“Thinking about how I feel today, all I can think about is abandonment.

Amit pauses for a moment, clenching her jaw to try and hold it in, to prevent the cry of despair from escaping.

Amit has been leading us on a tour of Kibbutz Nir Oz, about six months after the tragedy.

A surreal picture wouldn’t even begin to express what’s laid out before our eyes. From a certain viewpoint, the modest houses are hidden under blossoming trees, flourishing gardens, and a glimpse to the left reveals evidence of hell, the perfect evil that poured out there.

Nir Oz March 26th, 2024, Elkana Pressler

The birds are chirping, the cats in every corner thirsty for attention as if nothing happened.

We saw a lot of ash, soot, and remnants of what was once a thriving, liberal community, cherishing life, loving people and land. But what grabbed my ears and churned my stomach was that choked utterance about abandonment.

“We were left to fend for ourselves on October 7th, and since then, the feeling of abandonment has only grown stronger, every day, all day long.

That’s how Amit said it, and we just bowed our heads to the dry earth, searching for words of comfort. If not comfort, then at least something to lessen the impact of the statement. If not in words, then at least in thought. But even there, a vast, painful, and heavy space hits me.

What do we say? How can we justify it?

Nir Oz March 26th, 2024, Elkana Pressler

Abandonment is one of our greatest fears, as humans. In my opinion, it’s the biggest fear of all. For a person, to understand that they are becoming disconnected from what defines them, it’s paralyzing, worse than death.

Along with all the liberal individualism, the bottom line is that a person seeks meaning, seeks to understand where they belong.

It’s no wonder that in the past, and even in conservative communities today, the concept of excommunication is a severe punishment, just a hair’s breadth less than death.

The psychological mechanism behind abandonment is betrayal, and betrayal means that something you knew was there for you turned out to be a broken reed. The world you thought was safe and understandable is no longer safe or understandable. We’re simply not built for radical changes, especially when it comes to what defines us

Nir Oz March 26th, 2024, Elkana Pressler

When we see headlines in the global media that question what happened in the October 7th massacre, we experience a paralyzing fear that immediately turns into a defensive posture of isolation. “Dear world: We don’t care what you say, we know the truth and we’ll act on it even if it costs us dearly on the international stage.”

More precisely, we’re experiencing abandonment. We thought the world would understand, support, comfort, and express empathy, but it turns out the world is confused, good is bad, bad is good, truth is something very fluid.

Take this feeling, amplify it, feel the burning, the bubbling bitterness.

Now let’s talk about abandonment on a completely different level.

Abandonment that you can feel coming from someone who is your brother, who you swore to protect, who always gave you the feeling they’d be there for you.

And here is the reality we delivered to our dear brothers in the Otef and the southern towns:

Even years before that awful day, we had already made it clear that the blood of our brothers in the Otef is a little less red, a little less precious. As long as it’s happening there, it’s just spills and drips, the children grow up under the screams of “Tzeva Adom!!” and seven seconds later the roulette wheel of death stops spinning and the ball lands, with a sliver of luck, today it’s not you.

On October 7th, for hours on end, the damned terrorists have their way inside the kibbutz, pillaging, raping, slaughtering, burning, and no one comes. A picture of a pogrom from a completely different place, from a completely different time in history. The crowd is inflamed and the authorities are nowhere to be seen, hands are raised in supplication to the gloomy skies to the God of Abraham, and there is no answer.

Back to October 2024, slowly the agonizing text calls fade away in a chilling final text:

“I’m bleeding to death, I won’t survive this.”

“I love you, don’t forget me.”

“Take care of my children.”

When they talk about the concept of “on full throttle,” I think this is abandonment on full throttle. I don’t know how you recover from hours on end where the ground of reality crumbles beneath your feet. Everything you thought, what you knew, everything you relied on, basically doesn’t exist.

Through our many sins, the abandonment continues. I’m momentarily setting aside the kidnapped case, which I’m not an expert on to say whether our government actions are good or bad.

Bottom line, as of this writing, 134 of our brothers are imprisoned in subhuman conditions somewhere in southern Gaza. A third of them are from Kibbutz Nir Oz.

How can we make amends for this disgrace?

Nir Oz March 26th, 2024, Elkana Pressler

And the abandonment continues. Government rehabilitation sees the devastated kibbutz as a settlement, not a community. Many from Nir Oz and other settlements in the south have no desire whatsoever to return to the cursed place. To the place where they were left to fend for themselves. To the exact same place where they lost faith in the government. The government stands firm: it’s this or nothing. We’ll rebuild the kibbutz and you’re welcome back.

“Let me decide how I want to rebuild,” choked out Amit.

Sin on top of sin, crime on top of crime, offense on top of offense.

And the only word that bubbled up and that I couldn’t stammer out while hugging Amit was “sorry.”


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