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Adele Raemer
Life on the Border with the Gaza Strip

Balloons

There’s this film that was made by children from Nirim five years ago. As if these kids were seers of the future: a future that would take it to a more a sinister twist. The entire project predated balloons being turned into weapons of terror. Before they transformed from being light, colorful objects that decorated parties and brought children joy, into evil vehicles transporting explosives over to our side of the border. It was made in conjunction with a filming company that goes into different communities in Israel and uses cinematography as a tool to help participants grapple with their concerns and fears. The team included professionals who helped eek the story out of the life situation and imaginations of the kids, helped them write the script, and produce it. The movie, itself, won an international prize for chldren’s films. (I wrote about it in a blog in 2015.)

In years previous to this movie, around Purim time, there had been peaks of rocket fire from over the border. The story in the movie was a way for children who live here to fantacize and act out how they could deal with this incongruous situation – about how they wanted to be able to celebrate Purim but were concerned that there would be rocket fire. The solution they had was to use a balloon, and Google Translate, to write a note in Arabic, asking the Gazans to please not shoot any rockets during their Purim party. I won’t give away the end, in case you haven’t seen it — it’s worth the watch.

A few months after they made that movie, we lived through a summer of hell, when these children were evacuated, to become refugees for an unknown length of time, (the entire summer, in the end) because our homes had turned into a war zone. A number of the kids who participated in this film, lost their fathers. The father of one of them lost his legs.

These kids have since had four peaceful Purims to celebrate, without the concern of rocket fire threatening to disturb their celebrations. However not long after Purim 2018, the violent riots on the other side of the Gaza border began. In their wake, the balloon and kite fires encroached on the serenity of our lives. We have had numerous — often intense — rocket fire since.

Last night, as I participated in a rehearsal for the upcoming children’s Purim party, I looked at the kids in the play, ones who are now around the same ages those in the movie were, and wonder if they have the same concerns that their upcoming festivities are in danger of being shattered, too. I can’t help but compare now — five years on — the significance balloons have taken on since then. The kids in this film are now in the 10th and 11th grades. How ironic that the balloons which they then imagined as being tools for communitcation of peace and hope, have turned into reality, only now, they are being used to communicate a different message entirely and being used for purposes of destruction.

About the Author
Born in the USA, Adele has lived in a Kibbutz on the border with the Gaza Strip since 1975. She is a mother and a grandmother living and raising her family on the usually paradisaical, sometimes hellishly volatile border. She moderates a FB group named "Life on the Border". https://goo.gl/xcwZT1 Adele recently retired after 38 years as a teacher of English as a Foreign Language, as well as a teacher trainer and counselor for the Israeli MoE for EFL and a Tech Integration Coach. She blogs here about both Life on the Border, as well as about digital pedagogy, in "Digitally yours, @dele". She is a YouTuber, mostly on the topic of digital stuff. (https://goo.gl/iBVMEG) Her personal channel covers other issues close to her heart (medical clowning, Life on the Border, etc.) (https://goo.gl/uLP6D3) In addition, she is a trained medical clown and, although on COVID hiatus, until allowed back into hospitals, she clowns as often as she can in the pediatric ward in the hospital in Ashkelon. As a result of her activity as an advocate for her region, she was included among the Ha'aretz "Ten Jewish Faces who made Waves in 2018" https://goo.gl/UrjCNB. In November 2018 she was invited to Geneva by an independent investigative committee for the UN to bear witness to the border situation, and in December 2019 addressed the UN Security Council at the request of the US ambassador to the UN.
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