In the meantime, I am thinking about my friend Netta. An Israeli-Canadian Jew, she married a Palestinian man several years ago, and last I heard from her she was pregnant with their first child. Netta always believed that the situation in Israel was unjust, and she has devoted her life to working as a peace activist. I wonder if she is still living in Palestine, and how life is for her now.
Having lost touch, I decided to look for her online. I found pictures of her digging up army roadblocks and speaking to the governor of Nablus. I found dozens of articles from when she went to Ramallah in 2002, and interviews she gave inside Arafat’s compound. I read about how, under fire, she had helped to retrieve the bodies of two Palestinians who had been killed by Israeli forces, and what she said to a frightened colleague:
It's so good that you can feel the fear, and then not let it stop you from doing what you think is right.
I can hear her saying it.
Once, she told me about a children’s book she wanted to write. A little stick girl would walk from page to page, and on each one she would encounter a different monster. When she did, she would look the monster right in the eye and say, simply, “No!” and the monster would disappear. When all the monsters were gone, she would stand by herself in the middle of a blank page, squeeze her eyes shut and proclaim one last “No!” And then the little stick girl would vanish too.
I deeply admire that Netta is still saying “No!’ I wonder when I stopped?