Tag Archives: Israel

You can read more about Israel in the context of researches below, or separately on a topic, at https://top-papers.com/buy-term-papers-online/ for example, order term papers etc.

Transformative Writing

figSo often when we experience something frightening, disheartening or downright traumatic, we are left a bit speechless.

But the feelings that we have, we carry inside. Despair, rage, confusion. For many of us, whether we consider ourselves writers or not, getting it down on paper somehow lifts the burden, just a little bit and lets some light in. Even a tiny bit.

More than that, by sharing about something you have experienced, you might just help someone else who is struggling with the same thing to find some courage or inspiration themselves. They will feel less alone. Trauma is isolating. It can make your world feel very small.

As we write we discover something and that it is part of the human experience that we suffer. Suffering is not unique but it is when it happens to you. Yet you might be surprised how good it feels to get it on paper, to look at it, to share it and to in some small way, begin to move on by legitimizing how you feel and knowing that just maybe you will help someone else feel less alone too.

The Tel Aviv Writer’s Salon has submitted several essays about the current conflict in Israel and the essays range in tone and in narrative. But each is heartfelt.

If you would like to submit an essay, about this or any conflict or trauma in your life – and I do not judge, by the way, there are breakups that are traumatic, there are small things that don’t feel so small –

IMPORTANT NOTE: Submissions must be 500 words or less and perfectly formatted and proofread in order to be considered.

Read the essays here – and see if any of them help you connect to your own feelings –

A Simple Guide for Talking to Your Jewish & Israeli Friends

Here are some simple Do’s and Don’ts to help you discuss the current conflict in Israel with your Israeli or Jewish friends on social media. These suggestions are tongue-in-cheek. Except they aren’t. Because most everybody I know who lives in Israel has received one or more of these types of messages and folks – this is not helping.



Hey! I’m angry about this! Why is your A) country B) government C) army D) people committing A) genocide B) such cruelty C) racism D) apartheid?!


Hey, this is really awful, are you okay? Can you help me understand what is going on?



OMG! Be safe! Arabs are all A) terrorists B) animals C) stupid D) all of the above! You should A) get rid of them! B) hate them! C) cheer on the world to wipe them out!


Hey, this is really awful, are you okay? Can you help me understand what is going on?



I just love and support blessed Israel so much because the messiah and Jesus and stuff and bless Israel and I’m sending you a tee-shirt and our prayer group is praying for you because my agenda (aw, poor Jews) my agenda (if they’d only listened before) my personal belief system (this is so biblical!) my agenda. LOVE YOU!


Hey, this is really awful, are you okay? Can you help me understand what is going on?



Israel is totally committing human right’s abuses, dude. TOTALLY.  Oh btdubs you should totally “like” this amazing non-violence/positive thinking/rainbow/pro-peace/pro-Palestian Facebook page? Because I’m serious (pause to put down your Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino here) – if everybody just stopped and listened – this would not be happening! That’s what we did on my street in Beverwood when things got really heated about the parking permit situation. It’s like the POLICE are like Israel, right? And the people just trying to PARK are the Palestinians! It’s horrible, dude, what if YOU just wanted to PARK?! Anyway, I’m going to meditate about peace now, okay? And then I have yoga. Be safe, love you, bye!


Hey, this is really awful, are you okay? Can you help me understand what is going on?



I can’t believe you just posted that picture or video of  A) rockets and sirens B) Israelis running C) Gaza suffering D) your dog. What about the OTHER SIDE, why can’t you LOOK AT THE OTHER SIDE TOO?! How can you even POST that?!


Wow. A) that must have been frightening. B) That looks terrible. C) I like your dog. Are you okay? Can you help me understand what is going on?

Suggested responses:

Thank you for asking me how I am.
I am okay.
I am not okay.
Thank you for remembering that I live here and that makes it particularly confusing and painful for me.
I know a lot about this conflict.
I don’t know enough about this conflict.
I need a blueberry popsicle and can’t really talk about this right now, okay?

Resources to Read, Suggest and Share

*Send suggested additions to this list to or leave a comment.

Contested Land, Contested Memory by Jo Roberts: Probably the most important book I have ever read on the topic of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Highlights the need for acknowledgment of the pain and the history of each side. Thoughtfully written, thoroughly researched with copious sources.

