I always heard–when you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything. That does not seem to be the case anymore. I have a lot to say, none of it very nice, yet I can’t seem to put it together. Therefore, I am posting what my husband, Shlomo, thought about what is going on here right now. He at least manages, somehow, to come up with a positive ending.
Reaction by Shlomo Sokal
I am having a hard time with all this. I mean, that is an incredibly dumb and obvious thing to say, but bear with me, I am thinking as I write and I am not sure how this is going to turn out. Today another Israeli, someone like me, someone like my wife and my children, was killed. Another three people were attacked and are so far still alive. [As of this post, the soldier in Tel Aviv has died, as well as others from previous attacks.]
In the last two weeks there were three other attacks (one might have been an accident, but when you are under attack it is a hard distinction to make). What I am having a hard time with is why. I don’t mean that like I expect it sounds. I understand the Palestinians are angry. I disagree, but it is obvious they are angry. I am having a hard time with the randomness of it all. I am having a hard time with trying to figure out what victory looks like, for either side here. Is the death of a three month old baby or a 26 year old woman a victory? If you view it as a victory what does that make you? I feel all my assumptions burning away and I don’t like it. I have always believed that every person is pretty much the same deep down. I have worked closely with people from many races, and have always come out of the experience with positive feelings. I am not being Pollyannaish when I say that in traveling I have come across ignorance, but very rarely people being anything other than people. So now I live here in Israel and for not the first time in my 8 years here I come across these atrocities that cannot be explained away as the acts of madmen, but as a systematic campaign of evil, chaos, and death. So what do I do? How can I accept this and still be the same person and still have the same outlook? How do I keep from despair? Do I have to accept that this is true evil and must be eradicated? Do I want to live in that sort of world? I think that last thought and I think I could not do that. I could not condone the “extreme measures” that I have heard others suggest. Does that mean I am making the problem worse and not better? I had a conversation around the Shabbat table this week where one of the guests was trying to explain why the Arabs felt the way they do. I found myself getting angrier and angrier, because none of it makes sense. I mean every single reason that gets vomited up is meaningless. They’re are angry about settlements? They attacked before there were any settlements! They are angry about refugees? They attacked before there were any refugees! They are angry about Jerusalem? They attacked while you had Jerusalem! I am left with the one inescapable conclusion. My continued existence here offends you so much that you are willing to pretty much kill anyone. This is a devastating conclusion for someone like me to make. How could this be?! It leaves me back to the same question. Is everything I believe about humanity wrong? Is the situation hopeless? Are we doomed to fight and fight until we can’t fight anymore, whatever that means? I am searching for something uplifting to say here. Something that will make this all better and wrap this whole rant in a nice bow of inspiration. But Dalia Lamkus is dead. Karen Muskara is dead. Chaya Zissel Brown is dead. Almog Shiloni is dead. They add their names to a long list of names of people who are gone and are never coming back. So where is the uplifting message? All these people are gone. My only answer is all the people who are still here. My wife who teaches troubled youth. My mother who gives all her time to other people. My father who heals all the little babies he can. The amazing people I work with who only try to help people fulfill their dreams. My neighbors who always have smiles for me. The Arab behind the cheese counter who I think is secretly in love with my wife. The soldiers who jumped into battle to keep us safe. The people who are still here trying to build that better world. I am still here. And while I am still here I am going to hold on to hope and I am not going to give in to despair or get hardened. Defend. Fight for life. Live up to our ideals. Be the light unto the nations, foolish, short sighted, and biased as they may be. Hope. It is our national anthem, and it is everything. Be the hope.
This was not what I was going to write when I started, but I am glad I finished here. Aren’t you?