Mor-18 year old girl from Haifa (North Israel)
What does it mean to you to be an Israeli?
Israel is my home. I don’t have another home or place to live accept Israel. The fact is that we don’t have any place to live except Israel. And the proof of this fact is the holocaust. All our life around the world we suffered from hatred and Anti-Semitism and then one guy decided to kill all of us and he almost succeeded. Hitler and the Nazis killed 2/3 of the Jews in the world just because we are Jews! Then we got the point that we need a country, we need a home… and for me to be an Israeli means to save my only home to do everything I can for saving this place and to make it the best place that it can be because of all of our horrible years and for all the holocaust victims including my family and for the Jews (and I’m not religious at all).
What would you want other people to know about the Israel and the conflict?
First of all, I want other people to know that Israel is not exactly how they see it in the media! We don’t see dead people in the streets, we are not afraid to go out from our home. We have a normal life! School, friends, parties, malls, university technology, everything we need to live a normal life and even a very good life. However, living in Israel is different then living in USA or any other country (not in the Middle East). I want other people to know that although joining the Israeli army is mandatory, we want to join it and not to kill Palestinians and Arabs, but we want to be soldiers for defending our only home (like I explained in the first question). I want other people to know that the Israelis are very open-minded and there are a lot of attitudes here. Some hate the Palestinians and some want to live with the Palestinians together as brothers, but if you ask me, I think that every Israeli just wants to live his own life without the worries of Hizballa (a terror organization in Lebanon) and Ahmedingad (The president of Iran who wants to destroy Israel or as he says all the time) or any atomic bombs. We are normal people, the Palestinians are normal people, and we both didn’t choose our nation so we (the Israelis and the Palestinians) just need to give up sometimes and try to find peace. Why? Maybe it sounds like a dream, but it works and for sure. It works better than the way we are walking right now.
What were your encounters with “the other”— and did they test your ideas about the other side?
I talked with a lot of Palestinians and Arabs from all over the world through the internet. Some of them are good friends of mine. One Palestinian was at my school and he explained us the other side. In addition, I tried to organize a seminar for 2-3 days with 10 Palestinians and 10 Israelis (it never happened because of security problems). As I said for me and for all the Jewish Israelis, Israel is our only home and for the Palestinian Israelis (or as they call it- Palestine) is their homeland. Jews and Arabs lived in this land hundreds of years, but Israel never was a country with government and stuff. In the beginning of the 20th century until the middle of it (1918-1947), Israel was a British colony. There were problems between the Jews and Arabs who lived here, but still they lived together. My grandma was born in Israel in 1936 and she can tell about her life before 1948. She lived with Arabs in the same neighborhood and they were her friends like any Jew. Israel was always the precious place for the Jews but only after the holocaust we got unequivocally that we need a country and we did everything for that and we succeed. The Palestinians didn’t like the idea, although they got an area in Israel (I’ll show you the map) they wanted everything. They said, “Why should we share our old land with all the Jews from all over the world?” I can understand their side and I think if I was Palestinian, I would think the same, but I’m not and as an Israeli, I look at my side and their side. I know that we are right and I know that they are right. The only possible solution is living together, but unfortunately that is unrealistic for now because we will not give up and they will not give up.
(Map: UN Partition Plan)
It’s the original map of Israel- The green part is the Palestinian’s area. The orange part is the Israelis area and the purple part is an international area (Jerusalem- the capital).
Were you wounded in any way (physically, emotionally, physically, spiritually) as a result of your experience in the conflict? Has there been a process of healing?
You cannot live in Israel without feeling in any way the effects of the conflict directly and indirectly. I can tell you about my fear during the terror acts in my city, when I have heard about the explosions (in a bus, in a restaurant etc); I called everyone I knew to see if everyone was all right. I thought, “Oh my god! It could be someone of my family, one of my friends and even me!” My friend’s brother was killed by a Palestinian, and I thought to myself that my friends and I are going to be soldiers soon and who knows what will happen to us once we are in. I know some people who died because of the conflict. If we want and if we don’t want, we can’t ignore these feelings. Fortunately, I wasn’t wounded physically. I read the newspaper everyday and as you can imagine, the news was not so good and it’s not that fun to wake up and discover that Israelis were killed by Palestinians and Palestinians were killed by Israelis. However, we learned to live with that. It’s our reality. I think that I wasn’t who I am without this conflict. You learn to appreciate your country, your home, your family, and everything you have. Nothing is obvious. Everyone here in Israel and on the other side was wounded somehow as a result of this conflict. I think that the only process of healing is HOPE! To hope that the situation will be better and to do everything we can to make it better, instead of complaining about our suffering. To hope is our only hope.
