Lod: Between hope and despair

I have lived in the city of Lod for the past five years. I was neither born nor raised in this city and neither was my husband; and yet we have decided to make it our home. Here, we have chosen to raise our two little daughters and serve our country and its values, while embracing Lod’s endless complexities…
Indeed, Lod is a complex city and as such, it is nothing less than a microcosm of the State of Israel. This beautiful, but battered city has known both glory and torment throughout its history. Since the establishment of the State of Israel, the city has become home to many Christian and Muslim Palestinians who have lived and remained there, despite Israeli rule. Lod has also embraced Israelis of diverse origins: Moroccans, Russians, Ethiopians, Georgians, Indians, to name but a few. In the early 1980’s, thousands of Bedouin Muslims from the Negev region were encouraged by the IDF to find agricultural lands further North and they chose to settle in the proximity of the historical railway station in Lod, which had once led passengers from Damascus to Cairo.
The city's complexities seem to be insurmountable: some underlying tensions exist between certain groups of Arabs and Jews; poverty characterizes too many of its inhabitants; a painful lack of capable municipal leadership throughout the years has resulted in the deterioration of the city to its current somewhat ugly and unruly appearance, while the aforementioned agricultural lands patiently await their inevitable destiny - legalization.
Embracing complexity is key to those who choose to live in a city like Lod, so close to Tel Aviv and yet so very far. Waking up every morning in a lovely little house in a relatively pretty neighborhood to the stench of sewage is only one part of it. Such is the city- full of contradictions.
That’s why, when I watched the recent episodes of “Between Hope and Despair”, the documentary film made about my city on Israeli Channel 8, I was left perplexed. While brilliant in its rhythm and truly outstanding in its cinematic effects and style, the bottom line was very simple; almost too simple: Lod equals a never-ending battle between Arabs and Jews, rife with underlying and sometimes even blatant racist ideology, a dichotomous reality in which complexity and the varying shades of grey are simply nonexistent. Is this the optimal way to depict such a complex reality? To declare this open and festering wound untreatable? Of course not!
It is paramount to convey an important social message - a message embedded in the very name of the series; a message of hope. Yet where is the hope depicted in the series? Where are my wonderful Christian and Muslim Arab neighbors who live in the houses next door? Where is the Arab-Jewish youth choir - the jewel in the crown of the city? Where is the amazing work of the welfare institution which provides services to disabled Jewish and Arab children? And the selfless services of Arab and Jewish Israeli welfare workers, paid for by the State and the local government? Where can we see the Lod Foundation and other NGO’s, whose presence in the city are a constant and well-acknowledged reality which provides regular folk - inhabitants of Lod - with endless rays of light and hope? Where are the students who have moved, like me and my husband, from other, more attractive cities and made their homes in the modest student village, a village which lives by the example of community service and involvement in the lives of all those who live in the city, both Arabs and Jews?
My wonderful city needs to have the beauty and majesty within it highlighted for those who have lost their foresight, for despair is so much easier to see…