You do not know me, so I want to tell you a little about the adventure of my life.
I was born almost 26 years ago, a little sister to two brothers and my parents’ little daughter. My mom and dad chose to live in Zarit, a small farming village in northern Israel that kisses the border with Lebanon.
You probably do not recognize the name, because even in Israel most people only know about Zarit when talking about the fatal attack there that sparked the war in 2006. Or they talk about us in context of the fear of Hezbollah’s attack tunnels, or simply when talking about the security situation.
As a child, I grew up in the shadow of terror attacks: rocket fire, terrorist intrusion alerts and one war that changed my life and the lives of my family.
Ten years ago, on July 12, 2006, Hezbollah terrorists crossed the border near Zarit and killed three soldiers. Two other soldiers, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, were abducted and subsequently died at the hands of Hezbollah. My father, a farmer, heard the fighting and rushed quickly to rescue his brother from the adjoining orchard, which had started getting hit by the gunfire. Hezbollah noticed my father and opened fire on his car with a mortar.
I can only ask you to imagine how I felt when they told me that my father was badly wounded. How the bubble burst in my life when I realized that my dad was not all-powerful, and that at night, when I was afraid he wouldn’t be able to watch over me. He could not, because he himself was wounded in this war.
I did not go home for three months. I felt a crippling pain, when I realized that my home was not the safest place for me. When I finally returned home, I dealt with my father’s deteriorating condition, the healing of his physical injuries countered by the post-traumatic state that came to dominate his life. The injury will accompany my father to the end of his days, along with memories that we will never forget.
When I turned 18, I enlisted in the Israel Defense Forces. I served as a welfare officer and I was in the standing army for three years. I joined out of a sense of mission, not out of hatred, nor out of a desire for revenge, but in order to protect my home and the homes of citizens.
After my release from the army, I studied education. I married, and together with my husband chose to build our house in Zarit. Nine months ago, we became parents. Since I became a mother, new fears have become part of my life. Now I am responsible for my daughter’s life. I am committed to ensuring her safety, just as any parent provides safety for their child.
I wonder. Would you raise your child in a place where there is a risk of attack from Hezbollah tunnels? Do you know if you’d be able to sleep at night while Hezbollah soldiers are building towers along the border fence near your home? Is it possible to have a normal life alongside Hezbollah’s desire to attack, kidnap, take control and kill?
My answer is yes, because I know we can live a good life in Zarit. Despite the reality of the Middle East in which we find ourselves, we cannot let hatred overwhelm us. We must live, to love, to exist. We cannot give up on the place where we grew up and accumulated a lifetime of memories. We can only continue to hope that evil fades and teach our children the values of love.
I invite you to come and visit, because Zarit is an amazing place. A small place with a few families, fantastic scenery, warm people, nature that thrives despite all the threats. When you come visit who knows, maybe you’ll fall in love with the place and decide to stay.