Dear Prime Minister Netanyahu: We need to talk and it is urgent. Please sit down and read my letter. I am sorry to approach you in this way, but I could not find your personal email.
For years, you being my prime minister felt good, I felt comforted and cared for. Though I do not believe in politics and do not agree with a lot of the things you believe in, it felt the same for me as with other great men, like Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres. They were like fathers who took care of me, looked after me and made sure nothing happened to me.
But now, I feel so incredibly lonely and sad.
I come from a very socially aware Dutch, Jewish and Zionist family. My maternal grandfather was the well-known social democrat Meijer Sluyser, who visited Palestine as early as the 1930s. After the war, he started writing books about Jewish life in Amsterdam, which no longer existed.
My paternal grandparents lived near the German border before the war. My grandmother was a German Jew. That enabled my grandfather to cross the German border to spy there, probably for the British. In 1939, he fell out of favor with the Dutch government. When the war broke out, he panicked. He committed suicide to save the family.
Stories that last for generations
I grew up with these stories. War was always present. It turned my parents into very motivated Zionists. They moved to Israel more than 30 years ago. My entire upbringing was geared toward immigrating to Israel. It took a long time before I did, only in 2005.
I started coming to Israel at an early age and now I live here permanently. There is a chasm between the country of which I used to hear, where I used to spend my holidays and always dreamed about and the reality of today. It is still an amazing country and I do not regret moving here, but I am so lost with the situation we are in.
I am a journalist and a writer. My mission is to show the world what is really happening in Israel, to make people see things differently and to look at what unifies us here, because there is so much more of that than what separates us.
TWO YEARS ago, my book Beyond Borders was published, first in Dutch and a few months ago in English. In different ways, I share the mutual basis for living side by side, Israelis and Palestinians.
It is a book of hope, trust and a better world for our children and grandchildren. I never imagined that we, the Jewish people, would start fighting with each other the way we do today. And I refuse to write about it because I feel deeply ashamed.
Also, I am now considered “Left thinking” because I do not agree with what the government is doing. I have never liked demonstrations and have not joined any of them, but in Israel today, and to people around me, this makes me “on the side of the Right.”
I do not belong to either. I am a human being who fights in her own small way for freedom.
On Remembrance Day this year, at the ceremony in our village, during the two minutes of silence, I burst into tears. I felt helpless, angry and confused.
People make mistakes, I do and you do, too. It sounds naive and I am sure you know it: We only live once. Enough is enough.
Besides the challenges we face with the situation around us, between us and within the country, we seem to be getting further and further apart from each other. We need to move on with our lives and we need to do it together. That is the only way.
On Land Day, a group of Arabs sometimes comes to our village. Their parents or grandparents lived here before 1948. It is important to them to show their children and grandchildren where their family comes from. There is a conversation in my book with the daughter of one of these families.
When I told her where I live, she said, “My grandparents once lived there, it was their home.” I answered, “I’m truly sorry.” She then had the greatness to say that we should not look back, but ahead.
Please take her as an example. Put away your pride. It is time to start thinking as a father who is leading his people.
We have only one country.
The writer, who is a journalist and author, lives in Kibbutz Beit Ha’emek.