Did your experience resemble portrayals on American mass media?
I think that the American media and any other media show the truth, but not all of the truth. There are a lot of sides in this conflict. It’s not only black and white. The people who work behind the media choose the sides that they want to show to their audience according to their interests. I feel the United States is pro-Israel, so I guess the media shows the sides that make sense of pro-Israel, but I don’t know too much about that. I think that the media in the United States and around the world shows Israel as a dangerous place like Iraq, but I live here and I know that it’s not true and people don’t need to be afraid of traveling in Israel.
What is some important Israeli literature to you and why?
I do read Israeli literature. As I said in the previous questions, there are a lot of things in Israel except the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The same is with the literature. The conflict takes a part in almost every book because it’s our reality in Israel, but it’s not the main subject in all of them. I cannot tell you about one book that was the most important to me, but I can tell you that the most important books are the ones that were written by holocaust survivors. The holocaust survivors wrote about their unbelievable stories. I read the stories and I couldn’t understand how people like me lived their life in death camps, ghettos, forests. They lost everything and they had nothing. They were nothing in this world and they survived! Most of them came to Israel after the holocaust and they built a new life. Reading these stories makes me realize how strong we are and we can continue after all. It makes me appreciate everything I have as a Jew and as an Israeli an as Mor.
When you get together with people that you had your experience with, what sorts of stories do you share? What things do you not talk about? Why?
There is something very special about the Israeli mentality, something that no one can understand except Israelis. When something happens we forget about everything and we do everything we can to help each other. I experience the conflict everyday with the people around me. I experience conflict with my family, my friends, my teachers etc., so it means that I get together with them frequently. I share a lot of different kind of stories and things that happen in my life with them. I know that there are things that I can’t tell to other people except them because they will not understand my feelings if they didn’t experience it too. I don’t think that there are things that I don’t talk to them about. I think that the fact that we experienced some of the results of the conflict together doesn’t make us being closer. On the contrary, it makes us more open people because we can understand each others feelings better than other people.
How do you feel the conflict will end, and how are you going to help aide in trying to end of the conflict?
I can’t answer that question. I don’t know what is going to happen, but I can tell that I will try to do my best to help in the ending of the conflict. Even now I try to talk to Palestinians for understanding the other side. I want to make my Palestinian friends and my Israeli friends understand that we both want to live in peace and the fact that we didn’t choose our nation and fighting each other is pointless. I want the leaders of Israel and of the Palestinians to be peaceful people. I believe that peace starts inside, which means that if we can’t solve the problems with ourselves, we can’t solve the problems with others. I think that the bad situation makes a lot of Israelis hate all the Palestinians and the Arabs. The way to show them that we are all normal people and not terrorists is that we have to use the educational system. In Israel, the educational system focuses mainly in studies and it’s sad the educational system in Israel needs a balance between values and studies. I think that it’s the first step that we can do. After that, we will “heal” our society. We will be able to solve the conflict in a better way. That is the problem with our neighbors. That is why I want to be a politician when I get older. There is always hope to live in a better world and I believe that we will. Peace and love.
Do you live in fear of traveling around your country? How safe is your city?
I don’t live in fear of traveling around my country at all! Israel isn’t what you see on TV. It’s not dangerous at all. If I go to Gaza, it will be dangerous for me as an Israeli. There are some places in Israel that are not safe, but I don’t go there (Like Sderot, I have never been there). I live in Haifa and it’s pretty safe. I have to mention that during the last war between the Lebanonese-Hizballa and Israel, Haifa wasn’t safe and the Hizballa shot rockets to my city and one even hit 100 meters from my house. Before that war and now, I live in Haifa without any fear. I study, I go out with friends, and I have everything I need. Today, (Monday 23 April) is a special day for my country and I. It’s a sad and happy day. Today we remember all the Israeli soldiers who died for defending Israel from 1860 until today. It is the Israel fallen soldiers Remembrance Day. In the evening, we celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut which is the Israeli Independence Day. Israel is 59 years old today, and it means a lot to me and to my country that we are still here! We are not going anywhere! Am Israel Hai!