Small Gifts of Humanity
Updated: Aug 17, 2017
During the last war with Gaza, my youngest daughter, still in elementary school, spent classes packing care packages for the southern Israeli villages under constant rocket fire. She huddled under our staircase with me when air raid sirens wailed, and hugged me tight when a rocket hit meters from our home. But what made her most anxious was when I picked up the phone to call the reporter in Gaza I worked with. She couldn't understand how I could talk to him, our enemy. She couldn't comprehend why I was asking him about his family, also huddled in his living room as glass shattered from Israeli bombing. He was the enemy, and could never be anything but the enemy.
Until, by coincidence, she met him in Jerusalem. A lovely, friendly caring man, he hugged her and thanked her for sending costumes to his son several years earlier. He asked her about her school and her dancing. ''He's a really nice man,'' she said to me afterwards, surprise in her voice. It was surprise that turned to adamant support for Palestinians in face of others her age, a generation of young Israelis whose fear and lack of knowledge about the other unfortunately many times is expressed as hate.
A minister recently told me there was nothing that could be done about their spreading hate and lack of tolerance. They were a generation that grew up on rockets and suicide bombings instead of peace talks.
But he's wrong. When I visited Israel as a teenager, Arab schools met with Jewish schools regularly. The kids had little to say to one another. But they tried to find common ground. And just in trying, they at least realized that those some would have them see as their enemy, were just high school students, just like themselves.