Israel Jewish

How are you feeling… Now?

It’s said there are 5 stages of grief:

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

They don’t have to come in order… and some of them don’t need to come at all… and yet, I am pretty confident in speaking for the vast majority of Jews in saying that over the past 23 days, we continue to cycle through all the stages.

I’m starting to wonder if denial ever went away. For years we’ve denied that things could be this bad, denied that we weren’t worried, denied that the mass slaughter of Jews could ever happen again.

It happened again only 23 days ago, and yet it feels like the next time, is due round any day.

At the weekend we watched thousands march through London. Holding worthless, ironic banners such as “Queers for Palestine” or “Ceasefire now”…

Yesterday we watched as a plane was ambushed on the runway, the terminal over run with hate, and Jewish people attacked as they got off the plane.

Then today I watched, as my phone lit up: “Ashkelon”, “Jerusalem”, “Gush Etzion”, “Rishon L’tzion”, “Nes Tziona”. I text my friends an empty message of hope “Stay Safe”, knowing they have no real choice in the hand they are dealt by the fall of an unguided rocket seeking to kill them.

I watched today the news of Shani Louk being pronounced dead following the identification of skull fragments. Once she was abducted, she was paraded around, and recorded while people spat on her and cheered.

…and then I watched the amazing news of Ori Megidish being rescued by the IDF and returned home. I watched her be reunited with her Grandma, and showered with sweets in a moment of pure joy, and then remembered there’s another 200+ still missing; A distant ex-colleague, a friend’s family, another friend’s family… Each Jew, everywhere in the world right now, feels like we have a finger, a toe, and arm or a leg missing, and it will will stay missing until each hostage comes home.

The video of Ori and her grandma hit me harder than expected. Because as a PEOPLE, the Jews have some strange traditions that have transcended geographies. One of my earliest memories is going to Synagogue with my grandma… and throwing sweets over the side of the gallery, downstairs onto the poor Bar Mitzvah boy who’d finished his reading.

As I watched the celebration, and the sweets and felt warm and fuzzy for a moment, I felt it quickly turn into a cold chill. I was only here watching that video thanks to the actions of Ori and those like her, who rushed TOWARD danger not knowing the peril ahead. Not knowing what would happen, what was lurking round the corner and if they would survive.

Without Ori and countless others, or if the dice had been rolled unfavourably for me that day, I too could have been woken up by machine gun fire instead of rocket interceptions. I too could have been taken hostage, I too could have been dead.

I’m someone who has been pro-ceasefire each and every time before, who has been angry each and every time before. I’ve bargained with my beliefs about the way to peace each and every time before, been depressed and I’ve accepted the fate of things each and every time before… But this time, I simply cannot and will not deny the fact that there is now NO SUCH THING as a ceasefire.

If there was such thing then we wouldn’t be here… because when I went to sleep in Tel Aviv on October 6th, there WAS a ceasefire.

If there was such thing, then there wouldn’t be 200+ hostages. There wouldn’t be 1400+, Maimed, raped, beheaded, cremated, killed.

The problem is not a ‘Ceasefire’ and an ‘End to the war’… because I don’t know a single Jew who WANTS war. The problem is deep rooted fundamental antisemitism, and a desire to KILL JEWS.

I’ve spoken to a number of Jewish or in their own words “Sort of Jew…ish” friends, acquaintances, work contacts, etc. who have all told me “I never realised how much of a link to my Jewishness I had and I am really feeling it now” or “I am shocked at how the events in Israel have made me feel, I didn’t think I had ANY connection and yet here I am worried about my own life”… We are ALL going through the 5 stages of grief. Each and every Jewish person, everywhere in the world.

Some say there are actually 7 stages of Grief, the last two are “reconstruction/working through” & “acceptance/hope;

Over 3,000 years, we’ve continually been reconstructing and working through. As a people, we’ve been persecuted continually throughout our history. From Biblical times because we wouldn’t worship idols, through the Roman destruction of the Jewish state… We were persecuted in the middle ages, the 14th and 16th century… We survived pogrom after pogrom, and then suffered the Holocaust (I note, there was no suggestion of asking Hitler for a Ceasefire from the Allies….?)
We miraculously survived the Holocaust and managed to start our own state, and from the moment, in fact from the moment BEFORE we declared our own state, the persecution continued.

I don’t think it would be unfair to suggest that in taking a macro view, the only persistent stage of grief we’ve seen as a people is acceptance/hope; but in the micro, right now, today, 23 days after the largest massacre of Jews since the holocaust, I know why I’m struggling to tell you how I feel… because my feelings of acceptance and hope are totally and utterly depleted.

So… how am I feeling?

Scared, worried, concerned, continually upset, emotionally overwhelmed, unsure what the future holds? Absolutely.

Not only am I sad right now that I’m lacking in hope… but I’m sad that I know now that nearly EVERY Jewish person has ‘run out’ of denial that things are ok.
I’m sad it took such horrors, but I guess, the unity in our lack of denial of the problem, is the way we’ll find our hope again… Because in the words of Golda Meir; “If we have to have a choice between being dead and pitied, and being alive with a bad image, we’d rather be alive and have the bad image.”

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