Boy looks for shrapnel_311.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Once again we find ourselves in the all-too-familiar nightmare. Rocket
attacks follow rocket attacks, air strikes follow Grad attacks, which follow
more air strikes, more Kassam rockets and more air strikes. The scenario is
intimately known and the outcome is tears and fears on both sides. It is past
time a responsible adult step in and put an end to this unnecessary
Here in the Western Negev, we have known 10 years of rocket
attacks, snipers and attempted terrorist infiltrations. We go to sleep
wondering if we will be woken up by the familiar rocket alert, if we will be
instructed by the IDF to remain in secure rooms (which many of us do not have),
or begin our morning with terrifying booms and close encounters with exploding
metal and glass. We jump when we hear a sound that approximates an alert; we
dread driving on roads that put us in direct danger.
Many regret living
here, and exposing ourselves and our families to a life that knows no safety.
The Western Negev has been redefined, at least in regard to rocket attacks. The
mortar shells, Kassams and Grad rockets reach communities on the border, those
within a 20-km. radius, and those further to the east (Beersheba) and north
(Ashdod, Yavne, soon Tel Aviv?).
In Gaza, my friends there tell me they
and their families are psychologically drained and their lives and homes
physically destroyed by the nearconstant air attacks, the seemingly never-ending
blockade and the physical isolation from the rest of the world. Israel
bombs them and shoots at them; the Hamas government terrorizes them and denies
them their most basic freedoms and the Egyptians close the borders, erect a wall
and ignore their cries for help.
Connections to the outside world are
limited and unreliable. For a few hours each day, depending on the
restricted supply of electricity and phone service, it is possible to connect to
others via email, Facebook and Twitter and cellphones. This is not the
human connection that we, outside this small strip of land, need or take for
granted. It is a faceless connection, devoid of opportunities to physically meet
one another, to shake hands, to smile at one another. For a few hours each day,
Gazans are allowed to electronically connect to the rest of
This is no life for them or us.
I AM looking for the
parent-leader who understands that punishment only leads to despair, sadness,
fear, anger and a learned helplessness. I search for the responsible adult who
understands that enough is enough, and who is clever enough to understand that
if the endless cycle of attacks and responses has not succeeded in solving the
problem, we need to engage in different types of behavior.
I call upon my
people to demand that we be put up for adoption, so to speak, so that we can
gain worthy “parents” such as Nelson Mandela and F.W. de Klerk, who became
responsible leaders for the South African peoples, or Gerry Adams and David
Trimble from Northern Ireland, who finally understood that their peoples did not
deserve lives of suffering and injustice.
These leaders were far from
perfect. At times, they let their people down, and the South African and
Northern Irish “families” are still working on the creation of a healthier and
safer reality – a process that will take years. But these leaders admitted that
their parenting skills needed sharp adjustment. They did not continue to expose
their peoples to unnecessary trauma, death and injury. They realized, as our
governments do not, that it is unconscionable to play loosely with our lives,
and with the lives of our children.
As part of the family of humankind, I
demand the basic rights to life, liberty and security of person.
leaders cannot, or will not, provide our most basic needs, then we need to
disinherit ourselves. We need to become responsible adults, and take concerted
steps toward finding good-enough leaders who truly care for their
charges.The writer is a social psychologist who specializes in peace
building. She is a senior lecturer in the Department of Social Work at Sapir
College and a member of Other Voice – a grassroots organization from the Sderot
area that seeks a nonviolent end to the Gaza-Israel conflict.