Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Pillar Of Cloud

Seven days of War in Facebook Status Updates:  

Thursday, November 15th:

"Whenever there is war or warfare here--as there is now, very close to my home and personally affecting many people I care about--facebook is full of status updates from Israel supporters (many of them far away, some here) saying: The Media doesn't show how many rockets have fallen on Israel! The media only shows what we do; not what is done to us! and also from Palestinians and Palestinian suppo
rters--and I really understand this from people in Gaza right now--saying, The media has forgotten us! This is happening to us! And I understand, but it's as if we're all children going to Mom and Dad to say: this happened to me! He did this to me! When what we need now is to turn to each other, brothers and sisters, and say: I am so sorry this is happening to you. I don't want to hurt you. Please, let's fight together, against the media, against the so-called leaders, who turn us as pawns against each other. I am not against you."

Friday, November 16th

"My friends and family in the States keep asking me what's really going on here. The truth is that if you live here, the inside perspective is daily life. I should say, first, that I am very, very safe where I live, everyone--it's very quiet here. I work in Be'er Sheva where rockets are falling, but I work there once a week, and the University where I teach is closed now. For rockets...). Daily life here is knowing that my friends in Be'er Sheva are undergoing sirens constantly and are in and out of bomb shelters, with their children. After a siren goes off, there is the loud boom of a missile falling, somewhere. Daily life is knowing about how people I don't know personally but care about nonetheless in other desert towns west of me are experiencing this even more constantly. It's knowing that my friends in Tel Aviv are experiencing a brand new alertness and for many of them, fear, because of the attack yesterday that actually fell short of the city (seemingly a warning, or demonstrating capability), but the next one, who knows. It's knowing that my Palestinian friends' relatives are right over the border, experiencing the Hell that is being in Gaza while under Israel's fire. It's reading live blogs out of Gaza from teenagers who can't sleep. Ever. I read the stories of the Israelis who died yesterday (or was it the day before?)--their stories are insanely tragic--beyond sad. I read about the 8 month year old girl killed in Gaza and see her father holding her, weeping, and weep. The inside story is that several of my students are on their way to reserve duty in the army, and so are the sons of some people I love here. That is the inside story. The inside story is: I guess I'm not going to pick olives at my friend's today because I don't want to drive through Be'er Sheva. The inside story is that I have a novel to write, and I'm aware that I could get sucked into this all day to no one's benefit, so I'm going to shut down my internet now until the evening. The inside story is that this is very sad for everyone, and will cost many more innocent lives, and I happen to be on the cynical side of not trusting this particular government at all, and feeling that they chose this action at this time for their own popularity. There are always reasons... I don't want to believe that, especially as people are risking and giving their lives to this operation, but I do believe it. So, I pray.

Saturday, November 17th

last night, i lay awake listening to planes--low and fast--heading to gaza, feeling dread and fear for people there. we have seemingly reached a point of no return, here. 75,000 israeli reservists are being drafted. During the war in Lebanon, 60,000 were drafted, and I walked around feeling that all the men were gone. That was before I made friends with all the people who get out of service by
 claiming psychological problems (you know, because it's crazy to be sensitive enough not to be able to stand violence), and that was when I started coming down to the Negev, not knowing what else to do with myself during wartime. Now, the Negev is my home. The only place left to go this time is further into this novel I'm writing. Which is where I'm meant to go, I'm sure of it. But I will put this out there: There are anti-war protests now, but most of them are in solidarity with Gaza against Israel. I get that. However. Being against one people in order to be for another does not work. This will never free us. Only solidarity together, against our governments, will free us. This war presents the perfect opportunity, because this one was really created by them, unnecessarily. This one could have, and should have, been avoided. Instead, it may be turning into our biggest war in recent history. I pray not. But it may. Are we willing to rise up, together? This means swallowing a lot of ego (needing to prove rightness or another's wrongness) for the sake of freeing ourselves. Of course this movement can't be only for peace and a return to the way things have been; it must also be for freedom for all. Leave the details out. If we, the people, join together, everything is still possible. This is a turning point in history, in every realm. The moment of power is now.

