The following is a response from Yael Stern O’Dwyer to the interview published by Three Monkeys Online with Palestinian author Suad Amiry.
Arafat and my hot flashes – an Israeli response to Suad Amiry’s Sharon and my Mother-in-Law.
After reading Suad Amiry's novel Sharon and my mother in law I was extremely moved … as an Israeli, living in Tel-Aviv at ta timewhen all around me people were “bursting at the Seams” or merely committing suicide at their leisure while taking other people's lives, limbs, children and women with them, I could identify myself with her agony at not being able to move freely…
It was Saturday eve; I always felt weird on Saturday eve, uneasy. On a verge of a panic attack. Maybe it was to do with the gloom I experienced at home, as a child on Sat. eve (My mother was a BA –graduate of Auschwitz). It was exactly 2 years ago, me and my not-such-a-great-hero, husband, who was an extremely gifted and intelligent man but the biggest coward if there's ever was one, were having a row, after a long week … I wanted to venture out.Out of doors…out of our building; living in Tel Aviv had become a Russian roulette … the streets were very quiet and empty … not a dog in sight, the stray cats had totally disappeared, everyone was waiting for the next one, and we didn't know where it would come from. I wanted to go to the movies.
“Are you out of your mind?!!!” Gideon screamed. I couldn't sit at home anymore I had to go out. To a coffee place,“A coffee place?!!! Now?!!” Only yesterday one of the most popular coffee places in Tel Aviv blew up.
“I don't know why?” argued Gideon back “he might just get fed uphalf way to the Hilton, did you think about that?“.I tried the movies, again.
“Crowded places?!!! Hello? Anybody home?”, pointing at my head.
“but we never had a suicider at the cinema!!”, I tried to reason.
“Exactly!!!”, exclaimed Gideon with a big smile, winning the argument.
I felt a hot flash coming on. It was August and I just had to have some air. “I don't care!!!”, I screamed, “I am going out!!! Now!”
All of a sudden a siren was heard, and another one and another one, a string of sirens always meant a suicide bomber, and the ambulances were rushing to the scene. We looked at each other with terror and turned on the TV.There was a suicide bomber at Michael’s Pub, a few minutes away from us.It was my son's favorite hang out; thank God he had been living in Holland for the last few years. He didn't even come home for a visit; I wouldn't let him, my only son…
Gideon, quickly rushed to the phone to ring his three children (from his 2 ex wives) they were all in their twenties … that was his usual routine, every time a bomber hit the town. Then he would take his clooney (Cloonex – a tranquilizer) I was always angry when he took it, being a practitioner of Chinese medicine, it was totally against my principals. But he couldn't care less. He was slowly becoming addicted to clooney.
We stayed at home glued to the TV watching the horrible scenes of children, women, blood, screaming, etc etc. Gideon began his usual snores beside me, the clooney had knocked him out!
The next day we heard on the news that Palestinians were under curfew ….
There are always three sides to every divorce: the wife, the husband and the truth…
We are having a terrible, endless bloody row: it's time to stop talking about the past. I would expect an educated person like Suad not to live in the past, but to accept our existence in Israel and to start talking from that point. We have no where else to go, and the experience of living as a Jew outside Israel has not been very successful … I could attach a picture of my mother's green number tattooed on her arm, she is only 74, she was 12 when they took her to the camps, one of the last survivors in the world … Tell me Suad, the truth: this is not about the occupied territories. Barak begged Arafat to take it back. This is about Jaffa…according to your book. Do you expect my mother to go back to Czechoslovakia? And look for her confiscated home? And what about me? I was born here, am I to take a dive in the sea?
Yael Stern O'Dwyer