Three weeks ago, three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and summarily executed for the simple crime of being Israeli. For three weeks, I was part of a nation that held hands with each other, hoping and praying, each in their own way. The optimism that kept us together seems almost naive in retrospect.
Israel is a small country. Everyone knows someone who was killed and everyone has a soldier’s grave to visit on Memorial Day. And still, despite it all, so many of us remain optimistic.
I was a teenager in the Second Intifada. When buses exploded in suicide attacks, classmates and I hazarded guesses about body counts while critiquing the terrorist attacks – “if they were really smart, they would send a suicide bomber to the mall; they never check under the car seats”. It was crazy but it was what we knew. It was how we coped. And still, we stayed optimistic.
I served as an officer in the military, beginning service in the Foreign Affairs Department and finishing as the IDF spokesperson to North American media. And despite being exposed literally every 5 minutes to the cruel, harsh security reality in the region, I emerged even more optimistic. We are a strong country with an even stronger culture and set of values.
Identifying as a centrist – strong on security but just as strong on human rights – requires optimism. Heck, any position you take in Israel requires optimism, just to keep you going.
But today, rumors started to spread about a Palestinian child who may or may not have been killed by an Israeli. Whether true or not, I don’t know. What I do know is that the blood libels of today will not be started by boorish thugs; they will be started by infantile, irresponsible journalists, bloggers and social media fanatics.
But, regardless of who perpetuated this, today exposed an ugly wound in Israeli society. I have, with optimism and pride, always been certain that some cheer our downfall, but we, the Nation of Israel celebrate everyone’s survival. But clearly that was wrong.
So today, I stand behind the Two State Solution.
One is a state of cruel hatred, of stagnation and poison. It will be inherited by radicals who will continue to fight tooth and nail, never questioning their motives and never swaying from a mutually destructive agenda.
That state is not one I choose for myself. While so many in the world may celebrate the misguided residents of that state – the media may fan flames, the anonymous internet community may regurgitate hearsay and the radicals may lean back to survey the destruction they have wreaked – I know that the vast majority of residents in the region, Palestinian and Israel, are sick to the stomach from their behavior.
Because I still believe in a better future. I am certain that the better minds, the better hearts, will prevail. We the rational, we the ever-hopeful, we the optimists. Our our language, our history and our religion are different but we are residents of the State of Optimism. And despite the maelstrom of bitter hate, we know that a better day is coming. Because we are committed to bringing it.