Writing about the attack with the detached analytical eye of a journalist, I was able to take the perspective that (I was fast learning) most news outlets wanted – that Israel was to blame for Palestinian violence.
As the “Stabbing Intifada” (as it later became known) kicked into full gear, I traveled to the impoverished East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan for a story I was writing. I found myself worrying that my wife might be stabbed while she was on her way home from work.
As soon as I arrived, a Palestinian kid who was perhaps 13 years old pointed at me and shouted “Yehud! Immediately, a large group of his friends who’d been hanging out nearby were running toward me with a terrifying sparkle in their eyes. Every time my phone lit up with news of another attack, if I wasn’t in the same room with her, I immediately sent her a text to see if she was OK.
My wife and I had moved to the Jewish side of town, more or less by chance ‒ the first Airbnb host who accepted our request to rent a room happened to be in the Nachlaot neighborhood where even the hipsters are religious.
As a result, almost everyone we interacted with was Jewish Israeli and very supportive of Israel.
IN THE summer of 2015, just three days after I moved to Israel for a year-and-a-half stint freelance reporting in the region, I wrote down my feelings about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
A friend of mine in New York had mentioned that it would be interesting to see if living in Israel would change the way I felt.Outside of the Tel Aviv bubble, the conflict is omnipresent; it affects almost every aspect of life. During one such argument, one of my roommates ‒ an easygoing American-Jewish guy in his mid-30s ‒ seemed to be suggesting that all Palestinians were terrorists.I became annoyed and told him it was wrong to call all Palestinians terrorists, that only a small minority supported terrorist attacks.He believed in making peace with the Palestinians and “never missed a peace rally,” according to his son.By contrast, his killers ‒ who came from a middle-class neighborhood in East Jerusalem and were actually quite well-off relative to most Palestinians ‒ had been paid 20,000 shekels to storm the bus that morning with their cowardly guns.In the interview, his family told me how he was a promising young entrepreneur who was pushed over the edge by the daily humiliations wrought by the occupation.I ended up writing a very sympathetic story about the killer for a Jordanian news site called Al Bawaba News.You support gay rights, access to abortion and gun control.The belief that Israel is unjustly bullying the Palestinians is an inextricable part of this pantheon.Most progressives in the US view Israel as an aggressor, oppressing the poor noble Arabs who are being so brutally denied their freedom.“I believe Israel should relinquish control of all of the Gaza Strip and most of the West Bank,” I wrote on July 11, 2015, from a park near my new apartment in Jerusalem’s Baka neighborhood.“The occupation is an act of colonialism that only creates suffering, frustration and despair for millions of Palestinians.”Perhaps predictably, this view didn’t play well among the people I met during my first few weeks in Jerusalem, which, even by Israeli standards, is a conservative city.