The “Intifada” and a Heart Torn in Two
The sounds of sirens and helicopters seem to have intruded the air all around me in Jerusalem, interrupting life on a consistent basis. As I drive my children to their daycare, I am suddenly passed by dozens of emergency vehicles. I arrive and find that, sure enough, another attack has taken place just down the street. It’s not the first time, and everyone is worried. Another desperate Palestinian teenager with a knife has been shot dead and a Jewish civilian is seriously injured with wounds inflicted by the knife in the dead teenager’s hand, his life likely forever changed and scarred.
No one knows what to call this; is this the Third Intifada, the Al-Aqsa Intifada, the Jerusalem Intifada, the Knife Intifada? Harder still is the question, where do you stand in it all? Whether directly or indirectly, people wonder, will you defend “us” or are you “compromising” (pejoratively, “collaborating”) with “them?”
I feel the answer, but am at a loss for words. How can I explain that my heart is torn in two; it breaks for the Palestinian teenager who is so hopeless, so oppressed that he sees taking life as the only viable option; it breaks for the innocent child who has lost a parent or even both parents simply for being Jewish; it breaks for a system that is riddled with oppression and inequality, that deems some blood cheaper than others and results in the dehumanization of everyone.
My heart is wrung each time I go through a checkpoint and see people treated in vastly different ways, knowing that at that very moment, hatred and desperation are being planted in hearts, while others will go about carefree until they find themselves the victims of that anger. My heart is torn, because who is really innocent in all of this?
My heart is broken because I love; I love my Palestinian friends and feel indignation at their quickly diminishing rights and at the fear and discrimination they suffer at the hands of the powerful simply for being Palestinian; I am also deeply intertwined with Israelis and feel their anxiety and panic at the possibility of being attacked simply for being Jewish, something no one should have to fear.
I have fallen in love with the people of this land and so I allow my heart to be broken in a million ways. I have become entangled and rooted in a place that leaves me torn and bleeding inside, aching for something that has yet to exist, grasping onto the hope of healing and peace.
So, ultimately, where do I stand? I choose to stand in love, because I know that in the end, love will conquer all. I refuse to believe that to love one means to deny the other and so I carry on, allowing my heart to break while continuing to love.
It may mean breaking in two in the process, but I am slowly realizing that peace and hope will be carried on the backs of those willing to be broken.