How can an IDF soldier wear a Palestinian flag?

תמונה 21

There were a few hours left before I had to be at our meeting spot in Tel Aviv. So I started packing. Maybe this color isn’t nice? Maybe this color isn’t friendly enough? Maybe this color will scare them away from me? I took out something I could wear to sleep – only to then realize that every t-shirt I sleep in is from my service in the IDF. Great. What do I wear to sleep?

I finally figured out what clothes I should take. Closed my suitcase, headed to the bus. I was excited, I was anxious, I was scared, I didn’t know what to think. Even the one person I did tell said – ARE YOU CRAZY?! So I stopped telling people. Just went with my heart, I went with my fiends. I arrived at hotel after 4 hours on the road, entered the lobby, for the first time, I met the Palestinians. I met the human beings I’ve been speaking to for 6 months online. The people who a year ago I would have been scared to speak to even online cause I was taught they would show up at my house and hurt me. We started talking- Small talk. How was your ride? Great! Was the border check annoying? Eh not really. Let’s go get lunch! Ok! But I knew it was coming…

A small group of us decided to walk to the Dead Sea- An Israeli, A Palestinian, and A Tunisian, walking to the Dead Sea. I wear a bracelet of the Palestinian flag, I think it’s important to show coexistence, that I, an Israeli, can accept Palestine.  On our walk there I knew K wanted to ask. He looked at me and said “Do you wear this bracelet because we are here or because you love us? How can an IDF soldier wear a Palestinian flag?” It took him a few seconds to put the words together. He didn’t know how to word it- I believe he was just as scared as I was. I told him the truth- I want to defend Israel for my people, and for your people. He didn’t understand fully yet. But I knew he would at some point. “But you know how they treat us Palestinians? How could you?” I tried to explain my feelings towards Hamas. That building tunnels wasn’t the way to peace, and that we couldn’t allow them to hurt us and sit back and watch. He began to slowly understand. Over the next few days we spoke a lot. Every break we had we got deeper and deeper into the conversation. S was very quiet. He sat there just listening a lot, and I always wanted to hear him. On the last evening, I was alone. Just me, and 4 Palestinians, and oh- they had questions. We talked about the IDF, the US, wars in Gaza, what it’s like to serve in the IDF, weapons we use, with no anger. The conversation was calm. We spoke about the US, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan – We spoke politics, Abba, Bibi, how sad I was from the results and they were just as sad. We stayed up until 2 am talking about everything. I spoke about how terrible the occupation was, how inhumane I feel it is, how Abbas is a partner for peace and I pray he will succeed. An Israeli and 4 Palestinians – trying to figure out what is actually holding us back from reaching peace. I felt like I left the conversation feeling good. Like I made my point clear, but I was skeptical. When I got back to my room, S texted me, he said “I liked the way you think very much,” and sent me his phone number saying “if you’re ever in the West Bank and need help, here is my number.” It was beyond heart warming, I knew I gained a friend.

On the last day we sat down to keep working on our writing. After my discussion with K I was worried. But I hoped he would think fondly of me when he went back home. The day was starting to come to an end. He came up to me and said “Angy I would like to interview you. About how an IDF soldier can be pro-Palestine and wear this bracelet. Can I please?” I was excited beyond words. I managed to explain to them that you can be pro-Israel and pro-Palestine. You can love Israel and want good for the Palestinian people at the same time. You can fight for Israel because you aren’t only fighting for Israel, you are fighting for Palestinians. We are all fighting terror. Because we want peace, and terror is keeping us away from it. He asked me questions for 30 minutes straight. And I did my best to answer. To show him how important it was for Israel to fight terror, how traumatized we are, how important it for us to live in peace. I showed him a text message I got from a friend from Israel saying “Don’t forget to tell them we want peace.” He was surprised, but he smiled.

My message managed to reach 5 new Palestinians. People who would have never known that there are IDF soldiers who want peace. Who love the Palestinian people and believe they deserve rights just like anyone else. That there is someone who wears a uniform during wars, but is against the occupation. K told me he would share our interview and tell his friends. I promised that if they ever have questions, they are always welcome to contact me. This may seem like a small step for some, but it is a huge step for me. King Abdullah II said a few weeks ago, “Young people, especially, must be inspired by values that reject violence, create peace and build inclusive society.” And that is exactly what we did.

Why I, A Zionist, and a Lover of Israel, Vote Meretz

Many people in the past few weeks have told me – “you’re not a Zionist!” “you’re a Jew hater!” “go to Palestine!” I’ve heard it all, seriously. And I’ve laughed about it. Why have I laughed? These are the people that know nothing about Zionism, nothing about Israeli Politics, and definitely nothing about Meretz.

So here is a little bit about Meretz- Meretz is a party that seeks peace. Meretz offers a new approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Meretz, like most of Israeli citizens (as can be seen from last weeks protest in Rabin Square where over 80,000 people came to show how anti-the current regime they actually are), are tired of the right wing controlling Israel for the past 15 years and not helping Israel reach a peace agreement or a better future. Meretz calls for an agreement based on the Arab Peace Initiative, meaning a Palestinian state would be created within the 1967-lines and mutally agreed land swaps. They also support Jerusalem as a two capitals for two states. Most importantly, Meretz plans to stop settlement construction including in the blocs and East Jerusalem as they violate international law. Meretz also promote gay marriage, they want a “Jewish and democratic state,” buses on Shabbat, and overall they promote democratic values that we all can value from!

Now you’re asking yourself- why don’t you just vote Herzog? Isn’t the most important thing to you to kick Bibi out? So yes. The most important goal in these elections is to kick Bibi out. I have this terrible nightmare I’d like to share with you. I dream that I’ll wake up on March 18th and find Bibi my Prime Minister again. The sad truth, is that with Herzog, that’s a possibility. I’m afraid. Herzog has not come out and said – ‘I will not sit with Bibi.’ Actually on that note, no party other than Meretz has come out and said they will not sit with Bibi. So when I’ll wake up from my nightmare, and it will be real- Herzog and Bibi will sit together, at least my vote didn’t go to a party who couldn’t have enough courage to say they will not sit with Bibi. At least my vote went to a party who told me the truth, was never afraid of saying it loud and clear, and who refused by any means necessary to sit with the man who has made my life beyond difficult in Israel, and ruined our foreign relations. Additionally, my biggest fear is that Herzog won’t have someone to sit with and this will force him to sit with the Likud. Strengthening Meretz, means strengthening a new coalition. Strengthening Meretz, helps Herzog build a new coalition.

Not as radical as you thought right? Meretz agenda matches mine. Meretz want peace. As I believe most of society want. We all want to live quietly, raise our children without sending them to war at the age of 18, and hopefully make it to an old enough age so we can go play bingo with our friends and take Zumba at the country club. Meretz does not plan on giving up on Israel! Israel is my home just like its yours. This is our home and we have no where to go! I love Israel and no one will take her away from me. As Ilan Gilon says “I love the land of Israel more than you! You know why? I’m willing to settle for only a part of her and you’re not.” 

I plan on voting Meretz because this is my home. I want to live here, raise my family here, continue to serve in reserve forces, wake up every morning and remember why I love this country. I don’t plan on going anywhere. But you Mr. Bibi, you need to go. And the only way for that to happen- is with Meretz.