Since getting sober two years ago, I’ve been a stick-my-head-in-the-sand type of gal when it comes to current events. As someone who drank because I couldn’t make sense of this world and felt I didn’t belong to it, so much so that I actively tried to remove myself from it several times, I had to ignore the news to protect my sanity and sobriety. Because I’d taken away my coping mechanism, I couldn’t overload myself with all the reasons I drank in the first place.
Then the Israel-Hamas war started, and I found, no matter how I tried, I couldn’t look away. As someone who has spent time in Israel, took Jewish Studies courses as part of my master’s degree, and has Israeli friends, I was appalled by the October 7th attacks. The loss and capture of so many innocent people, many of them peace-loving, was devastating to behold. Without a doubt, Israelis suffered a massive trauma that day in October and continue to suffer as hostages remain in Gaza and young Israelis are sent to war.
Not too long ago, I listened to an interview of the mother of one of the hostages. She knew her son had been badly injured and taken to Gaza the day of the attacks, but she otherwise had little information about his whereabouts or wellbeing. Her pain was palpable. She described living in a nightmare from which she couldn’t awaken, and as a mother myself, my heart broke for her. In the final moments of the interview, she said mothers from both sides of the conflict should replace the men at the table because they’d quickly find a peaceful solution. Yes, I said aloud to myself, indeed.
I’ve watched Israel’s response to the October 7th attacks in horror. I’ve seen too many Palestinian parents holding the corpses of their children and dead children with no family members left to mourn them. Of the many videos that haunt me, the one that sticks with me the most is that of a father hugging and kissing his 3-year-old daughter before placing her lifeless body on a stretcher, where it is wrapped in plastic. That image cracked me into a thousand pieces.
When I saw Bakara post about the grassroots organization Safebow, which was delivering direct aid to Gazans, I knew I had to get involved. Early in the war, I’d donated to two international organizations in the hopes the funds would benefit Palestinian civilians, but I had no real sense of where the money went. The Safebow team, however, was on the ground in Egypt putting cash and necessities in the hands of Palestinian families. I began participating in some of Safebow’s initiatives and ended up in direct contact with the team. Soon the opportunity to volunteer with them in Egypt arose, and I jumped at the chance.
As I write this, I’m en route to Frankfurt, Germany, where I’ll catch a connecting flight to Cairo. Once in Egypt, I’ll begin helping the team distribute aid to Palestinians, including money this coven donated via a fundraiser Bakara shared. I’ll plan on reporting stories from my time with Safebow so you can see the impact of your incredible generosity.
People have praised my altruism for signing up for this journey, but if anything, my motivations are selfish. I felt helpless sitting on my hands in the safety and comfort of my living room while my tax dollars were funding the death of civilians. I had to do something, however small, to show the innocent victims of the war they are not alone, they are not forgotten, and their pain is seen and heard. That beautiful girl wrapped forever away into plastic could just as well have been my son had I been born in a different place. She was as much a child of the universe as he is, as we all are. How could I not go?
By Liz Lezius