Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Dear Palestinian Civilian

I want to tell you, from the other side of the divide in which we live, that I care. I care about you, your children, your wife or your husband. I care about your parents, your grandparents. I care about your future and that of your children and grandchildren and generations to come.

I care because I am a human being, a mother of beautiful sons and daughters that I love beyond measure. I care because I know that locked into the future of your family, is the future of mine. I am not stupid. I am not racist. I am not filled with hatred and a desire for revenge. I live on a hilltop that never knew a house before mine was built here. No Arab homes were destroyed to build my beautiful neighborhood; no Arabs suffered its loss. It was a barren, empty hilltop, owned by us thousands of years ago, then the Romans, then the Turks. The Jordanians got it from the British; and we liberated it back to our control in 1967, when the Jordanians refused our request to stay out of the war.

We fight with our brothers, they told Israel in 1967, and they did. They fought, and lost this piece of land, where no one lived, no village, nothing. People came to live here in the mid-1970s and have been building ever since. There are almost 45,000 people who live around me here on these hilltops surrounded by light and desert.

I love my house, with its large windows and the sun streaming in early in the morning. In the far distance, I can just barely see the Dead Sea; closer, so much closer, is the beginnings of the enchanting city of Jerusalem just a few kilometers away. But as much as I love my home and my city, if someone were firing rockets from a nearby house, I would run. I would grab my children and run as fast as I could. This isn't about rights; this is about life.

I cherish my husband and my children above all that I have, all that I am. I would run to the very corners of this country (but no, not beyond those corners). A bit over 2 years ago, the unthinkable happened. My son was serving in the army, as all young Israeli men do, and he was ordered to the border with Gaza.

Over a hundred rockets had been fired at Israel in a single month. The situation was intolerable. He was ordered to fire artillery into Gaza - at pinpoint targets where rockets were being fired at us; where mosques and hospitals were being used to shelter weapons and explosives.

Now again, just two years later, as he predicted when Israel stopped the Cast Lead war, your people are again firing on our cities. This morning - Beersheva; last night Ashdod and Ashkelon. It is impossible. It is intolerable. Even Israel, even Israel cannot withstand this barrage.

Yesterday, rockets were fired and our tank division immediately returned fire at the source of the incoming attack. These mortars and rockets you fire at us are incredibly portable. If we don't respond in seconds, like animals, your fighters will tunnel underground. We fired and hit the launchers, but 12 civilians were apparently also hit. And so I ask - not why you fired on us. I know the answer to that - it is the same culture that allows you to slit the throat of a 3-month old baby and stab a 3-year-old in the heart. It is the culture of the suicide bomber who carefully places himself between families hoping to maximize the dead. No, I know why you fire on us.

I know why we fire back too. We are trying to stop you, to protect our babies, our families. We cannot stand the cruel murder of another Hadass. Our hearts broke and continue to break. No, even Israel cannot allow this. So, I understand why we fired back at the rocket launchers yesterday.

What I cannot for the life of me understand is why your civilians are near the rocket launchers. So dear Palestinian civilians - we will do our best to avoid hitting your homes, unless you allow them to be used as rocket launchers. We will do our best to avoid hitting your mosques, unless you hide explosives there. We will do our best, but the wind and the earth, the inconsistencies of war, make it impossible that we can be accurate 100% of the time.

No, I won't point out the obvious, that your goal is to target our children while our aim is to avoid yours. I won't quote Golda Meir and her now-famous comment that this endless war will end when you love your children more than you hate us. I won't speak of your incredible hatred or your culture of martyrdom and death.

I will ask only one thing. It is logical. It is reality. If you live near a place being used as a rocket launcher, please run away. Please move. There is no other option. We cannot allow you to launch rockets at Beersheva. Don't you realize 185,000 people live there? Ashdod, Ashkelon. No, this is not possible. Sderot has suffered enough. So, Palestinian civilian, if you are truly innocent in this, truly a civilian who loves your family - go to the very corners of your neighborhood. Move away from the rockets because they will be stopped.

My oldest son took part in a war to stop the rockets two years ago. We had a partial success. You continued to fire, but at least it wasn't every day and certainly not a hundred in a month...until now. Once again, your people are attacking. At midnight in Ashkelon; at 5:30 a.m. in Beersheva.

No, we will not accept your people shooting rockets at ours and so all that leaves is an endless cycle of your attacking and our responding. We will do our best but you have a responsibility too. During the Second Lebanon War, which began after Hezbollah crossed into Israel and kidnapped two of our soldiers, our ambassador to the United Nations said something so simple and yet so profound. I offer you his words, please take them to heart.

"Sometimes," Dan Gillermann said, "sometimes when you sleep with a missile, you don't wake up."

I want you to wake up in the morning and see the beauty of the sun, as I do now, as it shines through the thick clouds over this mountain where I live. I want you to live because ultimately, your future is tied to mine and those of my children. But whether you live or die, whether your family is safe or not, depends as much on you and the decisions your duly-elected government makes, as it does on mine.

It is the nature of a government, at least ours, to protect its people. If you want to wake up to the sun tomorrow, make sure you are not near those rocket launchers today.


George said...

How about another quote of Golda Meir: "We can forgive you for killing our sons. But we will never forgive you for making us kill yours."

Love of the Land said...

