That’s how I feel watching the situation in Israel and Gaza unfold on social media and mainstream media.
Friends, family, enemies and strangers are in harm’s way while I am sitting here at a safe distance, making dinner, watching cartoons with my daughter and figuring out what I am going to wear to work. I don’t have to find shelter or run through the streets, scared and wonder what tomorrow will bring.
I lived in Israel during a time when suicide bombings were a regular thing, but the fear was in isolated pockets and there was a surreal quality to it all. In Tel Aviv, we almost felt like we were in a separate country. Bombings did happen in our city, two of them less than a kilometer from my apartment, but even still, Tel Aviv, that bastion of culture, nightlife and secular freedom always felt far away from the dangers of the middle east conflict.
In the nearly 6 years I lived in Israel, friends and family in the US worried for my safety, they watched CNN and furiously emailed me to be sure I was okay, to be sure I didn’t want to come home, to ask me yet again why I would put myself in harm’s way? My answer, always the same. It’s not like you see on the news, yes, there are risks, but you take risks when you live anywhere. And people didn’t believe me when I always said, I never felt safer anywhere than in Tel Aviv.
Last night sirens went off in Tel Aviv for the first time since the Gulf War. I combed social media for real time updates and the mainstream media to try and understand what was happening. Somewhere in the back of my mind I wondered if I was still living there, if my stock answer would have found it’s way to my lips, if I would have been able to draw on Israelis’ incredible strength, survival skills and resolve once again to tell those close to me that I was and felt safe?
For the last several months, I have watched things unfold in Israel, as we’ve inched ever closer to a showdown over Iran, I have clung to my beliefs. The belief that war doesn’t solve anything and that the cost is too high. The belief that the cycle of violence, which is always a version of the same song, terrorists attack, Israel retaliates to protect its population, Israel is called out at the aggressor, doesn’t get us anywhere. We always end up at the same place. A cease fire, and no closer to finding a solution so that Israelis can live in safety and security with its neighbors.
Conflict in the region is a merry go round, you go round and round and when the ride eventually stops you are in exactly the same place you were when it began, you’re just a little dizzier, your center of gravity is off.
I find it tough to reconcile my beliefs that war is not good, that the way to have peace is just not to pick up arms when Hamas so blatantly is making war on Israel. I do believe Israel has the right to defend itself and they cannot sit idly by while rocket after rocket hits their population centers and Israeli citizens live a life in a strange limbo between everyday life and running to the nearest bomb shelter. I find it tough to stand up for no violence when so many Israelis are in harm’s way, while my daughter is safe in her bed when so many others on both sides cannot say the same thing.
So, I am not going to try and reconcile my beliefs, I am only going to hope and pray that this will stop.