I was at the beach with friends when the first red alert in Tel Aviv sounded. For a moment I stood in disbelief–instantly reminded of the first time I had heard that heart-wrenching noise in my life in November 2012. We quickly ran from the shore into the closest reaching beach restaurant. Crowded inside, Israelis and tourists alike standing together as we heard a loud boom–the interception of a rocket by the incredibly powerful and important Iron Dome system. It took a few moments, but for some reason my body and mind knew it was so important to keep going. My friends are like-minded, and so we headed back to our perfect spot on the beach. I layed down on my colorful tapestery, watching the sun set in the sky, picturesque. I was reminded that though we have a harsh world out there, we also have a beautiful one–and how we must keep going for the sake of that beauty.
That night I slept pretty soundly, and by the next morning I was woken up by a text message. I stayed perusing the internet on my phone, and noticed that my friend who is currently visiting in Israel and staying with me was awake as well. I casually say to her “wow, I am so glad it was a silent night” and with my last word the noise of a siren grew in volume through our windows. As we went and sat at the bottom of my building, I couldn’t help but think of the countless Tel Avivian children who were probably on the way to play at summer camp. This is a reality that the children who live near the southern border of Israel face daily. That evening, I was invited to a friend’s wedding in Rishon LeTzion. This is a city that has had several sirens in past few days. As I stood and watched this beautiful display of love, this joining of two incredible individuals, inside my heart pounded rapidly. I began to pray. I now live a very secular life and can admit that I have slowly drifted from faith, but it was a moment in which my entire soul wished for the safety of this gathering and the continuation of this glorious ceremony. It remained quiet from the side of Hamas, and was a very joyous and fun night for all in attendence. We danced into the wee hours of the night, our minds free from what lies only hours from where we stood.
This past December I became an Israeli citizen after two and a half years of residing in Tel Aviv. I am constantly questioned by loves ones in Israel and America as to why I would make such a decision. Why would I want to live here, when life can abruptly become a different reality as we have seen in the last three weeks. As Operation Protective Edge has unfolded, my Facebook has for lack of a better term “blown up” with pictures, statuses, and articles about the current situation. I could focus on the mostly biased and misformed statements and accounts. I could sit at home in fear, but I know the spirit and drive of my people–one of moral intuition and intensive intelligence. My own family and friends are enlisted in the Israeli Defense Forces, and though my head aches with each siren, in my heart I have the faith in my leaders and soldiers to provide me with the safety and security to live each of my days to the fullest. I condemn the unfortunate casualties of the innocent on both sides, but I truly cannot condemn the casualties of those who live with the intent to terrorize. I cannot condemn those who point their missiles aimlessly for the sake of anti-semetic rhetoric and vengeance, those who stand in the way of democracy and intelligent, right-minded people. For that reason I can only move forward with life and again trust in those who have the power to do something about this reality.
As stated in the 2014 World Cup song: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”