At the end of the summer, I promised my daughters that after the High Holidays I’would buy the plane tickets to visit them. Many Israelis wait for the prices to drop at the end of Sukkot before they finalize their travel arrangements. However, that never happened because of the Hamas massacre on October 7th, and the subsequent war. Since the beginning of the war, all airlines, except for Israeli carriers, suspended their flights. Despite the war, many people I know, especially families with relatives in the army, preferred to remain in Israel.
Approaching 70, I’ve witnessed Israel’s wars starting with the Six Day War, however this current war feels different to me. I fear that reaching a viable solution for coexistence in our region will require tremendous efforts from all sides. It is no longer only the Israelis and the Palestinians (and the two-state solution), but forces overt and covert, are at play, influencing the situation. From my perspective as an Israeli, it’s hard to imagine a future for this region when around 80% of the Israeli population have no trust in this extremist and corrupt government. Moreover, there’s a strong suspicion regarding the motives and actions of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,
Each day, as my retired friends and I dedicate ourselves to volunteering in every possible way to aid Israel in its most difficult hour, it’s disheartening and demoralizing to witness the destructive actions of the prime minister and his government. They seem indifferent to benefiting Israel and show minimal effort in securing the return of hostages.
Finally, over Hanukkah, I made the decision to take a short break to visit my family overseas. It was hard to get away, especially from my work at the restaurant, where we prepare meals for soldiers. Ben Gurion airport appeared almost deserted, with posters of the hostages bearing the plea “Bring Them Home Now” strategically placed throughout. Even the passport scanning machines displayed running photos of the hostages. It is an emotional gesture by the airport authorities, reminding everyone that while we are free to depart the country, the hostages remain locked in Gaza. I hope that we don’t need this reminder as the hostages are always in our thoughts everywhere we are or go to. As I boarded the flight, two women called my name. It transpired that last week they volunteered at the vegan restaurant, where I have been working since the beginning of the war. Flying in from Strasbourg to assist in the war effort, they were now on their way home. They described their work in the restaurant as one of the most meaningful experiences of their lives. I was touched to hear their testimony, but in a way it also emphasized the difference between the goodwill and generosity of people and the cynicism and callousness of the politicians who were supposed to be our leaders.
Happy Hanukkah and bring the hostages home now