HER STORY #34 - anonymous
I'm from here, I'm from Israel. I was born here. I live in Ramat HaSharon.
I'm a psychotherapist with a focus on movement. It's another way to connect with the soul - and to overcome certain things through your body and motion.
I used to dance a lot, and when I finished the army I thought about going into the field of psychiatry. I moved on to psychology, and then to research, before realizing that I didn't want that. Through workshops, I found that I wanted to study movement and psychology, and now I also teach it.
Sometimes my son doesn't come home for a month. I have no idea when he will be here on weekends; I really don't. He might come or he might not. Sometimes he comes on Thursday or Fridays. That's how it—what a joy.
He's a combat soldier, and he still has a long way to go because he hasn't even served for a year yet.
We don't talk that much with each other, and when we do it's usually short messages through Whatsapp, when he will tell me that he is okay. On weekends, when he's with us and isn't sleeping, we only talk a little bit. We just want to know that everything is alright.
He sleeps, but not enough, as he also wants to see his girlfriends and his friends when he's home. He runs from place to place. I mainly do laundry [for him] and make food. He doesn't take back a lot of food with him because he and his unit are mostly on field, and the food would spoil. But sometimes he brings cakes, cookies, and nice treats - to bring a taste from home.
He misses us. It's also difficult because he works very hard and he doesn't like his job. I mean, he's okay, it's not that it's that difficult, but he doesn't like it.
When you raise children in Israel you face a constant conflict, because on the one hand you grow up with security problems, the need for a strong army and the need to protect this country, patriotism, and so on. On the other hand, you hate the army, and you hate everything related to it, but you recognize that someone needs to do it. We don't have a professional army like they do in the U.S., we have an army where everyone must serve.
There is something in our education that is binary. I really didn't want my son to become a combat soldier, but I also wanted him to do what he wanted. I told him my concerns, but like everyone else, he wanted to defend the country. He says that he wants to serve with Am Israel [the people of Israel].
Because of his strong test results, he was offered to do a pilot course. But he didn't want to go because he said that he wanted to be with Am Israel. He did one year of initial service [to increase his chances of getting a good position in the army] before officially joining the army, and afterward, he decided that he wanted to continue to serve in the same type of position. Now he's with all Am Israel, fighting. That's how it is!
I was in the army. I served in Sinai during Israel's withdrawal from Sinai. In fact, I was in the cycle right before it happened - we were the last ones to be in Sinai. It was very moving, but we had to withdraw. It wasn't ours.
I had an incredible army experience. Once a month I was home. We would drive for hours in a truck, back and forth from Sinai. I enjoyed it, but we didn't have wars [at the time], and it was much calmer. It was also with friends.
We were always exhausted. There was nothing other than sand, sand, and more sand, and tents, but it was fun.
My friends and I remained in contacted for a couple of years after our service ended. Today I'm still in touch with two of them, but less, as they both live abroad.
My army service and my son's army service are very different from each other. It's not the same army [today]. First of all, the army has become very technological. When I left home for a month, I couldn't speak to my parents. I was on a truck with two wood benches, no air conditioning. We drove through Rafah [Rafah Border Crossing between Gaza and Egypt] and had ice cream there. It was so different. We were exhausted. We slept in tents. It's not the army of today. Back then Gaza was open.
Call To Action
My father was an engineer and he helped build the parking lot of a hospital in Gaza. He drove to Gaza and home every day.
We would go to the market in the West Bank and buy things. It's not as if the situation was perfect back then, but instead of making things better, the circumstances have become worse.
People used to go to Gaza before.
The period of when things got worse was after the Yom Kippur War. It got worse and worse, but I wasn't involved too much. I was busy with my studies, my life, and in general I would sit in the living room and criticize, but I wasn't active. I would complain about the security situation. That became more intense for me during the Second Lebanon War [in 2006].
It gets to a point, when your friends and your friends' children are involved. When I speak to young people in Women Wage Peace, they don't really understand the consequences of it [the ongoing conflict]. But you are more shocked when it happens to your children and your friends' children. It's alarming.
