It is happening again. Another operation. Another escalation. I watched the news this morning; it is day 13 of the operation. More than 400 killed in Gaza and more than 13 Israeli soldiers killed since the operation began. I can’t believe this is happening once again. I feel pain, frustration, and confusion. I want to scream, I want to cry but I am watching the news and my tears are not ready to leave my eyes yet.
My tears ask me to choose only one side (as all the people surrounding me). You need to either cry about the people in Gaza or cry about the Israeli soldiers. You can’t do both. You need to choose a side. Suddenly I heard the sirens in my city, Ramla. I have never heard the sirens in previous operations. I ran to the shelter, I waited there for few minutes and I heard the explosion. Wow this time it was really close. I can’t imagine what could happen without our iron dome. We are very lucky. After few minutes I left the room and continued my day.
I opened my Facebook page. It was unbelievable. I saw hatred everywhere. “There is no hope for peace with the Arabs”, “Israel is killing innocent children in Gaza”, “Israel has the right to defend itself”, “Israel is doing crimes in Gaza”, “the people who live in the south don’t have life”, “4 children have killed while playing on the beach in Gaza”, “13 soldiers have killed last night in Gaza” and so on…
I remembered that my tears asked me to choose a side to be able to leave my eyes. My Facebook page is full of extreme opinions of both sides. Finally, I choose a side. I know that you are very curious to hear what side I choose. Well, I will tell you but first, let me share with you the process of choosing a side just in case you have assumed that it is easy and obvious. Let me share with you my feelings as an Arab Israeli:
I am a student at Bar-Ilan University in Israel at the department of political science. I have grown up in Jewish neighborhoods all my life and I have a lot of Jewish friends. Israel is a small country and all the Jews are obliged to go to the army when they turned 18 years old, whether they want to or not. If you do 1+1 you will understand that a lot of my friends were called to go back to the army, and some of them are in Gaza, trying to bring back the “quiet routine to Israel”. When I heard that 14 soldiers were killed during the night in Gaza, I prayed and hoped not to recognize any of the names. I didn’t recognize any, but one of my friends did. She lost her childhood friend. Again, I felt pain and frustration. Young adults, 21 years old, 22 years old, 27 years old soldiers, some of them have children, some of them still didn’t have the chance to go to university yet. They have lost their lives.
I turned on the TV and read more articles about what is going on in Gaza. People are dying; children are dying. 100, 200, 300, 400 most of them are innocent people. No future, no houses, no education, without the iron dome. Before this escalation, people lived in more or less the same conditions, but mainly without their freedom. When I heard in the news that 500 people were killed in Gaza, and the people are acting like this is normal, what can I say? Where are the human rights? Where are the children’s rights? Once again, I feel frustrated.
I am in the middle. I want to cry for my soldiers friends. I want to cry for the people that are dying in Gaza every day as a part of the routine. I want to cry because I need to explain to my 3 and 4 years old cousins what is the meaning of war and why we need to run to the shelter when we hear the sirens. I want to cry when I feel the hatred of people towards the Arabs living in Israel. I want to cry when I hear one of our Knesset members encouraging the killing of all the Palestinians and the Palestinians’ mothers. I want to cry for the death of the 3 youth few weeks ago, I want to cry for the child who were burn to death as a revenge.
This is my reality. These feelings accompanied me every day, every moment. I live in this frustration for 21 years. As an Arab Israeli I feel suffocated. It’s like I am screaming, and no one can hear. The hatred of people blinded their eyes.
My tears choose the side of peace. I don’t want to judge and say who is responsible for our reality, but I want to choose peace. We are tired to hear about more killings. We are tired to run every time we hear the sirens. We are tired from the hatred that is covering us these days. I am praying for this to be over. I am praying for peace. I want to ask you to join me in prayers. Don’t judge, pray. Pray for this to be over.
Bissan Salman is a student of Political Science and Communication at Bar-Ilan University in Israel. She is currently working as a social involvement coordinator for the Arab sector at a young adult center. Since a young age she was very active at a coexistence center called the “Open House”. She has joined various workshops and events organized by Arigatou International and GNRC. Last year, she completed her internship at the Israeli fund for UNICEF; during her internship she wrote a position paper for policy change for the Knesset (the unicameral national legislature of Israel).