From Beirut to Jerusalem by Thomas Friedman: a fantastic primer about the conflict, real politik and splinter groups of splinter groups in Lebanon, Israel and the Middle East in general. Complete with index and helpful timelines and maps.

Truth & Beauty in Wartime: FB page updated several times daily with diversity, personal accounts and credible sources.

From the Huffington Post: 7 Things to Consider Before Choosing Sides in the Middle East Conflict, by Ali Rizvi. A well reasoned and comprehensive article.

Be a Conscientious Objector in a Social Media War: An impassioned blog post from right here on Stories Without Borders about the massive and sometimes frightening influence of social media and how particularly during stressful times, we should use it wisely.

Learn more about Slacktivism and why it stinks. 


None of these absolutely true examples are meant to disparage anyone in particular or to intimate that the views of those outside of Israel don’t matter. They do.  You might be surprised by how an Israeli really feels about this situation (a few hints: upset. scared. defensive. confused. grieving. despairing. angry). If you truly want to have a conversation about this conflict and to learn more about it, don’t jump in with both feet and make sweeping statements or assumptions. You are entitled to your opinion but inviting a meaningful conversation of open dialogue with your friend doesn’t generally start with a sweeping statement or foggy ideals. Read up before you chime in. And if you don’t have the energy or time? Maybe just make sure your friend is okay.

FAQ about Julie Gray

Lately I have been getting a great number of emails and Facebook messages asking more about me, how I am, why I am in Israel and what I am doing when I am not talking about the current situation. I am one of those nutters who adores and makes friends with just about every human I meet and I’ve traveled quite a bit and it’s wonderful… but lately, I can’t keep up. SO HELLO WORLD, I LOVE YOU TOO :)

In particular, thank everyone who has sent me very sweet messages thanking me for a particular post that was helpful to them. I try to reply as quickly as I can. But sometimes – well, think of this as that dreaded holiday newsletter ;)

Why I am in Israel?

That’s a long story but I came here in 2012. Read much more here.

What I am doing?

I direct the Tel Aviv Writer’s Salon and have recently begun to add Transformative Writing Workshops to help people deal with the despair, fear and isolation of trauma.

I work with novelists and screenwriters to story edit and review their work to make sure it’s as perfect as can be before they submit to agents and publishers.

I work with Israeli start up companies and accelerator programs to help articulate and communicate tech innovation for presentations and meetings.

I created a Facebook Page about the current situation in Israel called Truth & Beauty in Wartime to provide a go-to source of diverse, credible information and personal accounts.

I blog for the Huffington Post, The Times of Israel and Script Magazine.

What is it like in Israel generally?


What is it like in Israel at the moment?


How do I feel about the situation in Gaza?

Heartbroken and scared. But hopeful that we can find a new way through this.

What is coming next?

I am working on a memoir about having moved from Hollywood to the Middle East. I am reading books voraciously. I am trying to find equilibrium and meaning and to stay busy. Which is not proving hard. Not that last bit, anyway. :)

When Faith Sucks

carouselAfter my brother’s suicide in 2010, as I coped with a torn reality, with bottomless grief and resultant depression and anxiety, I sought comfort through studying a variety of spiritual traditions. Ever the Californian, and ever me, I drew from many outlooks until I found a way of looking at life that brought and brings me comfort, courage and meaning.

I love the mystery of life, I love that there are creatures in the sea and in the universe that we do not yet know about. I love the mystery. I love the beauty and the grace of life. I am coming to acknowledge that after grief rained down on me, it fertilized the earth beneath my feet.

My job is primarily to help distill information into something that makes sense and that is powerful. I help stories get told in a way that is impactful, effective and as entertaining as possible. I am a writer. I write books. I write for several blogs. I am also a writing teacher, a writing facilitator and a story editor. I work with fiction writers, screenwriters, filmmakers, people needing to cope with trauma and even start up and high tech companies who need to concisely express their projects. My job, my livelihood of many years is to tell stories, to shape narratives.

And yet in my day to day life for the past 18 days, I am living in a reality that is impossible to shape into a coherent story. So many clashing narratives and emotional impulses crowd my thoughts, battling for supremacy – to make sense of the unspeakable. I am struggling to maintain an even keel but it is a very fierce battle for me.

