Last summer I went to the UK with my parents. We spent a few days in Cotswold region, in a little farmhouse called Bowers Hill. Our hosts were a couple of friendly farmers, Sara and Peter.
We reached the farmhouse at nighttime. It was dark and cold so we were happy when Sara invited us to have a cup of tea with them. It was a great way to get warm and get to know each other. Eventually, it was also important to me as an Israeli.
Sara told us about the country life. She proudly described the farm and her work. She was also curious about us, as Israelis. She asked us about our lives in Israel, the weather, the views, but she was interested mainly in our lives with the Arabs around us. She asked me about the military service and was shocked to hear I am looking forward to serve. I told her that I will join the army in 3 years when I’ll be 18. Sara told us that she can’t think of her 15 year-old son as a soldier. She asked me if I want to be a combat soldier, and I said that I do. She looked at my parents in a terrified look and asked them: “can you agree to such a dangerous thing?” My father looked at her, smiled and proudly said: “I encourage him to serve.” Sara said: “I will never let my son take a part in a war.” So my mom looked at her and said: “but we are Israelis, 63 years ago people fought for this country, and we’ll fight for it for another hundred years if we need to.” My father added that serving in the military in Israel is a civic duty, and the citizens must serve in the military. Surprisingly, I heard Sara’s sarcastic-offensive comment: “so basically you have to kill a few Palestinians to be a good citizen…” from this point things started to get spicy…
We explained to Sara that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a serious problem. There is no right and wrong. We told her that we do not just kill Palestinians for fun. Actually, we try to avoid killing and hurting and do our best to create a better Middle East. Sara asked us hard questions. Most of the time she didn’t have an opinion of her own, but sometimes she mumbled some things about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict going too far, that the fight is too long, and there are too many victims. It was obvious she knows quite a lot about the Palestinians’ suffering, but knows very little of the Israeli side of the conflict. I believe our little conversation made a difference. Sara later apologized for her comment.
“Ok then, it’s getting late… we better go to sleep,” Sara said, and took our tea cups. We were all happy to end this conversation. I was happy for the chance to explain our side. No doubt, Sara’s tea was quite spicy that night – filled with Israeli spice.