Expresses what needs to be said, and couldn't be clearer. Another excellent piece.

Anonymous said...

Hi, remember me from last time - Another Soldier's mother near Gaza... Hope we're not going there again, but I really can't see another way out. I'm sitting here, translating documents and listening to the Colour Red warning, then the crump of the mortar or kassam falling, running to make sure that the smoke is not rising from out immediate area, hearing the helicopters above, the beeping of the bleepers, the muezzin from over the border and trying to concentrate.
Thanks for making it clearer.

Nasch said...

Great post! Well said.

ProphetJoe said...

I understand your sentiments, Paula, but it seems fruitless to me. I don't know just how many Arabs (or Muslims) don't support Hamas, or Hezbollah, or the Muslim Brotherhood anymore. They've been raised to hate Jews and to consider them lower than human. I'm just not sure we can communicate with them anymore...

You speak of the beauty of the sun and the beauty of the land. It's a stark comparison (like black vs. white). You and I are the day. We love the sun and the warmth and the beauty that it brings. They are like the darkness of night. Night is where the unknown breeds fear. They use the cover of darkness to slip into a house, murder a family, and then disappear back into the nothingness of night. Ignorance is darkness. Fear is darkness.

I just don't know if there is common ground for communication with this culture of death and darkness...

Beni said...

"unless you allow them to be used as rocket launchers"

Really? They allowed to use their houses as rocket launchers? Do you seriously think that a civilian house-owner will stand up to heavily armed terrorists, when they want to shoot from his place? Honestly!

One ounce of sechel, pleazzzze!

Findalis said...

Your words I'm afraid are falling on deaf ears. The only thing these people will respond to is violence. Peace, love, kindness are foreign concepts to them.

jan said...

Very good article, but I agree with Prophet Joe in that there does not seem to be any common ground between us (the Jews), and the Arabs..they loathe themselves and everything around them. We try and beautify the world, and contribute to improving it, while they only destroy. We are not made of the same stuff. Our children are our treasures...their children are expendable, used as martyrs. Unless a miracle occurs, I don't see the two nations coming to any kind of compromise. Just continue to love and appreciate life and the wonderful world Ha Shem gave us...your writing is such an inspiration!

Abby said...

Beautifully said.

Anonymous said...

With all your history and education, you Jews still fall for this conflict in your homeland as well as other presentments. You can't recognize a "never ending war" as divide and rule? It is common knowledge that Mossad created Hamas so why don't you understand? Step back and look at the big picture. You are being used as tools. Who funded Hilter? Who funded Obama? Who founded the intelligence agencies? Are the people that control things aligned with Jewish interest? Are your common beliefs handed you to ensnare you? Free your mind from you everything you think you know, but was in fact presented you. Question everything, as right now you are blind feeling around in the dark. This is not headed where you may think. The solution lies not with governments or rulers. Humanity is being taught a hard lesson. Will you survive it? Will you recognize the oneness of it all? Will you get any more compassion and understanding than you give?

Anonymous said...

Very well done.

As Beni says, the people probably have no choice.

Well, that's why they have to stand up and fight for a lasting peace; to save their husbands and sons, and the next generations. They have a choice-sit down and accept it, or fight back-unfortunately, they seem to make the wrong decisions-these are the same people who push their sons and daughters into becoming martyrs, all because of the hatred they hold for the Jews, as they have been taught for generations. Sadly, I don't see much of a chance for change

Gideon said...

Interesting piece. It starts with the notion of being understanding of the Palestinian position. That would be good... we owe them that. Yet during the story, you bring up all the prejudice about Arabs that is possible. That they hate you more than they love their children. So not true. But you don't seem to understand the desperation in which a lot of Palestinian families were put. Often by Israeli actions. And asking them to move away from a place where bombs are fired from: like Palestinians are free to move wherever they want. Very unrealistic.
And then bragging about your nice home to people who have to cope with much less... well that is just cruel. Too bad, why all this hatred? It started out nicely.

A Soldier's Mother said...

Hi Gideon,

I have no other way to explain a people who would encourage their children to commit suicide and become martyrs rather than live and try to make peace. A young Palestinian woman exploded herself in front of a school - trying to murder Israeli children. She and the school guard died in the blast. She left behind two very young children. And at the time, all I could think of was the hatred she had for us - so strong that it overpowered her love for her own children.

I do understand the desperation of Palestinian families - I just don't understand the choices they make and why, after 63 long years, they still don't understand they are making the wrong choice again and again and again.

Finally, you are wrong - the Palestinians have freedom to move within Gaza; freedom within their Palestinian cities. They can move away from a rocket launcher...and they have to if they want to avoid getting killed because the answer isn't that we allow the rocket fire on our civilians in order to save their civilians, when their own leaders don't care enough anyway.

Finally, what resources I have and what my town has are focused on building infrastructure, parks, roads, etc. If the Palestinians did the same, they too would live in amazing neighborhoods. BTW, have you ever seen the malls, villas, and beaches in Gaza - they are quite beautiful...for the rich Palestinians who live there (next to the squalor of the rest of Gaza).

Raphael said...

Why all the justification? You are right. No peace can be made while hatred is taught. Gaza was a grand experiment, but it has shown that the people of the Palestinian Authority must be taught how to end their struggle. They were certainly taught how to begin it.

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