Sacred.

by | Oct 12, 2023

Day 6

Preface: I apologize in advance for the long post. I’ve isolated the history bit so you can skip over it if you want.

I’m still having issues with sleeping, but I managed to get almost 6 hours last night. That’s not bad, honestly.

First thing I do is check my phone. Is everyone ok? And then the news sites. And then I make a mistake that I make over and over again – I check social media.

On my Instagram feed there’s a famous speaker and author that I really respect speaking out about what’s happened here. Amazing. I knew this guy was great. But then I make the real mistake. I look at the comments. NEVER ever look at the comments. I know this. I know there’s a lot of awful people out there.

There are people justifying this. Justifying the butchering of babies, women and elderly. I almost respond to one of the comments. I decide not to engage, because I know it won’t change anyone’s mind and I know that it will just make me more upset. I’ll write about it instead.

Do I think there are innocent Gazans? Of course I do. By the way, I’m calling them Gazans, not Palestinians for a very good reason. History.

A little history (click to expand)

Nearly 2000 years ago Israel was Israel. It was the homeland of the Jewish people, Judea. The Romans, hell-bent on conquering the world, invaded Israel and exiled the majority of her people. To be clear, a remnant of Jews has always remained in Israel, so it can’t be claimed that there were no Jews and the land was free for the taking. But we were exiled, dispersed among all the other nations. And in classic Roman fashion, they renamed the country Syria Palestina. They did it in order to obliterate the link between the Jews and the country. They chose the word Palestina for the Philistines, whose home base had been on the Mediterranean coast, but were not native to the land. Philistine actually comes from a word meaning, “invader” – they were a nomadic sea-faring people who had invaded the western coast of Israel. Over time, the term “Palestine” became synonymous with the Holy Land, in every language except Hebrew, as the Jews always referred to it as “Eretz Yisrael”. But to be very clear – no country, no people ever referred to themselves as Palestinian. There never was a country called Palestine.

Because the world referred to this area (which spanned the modern countries of both Israel and Jordan) as Palestine, the term stuck. But it never was an independent country. Different powers fought for and conquered the area, but it remained simply an occupied region, even when the Ottoman empire conquered it in 1516. Ironically, the Jews who did live in the area, over the generations, accepted the term “Palestine” as the non-Hebrew term for the land of Israel. All references to Palestine prior to the establishment of the modern state of Israel, referred to the area of land taken from the Jews by the Romans, and pretty much all uses of the term “Palestinians” referred to the Jews living in the area, until the middle of the 20th century.

There were no Arabs who called themselves Palestinians before 1920, and really, it wasn’t until 1948 that the term began to be used to refer to Arabs at all. In 1964 Cairo, Egypt at a Pan Arab meeting, the Egyptian Arafat and the KGB officially branded the Arab population as “Palestinians” in order to create a tool for the destruction of Israel (this is documented, not my opinion). Arabs living in the land of Israel under the Ottomans considered themselves Ottoman subjects, and simply referred to themselves as Muslims. It’s also important to note that many of the last names of Arabs living in Israel today point back to their country of origin, much in the way that some Jewish last names refer to their tribe (especially Levi and Cohen).

For example:

Al-Arabi – From Arabia, Al-Baghdadi – From Baghdad, Al-Masri – From Egypt, Al-Shami – From Syria, Al-Yamani – From Yemen, Al-Maghribi – From Morocco, Al-Lubnani – From Lebanon.

It’s also important to note that all of those countries still exist and could easily take back their brethren if they wanted to, but that’s another discussion.

When Israel left the Gaza strip in 2005, we left the infrastructure for the Arab Gazans to build a thriving agricultural economy (as Jews had been doing there for more than 20 years). Gaza had the potential, it was said, to be a Singapore of the Middle East. But those in power didn’t really want a functioning Palestinian state. What they wanted was to wipe out the Jews. Israel supplies Gaza with water and electricity and tons of supplies are trucked into Gaza from Israel every day.

When Gaza used the concrete Israel was sending them for building homes, schools and hospitals to build terror tunnels, we stopped sending concrete. The truth is that Gaza has received so much aid that if those in power had really wanted to build a flourishing state, they could have, several times over.

People call it an open-air prison. They use the term “prison” because Gazans are not allowed to enter Israel without permission. This is not something cruel and unusual enacted by Israel to keep Gazans oppressed – every sovereign nation has borders and decides who and who may not enter the country. Gaza has a border with Egypt, too. Gazans are not allowed to freely enter Egypt, either. But no one blames Egypt for Gaza’s plight, and they should.

The people of Gaza have been lied to and brainwashed to believe the source of all their troubles is Israel. It is not. It is their own leadership. And nothing Israel has done (I KNOW Israel is not perfect) has deserved what has happened here this week.

