HER STORY #42 - Anonymous
Ra'anana / Hod HaSharon
I'm 31 years old. I'm married, and a mother to a baby boy.
I work in Human Resources and I have a Bachelor's degree in organizational consultancy. I used to be very interested in social work, the therapeutic aspect of it, and then during my Bachelor’s degree, I realized that I was more interested in organizational consultancy, so I studied that instead. That’s how it got to this.
I grew up in Ra’anana, but today I live in Hod HaSharon. Ra’anana is a young city, and it’s being renewed at the moment. Many people my age are beginning to move to Ra’anana, but there are also many who can’t since it’s become more expensive to live there.
We have lived in Hod HaSharon for two years. In the first couple of months, I got to know the city with my son, more from the perspective of a mother, rather than as a single woman.
I’m mostly scared of [terrorist] attacks, since you don’t know where they will happen. There is the fear of where the next attack will be, and that worries me.
Hod HaSharon is close to Tayibe and Qalqilya, which are two Arab villages, so in the shopping mall where we go, there are also Arabs, and it’s a little bit scary.
I had a someone who cleaned my house from Tayibe, and at the time when there were many attacks, people asked me, “What? Will you really keep having her?” There is always this worry, as we live right next to Tayibe, but on the other hand, we live in a bubble. It’s not a town, where you feel that you are at war. It’s not Sderot [western Negev city, bordering Gaza], of those who live on the border, but it’s still close, so you have this fear.
It comes in periods, especially when there are suddenly a lot of attacks, or in the middle of a war. It depends on the periods, on what is happening. Right now we have a lot of attacks in different areas, so it can happen anywhere, and it worries me. But when it is relatively calm, the fear is not something that I feel.
It doesn’t prevent me from leaving the house, however I went to the mall once, for example, and there was an Arab behind me, who began talking to his friend, and it scared me, so I left the place. I was scared that they were planning something, and this also bothers me, because it’s not logical to be worried like this. On the other hand, you see attacks all the time, so you try to avoid it. I try not to be like this, but when I’m alone with two Arabs behind me, it’s different.
Also, once I sat in a coffee place with our son, and two Arabs sat down next to us. They behaved in a weird way and also looked at us strangely, and I was just scared of sitting there. It also happened right after the attack in Sarona [Sarona Market in Tel Aviv], so it made me nervous.
On the other hand I always try to remember that they are human beings just like everyone, like us, but the situation and the complex reality make me feel differently sometimes. On the one hand we want to live together in peace, but on the other hand you are just scared.
I was a sambatzit [operations officer] in a situation room, where I was the link between the forces on the ground and the [military] staff. It was amazing. I had a very good [army] service.
I did 12-hour shifts for eight days – eight days on the base, eight days at home. I would have shifts during the day and during the night as well. I would get all sorts of calls from different people. I would talk to commanders, and I would be informed if something happened on the ground, such as if an area is penetrated or if there are shootings. You coordinate between the staff and those on the ground.
It was a good experience because I had a really good team. We were three people on the same shift, and socially it was really nice and very interesting – it came with a lot of responsibility, and it connected me with what happens on the ground. It really interested me. Today I’m still in touch with one of the people with whom I served there.
I did some milu’im [reserves], but only for two weeks. It wasn’t an ordinary milu’im. They actually wanted me to stay, but ultimately I left after two weeks. They wanted me to stay for a month or two, but they would have made a lot of changes to my position, and it all dragged on, so I figured I’d rather just leave than work in different positions. I would have ended up doing something which I didn’t want to.
I haven’t served in the reserves since.
There are things [from the army] that have shaped me socially, professionally. For eight days you are constantly with other people, and it teaches you how to work in teams, how to work with commanders in the army, and to learn about different ranks. You know who your bosses are.
It taught me a lot, and I’m sure that I brought the values that I gained there to my work now. I don’t know exactly which values, but it gave me a lot.
The Gulf War took place when I was in first grade, and for me it was an experience.
We [family] played games, and I had a doll that I would dress. It was nice. We would sit in our shelter, and sometimes the neighbors would come.
As a girl, I guess I had turned it into a positive experience, because I didn’t understand the meaning of what it was. My parents certainly played a role in this. They tried to turn it into a positive experience instead of something more stressful. We did have a lot of sirens in Ra’anana, and every time we would go to the shelter.
I think even once one of our windows broke because of the many booms.
