Neomi Geva, Israel.
Hi, my name is Neomi Geva. I'm twenty-two years old, and I live in Israel. Ever been there? Probably not. It's an amazing country, holy to three major religions, beautiful land and has a great weather (mostly). It was born 54 years ago, in the middle of a war, and six and a half million people live here (approximately, I didn't count them personally). Israel's an immigrant country meant to serve as a shelter to the Jews of the world, and we're a small country (20,770 sq. km), only slightly smaller than New Jersey for comparison, but we are on the news a lot more than you'd think. Maybe we're interesting, we certainly think we are.
When I meet people on the net, saying I'm from Israel is almost a test. There's always that pause before a response when I'm not quite sure what I'll hear in return. I've lived here all my life, and I can't imagine living anywhere else. It's harder to love Israel than, say, England or the US, but I do.
I wake up in the morning and the first thing I do is turn on the news. And when I do that, I'm exactly like most Israelis who wake up wondering what went wrong while we slept. And those who don't turn on the T.V. or the radio first thing, they wonder the same thing; they just want to delay finding out.
Don't get me wrong; we don't spend our lives being miserable here. In fact, I love my life. I'm not afraid all the time, and I don't feel ashamed or insulted all the time, though I might feel those things more often than most of you.
More afraid, because terrorist attacks can happen anywhere, any time. That's a fact Israelis have no option but to live with. There's no time when you know that it's a hundred percent safe go out. Suicide bombers come to restaurants, malls, buses and cafes. One went to the Park Hotel on Passover, one of our holiest nights, and blew himself up, killing 29 Israelis who were eating Seder dinner together.
More ashamed, because I'm not blind and I see that we fight army versus civilians. I see that, and I know what the world will think. I see the same pictures on T.V. that you all do - I see our soldiers with their guns on one side, and cowering women and children on the other, and I know we just gave birth to more suicide bombers. It takes a special kind of desperation to do that. I'm ashamed of the ignorance, theirs and ours, that of Israelis who think all Palestinians want to kill them, that of Palestinians who think their problems begin and end with Israel.
More insulted, because I see the demonstrations in France, Norway and Sweden, and I don't understand why nobody trusts us. I know the world is angry, and that it's waiting for an explanation that we can't seem to give. That ambulance you saw the soldiers detaining, that did happen, but they didn't do it for fun. Those soldiers are neither evil, nor heartless, but some of those ambulances carry terrorists. Not all, of course not, but are we supposed to take the chance? Should we not be allowed to look inside and make sure?
I believe whole-heartedly that there should be peace, and moreover that peace is possible. I believe Israel will have to give up things, like land and settlements, for that cause, and I believe that it should. I also believe Zionism isn't the same as racism despite the fact that it defines itself as a Jewish movement. I believe the Palestinian regime is corrupt to the core and does its people a lot more harm than good. I believe we should be more humane, that we should leave the territories and let the Palestinians have their own country, but I don't think we should accept the return of all refugees. I believe so many conflicting things that sometimes it's hard to make sense of it all, but I can, because I'm Israeli.
And that says it all. I live in a country as old as most religions and that has an advanced high-tech industry. A country that rose from the ashes of the Holocaust and somehow got tangled up in this stupid, never-ending conflict that's really not about what it says it is. We're a democracy with one big-assed army that everyone has to go to (yes, including me). We're fighters who write poems and poets who drive tanks. We want to be more like you, but think we know best. You gotta love that.
The conflict really isn't what life here is about. You can 'cut&paste' most of what I do in every country in the world - I watch T.V (way too much), read books (never enough), study in at a university and fall deeper and deeper in love with my boyfriend (you'd understand if you knew him). I just live. I just live here.
||Neomi Geva is a 22 years old student of Sociology and Political Science. She lives and loves in Israel, writing for all she's worth. She can be reached at
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