HER STORY #35 - ANONYMOUS

Tel Aviv

I was born in Rishon [Rishon Lezion], but I grew up in Te Aviv since age of five, or maybe four, and that is where I have lived ever since. 

I want to live in Tel Aviv, but it's also because my family and friends live here. I don't have a problem with moving somewhere outside of Tel Aviv, however. If I find a partner that wants to do that, I would do it. 

But there's something fun and warm about Tel Aviv, and you're never alone when you live in Tel Aviv. I have many friends here, and I study here. I'm not forced to live here, but if I moved away, I would just want to be a little bit outside of Tel Aviv - not too far away. I like this place. 

I also like quiet places, but usually on holidays, or if it's to visit someone. My ex-boyfriend lived in Beersheba, which was nice to go and visit. I guess it depends on who you're with. If it's to move out with a partner, it could be nice, or even to raise children in friendlier places. 

Tel Aviv; source: Wikipedia

Tel Aviv; source: Wikipedia

I've thought a lot about moving away because of studies and the doctorate that I'm doing. I know many people who left to study for two or three years, but I think it would be difficult for me to do because of the family. 

Doctorate

I'm doing a third degree in biology, on Parkinson's disease. 

I like being a student. I've been a student for 7-8 years. After my second degree I decided I didn't want to continue; however, I had the opportunity to stay, and it was comfortable to stay in a university, and of course to be in Tel Aviv. 

Since high school, biology was always the only subject that interested me. Today I'm also interested in history, philosophy, and literature, but this has only happened recently. It's annoying that I didn't like these subjects in high school. They bored me. Maybe it's because I learned things that weren't interesting. 

After the army I knew that I would study biology. My bachelor's degree was really fun. It's still fun now, but the PhD is quite defined. You don't take courses, and even if you could, you wouldn't have the time because you need to focus on your research. It's something very specific. So I would love to have free time and listen to lectures in philosophy and other subjects, but I don't have time. I guess I also won't have the time in the future, but I try in my free time to read about as many subjects as possible. 

Parkinson's disease is something that is dealt with in the laboratory where I work, and I began a project that was connected to it. I like the project and its idea, but I didn't choose it because of this. I like the idea of the work, and what we try to do. We research a phenomenon related to all neurodegenerative diseases, where some proteins move from one cell to another. We try to quantify it and to understand its mechanism. It's related to Parkinson's disease but also to other diseases, such as mad cow disease and Alzheimer's disease. We develop this in different ways. 

I think that after the doctorate I will look for jobs. I don't see myself in academia, at least for the time being. I'd like to do research anywhere. I like the planning  behind it and working with people in such an environment. It's fun, and I can be part of a team. 

Image from interviewee's lab

Image from interviewee's lab

Army

I was recruited to Nun-Mem [Anti-Aircraft Corps]. I was a soldier in the Chamal [base headquarters] that is responsible for keeping watch and the base's security. There is the main base and the artillery batteries on the ground and the fighters, so the fighters would report to us about alertness, and we would use the data. We were on duty 24/7 and had to know what happened at the extensions. 

It wasn't fun there, not because of my role, but because of the many shifts and our duties in the kitchen. We had shifts at night and sometimes on the weekend. It was very busy. My commander was horrible, and so was the situation. And during that time I didn't think about anything except the moment I was in. I didn't think beyond that. 

It wasn't fun there. 

I got the opportunity to become an officer, and I took it, just to get away. I did the officer course with a friend, so we went through the process together. After the course I was in an air force unit, where the position involved cooperating between the air force and the forces on the ground. For example, if there was a terrorist attack or a severe traffic accident in Israel, they would use our people to connect people in the air (i.e. helicopters) and people on the ground. And if there was a disaster and assistance was needed in other countries, these officers are also used. For the operation in Gaza there were soldiers there, so we needed to give data about fire range and sight. We worked with pilots, and we needed to provide that communication. 

For bigger events, such as in Pikud Tzafon [Northern Command in Israel], Pikud Merkaz [Central Command] and Pikud Darom [Southern Command] we had rooms at their bases, so when there were wars, the whole team would go to Pikud Tzafon (during the Second Lebanon War). There our team would control everything that was going on in the air, and the people on the ground would send information on to the air force. I was an operation officer for this. 

Just Did My Job

The withdrawal [from Gush Katif from Gaza, 2005] happened when I was in the officer course, and the army sent us there. We went to take care of the people and to create some order. We slept there for two weeks, in houses and in schools. 

I was 19 years old at the time, but I didn't know what I thought about the situation, or what the meaning of it was. I was just a part of it. I wasn't so interested in what exactly was happening. 

You feel like you have an important role. There is some fun to it, as you get to know people from all over Israel. I gained many skills, like managing people and learning to be punctual, and I had many responsibilities. But it's also fun in a social way, because you can also develop good relations with veteran commanders. I didn't suffer the whole time, but I did suffer from a lot of stress and bad conditions. I never felt that I really wanted to stay; I just wanted to be good at what I did. 