Although I was very small, I remember that my mother would buy me stickers, and in school we would talk about what to do if there was a siren. They would try not to scare us, and I also wasn’t scared of it.
The terrorist attacks [in the 90s] that took place later on, on the busses, was a different period [for me]. I would almost never go on the bus, although in Ra’anana there also wasn’t so much of a need, as it’s a small town. But it was very scary, and everyone was talking about it. It was close to me and far away at the same time.
Perhaps what scares me today is that it’s close to me, that I now have a son, and that it happens everywhere.
That’s The Life Here
I think there is something in Israel that makes people warmer than in other places where people are colder. I think that the Israeli culture and the way of life here, along with the many attacks and wars, create a lot of unity.
Everyone begins donating during wars, and there is a big sense of solidarity.
I think there is something about this that affects your personality, and I think it affects me. If I had lived in a country like Switzerland, without wars, I think I would have been different.
It’s tiring, but that’s life here. That’s what I know. I don’t know anything else. It’s tiring and exhausting, and of course I would like to live without wars, but what can you do?
It bothers me, angers me, but I think I’m less surprised by the things that happen here than someone else who doesn’t live here.
I also don’t like the treatment of the Arabs here. I don’t think it’s good. Things happen on both sides. Jews also go and kill Arab kids. It angers me, and I can’t accept it – on either side. It saddens me and bothers me, but on the other hand I know that unfortunately this is the reality here until something else happens.
I hope it will change, but I don’t think it will.
As a mother of a son, I hope that when he turns 18 years old, which is in 16 years from now, he won’t have to go to the army, because if he does have to, I wouldn’t know what to do.
When I was pregnant I really wanted a son, and all my friends said, “Why don’t you want a daughter?” One of the reasons not to have a son is that I would have to send him to the army. I can’t think about it. I’m suppressing this thought.
I do think that you need to contribute to the country. We are a small country, and all of our efforts make us live here. You can’t come and claim the opposite.
I hope that he won’t have to be a combat solider, but that doesn’t depend on me. It worries me a lot, and I can’t even think about it.
I think that there are desolate people on both sides. There are Arabs that have grim lives, that are prisoners of the conflict because of all the terrorists there.
I grew up in a house that didn’t teach me to hate- or to be scared of Arabs, so I understand the other side, and I’m sure that they are miserable, and that their life conditions are miserable. To stand and wait at a checkpoint for ten hours and to feel humiliated is awful. On the other hand, I also don’t see what else we can do. People will come here and carry out attacks. We can’t let that happen. There is a big complexity here, and that’s the situation.
I’m sure that there are similarities between us [Jews and Arabs], but some only think that Israelis are bad. On the other hand, I also have friends who say that Arabs are guilty of everything. This depends on the ways in which you were raised. That’s how I see it.
I’m also sure that there are Arabs who hate Israelis and think that everyone deserves to die, but I’m sure that it also has to do with them experiencing fear and other side effects of fear.
I think it’s very easy to accuse the strong side here, which is the Israelis, but I think that at the end of the day, both sides are in misery.
I think that the Israelis are unhappy. Since they’ve had their own country, they’ve always had to defend themselves, and then on the other hand, most of the Arabs who live in Gaza and around us are also unhappy. They also have a harsh reality, and they live among terrorist organizations that control them and determine how they should live.
So I really think that the accusations should not only be against Israelis but also against the terrorist organizations, and when I say terror I am also referring to the Jewish terror organizations that go and kill Arabs or do illegal things. They are also terror organizations.
What really angers me is that during every war everyone is against Israel. I don’t think that we have a perfect country, and I also don’t support our government at all, but I think that we have a relatively humanitarian army.
Look at the evidence – right now we have a soldier sitting in jail waiting for his trial, because he killed an Arab. He didn’t act according to the moral principles of the IDF [Israeli Defense Forces]. He didn’t act correctly.
In every army there will be exceptions, and there will be soldiers doing something that they are not supposed to do, but it’s not something that the army believes in.
I think that many times the media is against the army and against Israel. There will always be stories that are shocking, that also shock me, such as when Arab families are being humiliated or Arabs are being shot. It’s shocking, and it’s awful, but where are all the other stories of the army? Those that show the moral part of it and how the army works according to high moral principles.
It’s very frustrating. People don’t see the full picture. It’s very easy to condemn Israel, because Israel represents the strong side, and they [Arabs] don’t have a country.