I have discovered that my body can only handle so many rushes of adrenaline and subsequent low level dread before a spinning wheel of numbness, fatigue and general despair sets in. Imagine, wherever you are right now, as you read this, not knowing whether in the next second, a siren will blare outside your window and that you have to stop what you are doing, grab your phone and your keys and run. Any second. And when it doesn’t happen? There’s dread in that. Because it might happen – why hasn’t it? When will it come? Will you be in the shower? Asleep? On the street doing errands, as I was today? And then where do you run? It’s very hard on a body, physically. Especially over a period of approaching three weeks.

[I pause here to note that there were just three loud booms as rockets were intercepted over a town quite close to me. House shuddered.]

I can recover pretty quickly now. But the shock remains in my bones and will, I suspect, for the rest of my life.

Emotionally – the irony of teaching writers how to finesse and express stories into a narrative that is pleasing and makes sense while not being able to accomplish this in my own mind on a daily basis is taking a toll as well.

I have blogged a lot about this experience, and shared on Facebook copiously, since it helps me to cope by writing it down, and perhaps suffering from a delusion of grandeur, I have felt that by sharing what this is like from my little ol’ point of view, that maybe I can provide some visceral if pedestrian realness from those watching this conflict from so far away.

But mostly I think I am shouting into the wind.

Every day is a carousel of emotions from fear to despair to hope to faith and back again. I think that this is what courage and faith is about. To get on that carousel and try to hang onto that brass ring of one’s fundamental beliefs even when everything around you seems to challenge them in a blur. I think this is the way it is supposed to feel. Confusing, scary, transitional. I think I am in many ways extraordinarily lucky to be witnessing such times in Israel – as it happens – because this experience is showing me how much I can handle. It is teaching me that some things cannot be distilled, necessarily, into parables or easily digestible lessons with pleasing endings.

If you have endured grief, you know this. If you have struggled with cancer you know this. If you have struggled with a reality so far from what you think you can handle, you have experienced this.

I realize that I am very, very late to the Obvious Party. That until you have really, really, truly suffered through the incomprehensible, you have not really tested your faith – of whatever ilk. That it’s terrific to post neat stuff on Facebook about faith and strength and stuff but the real test of that is when you feel an absence of comfort of your belief system. When you think – REALLY?! REALLY?!

I just had a conversation with a “peace advocate” who refused to include Israeli children in her project, since she “culturally boycotts” Israel. Children. Children will be excluded. I felt livid. And then I cried. Why on earth am I putting myself in the position of reaching out to people when sometimes the result is an emotional tear in the fabric? Who needs this? Forget it! I want to scream to the sky. JUST. FORGET. IT.

It’s NOT going to be okay, you stupid California, naive, earth mama idiot!

Because some people will EXCLUDE CERTAIN CHILDREN in peace advocacy.

I felt a streak of red hot anger race throughout my body like lava. WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE?!

Oh – my heart. It hurts. This hurts more than death, to me. Because I have a hard time finding meaning in ignorance and hate. I have an impossible time finding meaning in war and cruelty. But – isn’t that the thing? The challenge? To try? Isn’t that the very essence of faith and grace?

angelMaybe it’s okay that right now I feel like am free falling into a blender that is NOT making margaritas. That I feel despair and fatigue. Maybe this is what we call in story telling, the dark night of the soul. The elixir is my love of the mystery and the grace and the unfolding wisdom and beauty of the universe – even when in certain periods of time it doesn’t look so wise or so pretty. I have to raise my eyes and let it go.

I believe in unicorns and mermaids and the Loch Ness monster and in peace and in love and glitter and bedazzlers. I believe we live many lives. And I do believe that in my next life, I would like to be a very wealthy sea slug of some sort. I need a break :)

Talking About Israel

Click here to listen to a discussion I had with Strength to Strength’s Sarri Singer and radio host Brian Jackson about the situation in Israel and the importance of narrative to influence, inform and sometimes even heal.

