anger and violence among Israelis. I watched from my kitchen window, understanding that their anger was fueled by the same grief, confusion, and pain that I felt. I wanted peace, they called for war. I was frustrated, and wondered how these protesters could foster such hatred. As a protester stepped in front of a moving train, time froze. My heart pounded its fists against my chest, and I watched. With hardly a second to spare, a police officer grabbed her out of harms way. It felt as though a storm was brewing.
All I knew was that own my people had expressed violence towards me. It didn’t make any sense. Soccer didn’t matter.
Later that night, my friends and I fled to safety as the same mob swarmed the pub where we were watching the World Cup. A child spat as we ran. Others threw handfuls of dirt. One threw a bag of salt. I turned my head as we disappeared around the corner to catch one last glance–someone was throwing chairs. I was glad to be out of harm’s way. Soon, I was sitting in the safety of a different pub–one with a bouncer, and secure entrances– contemplating what I had witnessed. I didn’t know what to make of it. All I knew was that own my people had expressed violence towards me. It didn’t make any sense. Soccer didn’t matter.
The next morning, I woke to find out that a Palestinian boy had been discovered dead. Some sources called it revenge, other sources steered the murder away from the conflict and claimed it was an honor killing. Reports of unrest, and violence in the West Bank and Gaza continued to flood Israeli news. The Palestinian boy was buried. Later, sources confirmed that it was revenge, and that the perpetrators were Jewish. These boys, yes–boys, do not represent the majority here.
That afternoon, I witnessed a Peace Rally. Hundreds of young adults stood together, calling out for peace. Children perched on the shoulders of their fathers hovered above the crowd. Some cried. Some held signs. I watched from a safe distance, wanting little to do with large crowds. The rally was an incredible, encouraging display of peace. It settled my uneasy soul.
The Palestinian boy was buried. Later, sources confirmed that it was revenge, and that the perpetrators were Jewish. These boys, yes–boys, do not represent the majority here.
The following night, as I prepared dinner I heard the echo of voices in the distance. A slow procession of flashing lights reflected off storefronts, and I waited. They came into view as they rounded the corner near my apartment, and soon enough I could decipher their Hebrew. “Enough, enough violence!” As a March for Peace passed beneath my kitchen window, I felt a spark of hope. Murder does not justify murder. It was comforting to see that they were speaking out against the violence.
It has been painfully confusing to bear witness to all that has unraveled in the past week. I have never been so tuned into the news. I have never been so jumpy. As the wail of an ambulance passes by, I offer a prayer for the strangers’ health followed by a prayer for peace. For understanding. For love.
I am an American Jew. I am living in Israel, and praying for peace.