I want to tell you, from the other side of the divide in which we live, that I care. I care about you, your children, your wife or your husband. I care about your parents, your grandparents. I care about your future and that of your children and grandchildren and generations to come.
I care because I am a human being, a mother of beautiful sons and daughters that I love beyond measure. I care because I know that locked into the future of your family, is the future of mine. I am not stupid. I am not racist. I am not filled with hatred and a desire for revenge. I live on a hilltop that never knew a house before mine was built here. No Arab homes were destroyed to build my beautiful neighborhood; no Arabs suffered its loss. It was a barren, empty hilltop, owned by us thousands of years ago, then the Romans, then the Turks. The Jordanians got it from the British; and we liberated it back to our control in 1967, when the Jordanians refused our request to stay out of the war.
We fight with our brothers, they told Israel in 1967, and they did. They fought, and lost this piece of land, where no one lived, no village, nothing. People came to live here in the mid-1970s and have been building ever since. There are almost 45,000 people who live around me here on these hilltops surrounded by light and desert.
I love my house, with its large windows and the sun streaming in early in the morning. In the far distance, I can just barely see the Dead Sea; closer, so much closer, is the beginnings of the enchanting city of Jerusalem just a few kilometers away. But as much as I love my home and my city, if someone were firing rockets from a nearby house, I would run. I would grab my children and run as fast as I could. This isn’t about rights; this is about life.
I cherish my husband and my children above all that I have, all that I am. I would run to the very corners of this country (but no, not beyond those corners). A bit over 2 years ago, the unthinkable happened. My son was serving in the army, as all young Israeli men do, and he was ordered to the border with Gaza.
Over a hundred rockets had been fired at Israel in a single month. The situation was intolerable. He was ordered to fire artillery into Gaza – at pinpoint targets where rockets were being fired at us; where mosques and hospitals were being used to shelter weapons and explosives.
Now again, just two years later, as he predicted when Israel stopped the Cast Lead war, your people are again firing on our cities. This morning – Beersheva; last night Ashdod and Ashkelon. It is impossible. It is intolerable. Even Israel, even Israel cannot withstand this barrage.
Yesterday, rockets were fired and our tank division immediately returned fire at the source of the incoming attack. These mortars and rockets you fire at us are incredibly portable. If we don’t respond in seconds, like animals, your fighters will tunnel underground. We fired and hit the launchers, but 12 civilians were apparently also hit. And so I ask – not why you fired on us. I know the answer to that – it is the same culture that allows you to slit the throat of a 3-month old baby and stab a 3-year-old in the heart. It is the culture of the suicide bomber who carefully places himself between families hoping to maximize the dead. No, I know why you fire on us.
I know why we fire back too. We are trying to stop you, to protect our babies, our families. We cannot stand the cruel murder of another Hadass. Our hearts broke and continue to break. No, even Israel cannot allow this. So, I understand why we fired back at the rocket launchers yesterday.
What I cannot for the life of me understand is why your civilians are near the rocket launchers. So dear Palestinian civilians – we will do our best to avoid hitting your homes, unless you allow them to be used as rocket launchers. We will do our best to avoid hitting your mosques, unless you hide explosives there. We will do our best, but the wind and the earth, the inconsistencies of war, make it impossible that we can be accurate 100% of the time.
No, I won’t point out the obvious, that your goal is to target our children while our aim is to avoid yours. I won’t quote Golda Meir and her now-famous comment that this endless war will end when you love your children more than you hate us. I won’t speak of your incredible hatred or your culture of martyrdom and death.
I will ask only one thing. It is logical. It is reality. If you live near a place being used as a rocket launcher, please run away. Please move. There is no other option. We cannot allow you to launch rockets at Beersheva. Don’t you realize 185,000 people live there? Ashdod, Ashkelon. No, this is not possible. Sderot has suffered enough. So, Palestinian civilian, if you are truly innocent in this, truly a civilian who loves your family – go the very corners of your neighborhood. Move away from the rockets because they will be stopped.
My oldest son took part in a war to stop the rockets two years ago. We had a partial success. You continued to fire, but at least it wasn’t every day and certainly not a hundred in a month…until now. But now, once again, your people are attacking in numbers we cannot ignore and should not be expected to endure. Even one rocket is wrong and it is not right that we let you get away with even that. But yesterday and today, this morning and now. That we have to close the schools of an entire city to keep our children safe is not acceptable. At midnight in Ashkelon; at 5:30 a.m. in Beersheva. No, not acceptable.
So all that leaves is an endless cycle of your attacking and our responding. We will do our best but you have a responsibility too. During the Second Lebanon War, which began after Hezbollah crossed into Israel and kidnapped two of our soldiers, our ambassador to the United Nations said something so simple and yet so profound. I offer you his words, please take them to heart.
“Sometimes,” Dan Gillermann said, “sometimes when you sleep with a missile, you don’t wake up.”
I want you to wake up in the morning and see the beauty of the sun, as I do now, as it shines through the thick clouds over this mountain where I live. I want you to live because ultimately, your future is tied to mine and those of my children. But whether you live or die, whether your family is safe or not, depends as much on you and the decisions your duly-elected government makes, as it does on mine.
It is the nature of a government, at least ours, to protect its people. If you want to wake up to the sun tomorrow, make sure you are not near those rocket launchers today.