The following column is not meant to be political, nor is it meant to ignore politics in one of the most politically charged regions of the world. Rather, it is meant to draw in the reader to a reality in which politics is much like the weather: it exists and as a result, you dress appropriately. I am writing this column as much for the audience as for myself. My hope is to connect Israel to Minnesota in a relevant way. Even as I write this column in a relatively non-exciting university sociology class a heated political discussion is brewing. After all, in this democratic country, Jews, Arabs and others share streets as well as classrooms.
Many of you may have been following the events of the past few weeks. A member of Knesset, an activist for Jewish prayer on Temple Mount, was shot by an Arab terrorist. At the time of the shooting, I was at the Western Wall, a 15 min walk from the tragedy. Jerusalem’s light rail, the train which connects East and West Jerusalem has been the targeted by stone throwing Arab youth and just recently, it has become “fashionable” to ram cars into crowds of people waiting at these train stops. Terrorism doesn’t discriminate: a Druze Border Police officer Jidan Assad was killed when an Arab man slammed his car into a crowd, killing and injuring and forever altering innocent lives.
The other night, on my way to meet a friend in downtown Jerusalem, the main road was blocked off for 20 minutes due to a suspicious bag left on the train. One would think that with the frightening reality, which many people are calling a Third Intifada, stores, restaurants and holy sites would be empty; that life would cease. And yet, amazingly, we continue to live. As they say in Hebrew ain breirah-there is no other option. Sometimes I am scared and very often I am angry that due to extremism, I have to be afraid to wait for a train.
My name is Shira Masha Frishman. I am 23 years old and am studying for a Master’s degree in Gerontology at Ben Gurion University in Be’er Sheva. Since the age of 16, I knew that I wanted to make Israel my home. While I had various ideas of what I wanted to be when I knew for certain that I would live in Israel. While attaining Israeli citizenship when you are Jewish is relatively easier than the process for Canadians seeking an American passport, and while Jewish people no longer have to endure weeks long excursions through choppy seas, and while I can whatsaap my family at all hours of the day, the journey to Israel, no matter the method of travel and no matter the decade, is both rewarding and difficult.
My hope for my audience, in particular my fellow Minnesotans, is to give you a taste of what life is like here in Israel, in a country in which the mainstream media, on left and on the right, do not adequately describe the reality of daily life amid local and international challenges. My hope is that you’ll follow me on this journey of self discovery–that you’ll assimilate the perspective of a young, female graduate student in a country that is simultaneously foreign and familiar into your Middle East mindset. And, if you do like what you read, feel free to “like” and share on your Facebook pages 🙂