Three years ago, I stood in Kikar Rabin in the early hours of the morning as we all sang and danced because Israel had won Eurovision.
We sang and danced together — all Israelis, from all walks of life, all backgrounds, and all religions.
And now I sit 7,000 km away in South Africa, watching scenes of brutality and indifference.
Citizens who lived contently — sharing jokes at the falafel stand and sitting alongside each other on the bus — have turned on one another in the most horrific way. Instead of being united by a common enemy whose missiles don’t discriminate, they have attached divisive labels to their fellowman and placed them in boxes where violence supersedes humanity.
My stomach has clenched as I witness the hourly barrage of rockets being intercepted in the sky above places I have walked. With every alert I receive on my phone, I wonder if I would be able to enter a shelter in my wheelchair and make it on time, or if my fate would match the elderly woman in Ashkelon whose helper stood by her side as their world ended.
My heart breaks as I hear of children on both sides paying the price of an adult war. A conflict they were born into, with decades of animosity preceding them. It is a reminder that on both sides there will always be people who are victims of a situation they did not choose, and will be left grieving a loved one and without a place to hide.
My fingers have cramped from constantly updating social media into the early hours of the morning with reports of rockets and retaliations, mob violence and failed ceasefire attempts. It has demonstrated that one is safe when anger is the driving force — not an Israeli, not a Palestinian, not a Jew, not an Arab, not a child, not a journalist.
I have been in awe of my journalist colleagues who have risked their lives, both in Israel and Gaza, by venturing through desecrated streets amidst the threat of attack to deliver the story to the rest of the world.
It has been a week that has not afforded much time to breathe or sleep. The next few days likely won’t either. As my head and my heart sit 7,000 km away from my body, I remind myself that journalism is about reporting facts and remaining impartial.
But I am reminded even more that it is about people.