Thursday, March 15, 2012

When is an Israeli-Gazan Ceasefire like one of my Diets?

I had a deep insight this morning: The Israeli-Gazan cease fire is like most of my diets. I diet between my meals and snacks. Here we have a ceasefire in between the rockets and air force attacks. 

Here is the English translation of the letter that I sent to PM Netanyahu and the Israeli Ministers

The Policy of War and Revenge is Killing Us

We, mental health professionals and social scientists, Israeli citizens (many of whom live in the south), are turning to you to end the present round of violence with Gaza. We turn to you to free yourselves from the old perspectives, that have paralyzed Israeli governments for years, to our regret. We call upon you to adopt a new policy, that is not based in war and military strength, in killing and the causing of physical and psychological harm.

We call upon you to adopt a new policy that can bring a real change to our reality, a policy that cares about the health of the Israeli people, in general, and the residents of the south, specifically.

The change needs to be in dialogue - yes with 'the enemy' - in negotiations. Endless rounds of assassinations and rocket attacks will not bring about an essential change. Each round of violence only causes more and more damage - psychological and physical - that can harm generations of people from the area, on both sides of the border. Each round of violence only deepens the hate between the sides and brings about feelings of helplessness, despair and the inability to even imagine a different reality of co-existence.

For over 50 years there has been a wealth of research on the destructive long term psycho-social effects of war and cycles of violence on people. This research teaches us about processes of escalation of conflicts. Escalations, like the kind of escalation we have here in the south, develop in known ways: a small conflict becomes a large conflict, a conflict around one issues develops into a conflict around many issues, a conflict that was around interests becomes a conflict around deeper  ideologies and values, a conflict that was between two sides spreads to many other parties.

The escalations spin out of control over time if we do not take steps to stop them. An intractable conflict, like our conflict with our Palestinian neighbors, does not only harm the people directly involved, but also the next generations. In our case, we already have three generations of victims. This situation becomes more dangerous because it harms the ability of the sides to see the other as "people," and not as "monsters," and also leads us to act in ways that are not based in careful thought and reflection, but rather we act from "hot" emotions, fear, anger, and hate. When our actions are determined by these negative emotions, and not by clear thinking, the outcomes are especially destructive.

In the end, years of escalation lead us to the creation of a collective memory that sees our history as comprised only of tragedies and persecution. Years of war influence the construction of collective identity - as victims, as weak, and not as people and a society that are capable of acting from real psychological resilience.

Your violent and agressive policy is killing us. We do not want to continue to serve as a classic example in academic literature that focus on the development of destructive conflicts. We call upon you, our leaders, to be true leaders and to get us out of this quagmire. Use the wealth of knowledge that has been generated by mental health professionals and social scientists who study the sociological, cultural, political, and economic impacts of such policies.


pass it on...

Monday, March 12, 2012

Our sensitive governments

The Hamas and Israeli governments are very sensitive to the needs of their people
The Islamic Jihad and the Popular Committees for Resistance are very sensitive to the needs of their people.

This is how their sensitivity looks to us (mere mortals, not 'leaders', like them)

Talking to them is like talking to a

They have hearts of

They make us feel

Our leaders look like this

my apologies to the snakes

We want leaders that actually care about their peoples
How about that for a concept?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

If you thought it was over, it's not

Here we are in day three of our renewed, ever frustrating, ever angering, ever senseless violence with our neighbors in the Gaza Strip.

It has been quieter on my kibbutz since yesterday (Saturday) morning, but all around people are suffering. Rockets of shorter and longer range in:
Eshkol regional council
Sha'ar ha negev regional council
Ashkelon shores regional council
Beer Sheva
Gan Yavneh

and all the places around and in between
it is unclear how many people have been wounded - at least one seriously and two moderate to light, but many are suffering anxiety and distress.

(As I write these lines, I need to take back that statement about the quiet here; we just had one siren, one medium boom and one VERY big boom - it must have been close)

In Gaza - at least 16 killed (one of them a teenager) and 12 wounded
(and how many more suffering anxiety and distress?)

How can one not feel distress?
Your heart beats fast, and it hurts in your chest
You jump every time you hear something that sort of, kind of, sounds like a siren
Every strong sound, even from your neighbor banging a nail into his wall to hang up a picture, sounds like a boom
You check the internet every 10 minutes to see if you missed anything, and feel guilty when you see that you missed that a grad hit cars in Beer Sheva and a school (thank heavens, that was empty), and relieved that it didn't hit your community
You don't sleep very well
You don't want to talk about it, or think about it
You can't stop from talking about it, or thinking about it

Gazan militants (whoever you are) - HALAS
For the English speakers - ENOUGH

(My ears are still ringing, and I am still shaking a bit - I'll try to be calmer tomorrow)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The bombs and rockets bursting in air, and on the ground, and wounding and killing people

Happy Purim!
So far in this latest round, that began yesterday afternoon when Israel killed one of the heads of the Popular Resistance, the Israeli air force killed 12 Gazans (militants) and wounded 13 (just ordinary people) and Gazan militants have fired over 40 rockets into Israel with 8 wounded, one seriously.

The music of our lives goes like this:
boom boom boom boom boom boom
siren, siren, siren
boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom
boom boom boom boom
boom boom boom boom

all through the night, and now into the morning

Happy Purim!

Why is it that our 'leaders' only know war? Did they not learn other words in school? Such as justice, peace, freedom, co-existence, acceptance? Perhaps those words are too long. So much easier to learn one word -  'war.'

War - it's a short but ugly word
War - it's a short word that harms others for a long, long, long time

I have been texting one of my friends in Gaza, who goes by the alias Soul Gaza. Our messages are suprisingly (or not) similar - here there are booms, there there are booms, we bomb them, they shoot rockets at us, here our house shakes, there her's shakes as well, there they can't sleep, here we can't sleep.

Siren, boom boom, siren, boom boom boom
(I know some better songs)

I am out of ideas for getting the message across to our 'leaders' that WE ARE FED UP WITH BEING  PRISONERS IN YOUR WAR. Another letter? Another petition? Another demonstration? They just don't get it, because the only word they know is war... this short, but very ugly word.

Stay safe, Soul(s) of Gaza. To my dear friends in our region (which has now become so much of the country), stay safe

Siren, siren, siren
boom boom boom boom boom boom boom boom boom boom

We know better songs. But nobody is singing along with us meanwhile.