Itai Carmeli

A Letter To My New Born Nephew


Dear Rome,

I am writing this letter to you, my newborn nephew, from the Southern Front of the Israel-Hamas War of 2023, one day after you were born. Though I was not there to physically be a part of the occasion, I yet feel the compulsion to tell you the tremendous meaning of your joining us on this planet, if not in general, at least to me. Over the past few weeks, I have bore witness to the worst of humanity. I have seen the brutal acts that we are capable of committing to one another, and I carry the burden of knowing that I have participated in those acts in some form or another. There is an automatic assumption of love between family members, and hence, even though I have not yet met you, held you, or heard you speak, cry or laugh, I am still obligated to love you by traditional familial costumes. Yet that is not why I love you. My love for you is not because of some ancient mentality of bloodlines, but rather because I see you as a carrier for progressing the ideals of our generation. I love you because you will learn from my mistakes, and hopefully, you will not make them yourself. Now, the fact that I love you should, by classic conventions, shape my desire to shield you from the horrors that I have witnessed. Traditional wisdom will say that we want to protect our children from the horrible things we committed and saw being committed in our generation, so that you can grow innocent and, in some form, ignorant of the evil in the world. I, on the other hand, feel that my love for you obligates me to do two things: one, to expose you to these horrors and how hopeless they make us feel as a collective humanity, and two, to refute that hopelessness and inspire to believe in and strive for a better tomorrow.

Let me start with number one. We are a world filled with hate. At the moment, I am on alert on the Gaza border in the middle of the night, and I see hate that Israelis feel for Hamas for their barbaric attack on Israeli civilians on October 7th, 2023. Revenge and aggression are common feelings held through the soldiers and officers I am surrounded by, and no one is thinking of, or even cares to think of, the repercussions of taking that revenge and unleashing that aggression. Honestly, I don’t blame anyone for not thinking of it. Anger is blinding. It blinds us to what the right path is and how far away we are stepping away from it. What makes this war so difficult is that we do not and can not know what that right thing is anymore! I like to think that I am a smart person, and one that has an above average understanding of the conflict in the Middle East, and yet, after many sessions of pondering what will be and what should be the outcome of this war, I have no clue as to what the right path is. I have no idea what should be done. What can be done? Don’t the Israelis who were murdered in their beds by Hamas infiltrators deserve some justice? Should that justice be in the form of the destruction of Hamas? Will that destruction have an disproportional collateral price on the behalf of Palestinian civilians? Will that destruction even be worth it, yielding a safer Israel, or will it create a starting point for future violent actions? Instead of destroying Hamas, should we forgive? Wouldn’t that show that Israel is weak and open the gates for future acts of violence? And what about the hostages who are stuck in the middle of all this? Should we just accept them as gone and say Israel is no longer negotiating with terrorists? Or should we exchange prisoners for them, potentially having one of those released prisons planning another horrible attack on civilians? Should we….

It is all too much. These questions are overwhelming, and in all this confusion, the evil of humanity thrives. It is through the fog of war that men are unable to see the morality of their actions. I have seen the mutilated bodies of Israeli kids left in a pool of their own blood. I have seen a Palestinian farmer sitting with his hands up in surrender, getting shot in the head. I have heard the bombs destroying cities, and the rockets destroying homes. I have seen half bodies left on the side of the road and what remains of a peace festival that met the bitter opposite of its intentions. Like the questions that we are all asking ourselves in a loop, these images and experiences are also, all too much.

With all these unbearable things floating around in Israel and Palestine, is there no wonder why there is so much hate? The thing about hate is that it spills over. It doesn’t remain direct and accurate, but rather, haphazardly moves through the entirety of our consciousness. Hate for Hamas terrorists murdering our children quickly spills into hate of Palestinians. Hate for the IDF planes bombing from above turns into hate for all Jews. Once we allow ourselves to hold hate in our hearts, even if its for an instance or for a justifiable purpose, we will eventually be consumed by it.

And here, I turn to my second objective: to show that despite all the hurdles previously mentioned, there is still reason for hope for brighter days, and, dare I say, for peace in our time. If ever there was any proof that such a thing is possible, then you are it, Rome. In the midst of war, you were brought into this world. Innocent and unyielding, you were surrounded by Jews, Christians and Muslims, all alike, with the idea that the love for our children goes beyond the hate we can ever feel. That is our hope. That is how we stop this boulder of destruction from rolling any further. You, for better or worse, are the  epitome of our future. You hold the key to making sure that what I am fighting for won’t be for nothing. It is not fair that this is your responsibility.

You don’t deserve to be burdened with the plights of your forefathers, and yet, you are the only one that can save us. There is this unwritten law that our goal in life should be to leave a world for our children that is better than the one we received.  I am sorry, Rome, but we have failed at that mission.  You were born in a time that is just as if not more scary and dangerous than when I was born.  Yet, I have faith that where I failed, you will not. I have faith despite everything that I saw, because you are here! Despite everything, my twin sister gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, and the joy you brought with you into this world is proof enough that you have the potential to succeed in making the world a better place. Save us.  Save us from this cycle of hate and violence. Change our ways.  Find the right path for us to follow and open our eyes to it.  You and your generation have that responsibility.

Despite the daunting challenge laid upon you even before you were born, there is one way, and only one way that you will be able to overcome it: be a man. No need to be a super man, just be a good man. That is enough. It has to be. If you are a good, decent person, with compassion in his heart and love to give and a seeker of friends, then there is hope in the world. Despite the hatred that surrounds us, if you grow to help others and smile when you can, and respect the people around you and strive to understand them, then we are on the path to salvation. If being human is not enough to solve our conflicts, then we are doomed. Yet, I do not believe that is the case. We humans made our own problems. No one came from above and instilled them on our Earth, but rather we are the source of our issues. And so, it bears to reason that we hold the power to solve those problems. Now, of course, it is easier to roll a boulder down the mountain then carry it back up. And we rolled it far down. Yet it is not impossible! Nothing ever is. Remember that. We can move forward. We can find a sunrise where we all feel safe, feel loved, and with meaning in our lives. We wake up to a day shared with our neighbors in peace. It is possible! We just need to want it badly enough. I know that after his war, I do, and I hope that others will also.

Rome, you are named to represent the union of your parents, an Israeli and an Italian. The beauty of your heritage is that you are the union of two different cultures and religions, which is proof enough that we can put our differences aside, and from that, something beautiful comes out. You are what came out. I am so glad that you did. You gave me hope in a time of hopelessness. You are one day old, and you inspire me to fight for not only my country, but for my humanity. I used to think that being a soldier and an officer, fighting for his country, is the highest I honor I could ever aspire to, but now I see, that is not the case.  Being your uncle, raising you, teaching you and bringing you into a world of peace is by far the most important thing I will ever do.  I thank you for giving me that honor. I love you with all my heart, and I can not wait to see the person you will become and the world you will shape around you.


Your Uncle,


About the Author
Itai Carmeli is originally from New York. After high school, he made aliyah to join the IDF and served 6 years as a combat officer. He is finishing his degree at Haifa University for Political Science, Philosophy and Economics.
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