As these squalls to which we have been subjected are signs that the weather will soon improve and things will go well for us, because it is not possible for the evil or the good to last forever, and so it follows that as evil has lasted for a long time, good must now be close at hand…
-Miguel de Cervantes, "Don Quixote," 1605
As a major in the reserves, it is important to me to make it clear that in this already unstoppable new war, we cannot allow the massacre of innocent Israelis to result in the massacre of innocent Palestinians… Palestinians and Israelis must denounce the extremists who are driven by religious fanaticism.
-Nir Avishai Cohen, NY Times 10/13/23
This is, in small part, a story about one writer, a child of Holocaust survivors, struggling to navigate the shoals of biblical hatred, fear, rampage and retribution. She is neither Palestinian, nor is she Israeli; she is an American. And yet her Israeli and Palestinian friends insist she write about their "side" of the story, without context, without history, without opinion. She has felt her friends' impatience and coercion in the midst of their despair, pain and fear. She has been threatened, she has been unfriended.
A maze is not a labyrinth, though I have confused them often. A labyrinth is a continuous spiral with beginning and end. There is entrance and there is escape. A maze, on the other hand, has insurmountable obstacles that must be demolished or overcome to escape. Because the sweetness of life, however fleeting, has been obliterated in both Israel and Palestine, the sorrow I feel is a maze.
As many of you know, I compiled and edited a book of stories by international humanitarian relief workers. I am still in touch with some of the contributors to that anthology. When war or natural disaster strikes, they are on the ground trying to save lives. In those dire moments their country of origin, ethnicity, and religion is irrelevant as they work together. They remain my model and my hope.
One of the most prominent organizations is the International Rescue Committee. They sent out this message after the rampage by Hamas and the Israeli siege of Gaza:
We are dismayed by the dramatic escalation of violence in Israel and Gaza this weekend and mourn the lives lost. We are currently assessing the situation on the ground and the IRC's capacity to ensure critical, life-saving humanitarian relief reaches affected civilians. The IRC calls on all parties to uphold their obligations under International Humanitarian Law and ensure humanitarian access to those affected.
1/ I stand with international humanitarian law and humanitarian corridors.
2/ I stand against all atrocity, persecution, and senseless killing.
3/ I stand with Palestinian children and Israeli children.
4/ I stand with the Israeli demonstrators who once out of uniform will continue their struggle. May the soldiers return unharmed or permanently scarred by battle—physically and psychologically-- so that they can create a modern, inclusive Israel and accept the reality of a Palestinian homeland.
5/ I stand with the peaceful residents of Gaza. May they survive the Israeli onslaught and live in peace. May the Hamas fanatics retreat to their caves and tunnels, and stay there, never to surface again. May all the hostages return home safely.
6/ I stand with the freedom to write what I feel, experience and observe.