Society

Swapping Hurricane Sandy in New York for Tel Aviv's bombs

Article published on Nov. 27, 2012
Article published on Nov. 27, 2012
On 14 November, Israel assassinated Hamas strongman Ahmed Jabari; now 3 Israelis and 20 Palestinians are dead. Of course, attacking the Gaza strip right before elections is a long-since beloved tradition of Israeli right wing governments. For the first time in 21 years, since the Gulf war, bombs are landing on Tel Aviv again, and a rocket has been fired on Jerusalem for the first time since 1970

Three weeks ago I trav­elled to New York for the first time in my life. The mo­ment I landed, I was in­formed that the storm which was about to hit was worse than first thought. Watch­ing the news that night from a rented apart­ment in Ja­maica, Brook­lyn, I re­alised that stay­ing was not an op­tion. A mad five hours' drive to Maine, with Sandy on our heels, roads clos­ing be­hind us as we went, turned my plans up­side down. Re­turn­ing to the city a week later, I thought that the worst was be­hind me. I went to mu­se­ums, watched the US elec­tions at an LGBT cabaret bar on Christo­pher street and took pho­tos of the gor­geous au­tumn, bliss­fully un­aware of what I was miss­ing in Is­rael.

As I posted a final face­book sta­tus from New York, in­form­ing my friends of my re­turn, some­one replied: 'I would sug­gest you to stay there, you are com­ing to be in a shel­ter from where I see it.' I thought she was jok­ing, and laughed about it with the Hait­ian cabby on my way to the air­port. Land­ing in Tel Aviv was noth­ing if not nor­mal. I came home, un­packed my travel bags, hung my new dresses in the closet and had din­ner. Then an alarm sounded. Thor­oughly used to drills, I de­cided to check the on­line news to make sure: Is­rael killed a Hamas leader. Ac­cord­ing to Is­raeli peace ac­tivist Ger­shon Baskin, who spoke to Haaretz news­pa­per, it hap­pened while Ahmed Jabari was work­ing on a per­ma­nent truce agree­ment with Is­rael.

From my apart­ment in the res­i­den­tial neigh­bour­hood of Neveh Eliezer, in the south-east of the city, you can hear loud booms from time to time. The tele­vi­sion is on, with its end­less pro­pa­ganda try­ing to jus­tify land­ing yet an­other war on us, yet again just be­fore an elec­tion (which have been moved from Oc­to­ber 2012 to Jan­u­ary 2013). After mul­ti­ple pack­ing and re-pack­ing for the past three weeks, this time, I am pack­ing in a way I have al­ways feared most – emer­gency pack­ing. Every sin­gle sig­nif­i­cant doc­u­ment has been stuck into a big bag – pass­ports, IDs, birth cer­tifi­cates, grad­u­a­tion doc­u­ments. Some warm cloth­ing. Dry food. Water. Med­ica­tions. After that, it is time for the dreaded choice: what is my prici­est be­long­ing? Thoughts flash through my head – my gui­tar, my signed copies of Neil Gaiman's books, me­men­tos from re­la­tion­ships. I go to my jew­ellery stand. Choos­ing a neck­lace to wear to the bomb shel­ter is cer­tainly the best way to find out which one is your fa­vorite. There are only two things I would save first – my lap­top and my cam­era, with­out which I can­not work. I pull on a pair of jeans and a beloved T-shirt. I refuse to head down for now, though. Per­haps it is my eter­nal op­ti­mism, per­haps it is in­san­ity, but even with bombs crash­ing around me, I would still rather stay where I have in­ter­net con­nec­tion and work. How­ever, when they come for me, I'm ready; I have my pur­ple neck­lace.

Image: (cc) [ changó ]/ Ric­cardo Ro­mano/ flickr/ riccardo-romano.​com