I wouldn't say there was brainwashing, but in a way you don't really think if it's right or wrong. You just want to prove yourself. 

As a child I learned that people don't talk about what's wrong or right. You don't really understand what's happening. If you're not a child reading the Encyclopedia, you don't know. Also, people don't talk to you objectively. 

Besides reading history and what was needed for the Bagrut [Israeli high school matriculation exam], I don't remember discussion about the conflict or politics beyond this. But today I'm still not so interested in politics. It depresses me. The more I read, the more depressed, sad and tired I get. 

During the Second Lebanon War I was in the army and only did what I was supposed to do. And I guess if someone had very strong opinions about it, I think they would still just do it. 

I just did my job. We didn't think about what this war war. It just happened. It was crazy, a crazy mess. Nobody knew what was going on, what to do now and what to do next. We felt that nobody really know how to deal with such a situation, from the young soldiers [in the unit] to the veteran soldiers who had been in wars before. 

We also needed to ask people from miluim [reserve duty] to assist. There was a lack of manpower, because there hadn't been a Tzav 8 [Call-up called "Order 8"] for most with reserve duty. So we were constantly asking ourselves, "Who will come now? Who will come tomorrow?" Even when I slept, I would dream about working. 

We were always on the base, but seeing as people had to get out to breathe (because we wouldn't leave the room all day), we needed to replace all the time. We could be stationed anywhere, at any time, so we always needed to be alert. At night it might be a bit calmer, but the soldiers don't sleep, so they need to be replaced, because people can't be on duty for one week without a break. 

Shortly after this, I left. The army wanted me to stay longer, but I didn't want to. I really wanted to leave. 

Miluim

After this period, I often had to do miluim. During the big operations in Gaza, they called me to be in Pikud Darom. Every time there was an operation in Gaza, I had to be an operation officer there and to take care of people, shifts, transportation, etc., and also to transfer information and make reports of what happened and to bring it forward to the commanders. 

After 3-4 times that they called me, I really didn't want to go anymore. It wasn't fun having to go to miluim suddenly in the middle of life, and I didn't want to be part of it. You come there, and you're with military people. I didn't feel connected to it anymore. 

And two years ago, during Tzuk Eitan ["Protective Edge," 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict] I was in the middle of my master's degree and I was called to come to miluim. I told them I didn't want to because I had exams. They said okay, and replaced me with someone else. But after my exams I went abroad, and I didn't feel bad about not going to the army. However, when I came back I told myself that I needed to be in touch with them, and so I told them that I had come back. They told me to come, but it was at the end of the operation, so in the end they said it wasn't necessary. 

A few months ago I asked the unit if they could release me from miluim duty. I haven't received an answer yet, so I hope it's okay. I really hope that they won't force me to go anymore. I also feel that I'm not really professional. I don't remember anything. 

It's a lot of work, you need to understand what's happening, and you don't even know the people. You need to dive into the circumstance within a couple of hours. After having done it a few times, I know what a nightmare it is. 

Once I went to Beersheba, and when I got to the main station there were sirens, and I didn't know what to do. 

If there's another operation in Gaza, I won't have a problem with saying that I don't want to go. I don't think there would be a problem either. I think they can find younger women to come for reserve duty. 

I also think that the bottom line is that my role is to help. I don't think there will be something so acute that they will need all the reserves, but if it would happen, I would go. 

Disengagement from Gaza; source: Front page of Haaretz newspaper on August 16, 2005. 

Disengagement from Gaza; source: Front page of Haaretz newspaper on August 16, 2005. 

Maybe I would tell my commander that it's not for me, but I wouldn't disappear. 

I feel that I sound egocentric or selfish, but I think that someone who doesn't want to go to the army shouldn't go. There are enough people already who will go. 

30 Years

I have lived in the center of Tel Aviv for five years. 

Recently, with the things that have happened in Sarona [Sarona Market in Tel Aviv] and on Dizengoff, it suddenly felt closer, because the violence is right next to my home. If I go out, and the streets are crowded, or the market and the beach are full of people, I think about the danger and the previous attacks a little bit, but it doesn't prevent me from going out. 

I don't think it influenced me so much, because when I was younger, there were terrorist attacks on buses. Then I went to the army and took part in different operations. It's part of life. You become indifferent to certain aspects the more you have to face them. It's not as if nothing has happened in 25 years, and then suddenly we have stabbings. 

When you're a child, you may have felt more secure at your parents' home, but now I'm here alone. Although, apart from the stabbings, it's not new. Everything comes in waves. There was the First Intifada, the Second Intifada, and now we have the Intifada of Knives. 

So it was always like that. A different period but a slightly different background. 

