MaSpeak

Enough!- Another Israeli-American Says No to Zionism

A Letter From a Concerned Parent, AKA “Live your life”

with one comment

Original Text:
תחיי את חייך..אל תהיי לי חולה בגלל אדמות ומלחמות…הרבה אנשים ודם וכאב …שכחת כל כך מהר את תום שנהרג וכל החברים שלך שתרמו למדינה שחיו בה!!! צריך גם לתת לא רק לקבל….עזבי…לדעתי עזבי…תחיי את חייך לא את החיים של אמא שלך…באמת..את צעירה ויפה!!!!!וחכמה!!!ומדהימה!!!התרגשתי לראות אותך כאילו היית שלי!!.וכואב לי לראות שבמקום להתעסק עם החיים שלך…והצעירות שבך….והחבר שלך…את נכנסת למקומות שהלוואי שהיו לנו תשובות.לכל מטבע יש שני צדדים!!!!!ואנחנו פה הקטנים בישראל שנלחמים על קימונו….וכל החברים שלך במקרה עושים את..זה..כולם גדלו פה ותרמו ..ואת נסעת! ..שכולנו נישן בשקט ולא ישחטו אותנו…..בואי נשאיר את זה לחכמים וגדולים מאיתנו!!תהני מהחיים שלך!!!!!!מהלימודים מהחבר מהצחוק והיפה!!!באמת …ממש חבל לי לראות שאת לוקחת על עצמך תיקים שאולי הכובע קצת גדול עליך!!!!גדלת וחיית בארץ ישראל!!אבא שלך ישראלי האחים שלך ישראלים.אמא שלך החליטה אחרת זה נכון ואני מכבדת את זה.אבל את…את צעירה ויפה וחכמה…תהני מהחיים!!!!!!מכל רגע זה לא יחזור.תצחקי ותרקדי ותאהבי את החבר שלך עד כלות תעברי לשיקאגו ותחיי את חייך!!!!!בכל הכייף שבעולם!!!…שחררי את התיקים האלה שלא קשורים אליך…דברי עם אבא הוא היה קצין בצבא!!!!הוא לא סתם מישהו!!!אבא שלך הוא משהו מיוחד!!!הוא איש מדהים ממשפחה מדהימה!!!את מספיק חכמה להבין את זה!!!אל תזלזלי!!!!לאבא שלך יהייה הרבה להסביר לך אם תרצי לשמוע. תחיי את חייך קרן תהני ממה שיש …..

Translation:

Live your life… Don’t be sick over lands and wars… lots of peoples’ blood and pain… you forgot so quickly about Tom who was killed and all your friends that gave to the country they live in! You need to give, not just to take… let it go.. I think you should let it go… live your life, not your mother’s life… really.. You’re young and pretty!!!! And smart!!!! And amazing!!! I was as excited to see you [when you visited] as if you were my own!! And it hurts me to see that instead of being involves with you life.. and your youth… and your boyfriend… you get into these places that I wish we had answers to. Every coin has two sides!!!!!!! And us here the little ones in Israel fighting for our survival… And all your friends who by chance are the ones doing it… they were all raised here and gave back… and you left! That we can all sleep soundly and not be slaughtered… let’s leave this to those smarter and greater than us! Enjoy your life!!!!!!!! From studying and from your boyfriend and from your beautiful laughter!! Really, it’s such a shame for me to see you take on these cases that might be too big on you!!! You grew up in Eretz Israel!! Your father is Israeli and your siblings are Israeli. Your mother decided differently it’s true and I respect that. But you… you’re young and pretty and smart… enjoy your life!!! From all the fun there is!!!.. Let go of these thing that have nothing to do with you… talk to your dad he was an officer in the army!!! He’s not just anyone!!!! Your father is someone special!! He’s an amazing man from an amazing family!!! You’re smart enough to understand that!!! Don’t disrespect!!! Your dad will have much to explain to you if you want to listen. Enjoy your life Keren, enjoy what is.

On July 1st, after returning to the States from my delegation to Palestine with the Interfaith Peace Builders (and a failed recruitment attempt at the IDF office in Haifa) I received the above message from the mother of my best childhood friend. I had visited this friend and stayed with her family after my delegation in her family home in Tel-Aviv, during which I went to the beach, and then at night to Tel-Aviv’s boardwalk and had a couple of drinks on the promenade- a different world from the one I had been in days before.

