Benji Davis

My Burden and Blessing

A lot of you have asked me, and us that live in Israel, “How are you doing? How are you coping?”

Well to be honest, the last month in Israel has been the most intense time for me since I made Aliyah nearly five years ago. We have had some incredible highs, and some devastating lows.

From the amazing unity felt during the kidnapping of and search for the three boys, to the sad news of their murder; the utmost rage, anger and horror of finding out Jewish extremists murdered a young Arab boy; to being hit with over 1,000 rockets launched at communities all over Israel.

My initial response to this question — “How are you?” — is simply to do. I helped organize a collection drive for families and soldiers this past week, and last Friday, I traveled to the Gaza border region to deliver Shabbat food, games, toys and goods for soldiers and poor families in need. I found a proper response to what’s going on — in addition to my obsessive reading of the news and posting on Facebook – in a call to action to help others. Our ability to come together so quickly never ceases to amaze me.

With the incredible unity I felt then and now, I have not forgotten that with the highs, also come the lows. I have not forgotten the atrocious murder of an Arab boy for revenge, and seeing people march down Jaffa Road in Jerusalem chanting “Death to Arabs”. But the last week of errant rocket fire on our civilian population, and Hamas’ unrepentant desire to torment innocent civilians, coupled with our hesitation for offensive measures in the Gaza Strip, definitely proves that we Israelis and Jews do have a moral superiority, even if there are those that stoop to the lowest of lows.

I am confident that, while we are an imperfect people, our society desires to improve itself and to improve the world in which we live. It is clear to me that Israeli society and its government is committed to the Jewish value it is many times criticized for in its treatment of the other — Tikkun Olam. We are so sensitive to the feelings of the other and this is why we are so shocked when other Jews in Israel do not uphold these values, and why our offensive measures in response to Hamas are, until now as of this writing, limited in scope.

I just can’t get this question of my head, “How are you doing?”

Well, I just want quiet and no more rockets.

I don’t want to have to run to a safe place in my underwear because of a siren. I want to stay in bed.

I don’t want to have to drive all over the South of Israel on Friday morning to show solidarity and deliver donations. I want to drive all over the South of Israel to discover new areas I’ve yet to venture.

I don’t want to have to think about, “Should we go into Gaza or not”. I want to think about, “Should I go shopping for groceries or just go out to eat again.”

I’m skeptical that we’ll be able to stop the rockets for longer than a brief lull, short of a committed ground campaign in the Gaza Strip. I don’t want to have to live through that and the consequences it entails for my daily life and the lives of millions of innocent civilians who just want normal. But I also want lasting peace and quiet, and I want the rocket fire to end forever.

So how am I doing?

I guess you could say my life is normal. I read and I write; I eat and I sleep; I go to work and I enjoy my weekends. But I also live in this crazy whirlwind reality. Life in Israel can be tough, it can be a burden, but it is always a blessing.

About the Author
Originally from Los Angeles, CA, Benji Davis is a Jerusalem based Jewish Educator and Professional. He holds a BA in Middle East Studies & History from the George Washington University and an MA in Jewish Education from the Hebrew University.
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