Sitting here in the shelter in my building in Tel-Aviv, with the sirens wailing in the background - boom, boom, boom, boom. The Iron Dome just knocked out four rockets. I shudder at the prospect of what would have happened if they had landed near my house. I looked at the little babe in arms clutching a rubber ball and started to think of all the children fleeing the bombs in Gaza and the rockets in all the surrounding Israeli towns. How do they stand it every day without going completely mad?
What decisions should a Palestinian mother make when she gets the call from the Israeli army to leave her home open to a possible bombing? Should she listen to the warning and flee to a United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) shelter or should she stay put on the instruction of the Hamas? Who has her best interests at heart, and what is the best interest of her children? What consequences will she face if she flees and what if she stays? What right has anybody to create such a decision for any mother?
Now comes the choice of an Israeli mother I heard speaking on the radio yesterday. She lives in Sderot, a 15 second warning to go to a shelter when there is a red alert of a rocket. She has a child in a wheelchair and she cannot possibly make it on time to her shelter. Should she run away, although it would seem that no place in Israel is really safe, or should she take her chances and face what fate awaits her? What right has anybody to create such a decision for any mother? Would it be safe to send her other children to day care so that she can run her business? But who will protect them and hold them if a rocket should catch them in a bus on their way?
Where will this all end? It seems that we are doomed to a cycle of violence until the people will all stand up and say enough. The Parents Circle – Families Forum an organization of 600 families who have all lost an immediate family member to the violence, all working for reconciliation, are holding a vigil every night in Tel-Aviv, crying out to stop the violence as it won’t stop until we talk. For the most part, people are willing to listen, but we have also faced some abuse, on the brink of violence from passersby who are filled with anger and fear.
In the middle of all of this drama, there is some light. Twenty Palestinian and Israeli members of our group gathered yesterday to make a video clip to stop the violence. There are some remarkable people in this world. Bushra, my dear Palestinian friend, a bereaved Palestinian mother, joined me in another message to stop the killing, to illustrate that the pain of a mother who loses a child whether she is Palestinian or Israeli share the same pain.
This war cannot be won by more rockets or bombs. We must demand of our leaders that they together with all of those in the world who appreciate the sanctity of life will join to make a normal life for both peoples, free of violence.
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