Day 7: The Limits of Friendship

I cried for the first time today since I’ve been here.

It wasn’t because I imagined cute little Israeli kids being torn from their parents; it wasn’t because women in wheelchairs will be begging officers to leave them alone; it wasn’t because synagogues and Jewish graves will be plundered; it wasn’t because I was warned seriously that police might hit me, even though that made me scared as hell.

It was because my friends couldn’t give a shit.

I decided I would call them and ask them to do something to help me.

I asked one of them, who actually supported our struggle, to simply forward my to our mutual friends since I didn’t have their e-mail addresses.

She hesitated. She couldn’t really explain why — she was busy — but it seemed like some sort of inconvenience.

I called another good friend, who also supported our struggle, and pleaded:

“I’m turning to you will all my heart — they might beat me here, and there is something you can do to stop it. There are organized marches to Gush Katif that will tie up the expulsion forces.”

“I’m not going to a rally,” she said curtly.

“But I might get hurt.”

“You can’t tell me what to do,” she said. “It’s not my cause. I’m not as extreme as you are. You shouldn’t put yourself in danger.”

“But you’re against the plan!”

“But I think it’s going to happen. It’s what the government decided.”

“But it’s a fact that it could be stopped and you can help.”

“It’s not up for discussion.”

It was then that I burst into tears. How can my friends be so apathetic? How could they not care if I get beaten?

I turned to the yellow-clad American beside me and asked her if my request was fair.

“Of course it was. And if that’s what she said, she’s not your friend.”

“Maybe you’re right.”

“And besides, you have new friends.”

“You’re right about that, too,” I said, and we looked at each other in understanding.

Then I called my new roommate in my Tel Aviv pad near Kikar Rabin. She had just moved in a week earlier and was thrilled to have such a fiery roommate. She had absolutely no political opinion or any major conviction for that matter, and simply said to me:

“Fight for what you believe in. I like to see people who care about something. And it’s crazy what’s going outside our apartment. It’s like we’re in another country. It’s so cool!”

She was referring to the rally at Kikar Rabin, which attracted over 150,000 “oranges.” Organizers claimed 300,000.

I was proud of my city, which raised my spirits after all.

I started thinking about whether friends need to share your political opinions. I don’t think they all have to, but really, really good ones probably do. Political views envelop so much more — worldview, values, attitude.

Another one of my “new” friends here experienced the exact same problem. She has already erased some of her old “friends” from her list.

People on the outside, even our friends, cannot understand what we are going through and what we see here. They cannot feel the same energy and emotion. They are stuck in their mundane worlds while we’re experiencing splendor.

On a roll, I called two guys who I knew had a hand in the expulsion.

One lived next door and he worked for the government. He worked behind the scenes negotiating with Americans and Egyptians. I knew he adored me.

He didn’t answer so I left a message: “Hi. I’m still in Gush Katif and I just want to let you know that the policemen might beat me, so I was just wondering if you could ask the policemen not to beat me because I don’t want to leave. I know you’re in a position of power so if you could do something that could be great. Thanks.”

Then I called another guy, a soldier in the Air Force — a fun-loving, sweet guy, with whom I study music production. I remembered he had to skip second semester so that he could participate in the expulsion.

“I’m turning to you because I’m in Gush Katif and I feel nothing but compassion for these people and I’m trying to help them.”

“Mami [a hebrew term of endearment-ed], this is my job.”

“But they’re ruining lives here.”

“I’m an army person.”

“You’re also a human being. Think of your wife, the children you will have.”

“Kapara [“darling”-ed], I’m not your address.”

“Yes you are. You can have influence.”

“We’re not having this discussion.”

“Okay, but just try to open your heart.”

“It will be okay.”

“No, no, it won’t be okay. Not at this point.”

Not long after we hung up I wrote an e-mail to as many people whose e-mail addresses I remembered calling them to wake-up.

I think people simply get freaked-out when I confront them. All of a sudden they are challenged to think and act. They just don’t have the energy, they are caught up in their lives they don’t know how to manage.

It’s interesting. The friends who reacted negatively to my call to action are also those who have no backbone in their professional or personal life. I don’t think it’s fair to make a blanket correlation, but those who can’t stand up to the government or the Arabs are often those who don’t stand up to their bosses, their boyfriends, and to other injustices, small and large, that occur throughout a typical day.

Shabbat is around the corner in Gush Katif, and I’m not sure when’s the next time I’ll have e-mail access to write to my friends, and potential friends, out there.

I don’t think it will be my last Shabbat in Gush Katif — nor the last Shabbat in Gush Katif — and neither do most of my friends here. We still believe the miracle will happen.

But it will not be an easy fight. For now I’m playing everything by ear. I don’t plan any violent action, but they might have to drag me out. I might get hurt. But I’m strengthening myself to be ready for the pain. It will be nothing compared to what these beautiful, brave, warm, idealistic, and loving settlers have experienced and may continue to experience.

But no matter what happens, I’ll always know that I was on the side of the good — that I cleaved to it and fought for it. And with that, I’ve already won, and no friend could ever give that to me.

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