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.

Have We Lost Hope?

Hi All,

I’m not big on making political posts because I feel like my blog is suppose to make you smile rather than cry, but living in Israel has forced me into feeling a certain way that I would like to address.

The past month has been rough on both Israelis and Palestinians. Over a month ago, 3 boys went missing, their bodies were found after 18 days. A few days later, a young Arab boy was found dead in Jerusalem. They say it’s “A way to get back at the Arabs for what they have done.” I put this in quotes not because it was said, but because this is what people think. Now, for the past 6 days, Israelis and Palestinians have been running the moment they hear a siren or in Gaza’s case, the moment they hear a “boom.” On Israel’s side, there are tons of bomb shelters. On Gazans side, there is nowhere to hide.

Israelis think that a way to “get back” at Hamas (or whoever did it for that matter considering no one is 100% sure), is by rioting in Jerusalem, throwing rocks, and sacrificing their lives. Palestinians feel that a way to “get back” at Israelis, is by rioting in Jerusalem, throwing rocks, and sacrificing their lives. These are radical, activists who feel harming others, will in some way help them gain respect for Israel/Palestine after they killed 6 of OUR boys. I say 6 of OUR boys, because while the IDF searched for the kidnapped boys, they killed 3 on the Palestinian side. Totaling in 6 lives. How is their life any different then OURS? How are OUR lives different? Palestinian, Israeli, Arab, American, how are we any different?

An Arab women was yelled at by a Jewish lady. The women and her son ran off the bus when the women called her a whore, slut, and anything else she could possibly think of to “get back” at this mother. Did this mother kidnap and murder those 3 boys? Did this mother in any way harm your freedom, or happiness? It is said that 110 lives have been taken in these past few days in Gaza. Supposedly 10 of them, are Hamas activists. I ask again, did the rest of the innocent lives that were taken in Gaza kidnap and murder those 3 boys? Harm your freedom, or happiness?

My one question is: Have we lost hope? Has society lost it completely? Do we not believe that peace is even possible?
When society still has hope, anything is possible. The moment we stop believing that peace is possible, we begin to vote for the wrong political parties, protests about the wrong issues, and overall speak differently. When you promote something to a single human being, you may change that persons perspective. When I, an Israeli who served in the IDF speak to a Palestinian in Gaza or the West Bank, I grant him the feeling that maybe there is someone on the other side that doesn’t want him dead, that maybe someone on the other side has that hope that he has too. That maybe, just maybe, together we’ll be able to achieve peace. Because tomorrow morning when he tells his friend that he spoke to an Israeli who told him that they differentiate between Hamas and Palestinians, that friend will talk to his friend and so on and so forth.

For some of us, not all, the hope is there. And maybe just maybe, with just your single voice, the hope will pass on to the next person, and the person after that- and maybe that next person will be a radical activist that once stoned Palestinians cars in East Jerusalem and suddenly was granted the hope that you passed onto him.

Let’s share the hope.