Friday, June 21, 2013

Broken Hearts and Homes

      It is (hopefully) common knowledge that the southern frontier of Israel has been treated to a barrage of rockets originating from the Gaza Strip almost continuously since the early-mid 2000's. Most of the world knows this conflict via images on the television depicting paranoid journalists frantically recording Hamas rockets flying towards Israeli cities and towns along this part of the country. Originally for me, this was a war that existed in a distant part of the world that involved people that barely had any relevance to my own life in the United States. This reality would soon crash down during my trip to Israel, specifically in regards to a brief but memorable visit to the town of Sderot.
     A town that bordered an entity that was continuously hostile and would resort to any means to inflict maximum damage, Sderot was a city filled with people who literally faced death in the face every single day of their lives. To me that reality was impossible to comprehend or even fathom from a distance, as much as I tried to place myself in their situations mentally. Although I previously felt sympathy and grief for the people of Sderot, it was not until I was shown videos depicting children running away from incoming rockets and playgrounds designed to prevent children casualties did this reality really sink in for me. I have a little sister back home in California who attends public school and it would be unthinkable to fathom the idea that a place of learning and fun would be an unsafe place. These kids are peoples' siblings, cousins, neighbors, nieces/nephews, best friends, etc. and to even think of them as potential targets for militants and insurgents.
     I am an American gentile visiting the land of Israel, so it requires a bit of extra effort to connect with and relate to the plight Israeli Jews face every day. To combat this mental roadblock, recognizing shared values and similar situations have been crucial methods in my observations. My time in Sderot embodied this approach all too well, exposing me to lifeways that only seem alien due to context and giving me a glimpse of a reality that holds a personal grip on my heartstrings.


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