I had an idea.
Nothing crazy. Just a simple thought for a children’s book inspired by my son which I’d started writing before this current conflict began.
But I’ve put it on hold. It’s hard to write a children’s book while sprinting to bomb shelters on a daily basis in Tel Aviv.
As a writer and Creative Director, I need to be inspired to create. Unlike Hamas terrorist thugs, I’m not inspired by death or martydom.
Sorry. Not in the slightest.
After repeating ‘Once upon a time’ to myself over and over again and getting nowhere, I accepted my writer’s block. Instead, I’m re-visiting a chapter of my creative past where I already created a story once. I want to recite this story to my son one day when he’s old enough to understand it. But more than that, I want him to live its reality.
A young Israeli and Palestinian boy — David and Ali — are friends.
(No, really. Friends).
They’re just playing on the beach and chit-chatting. Doing what all kids are meant to do, I guess. As they’re hanging out on the beach, they start talking about unthinkable violence and differences from a past that’s unfathomable to them.
They’re thankful they know nothing of such madness. They’re grateful to have been spared from it and to have each other. Because actually, they like each other and can’t imagine a world where they wouldn’t be friends. Because that would be dumb. Then they continue playing.
That’s it. The End.
This story is the narrative for an animation I spearheaded a couple of years ago. I created it with incredibly gracious colleagues and friends who’re all equally responsible for its creation. We worked on it together from here, Brazil and NYC for two years to shine a light on the human story of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Because it’s only the human story, and a collective appreciation for it, that will ever get us out of this f-ed up mess.
Before you roll your eyes, moan and groan and say, ‘It’s just a fantasy and you’re an idiot – we’re in the middle of a war, stupid’ – hold your damn horses. I’m going to beat you to it because clearly, it is a fantasy. Try not to take a side, either. Do your damnedest to put your politics aside for a second and put your humanity on instead. That doesn’t make you an idiot. Quite the contrary.
Because in between our posts and stances for this side or that side and the fury of the debates of who was here first. Or the numbers of missiles that hit and the number of missiles that could have hit but didn’t. In between the tragedy of our soldiers being forced to defend their country and who are killed for it, and unarmed civilians caught in the crossfire being held hostage by religious, terrorist fanatics they voted for. Or the loss of homes, limbs, sons and daughters. In between it all is the human story. There is the person. Not the barbaric sicko Hamas killers being hunted down in their holes. But the person who really just wants a decent life. The good ones. The decent ones. Over here and over there. Though I’m for this defensive war it is unbearable to me that good people with potentially bright futures are being killed. People who could be David. Or Ali. Your kid. Or mine.
Poof. Gone. Forever. And that’s not fiction.
Our reality doesn’t allow us to Give Peace a Chance right now. Sorry, Mr. Lennon. That’s like asking the Allies to give peace a chance when they were smack in the middle of bombing the German nation and their perverted Nazi leaders during World War II. We’re in the middle of a war, and we have to defeat a sick enemy that wants us dead for no sane reason; an enemy that thrives on death and radical Islam and who want their own innocents to be killed in the line of fire, instead of creating better lives for them. An enemy that kidnaps civilians and our soldiers, and who preach killing the Jews wherever they can be found. Hamas are like the monsters who did this and they must be utterly crushed.
To hell with them.
They don’t determine my life. They can’t deny me to Imagine the world I’d like to live in. Hamas can’t take that away from me. Or us.
I’m not afraid. Not of them. And not of the world I want to make for my family.
Distant as things seem, nothing is out of reach. The moon wasn’t, and neither is a better future of peaceful co-existance with Palestinian neighbors who want that, too. Though I can’t see it at all right now, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. A better future is totally possible. And I believe it. I have to.
For my son.
When the shit hits the fan in my mind and I can’t see anything but the current chaos, I start from this future and work backwards from there. I watch this and it helps me get my bearings straight again. Naive and utopian, sure. So sue me. Working from the present – which has become an incessant barrage of ignorance, hate, lies, radical extremism, media spin and death – is impossible. Kids playing together without a care in the world is my anchor. Not fear of terror tunnels beneath me.
I want to see this glimmer of hope become my kid’s reality one day – more than anything. It’s what most Israelis yearn for and, yes, are fighting for. Whether they believe it’ll come or not.
To quote Leonard Cohen, ‘There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in’. When this war against Hamas is won – and our brave men and women will win it, sadly at great human cost – we’ll continue looking for all the cracks we can find.
Tunnels of Hamas darkness be damned.
TWO BOYS – Script
Ali: Whoo hoo!
David: Come on, Ali!
My mother once said there used to be a big wall dividing us.
Ali: Hey David, grandfather said that, too. He said the Israelis were on the other side. That I would have hated you all and thought you liked killing Palestinian children.
David: Mother said you would have hated me, too, and would have wanted all of us Israelis to drown in the sea.
Ali: You were all probably scared to death.
David: I’m sure everyone was.
[Palestinian suicide bomber detonates himself in Israeli coffee shop - followed by scream in Hebrew: 'Mother!!]
Ali: We lost it.
[Sound of Israeli plane dropping bomb - explosion]
David: I think we lost it, too.
[Palestinian man screaming in Arabic]
Ali: A lot of people thought that’s what God wanted. But it isn’t.
David: Everyone lost out.
[Israeli mothers and Palestinian mothers weeping]
David: Sounds like everyone was nuts for a while. I’m just glad it stopped.
Ali: Yeah. I guess people figured out we’re all the same, and we shouldn’t be afraid of each other.
David: Ali…I’m not afraid of you.
Ali: I know. Me neither. And I would never want you to drown in the sea.
[they look at each other - giggling from David and Ali]
But I’ll race you!
David: Lets go!
Ali: Come on, David!
David: Yeah Ali, run!
Both: Whoo hoo!
– Created for The Fund for Reconciliation, Tolerance and Peace, funded by Leonard Cohen. By natie, Lobo, Birdo, The Ebeling Group, Firefly Productions, K Rabe, Wicked Music, Sweet Sound, JMX2 and too many volunteers to mention.