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Nicole Bery

From an Israeli who is tired of explaining

Dear World,

Something is off. Since I was a teenager, I have not stopped talking about Israel. I have not stopped sharing posts, videos, and my own testimonies about the situation here.

In Ecuador, where I am from, I learned about the concept of “Hasbara” (in Hebrew,  “explaining”).

Hasbara is about explaining to others the point of view of the State of Israel- the only Jewish country in the word.  It is especially important during times of war, when biased news and fake news are posted and reposted everywhere. I saw Hasbara as my duty, specially coming from a country where Jews are such a small minority (about 200 in the whole country).

Over the years I have engaged with so many friends and acquaintances: sometimes face to face, one on one or in large forums, and many times online via comments, inbox messages, and more. I have spent hours and hours of my life talking to all kinds of people:

Friends who know I live in Israel, are worried for me, and want to know how I am and what it’s like here;

People who I don’t know so well but are genuinely curious about the situation here, know I live here and want to ask questions;

People that can’t even point at Israel in a map but in times of war talk as if they had a PhD on Middle Eastern Affairs, accusing us of genocide and apartheid;

People, mostly online, sometimes strangers and sometimes not- posting the most outrageous and incorrect claims, engaging in slander and libel, being blatantly anti-Semitic.

All my life, anytime I traveled abroad and met anyone and mentioned I’m Jewish (and since 2014, Israeli), I’ve been bombarded with questions, and I have explained.

During the operations in Gaza in 2012 and in 2014 I was living in Ecuador and I was invited by one of my teachers to go from class to class, talk to students, and explain, so I did.

Since living in Israel, during every wave of terrorism, and every military operation, I’ve used my social media to explain.

In 2021, when I served in the army during Operation Guardian of the Walls, I went through the shocking experience of having to hide in a shelter during rocket attacks for the first time in my life, and I explained.

In October 7th of 2023 war broke out in Israel via a surprise attack that killed the most Jews in a single day since the Holocaust. From that day until today, I’ve been mostly quiet. For the first time in my life, I have no words.

I wish I could explain this war to everyone.

I would begin by describing the relevant players, describing in detail what HAMAS is, and clarifying that its purpose is NOT Palestinian liberation but the total annihilating the state of Israel. I would describe HAMAS’s mode of operation: its absolute disregard of human life, its use of civilians as human shields, and its tactic of blending civilian and terror infrastructure. I would clarify that HAMAS is a murderous terror organization and that it is useless to hold discussions with anyone that disagrees with this FACT. I would explain that HAMAS is a proxy of of Iran, and what that means.

I would then provide some significant historical context about the Gaza Strip, clarifying that Israel withdrew from the strip in 2005, and since then there is no Israeli presence in the strip. Again it is useless to discuss this topic with anyone claiming that there is an Israeli occupation in Gaza because this is simply NOT TRUE. HAMAS is the de facto government of the Gaza Strip and is responsible for the governance of the strip.

I would go through past conflict and military operations explaining how HAMAS has been terrorizing Israel, especially the citizens in the South, with incessant barrages of rockets and kidnappings.

I would describe in detail the IMPOSSIBLE job that the Israeli Defense Forces have faced over the years in defending our country while going ABOVE AND BEYOND to minimize Palestinian civilian casualties in the Gaza Strip. I would explain our army’s mode of operation including sending warnings and leaflets before a targeted strike, the precision of our operations, our efforts to protect and evacuate civilians, our efforts to provide humanitarian aid the strip… I would assure everyone that the IDF is the most moral army in the world. I would explain that Israel has the right to defend itself and that the alternative is to let HAMAS kill us and we are simply not willing to let them do so.

Now I would get into what happened in October 7th, when HAMAS launched a surprise attack on Israel through land, air and water.

I would describe the atrocities that HAMAS committed including murder, torture and rape, but I don’t think I can make justice to their brutality even if I went into detail about the beheading of civilians including babies, the burning people alive, the brutal rape of women and girls, the kidnappings, the sadism and the barbarity… There is no need to look far to provide evidence to these acts as the HAMAS terrorists actually filmed and photographed their actions and posting them online, even on the social media profiles of their victims and their families. These images are now tattooed in the psyche of every Israeli and will never be removed.

I would try to provide the numbers of Israelis that were massacred on October 7th, and the number of those that are still kidnapped in Gaza today. I know it’s very important to be factual, careful, and provide exact numbers, but this is impossible here. Due to the brutality of the murders and the conditions of the bodies, some are still being identified even today, almost TWO MONTHS since the beginning of the war. Those whose bodies have not been found are presumed to be kidnapped. HAMAS has not provided any verifiable information about the status of the hostages and, since the Red Cross has not visited the hostages in Gaza, there is no guarantee that they are alive. Therefore, any number I could provide is likely to change.

I would do all of this, but I can’t.

I can’t explain anything anymore because I have seen many people, from the most eloquent politicians and diplomats, and intellectuals, explaining the situation way more eloquently than I ever would. And despite their efforts, international institutions still refuse to condemn HAMAS, claiming that Israel is the oppressor

I can’t explain anything anymore because I have seen many of my friends do so in their social media, with way more patience than I ever would. And despite their reasoning, people still cling to the simplistic and one sided narrative of genocide and apartheid.

I can’t explain anything anymore because pictures speak louder than words. HAMAS’s footage shows their crimes way more clearly than I could ever describe with words. And despite the evidence, people still say that the events of October 7th didn’t take place.

I can’t explain anything anymore because many of my friends and dear ones who I love with my whole heart have stopped their entire lives to go to reserve duty in the army, risking their lives to protect the country. And despite their humanity, people still say that the IDF soldiers are monsters committing genocide.

I can’t explain anything anymore because I spent all my energy explaining the conflict to my family and friends from abroad, who were in Israel during the outbreak of the war because they came here for my wedding. Instead of spending quality time together, I had to help them find flights to get out of here as soon as possible.

I can’t explain anything anymore because I spent all my energy instructing them on what to do when a siren would sound, indicating that we had to run to the nearest shelter because there was a rocket attack. And instead of celebrating as we planned, I saw many of them in tears during that first siren.

I can’t explain anything anymore because my heart is still scarred from not being able to make contact with my mom during a siren, and imagining the worst.

I can’t explain anything anymore because, almost two months after since October 7th, I still have panic in my heart.

I can’t explain anything anymore because explaining takes energy, and my heart has not rested in almost two months.

Since October 7th, I have seen more anti-Semitic, slanderous, and incorrect claims than ever before, whether from friends, strangers, politicians, celebrities, or international institutions. The words I have read have made my blood boil. Still, I find myself unable to engage.

It has become exhausting to explain to the world something that should not require any explanation at all: Israel has the right to defend itself. And if I could say one thing to the world, it would be this: if you won’t stand with us when we are attacked, you should shut up when we defend ourselves.

Sincerely,

An Israeli Who Is Tired of Explaining

About the Author
Nicole Bery is a 27 year old Ecuadorian-Israeli. She was recently released from the army after a three year long service as a lone soldier. She has an MA degree in Sustainable Development from Tel Aviv University and a BA in Government, Diplomacy and Strategy from Reichman University.
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