Last night I spoke on the phone with my 10-year-old son, who is currently visiting my parents in Beer-Sheva. Suddenly the warning alarm was heard and we were disconnected. "There is no reception in the shelter" my son said a few minutes later when he called back.
And then we start talking about the situation in Gaza. Although only 10 year old, very involved in politics since very young age, my son started lecturing me why Israel should continue fighting in Gaza as far as the Hamas continues to send missiles towards Israel. I tried to explain that although the unfortunate history of the last 50 years brought us to these days of violence and horror, it is our responsibility to stop it; for us and for our brothers and sisters who can not freely express themselves these days.
My son then asked me "so how do you explain that the Hamas is so successful in Gaza, and why the keep shooting rocket at us?" Although I do not have a simple answer to this question I tried using this allegory "think that if since you are 5-year-old an older stronger kid is bullying you, not hurting you physically maybe, but just go with you everywhere and harassing you verbally. When you get older and stronger, would you feel that you like to talk back to him (and maybe give him a kick in his belly)?" My son’s answer was "yes", but when I tried to explain that the situation in Gaza is similar, he did not get it. Our conversation went around and around and I was unable to change my son’s view of the situation. I hope that when he is back home, I will be able to talk with him more about it, and maybe show him the other side of this conflict. As what we see from here he may not see from there….
This morning when I got up I found in my inbox an article, written by a Norwegian ER physician, who is currently volunteering at the "Shifa hospital" in Gaza. He starts "The last night was extreme. The "ground invasion" of Gaza resulted in scores and carloads with maimed, torn apart, bleeding, shivering, dying – all sorts of injured Palestinians, all ages, all civilians, all innocent." And he ends "The rivers of blood will keep running the coming night. I can hear they have tuned their instruments of death. Please. Do what you can. This, THIS cannot continue".
Later on I spoke with a friend who told me that he looked at the situation now as if it was a natural disaster that you see coming, but can do nothing about. And then he said "right now when there is a war we can not protest for peace. We should wait until this war is over and then protest for peace and sit to the negotiation table". But "then" it will be too late. How can we sit to the negotiation table after this bloodshed? How do we expect to find a partner for negotiation after this genocide? And maybe this is what the Israeli "leaders" want, so they continue to claim that they would like peace and are willing to negotiate "but there is no partner to talk with…"
I do not agree with my friend’s fatalistic axiom, war is not a natural disaster, war is "manmade", and things that are made by human, CAN be changed by other humans, if they elect to change it.
Stopping this genocide is in each one of us hands, if we just elect to do so, and are not afraid to express ourselves!
Merav Bar is an oncologist, specializing in hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. She is an Assistant Member at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and an Assistant Professor at the University of Washington in Seattle.