Posted by: Liza Rosenberg | October 29, 2009

These days, peace seems more elusive than ever…

The Hebrew calendar is not usually the calendar I use – indeed, I would be hard-pressed to name the months, and listing them in the proper order is simply beyond the scope of my abilities. That being said, however, I can tell you that, according to the Hebrew calendar, 14 years ago today (or rather, tomorrow, if we are going to get technical about it), I was at the Safari in Ramat Gan. With my parents. I had a stomach ache. And that evening, after we dropped my parents off at the airport for their return flight to the United States, the parking lot attendant handed us our change and told us that he’d heard a rumor that Yitzchak Rabin had been shot.

He didn’t know for sure, and for the duration of our drive home, I flipped between the radio stations, hoping to find even a sliver of information that would confirm what we’d heard moments earlier. Not a word. We jumped out of the car as soon as we pulled into our driveway less than twenty minutes later, unlocked the front door and turned on the television. By then, of course, the story had been confirmed. Following a demonstration for peace in what was then known as Malchei Yisrael Square in the center of Tel Aviv, someone had managed to get close enough to shoot the prime minister.

Just as I will never forget what I did that day, I will also never forget the numbness I suddenly felt when his death was announced, the feeling that suddenly, everything had changed.

In those days, I was not a big fan of his beliefs – that only came later. I was mourning the act, mourning the loss of my innocence, in a way. I simply did not want to believe that someone could hate so much, that someone could be so at odds with the path of another individual, to the point where murdering them seemed like the only option. Most of all, I hadn’t wanted to believe that something like this could or would happen in Israel, despite the passion with which we argue, and despite the fierceness with which we hold our ideals and beliefs. I hadn’t wanted to believe that such an act could be carried out by one of our own.

And what a tumultuous 14 years we’ve had since that night. Always wavering on the brink between peace and war, sliding back and forth between hope and hopelessness. These days, I’m closer to the latter. Governments on all sides seem to be competing for the title of most outrageous (and as if to prove my point, the president of Lebanon has apparently claimed that Israel arranged for a Katyusha rocket to be fired from Lebanon into northern Israel on Tuesday in order to keep tensions running high), and the terms “peace” and “quiet” are hardly synonymous. The Turks are snuggling up to Iran and Syria, and thanks to our current foreign minister (who is clearly the biggest governmental mistake since the appointment of our current defense minister), we are snuggling up to no one.

According to a recent, in-depth study known as the Global Peace Index, Israel is ranked 141st out of 144 countries in terms of how peaceful it is. Only Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq are worse off. The numbers are disturbing, to put it mildly, and my initial reaction was that the study was somehow skewed. To be honest, I still have trouble accepting the picture presented in the study, though now, two days after a heated argument with a good friend, I can say that the scores awarded to Israel in different categories are probably more accurate than I was  willing to admit when I initially saw them. Whether or not you are prepared to accept the results of the study at face value is not really the issue, though. We are clearly in bad shape. Our lives are relatively quiet, but these days, peace seems more elusive than ever. I am not looking to point fingers; I’m not going to fault one party over another, for I truly believe that the blame can be shouldered quite equally.

Earlier this week, my five year-old son asked whether he would serve in the army, and I knew in my heart that I could not give him the answer that I wanted him to hear, for at this moment in time, I truly believed that to say no would be to tell him a lie. At this moment in time, I do not believe that we are even close to being on the road to peace.

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Responses

  1. Re: the global peace index, i believe Israel had two different entries – one for Israel proper, and the other for Israel/Occupied territories. The former ranked 100-something, the latter 141. Both are still lousy scores for sure…

    As for Turkey– the thing is being grossly overplayed by the media. Countries fall in and out of love all the time. But Turkey and Israel are still the region’s star couple.


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