Where The Past Meets The Future: My Experience In The Israeli-Lebanese Conflict (2006)

This article was also published in Odyssey Online, so please don’t hesitate to click the link to watch it there and to share it on social media: Where The Past Meets The Future: My Experience In The Israeli-Lebanese Conflict (2006)

I know it happened ten years ago, but as one of the conflicts that emerged in the uprising violence throughout the Middle East and in the world, I would like to share my experience so that we will never forget those lives lost and changed throughout it.

War is an event that not that many people will experience in their life. Is an event that most of us could relate to the past or to a region far, far away from our home. But what if one day you’ll face the reality were war is at your front door?

It wasn’t my first experience with a political conflict. I had experienced the Second Intifada while being in kindergarten. A conflict between Israelis and Palestinians that resulted in the construction of the Separation Wall; however, the fear that caused me cannot be even compared to the 2006 war, were basically missiles would fall in meters from my home.

I remember it was a hot summer in 2006. I just moved to Guadalajara, Mexico, and my sister was just born. We decided that it would be a good idea to visit our family in Northern Israel for three weeks. I bet it wasn’t a good idea after all.

As a kid, I was really excited about this visit. My grandfather would usually take me and my cousins for some outdoors camping. We would go to swim in the springs of the area, then we would make a fire, to then sit and relax, while eating a delicious baguette. I wish I could return to those happy days of my childhood… We always had a blast!

When we arrived to Israel, there was nothing to fear about any oncoming war whatsoever. To be honest, I don’t remember much about the escalation of the conflict details, except the one event that burst the conflict. I actually remember it to near perfection. After dinner, the whole family usually reunites in the living room to eat some dessert and drink some wine while watching T.V. At that time, the news channel was on. They said that an Israeli tank was ambushed, taking the soldiers in there with them. At first, I didn’t understand the situation. I was really confused. My nine-year-old mind couldn’t process it. What will happen next?

After this event, the phone rang, it was the police (I think), telling us to go to the bunker for safety measures. My family only sent the kids there, while the rest were harking the news. The bunker doesn’t look as much of you might imagine it. It was just like a regular room, just with thicker walls than usual, and a metallic door with some wood texture integrated to it to make it more aesthetic. Nothing happened. Thank God!

We couldn’t do much, just wait. I hate waiting. When will it end? What are we going to do? What if a missile will hit my home? Am I going to live? Those were the only things that came through my mind. At this age, you don’t really understand the situation. You just want it to end.

The worst of it was hearing the bombs striking on the ground. The stronger the sound, the greater the chance that they could have hit me. One time, we were eating at a relative’s house, when we hear a missile striking just a few meters (like 200 meters or so). When you hear it, you tremble. I still can handle myself when hearing strong noises. Especially when you know that the people who fired it had the mere intentions to harm you. It’s scary.

As a kid, I wasn’t conscious about what were the people on the other side experiencing. War is selfish. The only thing that you worry about is if either you and your loved ones are ok. Wars pull out the worst of everybody; it’s game of life or death. Were the media and the government treat you as a number, just another one from the mass. You feel insignificant. The media never talks about how both sides suffered, that both had lost something, something valuable; the dignity of life. The media just shows the suffering of the side that they are in favor with, like if the other people don’t deserve to be heard nor deserve to be mourned the loss of their loved ones, the loss of their people.

No one never wins a war, because what can you gain by killing somebody? In this conflict, both sides lost the value of life, the understanding that for every person killed in the conflict, there was someone who loved them, people who wanted to see them grow and enjoy life, as anyone should. As an individual who experienced this event, it motivates me to create a better future for the coming generations. A future based in love, respect, tolerance, and most important, peace. A future where the past doesn’t meet the future.

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In Search Of My Identity…

What would you tell I someone would ask you about your heritage and nationality? For most, it is a simple question, but for others, like me, there is a full story to be told, or to be more specific, an article to be written.

I remember as a kid I never asked myself what is my heritage; nonetheless, it wasn´t something that my friends would talk about. At that age, we see each other as human beings. What a nice thing, isn’t it?

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It wasn’t until I was about fourteen that it hit me hard. What was I? I remember that it started when I was hanging out with some friends while visiting Israel. We got up to a point in the conversation were everyone was mentioning their heritage. I really didn’t know what to say, so I just told the ones that I remember my parents would mention some times. I am Bulgarian and half Iranian- I said. Everyone looked at me as if I said some kind of sorcery or something. What did I said that made them react like this? I guess that being Iranian and Bulgarian isn’t cool…

After that experience, my interest to learn about my roots emerged. I really wanted to know where my ancestors came from. I always tell everybody that I am Israeli, which in fact I am. But as a person that comes from a family of immigrants, I needed to acknowledge my heritage to understand better what I am. So after talking with family members and researching a little, So long story short, I got into the conclusion that I was part Iranian, Persian, Iraqi, Algerian or Moroccan, and Bulgarian. I am really proud about it, regardless about what other people may think.

Knowing my heritage confused me. I always considered myself as white, but suddenly I faced a new reality, a reality were I was just one forth white. As a kid in Israel, I grew with mostly European people (as I can remember). My two best friends in first grade were British and Russian. I basically grew in a really white environment. While living in Beijing, people wanted to take a picture with me just because I looked white. And to be honest, I looked white.

Throughout the years I’ve learned to stop labeling myself for my own sanity. But after stopping labeling my heritage, I got another question to be answered: “What nationality I consider myself the most?” My sanity had to be set apart for the quest of finding my nationality; what I thought to be my identity. To start, I can’t consider myself a hundred percent Israeli. I have been living in Mexico most of my life and I have lived in China for four years. I just realized that I’ve lived more time abroad than in Israel, the country were I was born and were my family came from. I will also won’t serve in the army, which makes me feel less of an Israeli.

After living that much time in Mexico, friends started asking me when am I going to start my nationalization process. I never know how to answer it. What can I say to them, that I don’t feel Mexican enough to put-on-paper this identity? This makes me feel like not having a nationality whatsoever, but that would be too easy! The world doesn’t work like that. Living in a world with no nationalities is far too utopic to happen, so back to reality.

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I think that in my case, neither my heritage nor my nationality does completely represent my identity. I’ve embraced the culture of my heritage and the beautiful places that I’ ve lived in; I can’t just fixate in just one. The answer for my heritage might have been already solved, but my national identity is still unknown; I don’t feel completely Israeli, nor Mexican, and even Chinese, so the answer to this might be far ahead or even non-existent. But at the end of the day the thing that I am sure about my identity is that I am a person who wants to know more about himself and about his surroundings. A person that has a message to share, the search for his identity.