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A NEW YEAR

January 5, 2016

A NEW YEAR

What kind of new year? This is no new year. This is the same old same old.

For a change, we Jerusalemites are afraid to visit Tel Aviv. We are used to escaping to Tel Aviv to cool out. We were there on Shabbat, the day after the pub terror, and knowing the shooter is still at large, we kept looking over our shoulder. In macho competition Jerusalemites are laughing that the Tel Avivians were afraid to shoot. Terror….a terrorist terrorizing all of the Tel Aviv area. While in Jerusalem yesterday the stabber was immediately “neutralized.” Our new language, the words we take for granted.

I skype with an American friend and she asks if I am all the time in tension. The truth is, no, I’m not. I go out to the forest and run, I chop wood and fill my trunk with logs and come home to the quiet of this little street I live on, to make fish for supper. When Aviv, our 17 year old, asks if she can go to the center of town to meet friends, I gulp before agreeing. No one knows when/where he will be when someone comes to stab or shoot him. I gaze at the image of Alon Bakal’s mother with his body when it arrived from the Tel Aviv morgue before burial. I can still hear her screams from Sunday’s evening TV news.

And also on Sunday, the Palestinians mourned their fallen too.

The collective pain is palpable. We bury and bury and gaze at the future with despair. Many of us cannot escape the sense that we have brought this on ourselves. This is not inevitable. We Israelis are the strong side, we bear our responsibility knowing that we hold the key to stopping this. We are caught up following the terrorist acts, obscuring the deeper terror of nearly 50 years of occupation.  We allow our leaders to relentlessly foster hatred and hopelessness. Bibi shows up at the scene in Tel Aviv and instead of comforting the mourners he spews poison, blaming Palestinian citizens for what one man has done.  We submit to his fear-mongering. So many of us seem resigned to dragging this on. “There’s no one to replace Bibi anywhere near the horizon,” we moan to each other. We have not yet understood that we are the leader we are waiting for.

In the eye of the storm, on Friday, we held a Sulha gathering. 50 people met at EcoMe, an ecological meeting place outside Jericho. A taxi-load of men from Hebron arrived after a two-hour sojourn, through roadblocks and rain. Israelis came from as far north as Haifa, Palestinians also came in from Ramallah, including a pair of Christians young men, one of whose family is still in Gaza. As the rain beat down on the tin roof, we greeted each other over strong coffee. We then prayed together and welcomed the soothing sounds of an oriental-flavored band, Na’am, bringing us close as we created “energy-balls” together. We paused for lunch and then sat close in listening circles where we shared our hurt and our hope. Unknowingly, at the exact hour that the Tel Aviv murders were transpiring, we listened devotedly as each person brought herself to the group. Translators made sure we understood each other, and we parted with the warmth of open people-to-people connection in our hearts as we headed home.

We know that a small cluster of people devotedly acknowledging each other’s experience under a tin roof in Jericho….that this is not what will reverse the occupation. However, as we are in for a long haul, the loving community we created and shared Friday will maintain us, will give us strength to carry on.

                                                                                                      Yoav Peck

 

 

 

 

 

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