Monday, April 17, 2006

Education, For Better or Worse

When I sat down this morning, I had meant to write a quirky, yet sincere apology for the recent lack of entries. A wise man once said:
"The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain
For promised joy."
Robert Burns, "To A Mouse"
My daily glance at the Jerusalem Post's webpage proved that quote to be quite correct. An event that caused the deaths of nine innocents and the injuries of nearly 70 others shouldn't be ignored.

It's amazing what a year will do to a person's outlook on life. At this time in 2005, I was a college freshman, eager to finish my first year at university. I was also undergoing the final preparations for my Taglit/Birthright trip.

I believe that it's fair to say that I was well-informed about the goings-on in Israel. I read the Jerusalem Post, studied the various conflicts in school and religious classes, and listened to the political analysis that would occasionally spout from my father, who was given to such things. When acts of violence occurred, I would become frustrated, irritated with both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian divide.

Then came my Birthright trip. I don't know why, but this relatively small event in history sparked off a revolution in my mind. A revolution that every Israeli that I met seemed actively involved in perpetuating.

And now... And now I see every event in Israeli in relation to individuals. I stared at the pictures of today's violence, seeing "I,"* a young make-up artist who finds nothing funnier than the knowledge that her country engineered a breed of featherless chicken.

I see a Moroccan mother of three, "N," who communicates her feelings through tight, expressive hugs.

I see "O," a friend of my father's from Kibbutz Ga'aton, fix-it man, and avid lover of the American squirrel.

I see nineteen year old "H," who gave me a broken IDF pin in exchange for a worn Livestrong bracelet.

I see "D," a bomb technician for the National Police with a dry sense of humor and a baby daughter.

I see "T," my tour guide in Israel, who survived a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv only because she had her leather jacket completely zippered.

I see "A" and "E," parents to three adorable children, who may soon be moving back to Ashdod.

Israelis aren't just people anymore; they are individuals. Now, instead of frustration at the violence, I feel anger, fear, and sadness. In short, I am more educated now than I ever was a year ago. Not in facts, but in emotions.

G-d help me.


*Initials to protect privacy.


  1. I'll be in Israel for the first time this summer. I've already today had people as me if I am cancelling my trip. Anger, sorrow- yeah I feel these things. But what I'm really feeling more than ever is that Israel needs all our help from all of us. Go on your trip. Don't fear.

  2. Going to Israel for the first time? You'll love it. :)