Middle East Conflict, Politics

I’m sensitive to war

In case you haven’t heard, Israel has launched an operation against the terrorists in Gaza who have been firing rockets on Southern Israel. Rockets that keep children from going to school. Rockets that force families to sleep in bomb shelters … if they can sleep at all with the alarms going off all night. Rockets that kill.

I heard about the Operation on Facebook and Twitter because this is how I get most of my news, but especially my news from Israel.

And as much I relish feeling part of a strong, supportive, active community here in Israel, it’s days like this that I feel torn about social media.

On the one hand, like any bad news, it’s better to hear it from friends than from a stiff news reporter. On the other hand, I feel like war brings out the worst in people. People I normally like.  And on social media, people let their emotions rip. They don’t just type in 140 characters. They shout.

Today, during what’s been named Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense, I can smell through the computer screen the adrenaline, hatred, rage.

It makes me very uncomfortable.

This is not to say I don’t firmly and strongly believe Israel has a right to defend herself. I do.

This is not to say if I were living in a city in which rockets were raining down, I wouldn’t want my government to act. I would.

This is to say:

I guess I’m a pacifist.

Which sounds weird. It’s not how I picture myself at all. In fact, I normally tag myself as an “accidental activist.” I fight for what I believe in. I don’t stand idly by when I can educate or inform or make positive change.

But activism takes many forms. Blog-ins, rallies, strikes, marches: These are actions I have a strong stomach for.

But not for war. Not for violence. Not for rockets raining down on my neighbors in the south and not for missiles being sent down on Gaza.

On the one hand, I’m thankful I am not in the position to make a decision whether or not to shoot; whether or not to fire; whether or not to initiate or retaliate.

I’m just not built for war. I wouldn’t be able to make such a quick decision. I’d hesitate. I’d think of men as babies in their mothers arms. I’d think of children wailing.

Perhaps I’m not angry enough to make such a decision. Not broken enough.

But, on the other hand, I think: Who is? Who is built for war?

Who is born built for war? What man or woman meets her mate in bed with the express desire to bring a new solider into this world? A new terrorist?

What child is raised for war? What 4 year old, as he learns his letters and starts becoming more aware of himself and his surroundings, thinks to himself, “One day I will defend this beautiful blade of green grass with my life?”

Are any of us built for war?

What would war look like if the broken ones weren’t running the show?

* * * *

I’m a pacifist.

I can still see the good, the innocent in almost anyone.

Is this a gift? Or a hazard?

I don’t know.

But what I can tell you this morning as I sit both behind my screen and behind my country is that I support Israel’s right to defend herself. But I can’t comfortably nod my head at blithe tweets about people (terrorists or soldiers or civilians) being marked for death.

I can’t feel excited or grateful or proud.

War hurts my heart.

In my heart — one that some would call naive, but I see as loving and compassionate — there is still a flicker of light. It’s that flicker of light I often hear my observant Jewish friends talk about.

That flicker of light in all of us.

The flicker of light in my own heart tells me conflicts can be solved with the right people seated around the right table.

And so I can’t enter “operations” with firm resolve or unwavering decisive support.

All I can muster as a sigh.

A disappointed and very sad sigh.

3 thoughts on “I’m sensitive to war”

  1. Jen, I hear your sense of humanity in your post and i admire that. but i wonder if think you still would just ‘sigh’ if the rockets were pouring down on your head right now?


    1. No, I’m sure I would not be just sighing — probably also crying outwardly and emoting in other ways inwardly. And, yes, it’s always difficult to share commentary about a situation you are not “directly” in. Does this mean we shouldn’t comment on Israel when we live in America? Does this mean we shouldn’t comment on behalf of the poor because we’re not poor or the sick because we’re not sick? I think our perspective about a situation is always and ever changing. And the caveat to any blog is “This is how I feel today.” 🙂


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