As many of you know, my husband is Israeli. I make a pretty concerted effort not to write about politics on this blog. Politics, in my opinion, is a dirty business and brings out the worst in people. I certainly have my own beliefs when it comes to national policy and what is going on in the world, but I also truly believe that the beliefs of others are just as valid as my own. And it’s because of this I don’t write about Israel and Palestine here, although, when I visit I do try to mention how inclusive Israeli culture is. We don’t see that on the news. But it really is an amazing place with people from all over the world, people of different faiths who do generally live peacefully. But this morning’s attack in Jerusalem has made me very uneasy.
Yes, what happened in Gaza over the summer was horrible, you would be hard pressed to find an Israeli who would disagree with that. But it’s also complicated. Israel’s history is very complicated, that’s the only word I can think of to explain it, as trite as it may seem. And, I make a fairly educated assumption when I say that for most Americans, we don’t really know the half of it. I know a lot of it, but I still don’t know the half of it.
This morning The Fella was in a noticeably bad mood, it was this morning’s attack in Jerusalem, he said. I asked him how he thought it would be handled. “Badly,” he said. I expressed how scary things are now, and he said, “Oh, this is nothing. When I was in high school every week there would be mass casualties, on busses, at cafes, at children’s birthday parties, and dance clubs.” Roy was drafted into the Israeli military at the height of the Second Intifada. I come from a long line of military men, my dad was in the army, as were both of my grandfathers, and I wouldn’t be surprised if my father’s grandfather served in WWI (probably on the losing side, we’re German, after all), but none of them have ever talked to me about it. My father has never once told me about his experiences in Vietnam, other than to say that it was scary. But Roy has told me some parts of his time in the military, and what it’s like being face to face with someone who wants to kill you. Apparently, it changes you.
I am a peace loving American and I want everyone to just get along and love one another, I want everyone to compromise so everyone involved will be equally unhappy and happy, and we can just wash our global hands of this matter and watch Gilmore Girls reruns while sharing popcorn and drinking Diet Coke. But that’s just not reality.
Contrary to what my American sensibilities intuit, Roy says that what’s going on now is moderate. A protest, but probably won’t escalate—and that’s a reality that the people that live there accept. Accept in the sense that to not accept it would mean war, and a war is unlikely. I often say I want to move to Tel Aviv, which is generally less religious and less combustible than Jerusalem, it really is an amazing place I hope others get to visit and experience; but Roy says no, “it will make you hard. You have to be hard to live in Israel, and I don’t want that for you.”
I’ve said before, but a long time ago, living with an immigrant has instilled in me a whole new sense of patriotism. Roy loves America in a way I never really have. I like America, it’s my country, but I can’t say I’ve ever seen it as anything special, well Roy does—he sees America as the world’s big brother (in a good way, not in a creepy 1984 way, although some would argue that’s also true), always around to lead by example, break up fights, and help out as needed. Becoming an American was a lifelong dream for him, and in September it came true. But he’s also still Israeli, and it’s rough seeing your home in turmoil, and I understand, but I don’t, because I don’t really know the half of it.