By: Carole Nuriel, Senior Middle Eastern Analyst, ADL Israel
I live in the city of Modiin. Far from Gaza, far from Israel’s south. And yet, with missiles and rockets reaching 75 miles into Israel, we have had to prepare.
I’ve heard about people dealing with Hamas rocket attacks in the south for all these years, but yesterday, when rockets were falling virtually at our door, I had a more concrete sense of it. Suddenly, there was a phone call from my brother – he is on alert, ahead of possibly being called up by the army for reserves. And then, a phone call from my sister who lives in the south – her husband has already been called up. And my husband, who is supposed to be released from reserves later this year, says to me: "If they call me I'll go. We'll do what we need to do." And suddenly you understand no one in Israel is uninvolved in this crisis.
Adults cope with this difficult situation with anxiety, denial or cynicism etc. Children are different. They are subsumed in fear. As recommended by psychologists, we all try to deliver to our children the message that we are strong, we have protective measures such as Iron Dome to intercept the missiles and that we, their parents, are protecting them.
We all want them to feel secure and safe. This is absolutely important, but children think a few steps ahead. Children, who view the world as divided between bad guys and good guys, are trying to gather information to make sense of it all. "Mom", my 8 year old son asked, "why do they fire missiles at us?" “And what – don’t they want peace?"
As a great believer not only in peace, but also in the sincere intentions of people on the other side, I try to instill the message for my son that THEY, the Palestinians, are not all like this. Because I know that the message that the missiles deliver is of terror, hatred and evil, we, the adults, have an obligation to deliver a message of hope and belief in human beings. It is this message which must shape their view as they grow up, not only in thinking about the conflict, but also in how they perceive "the other."
I hope there are parents in Gaza who are delivering this message to their kids as well.