So, we were walking down Rothschild Boulevard, hand in hand: she, 10 years old, and me, 38. Both divorced. In her case, involuntarily, and perhaps in mine as well. Naturally, with the upcoming elections, we started talking politics. What do you think about Bibi’s speech in America, I asked her. I think it doesn’t really matter, she said.
Something about her tone was new. The flow of her speech was somehow different. There was a strange tune to it, but one that was also familiar. Just not from her. And not from home. I mean, the home that was once ours.
“Look,” she explained, “the Americans don’t have a clue. They don’t live here with the Arabs. What does Obama know, he doesn’t know anything.”
“How do you know what Obama knows and doesn’t know?” I asked her with sincere curiosity. After all, she’s 10, and really, how would she know?
Once again she opened with that word: look. “Look,” she said, “I’m not a lefty. They lost and now they have to pay, so they should shut up about it. If I would’ve lost, I would’ve at least shut up afterwards. They don’t deserve anything for starting wars and then losing. That’s how it goes, when you lose, you pay.”
“It’s not that simple,” I told her, although she had a point. “You have to understand that they lived here first. And you can’t just expect someone who’s watched for the past century as his home and olive trees were taken from him to just sit silently. Look,” I told her, using her new favorite word, “if one day I’d suddenly decide to adopt a street kid and let him live in your room, and after a while I’d give him your closet, and your toys, and eventually I’d even let him sleep in your bed, you wouldn’t agree to that, right?”
“First of all, you don’t live with us, so you can’t let anyone into my room,” she said in a harsh tone. “And anyway, that has nothing to do with it. ’Cause they started the war. We gave them everything and they shoot missiles at us. And if you give them more money for food and sports, then they just buy more missiles to shoot.” Her entire rant was carried out while flailing her arms in all directions. And loudly, like an angry caller on a morning radio show.
“OK, little missy, you’re going to have to explain this,” I told her, imitating her furious flailing, “and why are you yelling, I’m right here next to you.” And innocently enough I asked her: “Since when do you talk like this?”
“’Cause you don’t get it, you’re like all those lefties. What, you prefer the Hamas’s kids in Gaza to the kids here in Israel? What, just because we have an iron gnome—”
“Iron dome,” I corrected her, but attentively, earnestly, without a shred of sarcasm, because I was truly trying to understand where all this came from, and who was this person talking out of my daughter’s throat. Because there was a whole new personality living there that was entirely unknown to me.
“OK, iron dome, fine. What, if they had an iron dome, then they’d show mercy on our children?” she asks with pathos that could put Menachem Begin’s most famous speeches to shame.
“But, honey, the iron dome is for defense, not for attacking.”
“Whatever. You understand perfectly well what I’m saying. That if they had the weapons we have, they wouldn’t play nice. If we didn’t have an iron dome, then all the kids on our side would be dead. Ever thought about that?”
“So, let’s say they’re worse than us,” I tried telling her, “let’s say we’re good and pretty and they’re cruel and ugly. At the end of the day we’ll still have to live with them. They’re here. You can’t just make 2 million people in Gaza disappear. A million and a half in Israel. A total of about 6 million Palestinian Arabs. What do you plan to do with them?”
“Are there really that many?” she asked, reprocessing the data. “Look,” she says, “if it’s me or them, what do I care where they go, they can go to Arabia as far as I care. I choose me. You understand. It’s obvious to everyone except the lefties.”
I’m afraid that any moment her lefties will turn into leftards. Because at this point, I’m starting to truly realize that my daughter, the beautiful, blue-eyed light of my life, has become just another voice in the Israeli rabble. “When exactly did you decide that you’re right-wing?” I ask, trying to interview her, perhaps to study this strange character standing in front of me, yelling on the street.
“Look,” she repeats in her new style, “I’ve always been right-wing. I never believed the Arabs really want peace. But now, when they started shooting missiles at us, I’m certainly not going to feel sorry for them ever again.”
Those who believe that nothing was accomplished in Operation Protective Edge are mistaken. Maybe Hamas wasn’t so bothered. But Protective Edge was an internal battle over Israeli souls, over the conscience of Israel’s citizens. And one has to admit, they certainly did a good job. At least on my little girl.
Translated from the Hebrew by Daniella Zamir.
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Orian Morris is the author ofLe-ragel ‘avur makhom acher (With My Little Eye).