Friday, July 11, 2014

War zone in israel

I have always wanted to visit this country for many years but had been hesitant to do so. Partly out of the social justice issues that color relationships between Jew and Arab. That ensuing bitter hatred that tends to boil over hotter than the desert sun. 
As well as my own personal fear that something very bad would happen to me there.
So after Marley safely returned from her Birthright trip and extolled the virtues of the Israeli experience I became more intersted and slowly became more inspired to give it a whirl. 

So while planning our three month retirement journey we scheduled two weeks of travel around Israel.  Lots of planning went into it. Car rental, airbnb arrangements and the creation of a travel itinerary that would try and include much of the varied countrysides and sights. Not being particularly interested in religion and history I tried to focus more on fun and nature.
At that time all was relatively calm there so I that would continue into July.  With no problem and certainly no destructive rocket fire and bloodshed. Boy was I wrong. 

While in Berlin we learned that the three Israeli teenage boys were kidnapped. The search was on to locate them to no avail. It seemed like the Israeli media could think of nothing else. 
In the midst of this we left the cool civility of Berlin and landed in hot Tel Aviv.  Swimming in the warm Med was so much fun. We both began to forget of the politics of this country starting to enjoy conversations with its people, the delicious food and the general atmosphere. 
It became time to leave the seaside and head to Arad to climb Masada and dip in the Dead Sea. 
Climbing the ancient fortress of Masasada at dawn was challenging. Floating in the hypersalinated water Dead Sea was strangely euphoric yet somewhat unpleasant. 
Cheska and I then regrouped and went out to a pub in Arad for dinner. Good food, World Cup on the big screen.  The place crowded with families and soldiers of both genders drinking cokes with assault rifles in their laps.  
The football game was interupted by a bulletin and although I speak no Hebrew I knew the news was grave. 
I asked the family sitting behind for a translation and was told by the woman with tears in her eyes that the three Jewish boys kidnapped and missing for 18 days were found dead. 
At that point the mood in the room became both somber and bitter.   Funerals, revenge killings, riots and arrests were spelled out regularly in the local news.  Not speaking Hebrew I relied on the internet to absorb as much info as I could. Live reports were reported constantly. 
At that point our journey through Israel was transformed into an adventure filled with fear and hate. 
My fear and the locals hate.  
That realization became a personal hell and followed me around until I flew off to Paris on July 9 amid multiple reports of rocket fire from Gaza. 
Traffic jams on the highway with cars watching rockets near Tel Aviv get obliterated by a anti ballistic Iron Dome missiles. 

Points of view of this conflict vary from multiple circumstances and political opinions.
My perspective as Jewish American kid raised by a family of holocaust survivors was that this experience put me more in touch with my parents sense of anxiety and how they felt the struggle for survival with each breath. 
Throughout my life I have not felt such a strong sense of imminent danger as well as the outright acrid hatred of one group against another.   
Sitting here in my friends centuries old stone farmhouse in central France I thank my lucky stars I got out of the Middle East alive, but my life will be changed forever.

1 comment:

jherz said...

Wow. Need to talk about this when you get back.