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To Mariana from an israeli

Reader comment on item: My Testimony before the House Subcommittee on Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations
in response to reader comment: To: Fred Schlomka, Incredible. "You just can't make it up!"

Submitted by Fred Schlomka (Israel), Mar 29, 2007 at 16:26

Mariana - Believe what you like, but sitting here in Kfar Saba I'm as much an Israeli as my neighbors, perhaps more so since i'm sixth generation to live in this land. Although you may disagree with my views, you must understand that israelis are not a homogenious or monolithic people. We have as much diversity of opinion as you Americans, and much more diversity than American Jews. Some of us actually like being Middle Eastern. Rather than live in a bubble as you suggest, i live far beyond the bubble that encloses most Israelis.

To give you a personal example. I just returned home from dropping my 16 year-old son off at a friend's house where he will spend the night and most of the day tomorrow. Quite a normal family activity. However my son is Jewish and his friend is a Muslim living in the Arab town of Taibe. Their relationship is something of an anomaly in a country that has segregated government schools and residential areas. Normal social relationships across religious lines are the exception. One has to step outside the Jewish bubble to experience the variety of Middle Eastern life.

And it's not a matter of being 'politically correct' as you wrote, but rather a desire to step outside the proscribed boundaries and build relationships across the divide, on a human level. You prefer to see our issues here in black and white terms. But the Middle East cannot be dissected so simply. We have extremists on all sides, warmongers and terrorists to be sure. There are also a variety of national interests competing for oil, land, and the hearts and minds of publics on both sides of the Atlantic. Your country has recently amassed the largest war flotilla this part of the world has seen in a long time. My country is bristling with nuclear weapons while the USA is building two new huge bases here in Israel, complete with command and control centers and missile silos.

And don't demean yourself and insult me with your insinuations of: Perhaps you're nostalgic for more "successful" school bus and pizza parlor "suicide bombs."
My family has had its share of casualties. My son narrowly escaped a bombing at the Kfar Saba mall in 2002. While I was taking my morning ..., my toilet window was shattered by the concussion of the bomb that blew up our new railway station. Children are being killed every day here while you sit in your armchair and spout nonsense about matters which are far from your life.

"You just can't make it up!" you wrote. In this you are exactly right. Things are so bad here that you can't make up anything to equal the horror. And we haven't hit bottom yet.

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