A wise woman once told me that when dealing with a traumatic event, it is advisable not to rush and wrap up the whole thing, but rather to allow myself to stay with the experience, the pain, and the heavy feelings, proceeding only when I am ready.
It’s not easy for me. It is in my nature to comfort myself with happy thoughts and try to move from a dreary present to a brighter future, not unlike Scarlet O’Hara with her “Tomorrow is another day” attitude. Still, at this moment, in the midst of a horrific war, following the worst pogrom in Israel’s history, even I cannot stop thinking about the tragedy that has befallen us. I understand that it is important to grieve, and it is natural to dread the future of our country.
At this moment, there are thousands of families that have lost loved ones. And since we are in the middle of a war and the whole country is in turmoil, many of the bereaved families cannot even begin to mourn their loved ones. Many of the casualties have only been identified in the last 24 hours, and some haven’t been identified yet. Some families, from the south of Israel don’t even have a place to sit shiva, as they no longer have a home.
In the last few days, I have been continuously pondering the expression “a villa in the jungle,” which was coined by Ehud Barak and first used in reference to Israel’s situation in the Middle East in 2006. Let me say upfront that this expression reveals a troublesome, even condescending, attitude. Just visualizing the villa and the jungle fills me with tension and dread; as it is a very dangerous position. This saying emphasizes the incongruity of Israel in this region and underscores how fragile our future is. After the war ends and we learn to come to terms with our horrible tragedy, we will have to start thinking of creative ways to build a better future. The English poet John Donne wrote in the 17th century, “No man is an island, / Entire of itself / Every man is a piece of the continent, / A part of the main.” Since a villa in the jungle is not a viable option for Israel, and as we have no other place to go, we will have to work harder to find ways to fit better in the Middle East.