ast post of the day, because I'm weaning myself off: The moon is gorgeous right now. Charlotte and I went for a beautiful walk earlier, and the birds and yaelim/ibex were still enjoying the effects of rain from a few days ago. Also, I'm eating a lot of soup. with beer. The reason I said "this is amazing" on the post I shared about an hour about about soldiers refusing to serve in this war is
that it went so much against the feeling I'm getting from things around here right now: it seems that most people are feeling depressed because here we go again; some depressed because they've been hard fighting to wake people up, and now this is it--we didn't make any important societal changes since the last war in Gaza, so, inevitably, here we are; some, of course, are raring to go to defend the country--especially with actual rockets falling in Tel Aviv and some before shabbat around Jerusalem. It turns out that the video I shared isn't amazing, because it's from 2009, during the last war in Gaza. I hope it will still inspire some people, and trust that there are people, now, who feel the same. But that is not the mood now. I wish it were. I wish that people didn't accept that things have to be like this. They don't. I'm not saying it's all in Israel's control; I'm saying that this is not, and has never been, the answer. In so many areas of our life right now--environmentally, politically--we are creating or contributing to messes that then, Yes, reach a critical point where something must be done. And it's at that critical point that we have to have tremendous courage to break our patterns. If they have never worked before, they won't work now. If people have been hurt before, they will be hurt again. Alternatives are scary--they are the unknown. They are putting ourselves aside for the greater good. Both sides. We don't need everyone on board for this, just a critical mass. It's possible. It's in our hands.

Sunday, November 18th

"you know it's bad when what you're thinking while they're scraping the plaque off your teeth at the dentist is: It's so quiet here; no army planes."

Monday, November 19th

"Well-meaning efforts that are killing us:

1) Jews who care about a just Israel, trying to get the word out about Israel's injustices, but without any sympathy for Israel's actual existential dilemmas and without offering a vision for how it could be on the other side. (I sympathize with this one greatly, but check it out: it's not working, and I understand why. It's not the content; it's the to
2) Palestinians who denounce any argument made by Jews for Palestinian rights and freedom that includes a vision for both people on this land, and/or care for Israel.
3) Anyone trying to defend their side against the media who hath wronged them. People are dying. Fuck PR. You want to look better to the outside world? Care about everyone. Use your suffering as a victim to empathize with others who are suffering; only then will you transform your suffering into healing.
4) All talking points. Israel has the right to defend itself. Palestine has the right to resist. Blah blah blah blah blah. Shut up.
5) Anti-normalization. If you're jewish and you've never heard of this, sorry, but you know nothing about this conflict today. Palestinians, seriously, stop it; you've taken this way too far and you're killing everything good, and there ain't much left (pun intended). show up and change it from within. don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. don't make me use more cliches.
6) Everyone feeling depressed and powerless right now. Yes, you. Me. Us. This is a time of citizen revolution. Arab Spring. Occupy Everything. We must rise up together against our governments who are using us as pawns against each other and say No. Jews: don't say no against Israel; say no against War and for Palestinian sovereignty (no peace without this and it's the only moral way). Palestinians: don't say you won't fight until there's justice; I understand the mistrust, but if you begin with the problems, there's no way out. If we join together--the one thing we haven't tried and continue to block--we will feel empowered like never before and then we will have a vision for the way things can be, and with that vision, we can get there. Somehow. Imperfectly and sloppily, like all love."

"if you are fighting a PR war on Israel's behalf, you are killing israel."

"well I woke up grumpy today, didn't I. something about sleeping with the sound of army planes overhead and waking to read about who died last night. signing off for now. ♥"

"so a friend who I met via political commenting on +972 mag added me to this small, underground-esque fb group in which the sweetest group of Israelis I've ever wanted to be friends with (I don't' know any of them) post lines from literature they love, and the rest have to say what it's from. often, passionate discussions follow about the book. It's almost all in Hebrew (unless the book was written 
in English, in which case it's often classics; not the contemporary, literary fiction my american reader and writer friends would cite) for which I need Google Translate, and like all fb groups, it clogs up my email inbox, but even though I can barely participate, I can't quit because in the middle of this hateful war, little bubbles keep popping up on my fb screen with lines from literature and people who love it and escape to talking about it at this time, and this is somehow the greatest act of faith I can imagine."

"the only good things to do during a war are write your novel and eat and drink and make love and walk in nature. not fight about the war, on Facebook. Good night, and good luck."

Tuesday, November 20th

"so we've all been hearing about this ceasefire scheduled for 11:30 tonight. Until ten minutes ago, army planes were flying over us incessantly, heading in the direction of Gaza. People in Gaza were posting about explosions. Now: silence. One hour before. Is *this* how it works? Crazy."

"the silence is pregnant with prayer."

"planes are back. I haven't read about it yet, but this is my guess: no one would be the first to stop, so no one stopped. boys."

