On the first day of kindergarten, a new friend asked me where I lived. My parents had just separated, and my mom had moved into an apartment a mile away. I emphatically answered:
“I don’t live anywhere! I don’t have a home!”
I felt as if the ground from under me had disappeared. It took a few years, a few more houses, and an awesome summer camp before I found new spaces that I felt connected to and a part of.
Today, when I visit my hometown, I feel love, and I know that no matter where I end up, I can always come back and re-connect to my roots. I can drive by my old houses and sit in the local cafe and under my favorite tree and know that this placed formed me. This will always be a space in which I can find comfort.
In a few hours, I am going to head out from my house in Tel Aviv to join tens of other people in the South Hebron Hills village of Susiya for a Shabbat Against Demolition protest and gathering. On Saturday, I will be joining Ta’ayush, along with other All That’s Left members, to participate in a direct action in Umm Il Khier, a village that experienced demolitions this week for the second time this year.
Residents of these villages, as well as the dozens of other villages facing demolition, have asked that the local and international community stand with them in solidarity and protest the use of demolition as a tool for displacement and dispossession. As an Israeli and a member of the Jewish community, I feel a responsibility to answer that call and to support these villages by showing up physically and by campaigning for their rights.
As the five year old who felt that I had no home to connect to, I feel a personal call to make sure that these spaces, homes and villages of thousands of people will be remain standing for residents to find comfort in.
Of course, I do not claim to understand the lived experience of those facing demolitions and displacement, and my experiences of my parents’ divorce does not compare to that of systematic dispossession.
But as someone who once felt without a home, I know that I never want others to be expelled from their spaces in my name.
So today, I will join #ShabbatAgainstDemolition, and will continue to work with residents of the villages to fight for their rights to call their own spaces home.