Hello, lovely friends. I know it’s been forever. I just wanted to check in to let you know that my family and I are safe, and to share a few thoughts.
Three years ago I published a novel called Disengagement that explores an important and often overlooked event in Israeli history. In my author’s note, I gave a brief historical background on the disengagement from Gaza, and I wrote the following:
In terms of Sharon’s security goals, history—so far—has shown a mixed result: Israeli deaths resulting from conflict in the Gaza Strip fell by about 50%, but frequent wars with Hamas, the radical terrorist group that took over the Strip in 2007, have resulted in severe disruptions and the endangerment of millions of Israelis in Israel proper.
To my utter devastation, that statement is no longer true. As of October 7, 2023, history has now unequivocally proven the disengagement to have been a grave tactical and political mistake with catastrophic consequences and no real long-term gains. The withdrawal was the first in a series of policy choices that enabled Hamas to seize power, stay in power, and obtain the resources and capabilities they needed to commit the greatest single-day massacre of Jews since Auschwitz.
I am furious, devastated, gutted, and scrambling to figure out how to process this and what I can do to help my people heal, not to mention take care of my family and focus on my day-to-day responsibilities. Writing has always been my most effective coping mechanism, and I would like to share with you a few additional pieces I’ve written that you may find of interest:
- I Don’t Feel Safe in My Bed: a featured post for The Times of Israel published Sunday morning, about my experience of this war so far
- Ad Nauseum: another piece from The Times of Israel, published in May 2019, about the ongoing mini-wars with Hamas and the sense that our government wasn’t taking the threat seriously enough. Even in my worst nightmares I couldn’t have imagined how devastatingly correct I’d turn out to be
- The 5 Secrets of Israeli Resilience Against Terror: an oldie but a goodie from the Letters to Josep blog on how Israelis stay so resilient in the face of terrible things
- How to Support a Loved One Affected by Terror: another old post on Letters to Josep with some practical do’s and don’ts
And I’ll conclude with a brief thought I shared on Facebook:
I need you all to understand that this is not the usual level of devastation and horror and rage we feel after something awful happens here. What we are feeling extends far beyond the events of the past few days. We are experiencing a collective intergenerational trauma response.
This was not “just” a terror attack. It was a *pogrom*. The worst and deadliest act of violence against Jews since the Holocaust. The kind of thing the IDF was established to protect us from. And our very cells remember. Our DNA is etched with memories of this exact kind of cruelty and inhumanity. The devastation and horror and rage we feel are not just ours: they are echoes of what our ancestors felt, generation after generation, for thousands of years. We look at what happened in Sderot and we feel Seville of 1391 or Kishinev of 1903. We look at the massacre in Re’im and we feel Babyn Yar.
So be kind to yourselves. And to the ancestors in your genes. We inherited their trauma, but we also inherited their resilience.
Sending love to you all.