I was born in London and growing up Israel represented to me the promised land. My watershed moment was spending a month there with my youth movement. I watched a man crossing the road wearing a kippa on his head with tsit tsit visible for all to see. I felt a surge of respect for him to display his Judaism so blatantly to the world and an immediate understanding that he didn’t have to worry about that. That moment I met the reality of being a Jew in a Jewish country. Marc met Israel.
When I was 21 I moved to Israel and joined the army. The time had come to fight the war for the Jewish people. I served and I saw. I didn’t like what I saw. I couldn’t deny that I was an occupier. On one mission a friend of mine (accidentally) burned someone’s house down on another a friend of mine shot a young woman in the neck. There were numerous rolling battles with four year old kids throwing stones and one occasion where a friend of mine killed a 14 year old armed with a molotov cocktail. One time I was hiding in a bush while on ambush when a settler stopped his car and started shooting into the area all around him. The operation had to be abandoned in case we were accidentally hurt by him or someone else doing the same thing.
Marc met Palestine.
I had arrested terrorists while in the army. I had stopped suicide bombings and over the few months I spent on guard duty we stopped one car containing explosives. I cannot figure out how many human lives that one find saved or whether it was worth the humiliation of thousands of Palestinians who passed through our checkpoints over the period we were there.
A braver man than I might try.
I left the army after two years and I left Israel just after. I had lost my promised land. Rain fell on me when I landed back in London and it didn’t stop falling on me until I stepped back into Israel 5 years later. A little older, no wiser I had learned one truth while away. What I had seen was in the micro not the macro. The bigger picture hadn’t changed. Israel left Gaza and rockets and Hamas replaced the IDF and the security situation was still bad for Israel. That single experience would have murdered the Israeli left were it not already in pieces having been blown up by a suicide bomber during the Second Intifada.
And now I’m in London once again and it rains on me still. Here there is BDS the ultimate humanitarian cause apparently. The proponents declare themselves to be morally superior with right on their side.