Sarah Tuttle-Singer
A Mermaid in Jerusalem
Featured Post

The other mother and the grandfather in Gaza

Pondering what it means when Israel provides medical treatment to the granddaughter of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh

So on a day when my daughter puddle-jumps in boots with pink polka dots, and my son looks for snails, while I yell against the wind to my kids “hold my hand when we cross the street, dammit,” another mother waits in Gaza for word on her baby daughter.

Earlier, as the other mother’s daughter grew sicker by the minute, the baby’s grandfather asked for help.

Not such a big deal, right? Your kid is sick, you call for help. Duh.

But this is different. The little baby is the granddaughter of the leader of Hamas.

Hamas, whose very charter calls the Jewish people a “Nazi-like enemy, who does not differentiate between man and woman, elder and young.”

Hamas, that has sworn to create an Islamic State across all of Israel.

Hamas, whose mission is to “fight the Jews and kill them.”

But on this day, Ismail Haniyeh acted as a grandfather, the same way my babies’ grandfathers would act if their grandchildren were in trouble: The leader of Hamas asked for help. And without hesitation, Israel agreed, and that baby was transfered across enemy lines to Israel where a team of doctors was waiting.

The lines between Us and Them, blurry through a veil of the other mother’s tears.

I close my eyes and think about my own kids’ pediatrician: The smiling man who looks like Santa Claus with a yarmulke, who hands out kosher lollypops, who can lower a temperature with his cool hand, and can ease this mother’s frayed nerves with his beamish smile.

And I close my eyes and think about all the doctors in Israel who hover over this little girl.

He who saves a life saves the universe.

And as they work tirelessly over Ismail Haniyeh’s baby granddaughter, these doctors don’t care whose child she is.

I close my eyes, and I see that other mother: Her knuckles clenched, bone white, dry lips sucking air, her heart stutters.

Maybe it hurts her just below the bellybutton, where that baby grew not long before – that’s where it hurts me when my babies are hurting.

The other mother waits.

And waits.

And waits.

While I yell at my daughter to get her feet off the couch. While I tell my son that if I see one more freaking snail crawling on our table, I will liberate them in the garden.

The other mother waits.

As the seconds drag by way too slowly, and the phone doesn’t ring, she waits. Maybe she’s praying. Or maybe she’s too scared to move her lips to shape the words she wants to say:

Truly distress has seized me, but You are Most Merciful of those that are merciful.

And as hours pass with the shadows, and as the sky darkens, so does that last glimmer of hope.

Maybe it’s cold in the room where she sits, while I turn off the light and snap “go to sleep, already” as my kids giggle in bed.

Now, I’ve lived enough to know that turning the other cheek will sometimes get your ass kicked.

But I also still hope.

And while this baby girl won’t be cured, maybe — just maybe — the lines between Us and Them can stay a little blurry for just a little while longer.

About the Author
Sarah Tuttle-Singer is the author of Jerusalem Drawn and Quartered and the New Media Editor at Times of Israel. She was raised in Venice Beach, California on Yiddish lullabies and Civil Rights anthems, and she now lives in Jerusalem with her 3 kids where she climbs roofs, explores cisterns, opens secret doors, talks to strangers, and writes stories about people — especially taxi drivers. Sarah also speaks before audiences left, right, and center through the Jewish Speakers Bureau, asking them to wrestle with important questions while celebrating their willingness to do so. She loves whisky and tacos and chocolate chip cookies and old maps and foreign coins and discovering new ideas from different perspectives. Sarah is a work in progress.