Betrayal and Despair

We heard from a speaker a few years back who completely oversimplified Israeli politics by saying that an Israeli liberal believes that peace can be achieved with the Palestinians and a conservative knows that it cannot. By this standard, and most others, our friends in Eshkol have been historically predominantly liberal.
Over the years, Eshkol residents tried developing ties with their Gazan neighbors with work and other opportunities. On October 7, those neighbors followed the terrorists through the border to take part in the looting of border communities. Subsequently, Israel also has learned that those same trusted neighbors provided detailed maps of homes and neighborhoods to Hamas terrorists, making their rampage most effective.
Most of the October 7 survivors from Eshkol have been evacuated to either Eilat or the Dead Sea/Ein Gedi area. We visited the latter group. Survivors lost family, friends, homes, and communities. Our people are resilient and over time (with much therapy) will recover. They will rebuild and we will help them. But on this visit, we felt something that I’ve never felt before in Israel—despair. The liberal optimists, working to build a lasting peace with neighbors, are suffering from the enormous, unprecedented betrayal and having a very difficult time with it. As one speaker we heard put it, “this betrayal has setback any hopes of peace by at least two generations.”
(I should also note here the sense of betrayal by the government and IDF, which failed to keep them safe.)
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the question posed to a survivor, “Would you prefer that we visit or send a check?” He unequivocally answered, “While we really appreciate the money, right now we really need your hugs.” Once we understood their despair, we could understand how important our visit really was.
I’m sorry; I was really hoping to write a more positive message this week. I’ll try again next week.