Whose side are you on?

Some afternoons I like to sit on our porch. I drink a local Goldstar beer, and try hard to read the paper. It’s always a disappointment to try and read because my one year old will try even harder to fall, anywhere, while I read. Last Friday I tried again.

One of my neighbors, a school teacher, comes home. Ido is wearing a slightly too tight uniform. It’s the first time I see him in a uniform. I look at him, the question in my eyes louder than words would be. He nods.

I try to laugh it away: and here you were getting ready for your long summer vacation, right? He laughs along with me, but we both know who can hear us. His pregnant wife is due in a month. I look at their door.  He follows my gaze and says, optimistically: “The war will long be over by then”.

My husband steps outside now, too. Ido high fives him: Someone needs to protect you, buddy! They, too, laugh it off. Ido is home for Shabbat, being an observant Jew they gave him a job in a hospital. Or so he tells us, and his wife and three year old son. I am not sure if it’s true.

There is no way we can not talk about the political situation now and another neighbor happily comes outside to join in on the fun. This neighbor has recently moved in. He is the headmaster of a Yeshiva, a religious high school. His payot or side curls are dangling while he runs down the few steps from his front door to where I try to drink my Goldstar.

“A thousand rockets!” He cries out. “Only two hundred intercepted by the Iron Dome and the rest? Fell in inhabited area!” And then he carries on: “Do you see inhabited area over here? Every little piece of land has been built on! It’s a miracle! God loves us!”

I scoop up my one year old. I do not have an appropriate reaction up my sleeve. Whose side am I on? I do not believe in a God that loves some people more than others. And I wish for Ido’s wife that he returns safely from wherever he is stationed. But I can not say either thing. Because I am a guest in this country. And I appreciate the protection the Iron Dome and Ido and his friends are offering me.

Maybe, one day, I can explain my one year old that protection is unnecessary when nobody starts a fight. But until that day, who am I when it comes to peace keeping? Because this mother of more than one child knows like no other: territory -and possession- is ground for endless and daily battles. Maybe the Kibbutz system wasn’t such a bad idea after all.


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