My Son On The School Bus
Living in Jerusalem with young children these days is downright frightening.
It’s getting too close for comfort. Too many people know the victims, if not
first-hand, then certainly second-hand.
My sister-in-law knows the family whose three children lost their legs in the
Gaza bombing of a school bus. Abroad, one hears about the "wounded."
Here, the nation knows the tiniest details about each and every case. Even if we
do not know them personally, we know them. They are part of the family.
I heard about the school bus incident on my way to work. I literally cried
out in frustration and terror en route. At that moment, my son was on a school
bus. Those who know me know that the school bus issue has been haunting me since
the beginning of this conflict. In Israel, school bus services are privately
run. In Jerusalem, all of the bus drivers are Arabs from East Jerusalem. Were
these same men participating in demonstrations calling for "Death to
Jews?" How could I know? Do I pull my child off the bus as some parents
had? Do I help put an East Jerusalem Arab out of work, most likely affecting
negatively the lives of many dependents? So far, the vast majority of parents
from our children’s liberal school, which places a premium on teaching
democracy and tolerance, have kept their children on the school bus. I’ve done
so, too, but some mornings or afternoons when the tension gets too much, or I
have a bad premonition, I simply take him to school myself.
I am deeply fearful for my family and myself. I want my family to live in
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Will We Know What To Do And How To React?
We try our best to continue to live "normal" lives - go to the
supermarket, visit the mall, take a walk downtown. But Israelis are definitely
hesitant about being outside in public places. The streets and mall are almost
empty - except for the cell phone stores - which are overflowing with customers
who want to be connected to their families at all times.
I tell myself that I am not afraid because I believe in "Beshert"
– fate. But when I start thinking of my children, the maternal instinct takes
over and I dread every morning and evening they have to take public
transportation. Twenty-seven years ago, I gave birth to my son during the Yom
Kippur War. We had come so far since then that it seemed unlikely that we would
be in this situation again.
My greatest fear is that our choice is either continued conflict with the
Palestinians or an eruption of a full-blown war within Israel. The only thing we
can all agree on is that the clock is ticking.
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The View Of A New Immigrant
I remember sitting with strangers, watching in disbelief as former Prime
Minister Yitzhak Rabin shook hands with Chairman Arafat in 1993. I remember the
multitude of questions that so quickly came to the fore: How could it be? Can a
peace process succeed? Is Arafat trustworthy? And, will there one day really be
peace – a genuine peace?
Now, more than seven years later, after having left the creature comforts
life in the United States, I reside in the charming Baka neighborhood of
Jerusalem. In a sense, I am like a photographer who has done away with the
telescopic lens in search of a panoramic view. Yes, things do look different up
When reading the paper and seeing the pictures of the recent eruption of
violence in the Middle East, a frightening sense of deja vu swept over me
as once again those very same questions from 1993 popped into my head: How could
it be? Can a peace process succeed? …
As a single male living in Israel, I am free from many of the fears that
plague my married friends. I am not concerned about how my children will get to
school or whether my spouse will return home late because a road has been
closed. Instead, I ponder whether hatred will leave an indelible imprint on
In the meantime, until I hear the next volley of bullets and rockets firing,
it might as well be just another beautiful autumn day in Jerusalem.
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Will I Get To My Home In Efrat Tonight?
Let me give you a glimpse of a day in the life of a settler in Efrat.
I leave the house to get to work in Jerusalem, not knowing how long it will
take me to get there or back home. I sit tuned into the radio, as the tunnel
road is often blocked for hours, since has recently become a fighting front.
Thus, a 30 minute drive home turns into a nightmare, which can take hours.
Sometimes we try to get home using detours, which take longer, and are also
often blocked, and sometimes we need to stay in Jerusalem until the Palestinians
decide not to shoot any more.
It is rather scary to admit that they are the ones who almost dictate the way
I come home. Think of it, all I want is to get home safe and sound to my kids.
I commend Prime Minister Barak for the restraint he has shown and I know he
is trapped between two opposite situations: war, which none of us want, and
peace, which we yearn for, but are not sure the other side will abide by once an
agreement is signed. Yet, despite all the difficulties, the government should
give us an answer. Efrat is a settlement, which was agreed to by the Labor Party
at the end of the 1970s, and I am entitled to feel as safe in my country as
anyone else. Any government, left or right, owes it to me. Then how come this
morning on my way to work the road before the tunnel road was again full of
stones and rocks, a reminder of last night’s events? Why is it that a local
publication of the Etzion Block ran an ad offering personal bulletproof vests
for sale? Where is the security? How can we go on living like this? Yes, the
situation is that bad.
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Lynching In Ramallah: Was It My Son?
My office is kept constantly up-to-date by e-mails and faxes from various
news services. I don't remember the day but the time was 1:05 in the afternoon.
A fax was received stating that Israeli reservists had been lynched in Ramallah.
My oldest son, father of two, had been called up for reserve duty. He was
stationed somewhere north of Jerusalem. I called and called all afternoon to his
cellular phone. I got a strange beeping signal - that was all. I was frantic.
Then it was reported that the wife of one of the lynched had called her husband
on his cell phone and been gleefully told by his murderer that he had just been
killed. I'll never forget the sickening terror and relief when I heard that
I finally got through to my son only to find out that he'd been restationed
in Jericho where there was an incident almost every day and night.
We are weary of this situation, but not without hope. I was at a Brit
(circumcision) last week. The parents have two other children. They are not
religious or overly Zionistic but they named their son Ben Shalom - Son of
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