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Nili Bresler
Teach Peace!

Just say yes! A hostage deal is closer than ever

The author at a recent hostage family protest

We are closer than ever to a real deal to get the hostages home. Mr. Prime Minister, JUST SAY YES!  There are no more excuses. Hamas has agreed to the deal your own government – OUR GOVERNMENT – put forth. What can possibly be stopping you from saving our hostages? You can bring 120 Israeli hostages home. Do it now!

Mr. Prime Minister, this is your opportunity to salvage the last shred of dignity, the last sliver of a chance to avoid going down in history as the worst-ever leader of Israel. This is the opportunity for you to bring some solace and comfort to the people you abandoned in your desire for unbridled power. The people of Israel – and indeed, Jews all over the world, scream out in pain. You can help assuage at least some of that agony by signing the deal and bringing our hostages home.

July 7 marks 9 months since the world we knew ended. For so many of us, October 7th was a catastrophe unlike anything we could have ever predicted.  The horror and shock and sense of betrayal shook us. For every Israeli and for so many jews around the world, our world ended on October 7th. A new reality took its place, a world where the unimaginable has become frighteningly familiar.

Thousands of Israelis wake up every day now mourning the people we have lost. Thousands of Israelis wake up to another day of fighting for loved ones held in tunnels underneath the sands of Gaza. Thousands of displaced Israelis wake up in temporary homes, not knowing when they will be able to go home again. We are all held hostage, trapped in a world of uncertainty and pain.

Day after day at Hostage Square I meet people who ask hard questions.  How did this happen? How do the family members cope? How can they function? What happens next? And, when they hear my accent, the inevitable question: What are you doing here? Why do you stay?  I have no answers for most of the questions, and I say so. There is only one question I believe I can answer, the one about me and where I choose to be. At the risk of repeating myself, I will say again what I have said so many times: I am an Israeli. I am an unwavering Zionist. I am here because this is my only home. I stay because I am, somehow, against all odds, still an optimist.

Why are they still in Gaza? The author at a recent hostage family protest.

I cling to hope, despite the looming feeling of dread that rises whenever I read the headlines. I dare to hope even though I am not blind to the horrific reality of war. I am one of many Israelis who call for unity and understanding. I have been speaking – and writing – on behalf of these goals for many years. I call for peace and I call for unity and ‘Areyvut’ – mutual responsibility. I know that we are, indeed, our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. I know that we must stand together and work together toward peace and a better future for the sake of all our children and grandchildren.

I am one of the Israelis who do not look away when confronted with the scenes of destruction and pain in Gaza. I force myself to look at the face of war, not to gloat, not to indulge in vengeful satisfaction. Rather I look to see what our reality is. We are in a war we did not choose. It is being fought in ways many of us object to. But this is our reality. This is what it is to be Israeli in these fraught times. I want the war to stop. I want the killing to stop. But I am not in charge here. I march with signs calling for an end to the war, knowing that no one who has the power to end the war seems to be listening.

I choose to be here now. I choose to stay in this embattled land, working, living, and marching with my fellow Israelis. I stand with the families of the hostages held in Gaza. I march with them at Begin Gate where we stop traffic on Tel Aviv’s main road.  We call out the names of each hostage in Gaza. We scream, counting out the days since October 7th. 275 days as of July 7th. The number does not compute. The number is surreal, as is our life in this country since the attack by Hamas 9 months ago.

Mr. Prime Minister, you have the power to make a deal. You wanted power – you’ve got it! You are the one with the power to relieve at least some of the misery of millions of Israelis. We are the people who elected you. We are the people who pay for your lifestyle. We are the people you are in office to serve. Serve us now, Mr. Prime Minister. SIGN THE DEAL.  JUST SAY YES. NOW IS THE TIME.

About the Author
Nili Bresler is a member of Israel's pro-democracy movement. She is a business communications coach with experience in management at multinational technology companies. Prior to her career in high-tech, Nili was a news correspondent for the AP. Nili holds a degree in International Relations from NYU. Nili volunteers with the nonprofit, NATAN Worldwide Disaster Relief. Nili made aliya in 1970 and lives in Ramat Gan.
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