Wednesday, November 21st

"My family called hysterical--did I hear about the bus and that there's no ceasefire and am I okay and Iran is scary? I was drinking a beer and grading a student paper in our desert town's only cafe; I'm okay. I mean, physically, in terms of my safety, I'm okay. I have a thin skin; I'm not bred for this. I'm upset. But I'm safe. Today I hung out on the street, talking to friends from Ramallah, Bethlehem, Israel, and Zambia. Yes, Zambia. Why not. Everyone is, in their own way, okay, and upset. People in Bethlehem, who, you know, are Palestinian, are worried about being hit by Hamas rockets. This place is one big grey zone; don't let the news tell you otherwise. Word now from my journalist friends that there is a ceasefire scheduled, again, for tonight. But people--our friends, our students, people's sons--are still being called for reserve (army) duty. The sky from here is the quietest it's been since this all started--nothing heading to Gaza. Nearing ceasefire? Placating Hillary? (Nah, they don't give a shit). Turning into a ground war? Here is my question to you, locals: who here feel safer than they did a week ago? Safer with Jabari dead? Safer in any way? You think you'd feel safer months from now if you went into Gaza on the ground and destroyed whatever there is to destroy? We are all, all of use, a lot less safe today than we were on November 15th, and a lot of what's been done cannot be undone. murders, for example. An intifada seems to be brewing, and that has nothing to do with whether or not we cease fire. A Palestinian friend told me that some of the aggression is against Fatah, so internal Palestinian fighting. It's not brewing from this week. It's from, for starters, over a year of peaceful West Bank protests, gone completely unanswered, unnoticed. No one is more safe today than we were last week. It never, ever works that way. But we do it again and again anyway. A lovely student told me today that if he's called up, he goes. Look what's happening in Tel Aviv. What to do? "Are you willing to die for this?" I asked him. He has a two year old daughter and a wonderful wife who made us cupcakes for my class today. He looked to the ground, then back to me. "What to do?" he said."

  • Thursday, November 22nd

  • "What it's like to be leftwing in Israel:  you wake up the morning after the ceasefire, after sleeping for twelve straight hours--the first night all week you haven't lay awake at night listening to army planes flying into gaza, waking to read the list of the dead--to hear that two palestinian homes were demolished in Silwan. You can't even believe that one of your friends still has the heart to post this on Facebook. You know that nobody cares. You know that since Cast Lead, Israeli journalists and activists have devoted their lives to getting the word out about the actualities of the occupation. You know that no one in Israel, or in the mainstream Jewish American community, is listening. You know that the American Left cares, but understands nothing. You know this because up until recently, you were one of them. You know that most of the people who are listening and do care express this as being against the state of Israel; you know that this is weakening your cause. You know that Palestinians have been fighting weekly, non-violently, to return to their own wells for water, to pick their own olives from their own trees. And you know and that no one knows or cares about these marches. You know that some violent Israelis have been attacking them, and that the IDF has been protecting the Israelis. You know that anyone who marches--Palestinian and Israelis together--risks being tear-gassed and skunk-sprayed and wounded or killed by rubber bullets or tear gas canisters. You know that another man from the Tamimi Family was killed this way during the war, or as Israelis call it, the "situation", this past week. You know that most Israelis don't know this, or who he is, or what this means. You know that most Palestinians do. You wonder how any journalist can still have the will to go to work and try to get the word out now that we've circled back to another war in Gaza that left the majority of Israelis wanting to go back and pummel the place. It is easier to imagine being the activist; at least they get to hang out with each other and cool Palestinians and feel good about the world that day. But they risk the most heartbreak. Hamas is awful. They drag their own people to death. No Jewish Israeli likes Hamas. Not the left, not the right; no one. We, the left, just don't want to go kill a bunch of children to find ourselves in a less safe place than we were in before it all began. What to do? Let's start with: not that. Let's start with accounting for our side of the responsibility for what's happened since 1947 and hasn't stopped to Palestinians. We know what's happened to us, and I am not discounting that, but we don't know what we've done. We're so sure we have the moral high ground, and legal high ground that we don't don't look and don't see. No one has the moral high ground, here. Everyone is responsible for every dead child. There's enough, here for everyone. There's enough on this planet for everyone. Enough food, enough water. There's room in the Holy Land for everyone to live, to benefit from the richness of each other's cultures that all run deep on this land. But we keep damming rivers and pumping potash and grabbing land and genetically modifying food and torturing animals so we can eat them and not looking at ourselves. Look. That's all I'm asking. Take a Breaking the Silence tour. Read an article by Amira Hass. Talk to some Palestinians who grew up in the territories. Look. And then we'll see what we should do."

Friday, November 23rd

"rain in the desert. shabbat shalom."