I know people who went to the army. My friends came back from Lebanon, and then we had Gaza [referring to the wars in Gaza]. Suddenly you realize that people that you love and care about are involved. Your conscience changes, and your "call to action" becomes different. Suddenly it's here. It's close to you. It's no longer something national, it's general. It hurts you on the inside.
It's very difficult to live here. People don't have the strength to do things - they are pessimistic and exhausted. I feel like that, very exhausted. And it's very difficult to invite people to come and take part in activism with me. I see that from what I do with Women Wage Peace. People tell me, "Fine work you do, but I'm not interested."
I understand it, but it irritates me at the same time. If change doesn't happen from below - if nothing happens - well, that's bad.
Women Wage Peace
I joined Women Wage Peace two years ago, when it was just beginning. I saw an advertisement about them. I don't remember where, but I signed up, they called me, and that's it. It was there where I found a place with amazing women. It spoke to me. I could be active there. It was successful, and it wasn't made up of political bodies.
I hadn't been active before. During the Second Lebanon War, the events didn't succeed in making me active, because it was all very political (with the involvement of Peace Now [peace organization] or Meretz [political party]).
I didn't want to be in politics. Politics disgust me. Women Wage Peace is not political, which is why I'm there. Politicians also disgust me. They only do what they want. The fact that Women Wage Peace is made up of women is a nice thing. They are political in some ways, but in different ways.
We [at Women Wage Peace] don't have a solution. We don't state what should be done. We say that whoever the Prime Minister is (who happens to be Bibi [Benjamin Netanyahu] now) should sit with Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] until a solution is reached. It can be a one-state solution, a two-state solution. It doesn't matter. I want quiet.
This movement is something political, but not political in terms of having an affiliation to a specific party. Its purpose is to find another way. Everyone can identify with that. I want there to be silence.
I'm active every day, all the time.
I'm responsible for the communication between the movement and students, so this entire year I went to universities and schools to present our film and speak to students. I'm active in other things as well. Today, for example, there is an Avoda [Israeli Labor Party] committee meeting in Tel Aviv, where we will set up a small protest, asking the labor party what they have been doing to promote a peace agreement.
I am where I'm needed. I spend a lot of time doing this, and I'm constantly running around. It sometimes becomes too much, since I have to give up other things, but I can't sit in the living room and complain. Who will do it? So I will.
I Can't Live With That / Water
I want things to change now, in fact, yesterday! For Bibi and Abu Mazen to have spoken yesterday! I feel urgency, a lot, a lot.
How can there be a status quo, when I dominate another people or rule over them? I can't live with that. I'm abusing another people. It's like the slaves in the US, living in cages. I can't live with that, no way.
What kind of silence is there? We have attacks and stabbings here. What is the status quo? They don't have food; they don't have water. What kind of status quo is that?
Personally I think things have to end very urgently. We need to open Gaza, for the population to live in dignity, for them to have a port, for them to have many other things.
When I read in the newspaper that they don't have water, it makes me crazy. A country that doesn't provide water to the Palestinians...
Then I hear that my son, who's in the army, didn't have water for a week either, and his commander tried to buy water from the nearby town, because they almost dried out. This seems normal for the state. If it's possible for them to take people and not to give them water, why does it matter if it's for my son or them? Today it's my son, then later on it happens to us. Why not? A state can't treat people like that. Why wouldn't it happen to me or you tomorrow?
I feel like what goes on here is crazy. And what's happening with culture, our crazy Minister of Culture who shuts people up. It's like a dictatorship. It begins there, and it comes here. It's just a matter of time. There isn't really a democracy. We need to stop it, because when a government thinks it's okay to do this, then...[trails off].
More Depressive Than Sad
My family is very supportive of what I do [with Women Wage Peace].
But there are people who say that you [those of us who are inclined to do peace work] live in "Lala land," thinking that what I do is stupid.
