Two weeks after the kidnapping of Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Frenkel, my Facebook feed is still full of rally notifications, requests for prayer, uplifting speeches from the parents, and denunciations against the kidnappers (who we may have just been given images of) and Hamas. The air of stoicism that has spread throughout the country has left me depressed and angry, and I find myself snapping more frequently at friends and co-workers. Surprisingly, my level of snapping at my husband has remained constant. Practice makes perfect, I suppose.
Part of my despair is in mourning for yet another chance to have peace between Israel and the Palestinian people. When the “Unity” government was formed, I was pessimistic, but at the same time, I hoped I was wrong. I would love to wake up one morning to the news that the leaders of the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, and Israel had flown to Colorado, smoked a big old bowl of Kush, stayed up til 4am laughing at nothing and munching on Rold Gold pretzels, until someone was like, “Dude, we are fighting over a desert. Can you believe this $#!&?!!”
But the responses of the Palestinian people and their leaders prove that we have a long way to go before we can expect to have a neighborhood “pot”luck. Maybe they are just playing for the cameras, but is this really behavior that they are capable of justifying to themselves? What kind of people do things like that? How bad do you have to want peace to negotiate with people making cartoons about kidnapped children?
And yet, eventually, we will, of course, go back to the table. Because despite the rhetoric, most Israelis want to be able to get on with our lives, without having parts of our country attacked by rockets, and without living next to powderkegs of people living in poverty. But it will take us time to get back to where we can even consider this possibility rationally. And during the next negotiations, our trust will be at an all-time low.
One of the worst things is the feeling that I don’t deserve to be happy while the boys are being held away from their families. I feel guilty when I say something funny, or when my mind wanders to another subject. And yet, I know that prolonged grief without action is neither healthy nor helpful. So, I’ve brainstormed some of the best ways to move forward on a day to day basis.
Rallies in support of the boys, and visits to international settings like the U.N. can help us feel like we have more control. While neither of these things will magically result in their release, we are showing the world the true meaning of the phrase ‘he who saves a life, saves the world.’ We care about each one of the boys as if they were members of our immediate family, and we will work as hard to save three people as to save thirty, or three million.
For those of us who are religious, our hearts cry out for G-d to give us an answer for why this happened. And for people who are not religious, this is a time to meditate on whether anything Israel has done merits children being taken against their will. Prayer is really about having an internal conversation. And we need to have that kind of discussion as we decide, both on an individual level, and collectively as a country, how we will respond to this violation.
While keeping Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali in our hearts until their safe return, we must continue doing the things that make Israel a beacon of success and triumph over adversity. We can still go to our jobs, make jokes, and share intimate moments with friends. In fact, we can do all these things in honor of the three boys. It’s not enough that the world see us weeping. We need to show them we cannot be broken.