I’ve been thinking a lot about how Israelis react to the barrages of missiles, the terrifying wails of the sirens, the need to run for shelter, the reverberations of booms echoing in the skies, the piercing of our peace, the random, vicious attacks on our people.
I wonder at the humor, the steadfastness, the pride.
There is terror and there is trauma. There are children who refuse to leave their homes and there are parents who hear sirens in their minds and must always scope out the nearest shelter. There are fathers who drive their kids a few blocks instead of letting them walk, and mothers who call 18 times a day. There is sadness and there is worry.
But overwhelmingly, there is resilience.
And I wonder at it. I wonder why more of us aren’t saying, “No more. I cannot take this target on my back any longer. I cannot take the fear of a missile, a kidnapping, a stabbing, a shooting …”
Are there a few more glasses of wine being poured? Yup. Prayers? Yes. Anger? Certainly.
But, I see defiance. I see ingenuity. I see assistance. I see people covering one another with their bodies when there are no shelters. I see strangers comforting strangers in the midst of panic, staying with them until they are safe. I see support and love and offers of help. I see millions and millions of shekels spent to keep us safe. Do you know why?
The Jewish people have a collective consciousness that we have kept alive for thousands of years. Even the most secular Israeli is aware of some Jewish history. That we lived here for 2,000 years and that most of us were exiled by foreign conquerers. That our children were stolen. Our identity tossed to the winds.
For millennia we were dependent on others for security and those others almost always disappointed. From forced conversions, to exiles, to crusading hordes, to blood libels, to pogroms, to Inquisitions, and to Holocaust. And now, we have returned to this land, this land of our fathers.
It is the end stop.
We are going no where else.
And we have sovereignty. We are finally, finally responsible for ourselves. Our safety is in our own hands for the first time in 2000 years. We are deeply aware of this. We do not take it for anything short of the wonder that it is. A wandering people, home.
So, we cheer our air force and every downed missile. We root for the soldiers, the spokespeople and the heroes among us- large and small. We smile or take selfies in bunkers and bomb shelters because all of these things mean that someone loves us and wants us to live. Someone protects us and holds us as precious. We glory in that feeling.
We have a collective consciousness, a collective destiny and we fight for one another. And while we know that our lot is not easy and we still have a ways to go, and though there are forces that still want to see us gone, while our enemies search for every opportunity to harm and delegitimize us, while our brethren around the world are attacked and assaulted, here, we are together. Here we look out for one another. Here we love and protect one another.
And most of us would not trade that for all of the precarious and dependent peace and serenity in the world.