Of course nothing is one sided and here in Israel, life is not all peaches obviously.
Sirens sound on this day, the offical memorial day known as Yom Hazikaron, to commemorate all the lives that have been lost along the way. Friends and family go to ceremonies and cemeteries to mourn the deaths of their loved ones. Wars, divisions and hate have caused this land to be fraught with post traumatic stress and the innate loss of innocences that comes with teenagers going to the army. I sit with young people on the buzzing strip of tel aviv’s beaches, and they share their army experiences with me, how they were taught to die for their country, only to discover years later their actions destroyed a part of their soul that they can never redeem. On the other side of it, they also express the depth and beauty of comradery and friendship that could only be born our of such circumstances. Here in this land, people are part of community all their lives, friends and family form the basis of their existence. And life goes on.
When the clock turns over to 6pm, the entire energy of this country shifts into celebration, as the eve of Israeli Independence day booms from speakers across the land. Celebrating freedom, belonging and the existence of a Jewish homeland. Tears of sadness are transformed into tears of joy as the people come together to break bread, drink wine and celebrate LIFE with the gusto of a people who have suffered and survived. At the same time, the people in Gaza, suffer the loss of their homes, their freedom and their lives as they knew them. At the same time, Arab Israelis are torn between; living comfortably in a very accessible and innovative country, with friends and families on the other side of a painful wall in between. The emotions that are felt and expressed over these 48 hours in Israel and the Palestinian Territories are extreme and cover a depth of human experience known by many others around the world. The refugees, the disenfranchised, and the persecuted will all be able to relate. And yet, this story is specific to this land and these people, and reveals a complexity of history, people and emotion that I can only describe, imagine and share in my limited way.
This land is worth visiting. If you haven’t yet, put it on your bucket list. Life is BIG and there is much to learn.