As much as I wanted to talk about my experiences from the delegation, I decided to think of my “target audience” (as suggested by one of my delegation leaders, the courageous Anna Baltzer), and save my arguments for those who had not already made up their minds. Instead we talked family, we talked school, we talked boyfriend and potentially moving to Chicago and how tall my little brother is now (a true miracle considering the genes on my fathers’ side).

I received this message a few hours before I was scheduled to give a presentation in Syracuse, NY about the delegation at an A.N.S.W.E.R coalition forum. This rattled me. As I took the podium later that day, the first thing I could speak about was this letter- about what it means when you are asked by people who have known you your entire life- to shut up and pretend it isn’t happening. To play dumb and “live your life”. I tried to explain that in Israel, “caring” about the current political situation, and rights infringements and the law, is an option. You chose to care, whereas the default is simply not to notice. In Hebrew this is called “Rosh Katan”- Small Head.

Choking through my words, I explained to the audience  how much this message had hurt me. How hard it is when the truth I see so clearly after spending two weeks in the Occupied Territories, from talking to refugees and farmers who want their land back so badly because it has always been theirs- because they can see and smell it and yet not access it, is lost on those I love. When the expression of compassion is seen as a waste of time.

I did not reply to this message. I thought of my “target audience” and who will actually listen to me. It is incredibly difficult when those who seem to resist you the most are your loved ones and your family.

So perhaps it is time for me to try:

Dear ____,  thank you for your letter. I understand that this is coming from a place of real concern and that you do not wish to see me suffer. I too do not wish to suffer. I also do not wish suffering on anyone else. But suffering is what I have seen in the past few weeks, suffering that will not let me “live my life” in the way you might wish me to live it. To say that I am not seeing both sides of the argument is very troublesome to me; did I not live in that same all-Jewish neighborhood with you? Did I not attend that all-Jewish school? And participate in the “Independence Day” shows with your daughter? We thought it was so much fun because we had costumes and we were on stage and we went to the recording studio. What we were celebrating was the day the Western world apologized for the Holocaust at the expense of innocent civilians. The day in which Palestinians were told they were no longer humans, that their history was less valuable than the Jewish history.

Have I forgotten about Tom, the counselor from one of the youth groups I participated in when I was about 11 years old? No- I have not forgotten him. I remember he had beautiful skin and that one camping trip he explained to us why we shouldn’t share our bottled water mouth-to-mouth for fear of “floaties” and “backwash”. I remember him.

I remember that he was killed in Lebanon in 2006- while Israel destroyed 400 miles (640 km) of roads, 73 bridges, Beirut’s airport, ports, water and sewage treatment plants, electrical facilities, 25 fuel stations, 900 commercial structures, up to 350 schools and two hospitals, and 15,000 homes in addition to the approximately 1,000 deaths (conservatively). What was it he was defending again? Or was he making himself and his country more vulnerable? It’s hard to remember anymore.

I remember the dead. I try very hard to. But the names and the dates and the faces start blurring after a while and so many dead babies and women and people trying to reach water and trying to farm their lands and trying to study and trying to deliver aid to the besieged Gaza strip that you must forgive me if I forget one every now and then. Not out of disrespect for the dead, but out of utmost respect for the living.

So until the day when I don’t have to add another dead child’s name to the list of the dead I need to remember- shot on her way home from school, or dying at a closed checkpoint on her way to the hospital, or starved or maimed by white phosphorous, I will continue to live my life in the only way I know how- In Solidarity.

-Keren

 

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Written by Keren Carmeli

October 28, 2010 at 9:59 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. I could read the real concern in ….’s letter to you. You know, I felt that same admonishment/concern frequently while in Israel. “Isn’t life good here in Caesarea? Why worry about it?” Is this an Israeli condition or a human condition? It seems to me that people rarely care about the world outside their own particular radius of existence – and they feel, like the writer of the letter, that the wise ones will handle things on our behalf. Scary, but I used to feel that way myself.

    Pat Carmeli

    November 3, 2010 at 8:55 am


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