Hear O Israel

Story By Gabriella Keren

Drawing by Gabriella Keren

The soul is a finely calibrated detector. It feels a tragedy coming. I woke up before the break of dawn on Thursday, January 29. Something was going on. A few hours later, the ambulances began to go wild.

A 19 bus, en route to Hadassah Eyn Karem hospital had been blown-up.

The day was a sad one indeed. Not only had 11 people been killed, innocent bus takers like myself, who were on their way to work or back from taking the children to school, but 50 people were injured, some quite seriously.

That day, the bodies of three kidnapped soldiers were being returned to their families in exchange for 400 kamikazes held up in Israeli jails. Killed three and a half years ago, they had been frozen to hide any traces of torture. Their parents had led a three year struggle to find out about their children's whereabouts; they did not know what had become of them. Mercy on the parents of these children and mercy on all of us.

Hear O Israel….

Then I went to my office where business went on as usual. But my countenance was quite ghostly and so colleagues kept asking if I was OK. No. I was not OK, I was heart broken, strong and intense flashes of reality cannot be swept under the carpet.

"You live with it", is what they said, while I carried my angst inside. Part of my soul departed with the victims, cried with the mothers, fear was beginning to paralyze me…

But this did not prevent the usual hassles, the intrigues and the shouting, like in any office.

And yet, my other persona, the one who swims under the seas of the unconscious did not leave me alone. It found the atmosphere much too Mexican for vibrant Israel. In order not to deal with pain, we pretend it's not happening. And we carry on with our calm little lives, or not so calm, thanking the Lord that we were spared this time again.

During the days of my childhood in Mexico City, I understood that rich people dealt with poverty by turning their faces away from it. By ignoring crying children, knocking desperately at the car window to sell a piece of gum. The bold and beautiful people of my youth pretended poverty was an illusion. Most matured into blind, deaf, boring and superficial human beings. This is why I left my family, my friends, my so called wealth, which was very poor indeed, to come to Israel. Before I left, papa said: "Careful. The frequency of radio Tel Aviv is not like the local Mexican station Radio Mil". He was right.

But despite the fact that Israel is indeed a power house, I found Sabras endearing. The Sabra could be described as the antithesis of the rich Mexican. He had chutzpah but he was straight. He was impolite but always ready to lend a hand. He was hard-working and humble.

So what happened to that candor and solidarity?

In twenty five years things happened so quickly. Never was there a national social assembly to question who we are as a society, what happened to our ancestral humor which turned fear into elation? What happened to righteous leaders who spoke their minds and refused bribes? What happened to truth?

The bold and the beautiful of Israel are living in a land called denial, as if an invisible hand was hardening their hearts.

What's the use of having a strong army when our hands are tied and our mouths silenced?

If a Martian landed in the Middle East, he would probably think Israel is weak and its opponent is strong. But that's because he is a Martian. Over here, we are convinced that we are mighty and strong and invincible.

In order to soften our hardened hearts and be released from the house of slavery, we better pray.

About Gabriella Keren

The Matchmaker

Insights In The Midst Of Chaos

Articles published in HopeWays' 'News & Views' section

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