I've seen negative reactions from people on the street, some of them violent, but I've never experienced those kind of reactions from people from my inner circle of friends and family.
People don't deal with me. I transmit strength and self-confidence to others, so people don't come to me. I'm not strong, but I have strong opinions.
The activities with Women Wage Peace never scared me. It was more that [the reactions of others] were depressing. We were in a tent in Jerusalem for many days [during the war in Gaza in 2014]. I almost lived in that tent. People were so negative towards us there. However, it was more bleak than scary. How unfortunate!
I'm in touch with Palestinian women through the movement.
We have connections in Gaza, but I don't know them. We also work with women from the West Bank - in fact, 12 women from the West Bank came to the tent, but we're not in touch so much since it's difficult for us to meet with them. They don't have permits, and they are scared of their identity and involvement in the movement being revealed - it's an actual life or death risk for them, but we managed to get permits for those that to the tent.
A Palestinian woman is a woman like me. She is a wife or has a partner. She is busy with different questions in her life, although her life is much more difficult than mine.
They are very frustrated. On the one hand she feels like she has to do something; on the other hand, she doesn't have the freedom. We are the same, but I still live with more freedom of movement. She can't go from here to there. They are amazing women - we just need to liberate their space.
There is a team [in Women Wage Peace] working with Palestinians, but I'm in a team that works with Druze women.
The Druze women face a lot of bereavement. Many of their families have died in wars. Sometimes you can sit with a woman and you will find that so many male members in her family died— a lot of mourning, a lot of that in their community.
They are soldiers like the Israelis. They are very involved, but their culture is different. If you want to meet with a Druze woman and for her to be active [within Women Wage Peace], you need the permission from the men of her village. Only after this permission has been given, you can go in. You can't circumvent this.
Although they [the Druze women] are very strong and modern, as well as very active and hold many strong opinions, everything happens under the scrutinizing eyes of the men. It's a different culture; there's nothing to do about that. They also come to all of our activities. They are amazing women.
Not Scared Of Palestinians
When my daughter went to the army and there were stabbings, I was always scared.
I told her to tell me where she was and if she was okay, almost all the time. But I'm not scared of the Palestinians. I know that they are not all like that. I'm scared of the violence that happens now, but I'm not scared of Palestinians.
I also don't love Palestinians. It would be like saying I love Swedes. It's not like I love them or not, but everyone has the right to live in dignity and to live as human beings, and we take that away from them.
Of course I fear. I also won't go to Hebron. I don't see a need to go there. If my son goes to Hebron, I would go, but if not, what do I have to do there? I don't want to. Of course there is fear. I'm not stupid, but I'm also not going to Tel Aviv or Yafo being scared and only looking for people with knives. These thoughts are always there, and you are either aware of them or not. To say you don't fear is to deny it, but it doesn't mean that I won't go to Yafo.
I don't remember which war it was, but once we went to Yafo with the children. They were small, and we were about to go into a place. We were really close, when suddenly a riot began and Jews were stabbed. Within seconds we could have been in that "balagan" ["mess" in Hebrew]. It happened within secons.
Anything can happen in this crazy country, but it doesn't mean I won't go to Yafo. I love Yafo. It's my favorite place to visit.
I can say that as a child, I would go to the Old City in Jerusalem with my friends and family, and when we got a bit older, we would buy things there and eat hummus. It was so fun, but today I won't go there. It's a pity, but no, I won't go.
I don't really want to leave Israel since my family is here, but if my children would say that they want to leave, I wouldn't have a problem with it. I don't know if it would be better for them outside of Israel, but I could understand the decision. Also, they have American citizenship.
Perhaps they should have lived there. Maybe my son shouldn't have gone to the army. The thought is always there. Should I take him away from here or...? I don't know what to say. I don't have an answer.
There is no choice but to still have hope. What can we do? If we lose hope, then we should pack our things and leave.
To Herzl, this idiot, I say: Why did you bring us here?
Interview conducted on August 10, 2016