An Arab, A Survivor of Terror and Me: The Independent State of Israel and Her People
As a new immigrant it seems I’m always being asked, “are you happy living in Israel?” My answer is slightly (a lot) sarcastic, “it depends on the day.” Of course there is some truth to that. Just like that answer holds true in any city anywhere in the world.
Then there are days that make me eat that sentence.
When I am so sure that I am meant to be here. Right now. As a Zionist. A Jew. A citizen of Israel.
In moments where my friend, a survivor of a terrorist attack and her friend the Arab-Israeli Muslim Zionist, call you to hang out on a Friday afternoon in Jerusalem. And when you get the phone call, with someone screaming at you in Arabic, joking and laughing, because we can, that’s when I know, it doesn’t depend on the day at all. It depends on me.
I have come to terms and come out of the closet. I am a Zionist.
I didn’t grow up this way. I barely acknowledged Israel for more than a war torn country somewhere in the Middle East Crisis. So what happened that I went from #IsraelWhoCares #JewISH to #ProudZionist?
The short answer:
My friend loved Israel. Studied in Israel. Was murdered in a terrorist attack in Israel. Made me want to visit Israel. Birthright Israel. Survived Birthright. Barely.
Fell in love with the country. Undeniable. Passionate. No control over my feelings love. For Israel. Came back for more Israel. Made aliyah. Up. Down. Bomb. Culture shock.
Learn to laugh. Learn to have ‘protexia’ (think, connections). Accept that I really live in Israel.
Fight for lower prices on cottage cheese. Miss Target. Become a target.
Stabbings. Beautiful day at the beach. Up and down. Hummus. Falafel. I am Israeli. I am Jewish. I am a Zionist.
And now, I am talking to my friend Muhammad Zoabi on the phone about meeting to give food to soldiers for Shabbat. Soldiers that guard my neighborhood in Jerusalem after several attacks over the last few months.
The soldiers are Christian Arabs, Druze, Jews, it doesn’t matter because they are Israeli and protecting me so they are being fed by a Jewish mamma. And now Muhammad is coming with me. And with him, my friend Kay Wilson who survived a horrific terror attack in 2010 while guiding her friend in the forest. She watched her friend die. She played dead. She carried her body- stabbed and gutted- to safety.
This is when Israel depends on me. Because I have made these friends. They have made me. Israel has made them. For better or for worse, we are a part of this nation. These people. This culture. Society. Religion. And the independent state of Israel. The Jewish Homeland.
We survive everyday.
Whether that means fighting your way through bureaucracy, trying to walk on a sidewalk full of parked cars or watching your back because you are afraid to get stabbed.
We survive. And take in every moment. Every breath. To be alive. Living in Israel.
Today and everyday there is nowhere else I would rather be.
Molly Livingstone is a freelance reporter and comedian, not to mention a mother of two, living in Jerusalem. While playing all those roles, the script remains the same, showing the world the Israel that she sees everyday, from the people and places, to the culture and definitely the food.