Friday, March 25, 2011

A Little 411

With the Japanese tsunami coverage and the crisis in Libya being updated every other minute (which, don't get me wrong, are both deserving of a fair amount of television coverage),  the resulting situation is that recent events here in Israel have been largely neglected on international news headlines. As a current citizen of Jerusalem, I feel like it is fitting to do my part of standing up on my soap box and relaying to the rest of the world a little bit of what is occurring over here.

Jerusalem has been (or I should say, had been) enjoying a few solid years of relative stability and calm following the horrors of the 2nd Intifada (between 2000-2006 more or less) when it seemed that bombings were regular daily occurrences throughout Israel. As you know well, the Arab-Israeli conflict is rooted in thousands of years of history over land that both parties feel is rightfully their own. This, confounded with years of brutal attacks from both sides, have resulted in an unending and seemingly impossible peace process. 


When I arrived in Israel in November 2010, Israel was still living in a temporary state of seeming bliss. Bliss, meaning a few years of relative stability, in comparison to the nation's painful history. Though, if you ask me, you can never be too cautious. This illusion was brutally shattered in early March 2011 when a group of terrorists entered the home of an innocent Jewish family in the Israeli settlement of Itamar in the West Bank and stabbed them to death in their sleep. The butchered victims were Udi (36) and Ruth (35) Fogel and three of their young children, including Yoav (11), Elad (4) and Hadas (3 months old). Yes, even an innocent little baby. Their family is survived by three other children, two of whom were in the house during the attack and one daughter who arrived home late from an event to find the crime scene. This event was a national tragedy and seemed so very "out of the blue" considering the supposed "peaceful" times. The entire country mourned together in shock, disgust and disbelief. In general, there has always been a lot of tension revolving around the establishment of such settlements where Zionists such as the Fogel family were living. Basically, new such settlements establish growing communities in an area, whether it be a Palestinian settlement or an Jewish settlement. Neither party wants the other to consume more land, and thus, the tension unfolds.

In response to this unimaginable attack, Israel promised to build even more similar Jewish settlements, instead of back away from the terrorist attack. As you can imagine, Israelis have a right to defend themselves. As you can also imagine, Palestinians too had a response to this statement. Thus, with tensions mounting, over 70 missiles have been fired by Palestinians groups from the Gaza Strip into southern Israeli territory over the last 3 or 4 days. A peace agreement seems unmanageable. In fact, history has shown that every time Israel "gives a little" to the Palestinians, it only results in more chaos, more attacks and more demolition. They are never happy with the terms given. It's a black and white, all or nothing situation that seems unresolvable, especially with neither side wanting to make sacrifices or compromises. Thus, the conflict goes on and on. Do the research for yourself.

Fast forward to March 23, 2010 and it is likely you already know what happened. It might have just been a one-liner on your morning news as the crisis in Libya was covered and an update on the recovery effort over in Japan was released. That afternoon, the several years of "blissful living" without the daily fear of bombs would come to an end. Around 3 p.m., a bomb planted by a Palestinian terrorist was attached to a public telephone at a busy bus stop just outside of the Jerusalem Central Bus Station - a place we frequent often. Thanks to a local hero at a small kiosk next to the bus stop, an abandoned bag was spotted right away. The kiosk attendant immediately yelled for everyone to move out of the way and got on the phone with the police. Seconds later, a ferocious bomb rocked the area, severely injuring the caller, killing one woman, critically harming upwards of 40 people and blasting into nearby buses and cars. Though even one life lost is too much, the reality is that it could have been a lot worse. An epidemic of fear has been unveiled throughout the city, where just one day earlier, people could could travel carefree.

And so, yes, it's a little heavy and a little depressing to be talking about all of this, but it is my current reality and also that of the residents with whom I share this city and this country.  It is hurtful to read commentary by media that portray Israelis as vulgar rebels and killers. There is always another side to the story and Israelis have the right to self-defense, as does anybody. When dealing with terrorists, unfortunately compromise is not in their vocabulary. Did you also know that recently explosive devices and missiles were found on a ship entering the Gaza Strip? That is exactly why every ship must be checked by the Israeli military, an action for which they have been previously criticized and judged.

So, here I am on my soap box. I just think that all the recent events deserve a little more awareness than they have received. I wait cautiously to see, or hopefully to not see, what happens next. Something about Israelis in general is that they have an amazing ability to rebound and to be resilient in the face of disaster. For the most part, they could not be less disturbed by what is happening around them. They have the attitude that if it's their time, then it's their time. They go about life carefree and content (though I have a theory that the repressed fear comes out in the  form of Israeli gruffness and harshness that is so often characteristic of their culture). Clearly, although I have a passport that says I'm an Israeli, I'm still half an American at heart, and thus, my fears are natural. We're going to be watching closely what goes on here and life will continue on as normal, as it should.  If all else fails, there's always Canada (I am a citizen and Rafi cannot reenter the US until he receives his green card); so we will see where our lives take us as the year continues to unfold. 
Thank you for reading!


  1. Girl, you stand on that soapbox! I was so glad to hear you and Rafi were safe via your FB update. I won't try to imagine the mix of emotions you feel, but glad you are sharing in your blog. Take care!

  2. Thanks for the update Rayzee...I am soooo glad you guys are safe and trust me, I think about you and your safety daily!

  3. Doing a little research here... First, the "70 missiles fired into Israel" meme is currently making it way around Facebook and Tumblr. Googling turns up references to that phrase going back some years.

    Also, Googling the senseless murders of the Fogel family produces no news reports of Palestinian perps. Instead there's some speculation that a foreign worker in the employ of Rabbi Fogel or the settlement was angry over withheld wages and might be the perp.

    Can you provide primary sources to help clear this up? Thanks for your help.

    Barbara Welch

  4. Thank you for shedding light on what is going on in Israel, when there is so much misinformation or lack of information circulating.

  5. Hello Barbara and thank you for your comments.

    Regarding the "70 missiles fired into Israel", you will find that this reference does indeed go back many years....because the missiles out of Gaza into southern Israel have been ongoing with frequency for a historic amount of time. If you head into southern Israel you will see for yourself that indeed families are crawling into their bomb shelters on a frequent basis.

    You will also find a number of valid references on the J-Post website:

    As for the Fogel family murders, you will notice that I do not mention that Palestinians are directly responsible (which several articles suggest), but rather that "terrorists" are responsible. No specific group has actually yet claimed responsibility for the attack. That is under investigation. Here, however, are links to recent sources which report that the Al-Asqa Martyrs Brigades have claimed responsibility for the attacks in hopes of inciting the 3rd intifada:

    What can be confirmed, however,is the response by the Arab world and in particular the terrorist groups within that world, which is easy to read about in any major newspaper (Jerusalem Post, Haaretz) and is, to most Israelis, the crux of the issue.

    Thanks again for your commentary. In the end, I in fact see both parties sides of the story. You might be interested in reading into Ir Amim, which sheds more light onto the conflict and whose wish it is to accomplish a sustainable peace between the two conflicting parties:

  6. Hi Erin. Thanks for taking the time to respond and for providing links. You've been very helpful. Oh, and I'm glad I found your blog - bookmarked.

    All the best...


  7. Erin,

    I am so proud of you! You are now officially a proud and resilient Israeli!

    Love you!


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