Discussion Link

Be a Conscientious Objector in a Social Media War

bradyWhen Mathew Brady published his photographs of the slain soldiers of the Civil War, America was shocked. Never before had we actually seen the torpid dead lying on the battlefield. Brady’s aching photographs brought war right into the living rooms of Americans and changed the face of warfare forever.

A lot has changed since Mathew Brady made war more personal. Never before have the opinions of so many been in the hands of so many – posting, sharing and disseminating opinions and inflammatory pictures and videos without taking the time to be analytic about just whose opinion we are championing or why beyond having had a knee-jerk reaction to it.

A picture is worth a thousand words. Or a video. But what picture? What words? In this age we have to ask if a picture has been doctored. Welcome to 1984. Orwell would be proud.

When social media and conflict collide, the result is a house afire. ISIS has a Twitter account. This is the age of “Performance terrorism”.

Violence. The word sounds just like what it means. Sharp but blunt, a cutting, tearing wound. And after the violence, blood, tears, trauma, pain.

There is a disturbing amount of verbal violence on Facebook about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I am discounting the absolute hate-filled nutters – left, right and center. They are not worth discussing because they represent a vitriolic but tiny minority, in actuality. We know that.

No, I am talking about really nice, intelligent, caring people who think they are helping by reposting primarily pictures and videos the sources of which are not vetted, generally not credible, and most certainly not given in context. Context, you see, is everything. The chocolate ration is five grams today.

[Real time update: I just ran to a bomb shelter for what was, conservatively, the 25th time. I shall continue.]

For the most part, these helpful sharers of “information” about the conflict in Israel live comfortably thousands (and thousands) of miles from where this particular conflict is playing out.

I on the other hand, have no doubt in my mind that an invention called The Iron Dome is why I am alive to write this. And I am lucky. Because my fellow humans – 45 miles away from where I live? They do not have this invention. No. They are open to whatever falls from the sky.

One of many marked differences between me and my cousins in Gaza? Is that I have an air conditioner and a laptop and I can write this. And I write it for them. For all of us. Because you all out there? In Facebookland? You are missing the point.

With so much confusing and frightening us today, we are now offered a whole new way to cope – social media. But let us be cautious of these online pitchforks and torches.

Whether you are posting GO Israel! Go IDF! Or “My god, look at this video of Israeli soldiers doing this awful thing!”, you are not standing up for a problem, you just became a part of it.

I find myself posting on Facebook a lot – “I just ran from another siren! This happened to me! This is happening!” It’s my way of screaming WHY?!

And you? Who live thousands of miles away from the Middle East? You want to scream too. So you post something – some video – some logo – some protest. And you say LOOK AT THIS!

Social media is a powerful way for us to communicate and to express and it is good. Until it is bad. Every time you post something that isn’t your personal experience, you have just become a part of someone else’s agenda, of someone’s bias. Most often a bias like “kittehs are cute” or “this recipe looks great” or “I also liked this film” – but what if the bias is something larger, something really relevant – something that can even incite? If you incite for anything you should incite for peace, for understanding, for context and for compassion. Pointing out the likely photoshopped or out of context atrocity which rips your heart out of your chest is likely to incite someone to HATE whomever is deemed as responsible. Incite thought. Incite analysis. Incite critical thinking.

Before you repost something about any conflict anywhere, that you are not directly involved in, ask yourself a few questions about the source.

Warning: This all requires critical thinking, something that takes a moment. Bear with me: it’s worth it.

Is this a credible source? Is the source a person you actually know? A journalist? A peace organization? Or is the source an advocacy group? What or whom do they advocate for? Use Google to find out more.

Does the source have credentials? Does this source have academic, occupational, experiential or any kind of direct involvement in this issue? What do they stand to gain by your sharing the information? With whom are they affiliated?

Is context given? What else was going on in and around that picture, video, etc.? Be critical – LOOK for an agenda. What does your gut say?

What is the intention? What is the post seeking to have you now do? Share? Send money? Be angry? – what? Is/was there any attempt to speak to the other “side” of this issue or conflict? That was reasonable sounding?

Stop right now. Question me. Question what you are reading right this very moment. I have biases. I am a woman, a mother, a Jew, an American, an Israeli, a needer of sunscreen and a pretty good cook. I am from Northern California. I am a person with a history. Of course I have a bias about many things. Google my name. Check me out.