I am realizing now that what I really want to say could fill volumes, and I really don’t want to do that. My question was, “do I believe that there are innocent Gazans, who just want freedom and to live a life of peace and prosperity?” Yes, I do. But their poverty and oppression are not the result of Israeli hatred or aggression, they are the result of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas (and all the other Arab nations in the area). Again – too much to write here.

As I said earlier, butchering babies, women and the elderly is not the act of a civilized people acting to secure their freedom. Those butchers recorded themselves doing their horrific deeds on the phones of their victims and then sent them to the families. This is about hatred, pure and simple. And while my heart goes out to the innocent Gazans who are suffering, Israel must do whatever it takes to make sure an atrocity like this never happens again.

Where has the time gone? I spent so much time writing this snapshot of history to avoid engaging on social media, that I’ve wasted the morning. Sure hope my boss isn’t reading this.

The buzzing of my phone continues to slow down, and on one hand I am truly grateful. But my eldest informs us that someone official has said that the slow rate of rocket fire over the past day indicates Hamas is preparing itself for a long war. Oh lovely.

Right now we are angry – fire-and-brimstone-spitting angry. It’s fueling both our fight and our kindness. But people can only function on adrenaline for so long before they grow tired. I guess that’s what they are hoping for – that our passion will begin to wane faster than than their hatred will.

People who know me personally know that I have a hard time with certain aspects of Israeli culture. But my daughter just made an interesting observation, I’m going to just quote her here:

“I understand now why Israeli children have no discipline. Yitzchak has been mostly eating snacks and candy for the last 5 days and my response is basically “whatever makes you happy”.

Israel, the entire country, has generational trauma. I feel like all parents have this attitude of “your innocence will be stolen far too young. So for right now, do whatever makes you happy”.

I’m sure that explains a lot of other aspects of Israeli culture I find so difficult – I was raised in what I call the American peace bubble. As an early Gen-X, I was born well after WWII and too young to remember Vietnam. I never saw war protests, never did air raid/nuclear war drills, and actually knew very little about what was happening anywhere else in the world. I certainly never had a fear of war, never had a concern about bombs, and while I have other PTSD, it’s nothing like what Israelis deal with.

We get word that the US is sending more ships (carriers?) to the mediterranean. While I have a lot to criticize about the US, and actually about the US’s general attitude towards Jews going back as far as the holocaust, I am very grateful that unlike the Yom Kippur war of 50 years ago, they aren’t just sitting by the TV watching for us to be obliterated (ok, I’m not going to add another rant to this already too long post).

Remember that question about innocent Gazans getting caught in the crossfire? A friend posts on Facebook, about just HOW Israelis treat Arabs – even those who are NOT Israeli citizens.

The post says:

“I have become friendly with a Palestinian man who lives close by. His village has no bomb shelters, so they have no way to protect themselves when Hamas fires missiles in their direction. [Penina’s note: they don’t have shelters because of their own leadership, not because of Israel. They are under the control of the PA]

Yesterday, this man told a friend of ours that the IDF sent a group of soldiers to his village to protect them, and to tell them what to do if there are rockets, and how to get help in an emergency. The soldiers spent hours there, talking, calming the anxious people, and listening to their concerns.

He said that he feels calmer now. And he is grateful to Israel for caring about him.


This is not a story that I have cut and pasted – these are people I know personally. This is the Israel that I love so deeply.”

Israelis are human. We are not perfect. We are capable of hate, anger, and even violence. But as a people, we regard human life as sacred – ALL human life as sacred.

No one is disposable.

Not even Arabs.

Written by Penina Taylor

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I closed my eyes and had barely drifted off to that place that feels so good when I was awakened again by a very loud jet. This one wasn’t as close as the first one, but super loud. Enough louder than the air traffic we’ve been hearing 24/7 for the past 3 days that it woke me up. I squinted to check the time, without my glasses on, and really still ¾ asleep, that was not an easy task…3:18. Wait…what? Only three minutes since the last one? I must be mistaken.

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I managed to get a few hour’s sleep. Not enough to function well, though. I’ve got to get more work done or this month is going to be hard in more ways than one. I check Facebook again to see if I can mark myself safe in the crisis – this will help lower the amount of people asking me if we are okay. I appreciate the concern, and it’s heartening knowing that so many people care about my welfare, but it’s hard to answer everyone. Facebook still hasn’t listed the war as an option and I am livid. There are ways of doing this that don’t have to be about “taking sides”, but ignoring the situation is abominable. Nope, still no option.

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Drawn like a moth to light, I cannot put down my phone. I cannot shut down my computer. What’s the latest count? Who has been found? The booms continue, although much more distant now. The buzz buzz buzz buzz buzz of my phone has a few more minutes between each set. But it’s 1:30 am and I have to work in the morning. So reluctantly I head to bed. Sleep is fitful, but I’m exhausted.

I get up, get dressed, as usual. I get my coffee and sit down to work. One website…just one…no, I need to work. I try to work. But websites and LinkedIn profiles seem so trivial at the moment. I am so distracted.

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