Here is how I, personally, see the events of yesterday unfolding:
1. (“Ancient History” by now): The March of Flags that took place on May 10th (Jerusalem Day) and has taken place for years without being contested, was disrupted by rocket fire (the timing was complicated by the events in Sheich Jarrah threats of eviction and the police entering the Dome of the Rock to quell Palestinians who had stockpiled rocks and were lobbing them at Jews praying at the Western Wall.)
2. Rather than leaving things to calm down for a while, certain factions in Israel (led by Ben Gvir and Smotrich) insisted on holding ANOTHER March of Flags. On the one hand, this IS our capital, and we have the freedom to express our joy at it being in our hands again, because when it was NOT Israeli ruled, Jews were not allowed to pray at our most holy sites. However, personally, considering the raw nerves among everyone in this area, I saw it as just a provocation: an opportunity to show “the world” – and mostly the Palestinians – who governs the city. In my opinion, this really was unnecessary. We KNOW who governs the city, and that this is our capital. Bullying and grandstanding – in MY eyes – serves to WEAKEN us, not strengthen us. Invariably, when certain citizens are beating their chests in Jerusalem, insisting on fulfilling their right to exercise freedom of expression and march with our flag in in East Jerusalem “just because they can”, it is the people and nature in the Western Negev that pay the price.
3. Although the route was changed, there were still areas that passed through streets that are shared with Palestinians, and some of them – you can correct me if I am wrong- were told to close their shops early for the day. From what I saw in Palestinian media (yes – I follow- because I do want to see as much of the picture as I can) a woman who raised the Palestinian flag (I believe freedom of speech and expression in our democracy allows her this, as well) was not-so nicely dragged away by the police (not judging – I have NO idea how SHE was speaking – acting-responding… the police put their lives on the line every day, and there is no justification, even if tempers are short – to act unprofessionally, but I did not see or hear that side of the story. I trust the police understand that the eyes of the world are on them and they need to act as professionally as possible while at the same time, ensuring their own safety). I also saw footage of people (mostly young men) marching with the Israeli flag – MY flag, which I love no less than any of they do- shouting d@#th to Ar@bs. (I am writing it like this because FB has put me in FB jail in the past, for what I know not, but am trying to be especially careful) THIS was the most compelling reason for why I had objected to this march happening again at this period of time: because it was clear to me that tensions would be high, and it would NOT always be just our beautiful smiling teens waving the flag joyfully, rather that there would be those who would take the opportunity to provoke.
4. At the same time, on the other side of the Gaza border, Hamas terrorists launched incendiary balloons, setting 26 fires. around our homes and communities. There were also balloons bearing explosives of some sort that exploded about a playground in one of our communities where children were playing.
5. Around 1 a.m., the IDF retaliated by bombing Hamas training centers which were empty (so – there were no physical injuries however, as I always encourage the media HERE on our side to say: “No physical injuries, but there were emotional injuries for the citizens and children in communities nearby”).
This is a cycle that needs to be stopped. I am NOT taking the Palestinian side by writing this. I am taking the humanitarian side. And no – I am no less a Zionist today than I was yesterday or the day before. I am just trying to keep it real, and complete, and to reiterate: we need to break this cycle for the welfare and wellbeing of ALL of us.
It’s not easy to look at what is going on here through the eyes of the other side. But it IS important. BOTH sides need to find a way to reel in their (and out) extremists, then maybe, maybe, my grandchildren will be able to play outside without fear of hearing the Red Alert; maybe I will be able to take the train to Tel Aviv without being concerned that the lines will be closed for real and present threats of rocket fire, and maybe children in Gaza will be able to sleep through the night without being woken up by loud explosions of retaliation on Hamas training centers.
There ARE two sides to this story. I’m not going any place. Neither are they.