Memories of a bygone Intifada

Everyone knew there was an Intifada on but, no one could see it. Until something exploded. Then everyone saw it. Even the people who weren’t there. It was like with each bomb a gigantic tremor rushed through the whole country making the hairs on your arms stand on end and the mobile phone networks collapse.

But then everything was cleared up so damn fast that as soon as the tremor had washed over you you were wondering whether the bomb blast was just a nightmare. The kind that you wake up from soaked in sweat only to realize you have forgotten what you dreamed when you try to tell someone about it. 

But it was more than a nightmare. People had died and lives had changed forever. No amount of cleaning could change that.

In my first year of service I spent many of my weekends in Tel Aviv. I spent my weekdays in a field shooting at paper targets. After training I spent my weekdays arresting terrorists and some weekends by the beach. When I was in the army I was fine. I was better than fine. I was loving it. I was the one volunteering to go out on missions I wasn’t even slated to go out on. I was the one hoping that there would be a firefight. I was constantly hoping that finally, instead of slipping past us one of the flies would actually get stuck in the cross hairs of my weapon.

It was when they let me out of the army that it got hard.

One day I was stepping through garbage up to my knees in the center of Nablus, the next I was paddling through the cool waters of the Mediterranean with a bottle of beer in my hand.

On those weekends out of the army I would stare at the border guards outside the Dizengof Center in wonder. Was this really their army service?

I suppose it was.

They let girls serve in the border guards, which was nice. They always seemed to be carrying both short M16s on a sling and pistols in holsters on their belts. I wanted a pistol. Everyone in my unit wanted a pistol.

Never mind.

Nights out of the army were usually spent at Mikes Place. I didn’t talk to anyone I just drank. The golden nectar of 17NIS glasses of beer and 10NIS chasers of whiskey to wash them down with. Or was it the other way around?

At some time near dawn I would stumble out of the bar and pass out on the sand. I don’t really remember doing it, just waking up and making sure that wallet and phone were still in my pockets. I hated those weekends out of the army.

I joined the army to fight in a war but the war always seemed to appear wherever I wasn’t. I wanted glory. Dollops of glory splashed all over me like cream over strawberries. I wanted to be a hero. To win medals, to change the world, to destroy Hamas single handed.

All that met my dream of glory was a reality. I despised reality for that. It was always right there, all encompassing, suffocating. If only it hadn’t made an appearance I could have gone on with my life. I could have carried on believing that it’s all just black and white. Stupid reality dissolved my black and white into one long spectrum of grey matter.

I wonder how long till the next Intifada.

About the Author
Marc Goldberg is the author of Beyond the Green Line, a story his service in the IDF fighting through the al Aqsa Intifada