Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A Different Frame of Mind

    9:00pm, June 30, 2014. 18 days after the kidnapping of Nadtali Fraenkel, 16, Gilad Shaar, also 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19, New York Times sent out an alert.  “Israel’s Search for 3 Teenagers Ends in Grief.”

   Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at an emergency cabinet meeting “Hamas is responsible, and Hamas will pay.” For a group of American teenagers, it is evident that this type of news would not be taken easily.

      I started to contemplate the safety of Israel, and I had no idea what to expect in terms of retaliation. On July 1, we woke up to news stating that more than 31 rockets were fired into Palestinian territory, targeting the homes of the suspects that were linked with the kidnapping.

     The day went on and after visiting the Dome of the Rock, we found ourselves in the middle of the Muslim Quarter. We were dressed in our t-shirts, backpacks, and $7.25 raggedy shawl cover-ups for our knees. We were classic American tourists in Israel. People were staring. It was like we were food for lunch. I did not feel safe and I did not want to be there.

     But there was something interesting about this situation. Looking around, all of the Israelis that I saw, while still visibly upset, were treating this situation as any other day. There was no panic, no fear. Our Israeli tour guide demonstrated this while we were walking through the Quarter. Regardless of how openly we were expressing our concerns and fears, we continued to make constant stops throughout and discuss the history of the quarter. I felt that this was insensitive, but I have learned differently.

     The way our tour guide was acting, I realized, was in no way offensive. It was simply the way Israelis have been living their whole lives.  The Arabs and the Israelis have grown to be extremely comfortable with the hatred they have towards each other. This relaxed reaction to the hatred is visible through the situation regarding the kidnapping.

    It is a tradition for the Arabs and Israelis to hate each other. However, while it may seem frequent, it is rare to see extreme wars break out over indifferences between the two. The relationship between them is currently in stasis. Neither the Israelis nor Arabs want the situation to get worse. However, none of them are making strides to better the situation. If strides were taken, not only would the relationships grow on the inside of Israel, it is very possible that the relationship between the Palestinians and Israelis would get better as well. I look forward to the day when I will be able to walk through the Quarter and feel safe.

-Sydney Sussman

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