Lights in the Distance

Observations and musings regarding new mommyhood and life in general.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Dying for Peace

Six Israeli soldiers were killed yesterday morning in Gaza when a bomb exploded under the armored personnel carrier in which they were traveling. It was obvious that something serious had happened even before the news reports began to provide more complete accounts of the events that had occurred. The reporters speak in guarded tones, and it is the words they don't say that make you realize that they are only giving part of the story, that what actually happened was far worse than what they are being permitted to share with the viewers. You keep checking the news sites to see if the full extent of the damage has been published, and the longer it takes, the greater the fear that something truly horrible must have happened. In this case, my fears were proven correct, as we not only lost six courageous young men, but the terrorist bastards who took their souls have also taken their bodies, and who knows if and when we will get them back.

To live in Israel is to live in a constant swirl of conflicting emotions and pressures. I often don't realize just how stressful it is until I've been out of the country for a bit, and I suddenly notice how calm I am. We took a trip to Europe last September. While driving around England, taking in the sights and sounds of the West Midlands and the quaint villages dotting the Welsh border, we heard about two terror attacks in Israel that had occurred only hours apart. I imagined what it must be like to live in a place where news like that is just one report out of several different reports of current events from around the world, instead of a national tragedy, where the chances are quite good that there will be less than six degrees of separation between yourself and one of the victims. While visiting friends in Norway, I tried to imagine what it must be like to ride a bus, knowing that you will get off in one piece at the destination of your own choosing, or to sit in a café, knowing that you will not be blown up while sipping your espresso.

Then I think of the Palestinians, not the terrorists, nor those who applaud their actions, celebrating the deaths of our children and their own - something that is beyond comprehension, something that I cannot see without feeling sick. I am thinking of the Palestinians who simply want to live their lives quietly, raising their children and working to be able to provide them with food to eat, clothes to wear and a roof to keep them warm, dry and safe from harm. It is not too much to ask for, I think. We all deserve the right to live in dignity and to be safe.

Despite the violence and deliberate provocations from extremists and politicians on both sides, I sincerely want to believe that there are also more people like me, regular people who want peace and believe that it can somehow be achieved. There must be more to our two societies than terrorists who intentionally kill small children and other innocent individuals, and settlers who believe that their "God-given" right to all parts of the Land of Israel supersedes the rights of all others who live on the same lands (for those of you who take this to mean that I support the Palestinians' right of return to lands within the Green Line, I don't). There must be potential leaders who truly have the interests of their citizens at heart, people who will make courageous decisions for the greater good, and not just try to beat down the other side or tiptoe around outspoken minorities, allowing them to dictate unpopular policies and practices while ignoring the will of the majority. I have to believe that this is possible, as the thought that we will all continue to bury our victims of senseless violence and continue to live our lives in fear for generations to come is unbearable.


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