Shooting ourselves?

You know the world has gone crazy when I am compared to Barack Obama re: Mandela SelfieGate. Really Australia? I’m much more of a Clinton girl.

I was completely surprised to discover earlier today that our Bomb Shelter Selfie Facebook groups (there are two, I started the smaller one) had become, in the wake of an article in Haaretz, a *thing,* with items in The Daily Mail and Buzzfeed. The articles themselves were pretty fair, although they focused on the happy, silly pix and failed to include the ones of worried moms with little boys, or wounded soldiers. The talkbacks (shocker)…. somewhat more disturbing.

It *is* a bit jarring that this “story” is making the viral rounds now, post-ground invasion. The groups were started before Operation Defensive Edge became an all out war, when there were far fewer dead, and when the mood in the country was shaky but not impossible to bear. But who even remembers anymore a time when it was “just” the 3 kidnapped Israeli teenagers or “just” the rockets (Grads, btw, silly talkbackers, not bottle rockets. Google: Grad.) Who remembers a time before the Red Alert app?

…So…. I’d like to set the record straight in case there was any doubt as to our true intentions (and I have posted the link to this piece on each of those abovementioned pages):

In Israel today, we are unbearably sad. Some of us are frightened, some of us don’t know how to do fear and high function at the same time (does that make me “arrogant”, dear commenters? That I want to function?), but all of us do everything in our power not to cry in front of our kids, or in front of the world. Like all the time. It makes me unbearably sad that civilians are being killed in Gaza. Those images make me as sick as they make you, and I hear the booms of war from dozens of kilometers away as I type this.

It makes me unbearably sad that our sons and husbands and fathers, kind men with regular lives, are part of that killing. I say part, because I am with Egypt on this one: Hamas bears most of this blame. I have news for you: No soldier I know (and I know many) wants to be there, either. They all have families and jobs they want to get back to. Jobs created by an economy borne of doing other things besides figuring out how to destroy an enemy.

Our 30 plus dead husbands and fathers and sons this week – dedicated only to the job of protecting their homes and countrymen, not seeking out the killing of Gazans – these deaths, too, have made this a summer we will all mourn for a long time.

You think we don’t want to crawl into bed and stay there till it’s over? After nine years of rockets intermittently raining down on our citizens – NINE YEARS AFTER WE LEFT THE GAZA STRIP in the hands of Hamas, so it could “take care” of its citizens….

You think it doesn’t suck to run down to that shelter with sleeping babies?

You think it doesn’t suck when you live in the south and you haven’t been to work in a month, and your kids haven’t been to school or camp, and you are spending days together in a hot, tiny shelter?

You think it doesn’t suck when your husband or son is called to war and you pack him socks with your stomach in your throat? (And you smile at him calmly. What else can you do?)

You think it doesn’t suck to think about the kids trying to blow up your husband on reserve duty by running at him with a suicide belt, giving him the choice of killing a 14 year old, or seeing his own again?

You think it’s not scary to watch a missile, fired by Hamas from beside a hospital or school in Gaza, explode over your head while you crouch on a highway beside the divider?


But then you get back in your car and go to work in the hi-tech company that your country built TO BENEFIT HUMANITY instead of using vital skills to build a network of more than 1,000 tunnels (the blockade? It appears stuff got in to build the important stuff) to transport terrorists to kidnap civilians. Our civilians.

It has been the sh*ttiest summer since 2006, and it may be even worse than that one. But guess what? If you really want to be paranoid about Jews and Israelis, be paranoid about this:  We take sh*tty situations and make the best of them. Seriously – for hundreds, thousands of years, this is what we do. It’s more or less our brand. It is almost impossible to believe how well we succeed at truly suffering and then smiling, excelling, and moving on, and this is where we lose proof of concept. People just don’t believe us, and I don’t blame them, I guess.

But believe this: My grandmothers were both in Auschwitz 70 years ago. It never occurred to me to strap on a suicide belt and reclaim the family estate in Czechoslovakia. (Yes, readers, this is a line I have written before.) Instead, it was always clear to me that our mandate as a family, as a people was this: move on. Do something good for the world. That’s the narrative. Being a victim is not an option, not succeeding is not an option. Give to humanity from a place of strength. That’s the entire story.

That there are children dying in Gaza because their leaders have stockpiled weapons meant to kill my children under their homes…this is something we will all have to live with for a long time. But should I apologize for it? Which part?

So where should I begin the apologies? Iron Dome / bomb shelters / continuing to try to live a normal existence? For not dying gracefully or quickly or in greater numbers for foreign cameras?

Or is it the fact of Israel we are meant to apologize for? Is that the real point? How far do you want to drill down here?

Is it simply the smiling in a time of massive pain? OK. I hear.

But is it only Gazan pain? Do they have the monopoly on it? And if it’s partly ours, can we decide how to spend it? If so, many of us decide to be anxious and sometimes in agony… but smile through it. We refuse to be victims. This is the idea behind the Selfies group.

Please see these smiles for what they are: a people who cries inside and marches on, and innovates. A people who wants to PROTECT its children and project a positive, strong image to the world.

The discovery of the tunnels has shown us that Hamas has good engineers, and their media strategy of using civilians as human shields has shown us that Hamas is extremely savvy. But don’t you wish they had used their powers for good, to help their people… or your people?

Don’t you wish these guys would be just a little bit more positive, more flippant, less heavy, just a little more like *our* engineers and marketing executives, taking selfies in the basements of their companies, and then going back upstairs in a normal enough mood to go back to developing the software platforms and microprocessors you use every day?

I recommend taking on Hamas for embracing death before taking on Israelis for embracing life. Then it’ll be our turn, and I will *personally* take the first round of discipline for being too callous at a difficult time.

But if you’re being fair, do this in the right order, and aim the camera the right way. Maybe even take a selfie, and understand for real why some of you hate us so.



About the Author
Sara K. Eisen is a veteran journalist; creative / marketing / brand director; content consultant; and communications strategist. Also a mother, community activist, and mentor.
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