Afterwards, I open up Facebook and read what Joujou is saying on the “”Palestine Loves Israel”” page . ‘Just stop the violence! Make a friend for peace!’ After hearing her stories often enough, it starts to make sense. But I’m still uncertain.
One day I decided to say yes. I made a Palestinian friend. And then another. And then another.
Four months later, I’m skyping with a new friend. It’s the first time we’re talking, but she already tells me some very personal things. She tells me about her life as a Gazan living in Europe. She opens up about the personal difficulties she’s been through and how, once, a Jewish doctor helped her in a time of need.
Now we’re talking about the war in Gaza. She says something about ‘shahids’ and I’m not sure exactly what she means. Something about what she says makes me nervous and I feel I have to make sure she understands our side too. So I talk about hamas, about rockets, about tunnels. I say we had to do something. I rationalize and explain.
But then she tells me, ‘Yes, but why did my friend have to die?’ I can hear that she is crying. And I am crying too. I am not thinking about it, I’m not empathizing. I’m just crying. In that second, as I hear her voice break, she breaks into my heart. All the way from across the border.
I am crying because she is crying. I am crying because her friend was killed. And I am crying because I can’t wrap my head around the fact that our soldiers sent the bomb that killed her friend.
I’m quiet for a minute. ’I don’t have an answer for that,’ I finally say with a broken voice. ’Don’t cry!’ she says. Now I’m laughing through my tears and I tell her: ’That’s not fair. If you’re allowed to cry, then I’m allowed to cry!’
At the end we both laugh… she makes me feel better.
Since this very special discussion I keep my friend from Gaza in my heart and in my mind. My mind is more open and my heart is bigger. I’m willing to feel even what I don’t want to feel. I’m willing to allow my deep caring for my people to expand further into humanity. I learned that when you open your heart to love your so-called ”enemy”, you open yourself to feeling their pain. You allow yourself to feel lost and confused, angry and guilty, scared and sad.
But I also learned that it’s worth it.