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Writing Through Pain

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Photo by Stefano Pollio on Unsplash

The last month has been terrible. Sorry to be a downer, but it has. It started on October 7th. I woke up to my family’s WhatsApp group having dozens of messages. My cousins were hiding in a safe room: one with his wife and two little ones (the youngest is under a year old) plus my 84-year-old uncle; one with her husband and three children; another cousin with his adopted son is in a neighbour’s safe room, and his ex (still family) in another village. Everyone else is worried.


Hourly updates. The army arrives. The hours are endless. Between checking-ins, I’m on news sites and social media (because the news sites know nothing), refreshing continuously. The cousin who is with my uncle spends the night at the kindergarten, as that building is built to withstand rockets. The cousin who is with his son at a neighbour’s house had no electricity, and they had to spend the night in the safe room (no toilet), so we have no connection with them. More concerned messages, more updates. By Sunday evening, my entire family is hanging out at my mum’s. Everyone is physically safe.


The next few days are jarring. My social media feed reflects the bizarre juxtaposition of war and normality. I scroll from reports on dead babies to posts on writing advice. By Thursday, I cannot stand it. I can’t read any more reports of dead families and kidnapped babies, and I can’t even look at the latest book launch. I turn the whole thing off, take a break from my phone. It requires every ounce of mental energy I have left.


I want to write about watching this from a distance. About finally getting my mum on the phone on Wednesday and realising I’ve been holding my breath for four days straight. I knew she was okay, but she didn’t have time to talk. I waited until she did. I want to write about not looking at the list of names slowly growing on the news sites because I will definitely recognise some of them.


I want to write about watching the horrific stories coming out, about being too scared to watch any videos because I was afraid I’d see something I wouldn’t be able to unsee. I want to write about watching, helpless, as people in my home country become so scared and angry they justify bombing children on the other side of the border.


I want to write about worrying about my family. They are not okay. They are scared and worried, and they don’t know when or even if they ever will be able to return home. My 84-year-old uncle, who was born at the beginning of fucking WWII in Russia and spent two years of his childhood in a refugee camp in Germany looking for his parents’ surviving family (and finding none), is having panic attacks. And they are the lucky ones. We are the lucky ones. My cousins and their children are alive. They can hang out at my mum’s, the safest strip of desert in the world (because, honestly, nobody wants it). We can get them out if push comes to shove–book a flight, host them here, find them an Airbnb. There are so many who cannot escape, who have no safe rooms or even shelters to hide from the rockets.


I want to write about trying as much as I can to help anyone. About hosting people who need a safe haven just for a little while and crying every day because I cannot help all those who need a safe haven. There are so many of them. Too many.


I want to write about being scared that anything I say will enrage one side or the other. About being scared that there are people out there who hate me just because I was born Jewish or Israeli. About being scared that people I love would hate me because I see the other side, too. About resisting this fear because I don’t want to act out of fear.


I want to write about realising that what we need, what I have been working towards for the last couple of years, is an alternative. An alternative to the narrative of hate, anger, and fear. An alternative to the mutually exclusive either-or of really fucking horrible options.


And that’s how I found–still finding, slowly–my way back into my book, into writing. I want the book I’m writing to be this alternative. I want our work at the foundation to be this alternative. I re-commit to this approach: choosing love. Choosing life. Choosing people. And lots and lots of baking.

 

I want to have real conversations about the situation in Israel/Palestine. I created a dedicated email address for it: ipconflictrealpeople@gmail.com. I want to hear what you think and how you feel. I'm an excellent listener. You don't have to be a part of the conflict. There are no prerequisites. You can send me a voice memo if you don't want to type. I have only one request: tell me how you really feel. And pass this on. Maybe people you know feel a certain way about what's happening right now and want to talk to someone.



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