As a child I would think about shahidim ["martyrs" - reference to Palestinian suicide bombers] blowing themselves up. It's frightening. When there were all of the suicide bombings in the 90s it was a very scary time. I remember that period very well. When I was in high school and I would go on buses, I would look at everyone getting on the bus, and sometimes I would become stressed by how someone looked. 

Today it feels like the incidents are not controllable. I don't remember every going into the street and suddenly thinking about what could happen here. But it could happen anywhere now. 

Now it's even more frustrating when you understand what's happening. Because you understand that the situation has been bad for 30 years, and yet it doesn't seem to improve. My children will be in the same situationterrorist attacks on both sides and always people who live in difficult means. It doesn't look like it's going to end, and this realization of mine came recently. 

When you become an adult, and you think about your future life as an adult and the children you will have, and you are more exposed to what happens on the other side, it's more frustrating. 

In a way, I also don't see that we do anything about it. Generally, it doesn't feel like anything is happening. Even if we vote or demonstrate, it feels like it doesn't matter. 

It's also frustrating, because I don't have the energy to talk about these concerns with someone else. For example, if I post something on Facebook, people will react. I don't have the energy to deal with that, and I don't have the energy to explain about what is right and what isn't. So I don't deal with it. I mostly deal with it on my own or with my friends, but not on a daily basis. 

But there are many aspects combined altogether: the very right-wing leadership, the number of people living under the poverty line, what's happening in Gaza and in Judea and Samaria [official Israeli term for territories in the "West Bank"], the list goes on. It doesn't feel like there is a path we can take. 

I know people on Facebook, for example organizations, such as Combatants for Peace, who organize demonstrations, but it doesn't like it's enough. The situation feels like it will be worse no matter what. It just feels like it will be worse. 

My father explained to me that his company used to do a lot of business with Arabs and Arab-Israelis, but not so much anymore. They could, but there is much more discrimination, and there is less money going to the Arab society, since so much more of it is going to the religious communities in Israel. 

I came from a good place. My parents could help me when I was a student and with other things that I needed, so I didn't feel what it was like to be a student without money, even though I think about it. I feel that, on one hand, I am guilty. I could do something about it, I could try to do something about the situation, but I'm not. 

I feel like going to demonstrations and tours [in the West Bank], but it's very difficult to put it on my list of life's priorities. It's a little bit selfish, but I don't. I invest in studies, in my family, and in finding a partner. I feel like you need to invest all of yourself in these things. 

Maybe I will go on a tour with an organization, or do something even more substantial, but I don't put much time or effort into it. I prefer not to deal with it, because it sucks, and that's why I don't talk to people about it. 

Sometimes people that I know have reacted to things that I have posted on Facebook, and I don't feel like dealing with it. A friend of mine wanted me to meet someone, but he never called me, and my friend said that it was probably because of my Facebook profile - that I posted too many left-wing things. It's not like I'm spending my entire life posting about what is going on, so I won't hide it, but I think many people perceive this differently. They look at you in a specific way without knowing you. However, I've never experienced anything dramatic. Nobody has ever attacked me for it [the posts]. 

I also don't want to go on Facebook and read horrible things, i.e. posts by Breaking the Silence, and other movements like this. You see them more and more, and it makes you even more depressed. When I find these posts, I just read the descriptions without the visuals. 

Exposed

I think I've become more exposed to the other side little by little. 

I began reading newspapers and current articles, even historical articles, on the Internet about what is happening and what has happened in Israel. Then you pay more attention to it, because you're not a child anymore. 

For example, regarding Tzuk Eitan you suddenly hear about what happened there, and what they did there, and where they attacked. You understand more of what happens. You hear things from your friends, from when they're in the reserves. You hear things. It's closer to you. As a child you're not exposed it, but you're also not interested. 

You get out of the bubble and see how your life is and how others' lives are. As a child, you don't understand it. You don't even know people from Beersheba, because you didn't grow up nearby. You live in a bubble. You don't really know how life is in other places. 

When I was a child, and even when I was in the army, there wasn't Facebook or mobile phones, only TV. We were much less exposed. I think today's youth is much more exposed to what happens, and maybe they communicate more with people outside of their environment, and they see what Gaza looks like. I didn't see what it looked like from television, and at the time I also didn't know what the policies were and what happened there. 

Good And Quiet Life

If I didn't live in Israel, I wouldn't be so interested in what happens here. I would be more focused on my life. I think it's part of my personality. 

There are some people, who, because of their personalities, go and take action in the things that they believe in, and I'm not like that. I want to do things that allow me to enjoy my life and for my family to live well. 

I just want to have a good and quiet life. 

I'm really envious of people who grew up on an island in Brazil, who make shakes and chill on the beach. They don't have to deal with all the shit here, to take care of money issues and all the other things happening here. 

I think in terms of my personality, I wouldn't be different. I would never want to be a politician. I could fight for the things that I want to do in a laboratory, but I couldn't fight for political purposes.