Last night I made the mistake of reading some of the comments posted by members of the public to an article in one of Israel's online newspapers. There sure are a lot of mean-spirited, ignorant, hysterical, and/or simply dumb people out there.
Today I called an office in America to arrange to speak with someone I need to ask about something, and when the secretary heard I'm in Jerusalem, she started asking me many, many questions about life here, and the "situation." I answered as carefully and honestly as I could, trying to be fair to Israel without being completely one-sided.
It turned out that she subscribes to the "moral equivalency" population of people who believe that since more Palestinians have died, it must mean Israel is the bad guy. Some Palestinians have had their olive groves destroyed, so Israel must be making a land grab, settlers are taking land without caring about other people's livelihoods, etc.
I did the best I could to educate her about the subtleties of the situation. Of course I couldn't say that Israel is always "right" -- I don't think it always is myself, and even if I did think it, it wouldn't be diplomatic to say in this case -- but she clearly was in desperate need of some shades-of-gray.
When I hung up, I realized that I'd been holding my breath a lot. I felt very tired.
I'm so tired of caring what other people think, of knowing that just about everyone in the world hates me and everything I stand for at worst and finds my country mildly irritating at best. I'm tired of worrying about a nuclear bomb falling on my head, tired of being on the defensive, tired of thinking constantly about whether there is a solution, tired of feeling helpless when other people do something dumb, tired of being held to a double standard, tired of holding myself to a double standard. I'm tired of caring so much. I guess I'm tired of caring so much about being a Jew.
I could disengage from the whole thing (pun not intended, I think), and simply decide not to get emotionally involved, and certainly not to write about the "situation" any more. I could, in theory, stop reading the news entirely.
But that last is tough, given that news is my job. And also, if I don't stay abreast of what's going on and form opinions and make them heard, then I can't complain about the decisions that other people make on my behalf. I only have the right to an opinion if I throw myself into the argument and become part of the process of making things better, if that is possible. If I don't make this whole thing my business then, well, it will be none of my business.
Besides, it's a little late for me to pretend I don't care. I made aliyah. The jig is up.
So I'll keep reading the news, and annoying blogs, and stupid comments on news sites; and I'll keep blogging my opinions sometimes and taking the heat from (sometimes obnoxious) commenters; and I'll keep talking to secretaries who are missing important information. I'll keep worrying and thinking and wallowing in confusion until my head threatens to split open.
But I'm so tired.