When it comes to the conflict in Israel many are being manipulated into thinking there ARE sides, and that you should – you must – take a stand. Because damn it, from all the way in Philadelphia or London or San Diego – you CARE!

It’s lovely that you care. We all care. But what shall we care about? Empathy fatigue sets in. We must choose something to care about. Abused animals, abused children, rape culture, the war in Ukraine, the war in Syria, the war in Israel, homelessness in the US (well, that one is too commonplace to get particularly worked up about anymore, isn’t it?)

How do we choose what to care about collectively and individually as our attention grows more and more splintered and overwhelmed. We humans tend to just pick up our pitchforks and join the crowd that seems to be going in a particular direction. That is easier, we don’t have to think.

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. ~ Aristotle

The stories that we tell ourselves collectively and individually are powerful.

hiroshimaAs an American, I was brought up to believe that the bombing of the civilian populations in Nagasaki and Hiroshima were necessary to end a terrible war. Somewhere between 130,000 and 250,000 individuals – civilians – women and children, were vaporized in seconds. But it was necessary, right? That is the story I was told.

Let me be perfectly clear, if there were no Iron Dome, I would not be writing this. This is a fact. Why does Hamas siphon millions of dollars in aid into housing their absent leaders in luxury in other places? Why did Hamas not use millions of dollars to build shelters for their citizens? My government protects me. I am grateful. But I am not happy about what is happening – do not mistake my gratitude for condoning a war waged in a civilian population.

If you are interested in a diversity of thoughts and opinions about this particular conflict – updates that are serious, funny, sad and articles that are vetted, credible and contextualized, I suggest you like the Facebook page Truth & Beauty in Wartime.

If you’d like to do some in-depth reading and thinking about the conflict in Israel, here is a beginner’s reading list: Damascus Gate (Robert Stone) From Beirut to Jerusalem (Thomas Friedman), Contested Land, Contested Memory (Jo Roberts) The Lemon Tree (Sandy Tolan)

You feel sad and upset? Me too. You want somewhere to focus your anxiety and fear about the state of the world today? Me too. Let’s think globally, act locally and rise above the strong urge to make the conflict in Israel a simple one, with good guys and bad guys.

Criticize your country, where your problems are. Embrace non-violent communication. Exchange ideas. Put down your Facebook and put on your shoes. Go give a helping hand in your community. We don’t need any more torches or pitchforks in the Middle East, in case you may have noticed.

socialwarMost importantly, don’t be a mouthpiece for those who are really pulling the strings. Divide and conquer – when you get the populace too riled up to think straight, when they believe in this or that rhetoric – you wield great power. Just ask Nazi Germany. How could that have happened, we ask? How could ordinary Germans, Poles and Austrians have acted so inhumanely? Believe you me, if Facebook had existed preceding and during the second World War, the culture of fear and violence that blossomed into the deaths of over 12 million people would have been twice as effective in half the time.

History repeats itself. Just say no. Object to verbal violence on Facebook through your peaceful dissent of being herded into feeling MORE afraid and MORE separate from the “other”.

It’s not easy – I am telling you it’s not easy. I have a pounding heart on a daily basis. Either from running when another siren goes off, or from reading the local news in Israel, or from thinking about the suffering so very close to where I live. I feel angry! I feel heartbroken!

But the very essence, the very meaning of faith and grace and beauty, is to resist becoming a part of the ugliness, isn’t it?

I think many of us feel almost paralyzed about some of the news today. We want to help but what shall we do?

Here is what you should NOT do: parrot or repost Facebook updates that are on either “side” and that do not use any context. Even better? You can have a look around at the issues in your community and start pitching in there. It might not seem as urgent or exotic as WAR but it is what you can do from where you are.

Think before you post or repost or share the point of view of a “side”. Be part of the solution. If you are a writer – write it down. If you are an artist, paint it. If you are a musician sing a song to someone who is lonely and if you are none of the above, just put on your shoes, walk out the door and find somebody in your community who would like to be read aloud to, or who needs food donated.

Stories matter. Narrative is everything. Be a part of a better story by being a conscientious objector of irresponsible, inflammatory social media wars.

