On 14 November, Israel assassinated Hamas strongman Ahmed Jabari; now 3 Israelis and 20 Palestinians are dead. Of course, attacking the Gaza strip right before elections is a long-since beloved tradition of Israeli right wing governments. For the first time in 21 years, since the Gulf war, bombs are landing on Tel Aviv again, and a rocket has been fired on Jerusalem for the first time since 1970.
Three weeks ago I traveled to New York for the first time in my life. The moment I landed, I was informed that the storm which was about to hit was worse than first thought. Watching the news that night from a rented apartment in Jamaica, Brooklyn, I realized that staying was not an option. A mad five hours’ drive to Maine, with Sandy on our heels, roads closing behind us as we went, turned my plans upside down. Returning to the city a week later, I thought that the worst was behind me. I went to museums, watched the US elections at an LGBT cabaret bar on Christopher street ,and took photos of the gorgeous autumn, blissfully unaware of what I was missing in Israel.
As I posted a final Facebook status from New York, informing my friends of my return, someone replied: ‘I would suggest you to stay there, you are coming to be in a shelter from where I see it.’ I thought she was joking, and laughed about it with the Haitian cabby on my way to the airport. Landing in Tel Aviv was nothing if not normal. I came home, unpacked my travel bags, hung my new dresses in the closet and had dinner. Then an alarm sounded. Thoroughly used to drills, I decided to check the online news to make sure: Israel killed a Hamas leader. According to Israeli peace activist Gershon Baskin, who spoke to Haaretz newspaper, it happened while Ahmed Jabari was working on a permanent truce agreement with Israel.
From my apartment in the residential neighbourhood of Neveh Eliezer, in the south-east of the city, you can hear loud booms from time to time. The television is on, with its endless propaganda trying to justify landing yet another war on us, yet again just before an election (which have been moved from October 2013 to January). After multiple packing and re-packing for the past three weeks, this time, I am packing in a way I have always feared most – emergency packing. Every single significant document has been stuck into a big bag – passports, IDs, birth certificates, graduation documents. Some warm clothing. Dry food. Water. Medications. After that, it is time for the dreaded choice: what is my priciest belonging? Thoughts flash through my head – my guitar, my signed copies of Neil Gaiman’s books, mementos from relationships. I go to my jewellery stand. Choosing a necklace to wear to the bomb shelter is certainly the best way to find out which one is your favorite. There are only two things I would save first – my laptop and my camera, without which I cannot work. I pull on a pair of jeans and a beloved T-shirt. I refuse to head down for now, though. Perhaps it is my eternal optimism, perhaps it is insanity, but even with bombs crashing around me, I would still rather stay where I have internet connection and work. However, when they come for me, I’m ready; I have my purple necklace.
Café Babel, 16.11.2012