Tzlil is 20.She is the girlfriend of one of my hosts. For a week I greeted her when i saw her. She did not really reply back. She seemed depressed I thought. Last night I was taken to a bar in Florentine, in Tel Aviv. It was a cool place. One of those that could have been anywhere in the world. It was chilled, and the people looked all different. I felt i could have been in Brazil. I sat next to Tzlil and all she did not say in the first week she blurted out in one night.
Tzlil is beautiful, and she is in the army. She was posted as an officer to the area close to the border of Egypt and Gaza. I asked her about it. And from the moment I asked her she spoke for about an hour non stop. She told me she was traumatised. That she saw many times Egyptians line up sudanese refugees and shoot them. She kept repeating it. “I could not take it. I had to go away. It is so much violence from every corner, from everyone. You change. You see you friends changing in front of your eyes. They don’t thing they do. But they change.”
I asked her what she was doing there. She was teaching Hebrew to the Bedouins. Apparently the army has one group of Bedouin soldiers. She explained to me she was in charge to teach them to write and read in Hebrew. They could speak but not read. She told me about a man who once able to read he became really upset. I asked her why and she explained because all over it is written in Hebrew “death to arabs”. “haven’t you seen it? ” . I explained I also could not read Hebrew.” It is.” she said it in hebrew translated it into english. She said all of this as if she was going to cry.
I asked her whether they spoke arabic. She looked at me puzzled by my ignorance and said ” of course, they are arabs, and bedouins, and israelis” why cant they all be all that? ” I who usually have so many questions was quiet. I heard her. All that she had to tell me. She was a mixture of traumatised, with depressed, with sad, with angry for having 2,5 years of her life taken away from her.
My eyes filled with tears. What could i possibly say? The Israeli South African next to us realising how intense was our conversation intervened “no politics girls. lets just enjoy the night”
I put my hand in hers as an act of compassion, of understanding. we abode by our fellow israelis desire. we looked at him, became silent, took one more sip of whatever we were drinking and we smiled. that is tel aviv.