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Swapping Hurricane Sandy in New York for Tel Aviv's bombs

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On 14 November, Israel assassinated Hamas strongman Ahmed Jabari; now 3 Israelis and 20 Palestinians are dead. Of course, attacking the Gaza strip right before elections is a long-since beloved tradition of Israeli right wing governments. For the first time in 21 years, since the Gulf war, bombs are landing on Tel Aviv again, and a rocket has been fired on Jerusalem for the first time since 1970

Three weeks ago I trav­elled to New York for the first time in my life. The mo­ment I landed, I was in­formed that the storm which was about to hit was worse than first thought. Watch­ing the news that night from a rented apart­ment in Ja­maica, Brook­lyn, I re­alised that stay­ing was not an op­tion. A mad five hours' drive to Maine, with Sandy on our heels, roads clos­ing be­hind us as we went, turned my plans up­side down. Re­turn­ing to the city a week later, I thought that the worst was be­hind me. I went to mu­se­ums, watched the US elec­tions at an LGBT cabaret bar on Christo­pher street and took pho­tos of the gor­geous au­tumn, bliss­fully un­aware of what I was miss­ing in Is­rael.

As I posted a final face­book sta­tus from New York, in­form­ing my friends of my re­turn, some­one replied: 'I would sug­gest you to stay there, you are com­ing to be in a shel­ter from where I see it.' I thought she was jok­ing, and laughed about it with the Hait­ian cabby on my way to the air­port. Land­ing in Tel Aviv was noth­ing if not nor­mal. I came home, un­packed my travel bags, hung my new dresses in the closet and had din­ner. Then an alarm sounded. Thor­oughly used to drills, I de­cided to check the on­line news to make sure: Is­rael killed a Hamas leader. Ac­cord­ing to Is­raeli peace ac­tivist Ger­shon Baskin, who spoke to Haaretz news­pa­per, it hap­pened while Ahmed Jabari was work­ing on a per­ma­nent truce agree­ment with Is­rael.

From my apart­ment in the res­i­den­tial neigh­bour­hood of Neveh Eliezer, in the south-east of the city, you can hear loud booms from time to time. The tele­vi­sion is on, with its end­less pro­pa­ganda try­ing to jus­tify land­ing yet an­other war on us, yet again just be­fore an elec­tion (which have been moved from Oc­to­ber 2012 to Jan­u­ary 2013). After mul­ti­ple pack­ing and re-pack­ing for the past three weeks, this time, I am pack­ing in a way I have al­ways feared most – emer­gency pack­ing. Every sin­gle sig­nif­i­cant doc­u­ment has been stuck into a big bag – pass­ports, IDs, birth cer­tifi­cates, grad­u­a­tion doc­u­ments. Some warm cloth­ing. Dry food. Water. Med­ica­tions. After that, it is time for the dreaded choice: what is my prici­est be­long­ing? Thoughts flash through my head – my gui­tar, my signed copies of Neil Gaiman's books, me­men­tos from re­la­tion­ships. I go to my jew­ellery stand. Choos­ing a neck­lace to wear to the bomb shel­ter is cer­tainly the best way to find out which one is your fa­vorite. There are only two things I would save first – my lap­top and my cam­era, with­out which I can­not work. I pull on a pair of jeans and a beloved T-shirt. I refuse to head down for now, though. Per­haps it is my eter­nal op­ti­mism, per­haps it is in­san­ity, but even with bombs crash­ing around me, I would still rather stay where I have in­ter­net con­nec­tion and work. How­ever, when they come for me, I'm ready; I have my pur­ple neck­lace.

Image: (cc) [ changó ]/ Ric­cardo Ro­mano/ flickr/ riccardo-romano.​com