By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Translated from Hebrew by Ruchie Avital
My mother says Iíll never be able to understand what itís like for a nation to be without a country. Now, my mom, she really knows what sheís talking about. After all, she went through the Holocaust, saw her home destroyed in Poland, lost her mom and dad and little brother, and finally ended up here, in the land of Israel, her country, the land she swore she would never leave.
My Palestinian friend Ghassan says Iíll never be able to understand what itís like for a nation to live under occupation. No, he didnít go through the Holocaust, and his whole family is alive, thank God, at least for the time being. But heís had it up to here with the Israeli soldiers at the border checkpoint. ďSometimes you make it through the roadblock in a second or two, but sometimes, when theyíre bored, they can make you feel like life isnít worth living. They force you to wait for hours in the sun for no reason, to humiliate you. Just last week, they confiscated two packs of Kent Longs from me, simply because they felt like it. An 18-year-old kid with a rifle in his hand and a face full of zits just came and took them.Ē
Adina, the neighbor from downstairs, says that Iíll never be able to understand what itís like to lose a loved one in a suicide bombing. ďNo death can be more meaningless than that,Ē she says. ďMy brother died for two reasons ó because he was Israeli and because he felt like having an espresso in the middle of the night. If you can think of any dumber reasons for dying, let me know. And there isnít even anyone to get mad at. After all, the guy that killed him is already dead himself, blown to pieces.Ē
My mother says that we have no other place to go, that no matter where we go, weíll always be strangers, hated, Jews. Ghassan says that my country, the state of Israel, is an alien and strange entity and that there is nothing like it anywhere else in the world. There it is, in the middle of the Middle East, pretending to be in the heart of Europe, participating in the Eurovision song contest every year, making sure to send a soccer team to the European cup games, and it just doesnít get that itís located in the heart of the desert, surrounded by a Middle Eastern mentality that it refuses to acknowledge. Adina says weíre living on borrowed time, that every time she sees the Palestinian children going wild with joy and handing out candy after every terror attack, she thinks about how these children are going to grow up. So I should stop all that nonsense about peace.
And if there is one thing that my mother, Ghassan and Adina have in common, itís that they are all certain, absolutely certain, that I simply canít understand whatís going on in their heads.
But Iím actually pretty good at figuring out whatís going on in other peopleís heads, sometimes, especially when times are bad. I even manage to make a living at it. All kinds of foreign publications call me and ask me to explain, if possible in 600 words or less, what people in Israel are thinking. Itís just a shame that I canít invent new thoughts for them, too ó ones that are a little less afraid, a little less hateful. Thoughts more positive, optimistic, compact, no more than 600 words.
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