In the words of Mother Theresa:

“I was once asked why I don’t participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.”

Germany Gives Israel the Gift of Silence

.לחצו פה להסבר על תרגום לעברית

Germany gives Israel the gift of silence. Indeed.

Another great article by Tel Aviv Writer’s Salon member Oren Peleg (learn more about Oren and his writing here) in which Oren examines the role of sports and peace.

Littered with dramatic aerial views from the vantage point of Christ the Redeemer overlooking Rio de Janeiro and the iconic Maracana stadium, the broadcast of the World Cup final between Germany and Argentina had it all. There were near misses, clattering tackles, and moments of individual brilliance. No glaring officiating errors took away from the result. The goal that won it from super sub Mario Gotze was a cracking stunner that deservedly proved decisive. Lebron James, Shakira and Vladimir Putin were even in attendance. I defy anyone to come up with a more intriguing lunch trio. Putin, party of three? Right this way.

The entire world watched Die Mannschaft complete its conquest and neatly do away with the Argentines and Messi’s wizardry to claim the coveted Jules Rimet trophy.

Sport is an art of spectacle and the Germans matched up against the Argentines on the hallowed ground of the Maracana proved just that for two hours and change. The German football triumph of triumphs also provided a nation in peril with some much-needed quiet, as even Hamas operatives couldn’t look away.

Boom! Boom! Boom! Currently, the not so gentle melody of missiles flying overhead is heard throughout the land of Israel. No one wants this. No one wants to see innocents caught in the middle on either side. Those compelled to incite terror simply sat transfixed, insisting instead on watching the Germany game, giving everyone a break.

Some six thousand miles away, Israel briefly experienced some six thousand decibels of silence. The barrage of Hamas-fired rockets raining down on Southern Israel and even farther-reaching ones pelting the Tel Aviv area stopped. Israelis could hear their own thoughts and formulate new ones. Life has largely gone on throughout this turmoil, as is the nature of the Israeli spirit to do so, but make no mistake, this is shattering to the people. That night was a glimmer of hope.

Sport, in this case, football, played a vital role. Football possesses a seemingly unparalleled power to unify. It is the power of sport. Football is essentially twenty-two men equipped with thigh-high revealing short shorts and truly thespian tendencies chasing a tiny ball around a wide grassy field. That’s it, and yet somehow, it’s so much more. In the Christmas Truce of 1914 during World War I, warring German and British soldiers came together in the heart of no man’s land between enemy lines for a good natured game of football. It was the ultimate wartime chivalry.

Brazilian legend Pele came to play in Lagos, Nigeria during the country’s bloody 1967 civil war, which precipitated a two-day ceasefire so that the opposing factions could catch a glimpse of greatness. After leading his native Ivory Coast to qualify for the 2006 World Cup in Germany, beloved striker Didier Drogba got down on his knees on live television and begged for an end to the civil war. Soon after, leaders from both sides were in attendance for an African Cup of Nations qualifying match singing the Ivorian national anthem together. This is the power of sport. It is beautiful to behold.

The power of Hamas is characterized by ugliness. This hateful organization wields the power of fear. It endangers its citizens by placing them in harm’s way. It encourages civilians to form human shields. It fires rockets from underneath hospitals, religious sites, schools and homes of the innocent. It wishes nothing but death and destruction to a neighboring nation. It, in and of itself, is a crime against everything right in this world. It preys on the fear stricken and works tirelessly to strike fear in the hearts of those not yet conquered. They brandish fear, but fear alone cannot conquer. It can only lay ruin. Love alone can conquer. Even these fear brandishing bandits had to stop and watch the global phenomenon that is the World Cup.

Something feels different about this latest round of fighting between Israelis and Palestinians. The quiet of course didn’t last long. With the end of the game and the German players lifting the cup to celebrate the proudest moment of their lives, a forecast of heavy rocket rain quickly returned to Israel. Hamas resumed and both sides suffer now. That part feels familiar. The temporary quiet was different and something new. Maybe it went largely unnoticed because of the timing. Any event competing for attention with the World Cup final will slip into obscurity. We can’t forget that quiet. It’s pure. It’s everything we want. It’s everything we need.

