Before you start reading, I have to warn you. This post is long. And it will be riveting. It will also make you angry, sad, depressed, perhaps even bring you close to tears. The end will seem uncharacteristically light-hearted, showing, I hope, how life here can jump from one extreme to another so quickly. And I, as an outsider, as an observor, can look at this all semi-passively. Do not get me wrong, I was infuriated and deeply upset by what I saw this weekend, but less so than my Israeli friends. In fact, whereas my foreign friends expressed interest in my trip and wanted to join me, a large propotion of my Israeli friends did not feel the same way. It is different to them, they are tied to this situation, it is more emotional to see all the wrongs being done, more upsetting, especially because they disagree with it absolutely and – by all counts – fundamentally feel the same way I do: that the occupation is disgusting, unacceptable and a great obstacle to peace.
On Thursday afternoon, there was a terrorist attack in the south of Israel, near Eilat and the Egyptian border. 8 Israelis were killed and, despite Hamas’ statement that the attacks (which it did not carry out) targetted soldiers, the majority of the dead were civilians. Even if they had been soldiers, it would be unacceptable. Most people who live outside of Israel do not realize that the soldiers are people like you and I; army service here is mandatory. And as much as I respect refuseniks, I respect leftists who do their service as much because we need soldiers who hold those values. An army of only right-wing extreme-Zionists would help no one. It is also important to remember that these soldiers are young, often under the age of 22. In retaliation, Israel fired rockets at Gaza because the Israeli intelligence sources found that the terrorists who carried out the attacks in Sinai originated there. I condemn the attacks, I condemn the retaliation, and I condemn the Palestinian response which has been to send over 100 rockets into Israel over the last three days. Continue reading