Today, while driving into town, I saw two little Arab girls walking to school. Ma'aleh, where I work, is situated on Shivtei Yisrael Street, which is pretty well the dividing line between east and west Jerusalem. I stopped at the traffic light and two little girls, aged about 11, crossed the road in front of me. They were wearing their school uniform - dark blue trousers and light blue three quarter length tunics. Each girl had glossy black hair braided down the length of her back. And suddenly I felt such a longing for peace.
I've lived in Israel for 25 years and peace has never, ever seemed further away. Today, on the radio, I heard a statement by American Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in which he said that Hizballah, armed by Syria and Iran, now has more rockets than most governments. The next war is coming, it seems. As an Israeli, I am trying to imagine how it will be. Will Hizballah from the North and Hamas from the South both attack at the same time? Since Operaton Cast Lead a little over a year ago, Hamas has been smuggling arms into Gaza through the the networks of hundreds of tunnels it has built between Egypt and Gaza. Do we have enough soldiers and technology to defend ourselves if we get attacked on both borders simultaheously, God Forbid? Will both my older kids, aged 22and 20, be called up if they do? (Yes, they will).
Well, I have two "comforting" thoughts. One: if we try to destroy any of the tunnels smuggling rockets into Gaza, we will always have some young woman like Rachel Corrie to stand on our bulldozers and get killed trying prevent us from doing it. And then people in the US and the UK can write plays about what a heroine she was, and even have a ship named after her. Two: If Hizballah should decide to start a war and use all those rockets it has been stockpiling to target Israeli towns, we will have thousands of people marching through Trafalgar Square in London shouting "We are all Hizballah!". Such a fabulous world we live in.
And still I am longing for peace. I am going to keep in my mind, the picture of those two little Arab girls walking to school. I am trying to imagine such a life in this part of the world - Arabs and Jews going peacefully about their daily lives together without fear or animosity. I was glad to feel that feeling of longing in my heart again this morning.
It's nice to know it hasn't been burnt out of me completely.