Sport is a microcosm of society and how it is truly meant to function. Players come together from all corners of the world, from all different backgrounds and beliefs and compete, devoid of outright confrontation, but rather with mutual admiration and respect. The primal nature of competitive football drew wide-reaching interest upon its inception. Then every nation’s engagement in the game gave football its patented complexity. It is truly the international language.

Maybe it’s this age of accessibility we’re in, but this latest conflict is simply on more lips. It’s being discussed and people are taking notice. Debate rages. Sometimes this part of it seems good. Sometimes this part of it seems bad. I’m not of the mindset that my words can change anything. I’m just hopeful that things can quiet down, perhaps in a more meaningful way than in times past. We’re all painfully familiar with the narrative. Things escalate. There’s a ceasefire followed by some welcome downtime. Then things pick up again and we’re right back where we started.

Those two hours of silence Germany gifted all of Israel with during last night’s final are what make me hopeful. If twenty-two grown men chasing a tiny ball on grass can silence Hamas, then I am hopeful. Clearly, around the world football is something more than just sport. Here’s to hoping we all come out of this latest altercation with something more than just a ceasefire.



When Stories Become Truth


.לחצו פה להסבר על תרגום לעברית

You’ve heard the advice a million times in your life - believe in yourself. Have confidence.

The stories that we tell ourselves, about ourselves, about our worlds, are very powerful. We need them. When we believe our stories, we can cope with what we think is truth. And we desperately need some truth to hang onto.

If the narrative – the story – you are creating and defining is that of your business, your success, your life – GREAT – create a good one! A strong one! Never a story of victimhood or anger. That won’t help you succeed.

But if you are creating a story or contributing to a narrative of a larger story, of a shared story – be careful. What are you adding to the narrative?

On Saturday, July 12th at 8pm, Hamas informed Israel that in one hour they would rain down hell on central Israel. They were late. It started at 9:07pm. But what Hamas lacked in punctuality they made up for in the number and capabilities of the missiles fired.

I was on a safe room floor with 7 other Israelis. Suffice to say my Hebrew is not good enough to understand the panicked chatter as the building shook and sirens wailed.

When I emerged and naturally gravitated straight to Facebook to update my friends all over the world, I noticed a private message had come in. It was from an acquaintance that I have never met in person. The woman apologized for just having to get some things off her chest. She just had to. I read her long, inflammatory, angry rant about how awful Israel is while picking safe room dust out of my hair and listening carefully for more sirens. I couldn’t wait to check the news to see what was going on. I was (and am) ill knowing that Israel would most certainly strike back powerfully after such a provocative and heavy attack.

I was appalled, of course, to receive such a message at such a time and also to be the target of an emotional rant that has nothing to do with me personally. Unless I am in charge of political/military decisions in Israel and if I am, I would have appreciated some notice and at least a few sick days.

The next morning – I received a heartfelt apology via email.

I see this as a teachable moment – a chance for dialogue not anger, a moment that I could try, at least, to wring some understanding out of. Be the change you want to see in the world. That kind of thing.

This is what I said:

First, thank you for your apology, that is very nice of you. I know this is a heated topic, for all of us. Especially those of us actually living through it.

Strong feelings don’t bother me at all – it is natural to have them over such an emotional topic.

But one-sided arguments and intellectual dishonesty or laziness does bother me very much. I don’t mean you personally – although your argument was intellectually lazy. You are parroting things you have read or heard without questioning them and poking around the edges to look for agendas or bias. This is something that many of us do. We pick a narrative that fits our fears and preconceptions perfectly.  It’s the Arabs! They are terrorists! It’s the Israelis! They are bullies! That’s the truth! 

Americans have a complicated and emotional relationship with the idea of bullies and underdogs both. Bullies pop up on the internet, they have their own shows on Fox. We hate them. We are them. I don’t think this is only an American proclivity, this underdog/bully dynamic. And it certainly isn’t only an American knee-jerk to hold a powerful belief without knowing – or examining – why. All humans share that tendency. I understand.

Here’s a truth: there is no one truth about this or any situation. Its much more complicated. There are no good guys or bad guys except the gutless, self-interested leaders on both sides. All of the people suffer as our fears and paranoia of “other” gets fanned.

