In The True Adventures of Gidon Lev, I knew that I had to speak about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict on some level. I couldn't leave it out of Gidon's story; it is, sadly, an integral part of modern Israeli life - and war, for the past 73 years. That said, the True Adventures was about Gidon's life in all its aspects and so I had a fine line to draw for myself. I included a list of recommended reading at the back of the book and included a few titles that do address the conflict.
For the past couple of weeks, Gidon, I and everybody who lives in this region have once again been forced to try to reckon with what seems the impossible violence, despair and horror of war. In fact, a missile hit three blocks from our home. Together, we watched the news in despair and ran to our shelter in fear. Actually, at his age, Gidon cannot make the three flights down to our bomb shelter within 90 seconds, so we joined our neighbors in the stairwell.
The mood here in Israel, just barely 24 hours into the ceasefire, is a dark one. There was violence in Arab-Israeli mixed cities in Israel (Lod, Haifa, Acre) violent clashes in Jerusalem and of course, the usual media onslaught against Israel, which seems, to me, utterly unproductive. We must see our way through this morass here in Israel and we must learn to co-exist. This war was a step backward in many regards, and it's tough to stay hopeful. Over 200 hundred Palestinians died in Gaza, some number of which were Hamas operatives and others of which were innocents, including children. Twelve Israelis died, including a man who lived in a building three blocks from us.
For me, personally, it's a real battle to maintain any sense of normalcy, much less hopefulness. I can only hope that, from these ashes, new ideas will arise, and new hope for the future. There are many organizations in Israel that include Israelis and Palestinians in dialogue, marches and hope for change. If you are interested in learning more, check out Combatants for Peace, Machsom Watch, Women Wage Peace and Tiyul Rihla. These are all organizations that I became involved with after the war in 2014.
A short list of books that I recommend are:
The Lemon Tree, by Sandy Tolan
Contested Land, Contested Memory by Jo Roberts
I Shall Not Hate by Izzeldin Abuelaish
Apeirogon, by Colum McCann
Sending out love and hope from Israel, Gidon and I pray for a better future for all of us in this incredible land. We must and we can learn to co-exist.