, my hometown
, the unbearable heat is clinging to the soul and mind. 10:00 A.M. A bomb
is discovered and dismantled in the down town business centre in the same street of my favorite, and regular coffee shop
Another day, another bomb…
Jerusalem, my hometown, 14:00 P.M. A bomb explodes in a Sbarro restaurant, located in the same down town business centre, a mere few minutes after I happen to walk by it, killing 18, among which was an entire family.
Another day, another Hellfire missile…
Gilo, a border neighbourhood between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Guerilla warfare takes place from the Palestinian Beit Ja’ala neighbourhood, on the one hand, and in response heavy bombardments take place from the Israeli side. My apartment overlooks the sky line of Gilo, and so every night I hear and see the huge explosions the Israeli tanks and helicopters inflict on their obviously inferior and poorly equipped opponent.
Another day, another sniper…
The Jerusalem-Ma’ale Adumim road. Ma’ale Adumim, a large Israeli settlement just north of Jerusalem. The hill trailing road is a comfortable, and popular, ambush place used by Palestinian gunmen. There’s not a week going by without a car being ambushed and bullet holed out of recognition.
Plain human stupidity brought on the death of about a thousand people already, just in the last few months, and shattered both personal security and any shred of mutual trust between the warring sides that the peace process of the past few years took credit for.
In view of these the ordinary, ‘hard working’, civilian may find himself helpless and insignificant - knowing he could be blown up in every main public venue, ambushed on roads, having his/her children kidnapped during a seemingly innocent hitchhiking, gun downed by tanks, masked militants, or by a soldier firing ‘rubber bullets’ to calm down a demonstration --- without him being able to do a damn thing about it.
‘Living between one ceasefire to another’ is out. ‘Living in denial’ is the new thing.
Psychologists would probably tell you that living in denial from reality is absurd and unhealthy, but let them face a reality in which a man can’t walk down a crowded street without fearing he might get blown up to pieces by an Islamic militant. Let ‘them’ face a reality in which your own government overlooks the killing of 13 of its own citizens by the police, only because it can’t tell the difference between them and the above Islamic militant.
Sure, a man is raised to face his fears, not run away from them. But this is not a fear of heights, nor is it a childhood trauma enrooted deep in one’s memory; this is blind and fanatic bloodshed. This is not a political issue. It’s simply realizing and admitting that there’s nothing you can do about it. The sources of this specific conflict may be traced back as far as 140 years ago, with the arrival of the first significant waves of Jewish immigrants to Palestine. There’s no need to be an expert on the subject, nor to be familiar with what I referred to above, to understand the painful truth that the greater majority of people from both ‘sides’ of the conflict have had enough, and would rather go on with their lives completely oblivious to the hell raging outside. They would still raise their children and educate them according to their beliefs. Some would probably continue to nurture the hatred that they were taught and have picked up during their lives and their dealings with the other side. But deep inside they would know that if they were given the chance to get away to give up the fighting they would have gladly taken it no matter the consequences.
A recent survey conducted in Israel showed that a growing part of the ‘Jewish’ community is choosing the way of denial, ever since the beginning of the Al-Aqsa intifada. Don’t be too skeptic about the success rate also. All you have to do is avoid the News Bulletins and the Daily Papers. You’d be surprised how little the people around you discuss the situation, even on the bus and in your work place where this kind of conversations are most popular.
Following these directives one can walk down the Jerusalem business centre during Rush Hour, picking a path through the crowdiest streets possible without feeling the anxiety of the upcoming blast. Almost as if the world is sane once again. I guess it never has been in the first place, and that we’ve been living in denial since the dawn of our civilized civilization
Leaving banal statements aside, I would continue to walk proudly in the streets that are my own, not by birth right, nor by conquest, but rather by the fact that I consider them Home. Were a bus’s roof be torn right in front of me, and attempt to test its flight limits, I would avert my indifferent eyes, sigh, and think - ‘Burn mother fucker, burn…’.