We are all human beings in this part of the world, and in Israel, there is a bitter dispute not so much over land (as it would appear) but over who really owns the narrative of this land. It is an argument that can never be won but this argument is exploited by political leaders and terrorist groups to maintain power and control. We are all victims in it.

Do not conflate Israelis with our right wing government and our poor leaders. Do not conflate Palestinians with Hamas. Examine the news with more intellectual vigor. Just whose “news” is this? Questioning what you believe and why is painful but necessary.

I don’t have an easy answer. Wrongs have been committed on both sides. Terrible wrongs. We should stop electing leaders out of fear or coercion. Not just here – all over the world. What is causing ISIS to come into such power so quickly? Fear, inequity, greed, poverty, a power vacuum. It was ever thus.

What can we do as humans? How do we control this flood of information instructing us as to who or what is right or wrong? We have to exercise our cold intellects, we have to information gather from many sources, we have to examine what we believe and why, and much more difficult, we have to accept ambiguities. Which are very hard to live with. That’s why we crave popular entertainment, action movies and the like. Because that’s where ambiguity goes to die. In the third act. With a great soundtrack.

What Hamas is doing is wrong – very, very wrong. The Israeli response is heavy handed but born of huge frustration and fear. Also wrong. There has to be a better way. But that way is not to belch forth one’s own fears and frustrations on a person who just got up off a safe room floor, who is dealing with this ambiguity much more than you are. Because there’s nothing ambiguous about a long range missile almost striking your house and there’s nothing ambiguous about the 100+ Palestinian civilians who have died in this.

I wish I could send a team of negotiators to both sides to wave a magic wand and hand out cold drinks, medical aid and stern, down to earth advice. I wish we could all get along. I wish we could lock the leaders on all sides into a big room together where they could work it out themselves and leave all of us alone while they do. Maybe it would be a little bit more pressing if their own lives were at risk – not everybody else’s.

And if wishes were fishes the sea would be full.

Be intellectually honest.  Vet the stories you hear. Is this part of a narrative that, like a train, takes us inexorably in this or that direction? Question what you read. Analyze it. Gather information from many sources. Then ask yourself which narrative you want to be a part of.

“Every time you tell yourself a good vs evil story, you’re basically lowering your IQ.”

-from Tedx Tyler Cowen: Be Suspicious of Stories.

I have to live with the ambiguity of this and so do you.

Let’s not fight. Let’s be the change we’d like to see in this world.


Truth & Beauty: Making Sense of Our Stories

.לחצו פה להסבר על תרגום לעברית

Recently I wrote an article in Script Magazine about emerging Israeli filmmakers and whether the situation in Israel affects their point of view and their filmmaking. Overwhelmingly, the filmmakers I spoke to wanted the world to know that they are filmmakers first and Israeli second.

Yet the situation in Israel does create a backdrop, a narrative that changes the day to day for Israelis. They don’t say “necessity is the mother of invention” for nothing. According to Start Up Israel there are several Israeli apps that have been developed in direct response to the situation.

Your environment affects your story, whether that’s fiction, a film, or you latest tech innovation. As story tellers, creators and innovators, we use what we know, where we are from and what we are curious about to build new narratives.  With the amount of social media available to use, we can even create disposable stories – meaning we can create something only meant to be used for a short time.

Because I wanted my American friends to know what is going on in Israel during Operation Protective Edge from a real, on-the-ground, human perspective, I created a Facebook page called Truth and Beauty During Wartime. There are several editors of the page and they update content with their personal views ranging from the political to the personal to the funny and ironic. Part therapy, part a human approach to share the point of view of regular Israelis dealing with any number of emotions as we are being bombarded – and as our government is bombarding – Gaza in response to over 500 rockets sent our way in the past four days.

But primarily, the page allows us the opportunity to try to make some sense out of this narrative that just keeps unfolding. To some how give it a framework for ourselves. Which is what you give to others when you create – a framework for their entertainment, for their needs, for the convenience. You are helping build a narrative every single day. What’s your story?




Israeli Film: Three Houses

I am very proud to know and have worked with Marc Grey, co-producer of this short film produced with the ACRI. The cinematography is brilliant, the stories heartbreaking and the film is important. It is through art that we reach for understanding.