Harriet Gimpel

Notes for an unwritten essay, October 28, 2023

On the spectrum of volunteering, I believe that the person who you perceive is not volunteering is volunteering to save the emotional health system from having another person to take care of.

Volunteering to show others you can function. Volunteering to let your grandchildren feel the secure embrace of your hugs according with the unwritten family protocols.

Talking to your friends and people you usually speak to and to people you rarely speak to – to people abroad who want to feel connected, and you can enable it – or writing to them if conversation is too stressful.

Zero tolerance for binary worldviews.  

I do not like to see humanitarian aid withheld. I do not like to see misrepresentation of how and why that appears to be the case.

I do not like to see innocent children attacked.

I can’t reconcile my belief that we have the right to defend ourselves with the fact that self-defense perpetuates violence. I have to leave reconciling my conflicting beliefs and emotions to the universe of frustrations that are irreconcilable. People can decide to transcend their irreconcilable narratives and worldviews and reconcile to prevent further bloodshed.

When perpetrators victimize the very people they claim to represent, I can acknowledge that many of those people would much prefer to be represented by some other force, and they are victims perhaps left with no will and in fear of the power Israel has and the power…

Human shields – I will never understand that degree of cynicism.

Psychological warfare.

Designing narratives, I understand. Zero tolerance on my part for West Bank settlers of the kind that randomly attack Palestinians. I know that Breaking the Silence brings to us, in Israel (and not just), the stories that reveal what I wish I did not have to believe, and I will not be complicit with any attempt to conceal them.

I am angry that Palestinians on the West Bank have to be under closure with all that entails, and I know good people living in these places who will surely at the end of this time be less willing than ever to believe in the potential for reconciliation with Israel. Israelis too, since October 7, will longer than in the past be less willing for the large part to believe in any reconciliation with the Palestinians.

How easy it is to present a picture with less than accurate but convincing information and paint a picture where Israel is the demon. How easy it is to talk about the economic interests at play leading various world powers to support Israel. How easy it is to avoid examining and analyzing the interests, the cynicism, with which the world ostensibly supporting the Palestinian people has historically and continually asked only to blame one source – and not itself…


Forget all of the above.

Start again.

Would you hide me now?


About the Author
Born and raised in Philadelphia, earned a B.A. in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies from Brandeis University in 1980, followed by an M.A. in Political Science from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Harriet has worked in the non-profit world throughout her career. She is a freelance translator and editor, writes poetry in Hebrew and essays in English, and continues to work for NGOs committed to human rights and democracy.
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