I got lost in Eilat the other night looking for the vigil. My GPS didn’t work. I was told it was because the army neutralized it–Hamas can’t use it to send missiles here.
The vigil was so intimate. I saw souls moved by music. Hope reflected in faces by the light of just one candle. People held up pictures of loved ones, like they’re doing all over the country. One woman spoke about her family, describing the kind of people they were, and how the government has to listen to her and not abandon them to terrorists in some tunnel in Gaza. A guy standing outside the circle of people said, “Are you dissing Bibi?” A woman told him to shut up, that members of the speaker’s family had been kidnapped. He left.
And it hit me again: the old resentments. Take the day last week I took a taxi from the Astral Palma Hotel, where I sleep and wake up, to two other hotels where I work with kids. The youngest survivors of the massacres — some completely traumatized. In the taxi, driver and passenger did the usual where are you from and what are you doing here and how great it is that you came to help, etc.
Then he asked: “Aren’t they leftists?” He meant the kibbutzniks evacuated to Eilat.
The social divisions, exposed everywhere. Everything remains tainted. (Except when I’m with children.) In the midst of this unbelievable situation, with so much grief and fear, tainted by so much anger.
(A sense of humor is still in full effect; it’s the only way, of course, for counselors, social workers, and teachers to continue being of use. After a red alert on my kibbutz north of here, a woman from the Gaza envelope said, “Oh, finally, you are getting the missiles.”)
The other day, I held an exit interview with one of the youth counselors. One of those wonderful problem solvers here from Hashomer Hatzair. He was heading back to England to complete his studies. He said he was not looking forward to arguing with people over there about the war over here.
“You don’t have to,” I told him. Instead he could ask, what are they trying to accomplish? With all their words. By saying Israel deserved it or Israel should keep bombing. He can ask, was there a specific problem they were trying to solve right now? Were they just trying to be right, saying Israel is wrong? Instead of demonizing, they could do something.
“About their righteousness,” I suggested, “don’t get into it. Ask them, ‘Who are you helping?’”