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How the War Came Home

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I lived in Jerusalem for almost four years. I thought it was a dangerous place then. We had an assassination (Yitzhak Rabin, you remember him), at least two bus bombings on Jaffa Street, and at least two suicide bombings, one in the market and one on Ben Yehuda. My baby was born in Jerusalem three weeks before Rabin was killed. My children went to school much too close to those bus-suicide bombings. And yet those days seem peaceful and old-fashioned when I consider them through the new lens of this crisis. I felt the Israelis' pain then, but nowhere near as strongly as I feel it as I wait in line at Starbucks on Upper Broadway, when I think of my cafés in Jerusalem and how I would never go meet friends there now, and of how one of my old haunts, Moment Café on Azza Street, was obliterated in a moment. I'm sad and hurt to see my city shut down, and Ramallah, too, another place I used to visit, and Bethlehem, and Beit Jala, and almost every place I once cared about or enjoyed -- everything's shut or bombed out, or bulldozed, or closed, or off-limits or inaccessible, or gutted, or mired in crossfire or defaced with bullet holes.

And yet, like a little fool, I still hope for peace. Because I was lucky; as a journalist who could move from one side to the other, I happen to know that both sides are human. (Oops, isn't that "moral equivalence"? Verboten. Well: Sorry. Too bad.) I know that both are capable of thought, and capable of compromise. In quiet moments, I nurture crazy ideas: that somehow both sides will pull out of this nightmare mess and a real state for the Palestinians will be established and terror will end.

In reality I know: We are so far from peace right now. And yet, what is the alternative? To picture a world without peace is too gruesome, and may mean, in the end, after the next war, a world without Israel. Peace: Ain brera.


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