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Adele Raemer
Life on the Border with the Gaza Strip
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Returning home: The long road ahead

How will the government and the IDF convince me that security is available to my Western Negev kibbutz at a moment's notice?
Photograph by Yizhar Sha'ar used with his permission.
The field of squills which I had intended to photograph, but did not get the chance. (courtesy)

We are at the 60-day mark since the start of this formidable war. While there is still a very long road ahead of us before we can think of returning to our homes, I want to take the opportunity of this calendarial benchmark to explain what I, personally, as a long time resident of a kibbutz situated less than 2 kilometers (a little over a mile) from the border with the Gaza Strip, will need in order to be able to return home.

On Friday night, October 6th, before I went to sleep, I told my visiting 33-year-old son: “If you don’t see me when you get up, it will be because I’m going to drive out to the field of squills and take pictures of them as the sun rises.”

Luckily, I was too tired to follow through with my plans. I know for a fact that around the time I had planned to drive to that field, the area was overrun with terrorists and people were slaughtered near those very flowers. 

I want to go home. Aside from getting our hostages back, the thing I want most right now is to go back to the community and home that I have been lovingly building for decades.

Life as a refugee in a hotel is not like it is when you are a tourist on vacation, when you have gone to relax and enjoy the benefits of a specified, limited period of pampering and touring. When you are a refugee in your own land, life in the limitations of a hotel room — as beautiful as it may be — is life on pause. Life not knowing how long your stay will last because going home is not an option under your control, when your home is located in a closed military zone. As desperately as I want to go back to my turquoise dining room wall, the familiar smells and sights of my community, the red anemones that will bloom in February despite the war, there are conditions for that to be able to happen, and those prerequisites are both non-negotiable and complicated. Houses and roads are easily built in time; all you need is cement, tar and a lick of paint. 

What I will need in order to ever return to my home will be to rebuild the sense of security and resilience that I felt during all the years I lived on Nirim. That will require much more than mortar and lumber.

I will need to be able to rebuild the knowledge that the IDF soldiers have all their eyes on the border and on the communities which dot our border, 24/7/365. In order for us to be able to live there, and sleep there, with peace of mind and security, I will need the ability to reconstruct the scenario that I held on to so securely for decades: that our soldiers are immediately ready to jump to action when needed. On Nirim, on October 7th, it took the IDF battalions seven hours to arrive at Nirim!

I will need to rewind my psyche, back to the sense of safety that I had on October 6th, knowing that I can drive out into the fields before sunrise and photograph the wild flowers of our beautiful Negev. However this task will be much more difficult than it was in the past, because, as a resident of Nirim post-October 7th, I understand that the aura of security that I had on October 6th was no more solid than the fog of the morning desert that burns off and dissipates with the rising sun. Sixty days on, the Adele of December 2023 understands that the sense of security she had before her home was overrun with marauding, murderous terrorists was merely a mirage. 

If I am ever able to move back to my home on Kibbutz Nirim, the atmosphere of security will need to be real, solid, tangible. I have no idea how that can be achieved. That will be for the IDF and our government to build, but if that does not happen, then we can forget about the Western Negev. And if we give up on the Western Negev, we can give up on the Zionist dream.

As usual with recent blogposts, I cannot close without mentioning that my usual editor, Judih Weinstein Haggai, who is an American-Canadian-Israel citizen, and a very dear friend, was unable to edit due to the inconceivable fact that she is still — after 60 days — being held captive in Gaza by the monstrous terrorists. #bringherhomenow

About the Author
Born in the USA, Adele has lived in a Kibbutz on the border with the Gaza Strip since 1975. She is a mother and a grandmother living and raising her family on the usually paradisaical, sometimes hellishly volatile border. She moderates a FB group named "Life on the Border". https://goo.gl/xcwZT1 Adele recently retired after 38 years as a teacher of English as a Foreign Language, as well as a teacher trainer and counselor for the Israeli MoE for EFL and a Tech Integration Coach. She blogs here about both Life on the Border, as well as about digital pedagogy, in "Digitally yours, @dele". She is a YouTuber, mostly on the topic of digital stuff. (https://goo.gl/iBVMEG) Her personal channel covers other issues close to her heart (medical clowning, Life on the Border, etc.) (https://goo.gl/uLP6D3) In addition, she is a trained medical clown and, although on COVID hiatus, until allowed back into hospitals, she clowns as often as she can in the pediatric ward in the hospital in Ashkelon. As a result of her activity as an advocate for her region, she was included among the Ha'aretz "Ten Jewish Faces who made Waves in 2018" https://goo.gl/UrjCNB. In November 2018 she was invited to Geneva by an independent investigative committee for the UN to bear witness to the border situation, and in December 2019 addressed the UN Security Council at the request of the US ambassador to the UN.
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