As a new contributor to Israellycool, let me begin by introducing myself.
I am a Canadian, a mom and a seeker of truth. For many years, I was a “pro-Palestinian peace activist”. Eventually I began to see that “peace” did not mean what I thought it meant.
However, during that time, I came to believe certain things about the Arab/Israeli conflict.
I had come to believe that Israel was always guilty and Palestinians were always innocent victims.
In 2009, I had an opportunity to go to Gaza for 3 weeks. I returned in 2010 and intended to stay for the school year, but my plans changed.
As the time passed while I was in Gaza, I began to see inconsistencies between what I had been told about Gaza and what I was seeing and living. But I had more pressing concerns. Like learning that my spouse and his family had no intentions of letting me return to my family in Canada.
I worked at the American International School in Gaza. The administrators there really tried to watch for any anti-Israel attitudes and would address such immediately.
One time, I reported an essay that one of my students wrote, which was full of images of bombings and the murder of Jews. I was alarmed and when I presented it to the administrators, they assured me they would deal with this student, even expelling him if he continued writing essays of this nature.
My spouse did not “allow” me to visit my coworkers who had become my friends.
My salvation came in the form of encephalitis, a serious brain infection, that left me in a coma, barely alive and not expected to survive, but which also put me in an ambulance on my way to Tel Aviv.
Once there, I finally got to meet people about whom I had heard so many horror stories. The doctor who brainstormed with his team to figure out how to save my life, the nurses who kept encouraging me to keep trying even though my body no longer worked, the physiotherapist who didn’t let me give up – these people didn’t match the descriptions of Israelis I had been given for so many years.
My time in the hospital impacted me deeply, but when I returned to Canada, my spouse was able to come with me. I had suffered a significant brain injury from the prolonged fever so I was very dependent for a long time. During this time, his abuse became much more frequent. In my condition, I was unable to do more than simply try to get through each day. I found myself trying to make him happy so he would treat me well.
I tried. Things kept getting worse.
We had arrived in Canada in December 2010. It took approximately 2 years for my brain to recover and for me to feel strong again. By this time, I was fed up with his abuse but also felt guilty that I wanted to kick him out. I was fed up with him blaming Israel for his abusive behavior.
It was during this time that I really saw how ridiculous it all was. We often talked about politics. While in Gaza, I had talked about politics with so many. Even the children there talk about politics!
Whenever I would speak up and disagree, he would rage at me, accusing me of standing with “the Jews” and against the Palestinians (There was always an expletive between “the” and “Jews” but I will spare you that).
I also noticed that although he supported Fatah back in Gaza, once he was here, all of his friends were Hamas supporters.
We finally split up in 2013. I spent several weeks just trying to regain my peace of mind and found memories that I didn’t realize I had flooding back.
I was shaken to realize his true views on Israel and Jewish people and relieved to find how far apart our views had become.
Over the next several months, I worked on learning more about what Israelis said about the situation. Again, I was learning things that were quite different than some of the things I had been told before and, more importantly, I began to understand another perspective.
Finally, this past February, I made my first visit to Israel since my hospitalization. I stayed with friends who I had gotten to know during my quest to understand.
While in Israel, I made a point of observing as many aspects of life as I could. With so much talk of “apartheid”, I purposely looked for signs of this, and instead, noticed how casually people mixed together as they went about their daily lives.
My friends showed me their Israel – no hype, no propaganda, just real life.
I will never be the same.
Now I have to speak truth against the lies I know are being told. I have seen two sides, Gaza and Israel, and have no choice but to share my stories and observations in the hopes of waking others up who have believed the lies just as I did.
I am so happy and grateful to finally be awake!