Friday, November 16, 2012

Shabbat Shalom from North of the War Zone

Shalom, chaverim. I'm going to make this a very brief post today, because I really can't think of much to say that hasn't already been said a million times over, by people with far more experience than me. This is one of those instances that words really do fail me--or, more accurately, I have failed to find the words.

The deadly game of air strike ping-pong between Israel and Gaza has been going on for quite some time now, and things just seem to be ratcheting up with every passing hour. Meetings are being scheduled, speeches are being made, Twitter wars are raging, and the social media networks and the television stations have plenty of footage to roll and newsfeed to scroll.

IDF (Israeli Defense Force) reserve troops are being called up into active duty, including a friend's brother-in-law who is in his fifties. He has vast experience in the reserves, so perhaps the military choosing the most experienced personnel they can find. Tanks have amassed at the border with Gaza.

I am concerned about all the people in this land, whether they identify themselves as Israelis, Palestinians, Gazans, Arabs, Muslims, Jews, Druze, Christians, or whatever. I don't think I'm either baffled or surprised by all this massive escalation, but that doesn't make the fact of war any less painful or upsetting.

Two days ago, my permission from the Ministry of Education finally having arrived, I started teaching at the Nahariya religious girls' high school. It turns out that some other layer of bureaucrats also has to sign off on me, and I have yet to do the paperwork so I can actually get paid, but that's another matter for another day. There was a morning prayer service, at which many of the girls were plainly agitated and upset, as many had brothers or relatives who were in the army or had just been put on alert as reservists. Still, after the service we just got on with it and kept hacking away at the coalface that is the English language, together. I have always felt that there was an inherent sacredness in the act of schoolchildren coming together to learn, and was impressed to see that the drive to learn and carry on as normal was so strong in our school. In the south, where some schools may still be open, I am sure that same spirit is present.

May this conflict end as quickly as possible, with as little harm to any and all as can be managed. I, for one, abhor not only bloodshed and violence, but also can't stand to see children's childhoods squandered by fear, terror, anger, bigotry, and instability. Whatever seeds we collectively plant, will eventually bear fruit. And that is what will be on our plate, whether we like it or not.

Shabbat shalom, everyone. Please, if you pray or just want to send a kind thought or a good vibe, make them peaceful ones directed at everyone in this region. Hatred just doesn't get anyone very far at all.

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