Last night, as I sat at my computer, trying to work but mostly crying, the news kept pouring in. Dead. Injured. Neutralized.
The same refrain we’ve heard for nearly seven months now.
Another stabbing. This time, incredibly, the victim wrenched the knife from his own neck and slammed it back into his attacker, killing him.
I’ll admit that in those moments when I have imagined being the victim of a stabbing — and we all have — this was my preferred outcome.
I smile through tears, as my friend tells me that we have no choice but to survive, and so “we pull the knife out of our stiff necks to defend ourselves.”
My son walks in from his shift on the ambulance and tells me that Israelis now have a new weapon to add to our improvised arsenal. We’ve seen nunchucks, umbrellas, and even selfie sticks used to take down attackers. Now, it seems that a man playing guitar on the beach saw the Jaffa stabber, and charged him with his guitar. He hit him and gave chase until the police arrived and killed the terrorist. My son is smiling as he tells the story, but I see his eyes.
He tells me how crazy it was to be in the hospital as they brought in wounded from a shooting attack in Jerusalem. How he heard all the updates and screaming on the ambulance radio. I hug him. And I cry. And I apologize.
We are Israeli, so we smile through the pain, the fear, and the questions of when will it end… We sing our heroes and we make memes…
Meme of the guitar hero by Michael Lipkin (referencing the song by Bread)
The following morning, before I can have my coffee, my son tells me there was a shooting near his school. How does he know already? It’s only just happened! It’s WhatsApp, the lifeline of Israelis.
I contemplate keeping him home, but I breathe slowly and let him go.
I also go on with the day, to the meeting I have planned. And everything seems normal. But doesn’t it always?
In the midst of the meeting, a huge BOOM reverberates throughout the cafe and there is total silence as everyone’s collective heart stops and necks whip around. A woman holding four balloons, but five strings walks sheepishly across the room. We all swallow and move on.
Then, my son sends me this:
And I laugh. Out loud.
I appreciate the humor. But I am also devastated. How far can humor take us?
On a local Facebook group, someone posts an image of an Arab praying on a sidewalk in our neighborhood saying it’s “disturbing” to see this so close to home. Many people denounce the post, but others agree with him.
This is what it does, this terror. It prevents us from seeing humans, so that we only see potential terrorists… It is a serious mindfk. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. It warps the most open of minds by bringing fear into every moment.
But, then there is Mohammad who was stabbed in Jaffa. He is an Israeli Arab and an activist for coexistence, and he is remaining positive. Just like that, some balance is restored.
Meeting complete, I walk into a shoe store. The discussion with the saleswoman goes something like this:
“How are you?” she asks me.
“OK, considering.” I smile weakly.
“Yes, I understand. At least you’re okay… Can I help you with something?”
“I need shoes,” I say.
She points to a pair of near-stilettos.
I look at her a bit bemused. “You can’t run from a stabber in heels,” I say.
“Ah,” she says, raising one shoe high, “but they make a great weapon.” Everyone in the store chuckles.
It’s what we do. We laugh and joke and say, “yihiye beseder” — it will be okay… But, some days, some days it’s harder to get out the words.
As I sit and type this, I get a notification — someone has put up a crowdfunding campaign to buy guitar hero a new guitar.
It’s great when people do what they can because they want to do something good. But there is a young man who won’t be coming home, who won’t have another day. His name is Taylor Force. He was 29. An American. Killed not far from where the vice president of the United States has come to tell us what to do…
I will leave this here for you to contemplate and I will ask you to ask yourself. Who sends these attackers, sometimes as young as 13, to die as they take the lives of others? For what — and for whom — are these killers dying?
Someone has convinced young Palestinians to die for something that never existed instead of living for something that can.
If the world really cares about them, that is the puzzle they should seek to solve.
Because we Israelis are not going anywhere. Come nunchucks or selfie sticks, umbrellas or guitars, we will defend ourselves with whatever we have against those who seek death. But know that we would far rather live in peace with those who seek life.
Originally published in the Times of Israel.