Last night I came back from Israel.
Stockholm greeted me with rain and 12 degrees.
I immediately wanted to turn around and return to Israel.
This – my 12th – trip was pretty different from the previous ones.
For the first time ever, I got to experience war.
I got to experience the sirens. The booms. The panic and the drama.
My friends in Tel Aviv were all talking about the rockets.
The rockets that I’ve been nagging about on social media for the past few years.
Now I know what I’m talking about.
I assumed they were scary – and now I know that they are.
One evening as I was lying in bed, working on my computer, I suddenly heard that horrible sound that meant: “Incoming rockets from Gaza. They are trying to kill us all”.
I went to a safer place in the apartment that I was staying in, and my host, who just made Aliyah a few months ago, hugged me as we heard the loud booms, and felt the house shake. Then loud booms again.
My heart was beating faster than ever and my hands were shaking.
People – at least in Sweden – often claim that “those are just home-made rockets”. Almost as if talking about fireworks.
No, those rockets are dangerous. They are terror.
Another day, early in the morning, I woke up to the sound of the sirens.
I ran half-naked to the staircase, and said “Boker Tov” to the half-naked neighbours. It turned out to be a false alarm, but nevertheless. It was not a nice way to start the day.
My Israeli friends told me stories about how their kids react to these alarms: that they are stressed and nervous. Don’t want to be alone. Don’t want to go outside.
One friends told me about how her daughter – scared and stressed – decided to hug the neighbour’s shaking dog in the shelter.
Now they comfort each other every time the sirens go off. Heartbreaking.
In difficult times people tend to come together, and I noticed that in Israel. Every one was just a little friendlier. A little calmer.
But I also noticed that life had to go on.
The streets of Tel Aviv were a little emptier than before, but people (including myself and my friends) went out for dinner. Had a nice chat. A laugh. And we always knew where the nearest bomb shelter was located.
This experience made me connect even more with Israel.
Some friends back in Sweden thought I was crazy to travel to Israel in these turbulent times, but the thing is that I am with you forever.
I stand with Israel in good times and in bad times.
Thank you, people of Israel, for making my life so much richer.
P.S. This Sunday, August 31st, we at The Zionist Federation of Sweden, together with partners, are organising a pro-Israel rally in Stockholm.
It is much needed!
More info on our website (and if you happen to be in Stockholm this Sunday, please join us!)