Returning home: The long road ahead
search
OpinionGuest columnist

Returning home: The long road ahead

If I am ever able to move back to my home on Kibbutz Nirim, the atmosphere of security will need to be real, solid, tangible.

Before Adele Raemer returns home to Kibbutz Nirim she wants the Western Negev to be secured by the IDF. (Photo by aocrane, courtesy of flickr.com)
Before Adele Raemer returns home to Kibbutz Nirim she wants the Western Negev to be secured by the IDF. (Photo by aocrane, courtesy of flickr.com)

We are at the 60-day mark since the start of this formidable war. While there is still a very long road ahead of us before we can think of returning to our homes, I want to take the opportunity of this calendarial benchmark to explain what I, as a longtime resident of a kibbutz situated less than 2 kilometers (a little over a mile) from the border with the Gaza Strip, will need in order to be able to return home.

On Friday night, Oct. 6, before I went to sleep, I told my visiting 33-year-old son: “If you don’t see me when you get up, it will be because I’m going to drive out to the field of squills and take pictures of them as the sun rises.”

Luckily, I was too tired to follow through with my plans. I know for a fact that around the time I had planned to drive to that field, the area was overrun with terrorists and people were slaughtered near those very flowers.

I want to go home. Aside from getting our hostages back, the thing I want most right now is to go back to the community and home that I have been lovingly building for decades.

Life as a refugee in a hotel is not like it is when you are a tourist on vacation, when you have gone to relax and enjoy the benefits of a specified, limited period of pampering and touring. When you are a refugee in your own land, life in the limitations of a hotel room — as beautiful as it may be — is life on pause.

Life not knowing how long your stay will last because going home is not an option under your control, when your home is located in a closed military zone. As desperately as I want to go back to my turquoise dining room wall, the familiar smells and sights of my community, the red anemones that will bloom in February despite the war, there are conditions for that to be
able to happen, and those prerequisites are both non-negotiable and complicated. Houses and roads are easily built in time;
all you need is cement, tar and a lick of paint.

What I will need in order to return to my home will be to rebuild the sense of security and resilience that I felt during
all the years I lived on Nirim. That will require much more than mortar and lumber.

I will need to be able to rebuild the knowledge that the IDF soldiers have all their eyes on the border and on the communities which dot our border, 24/7/365. In order for us to be able to live there, and sleep there, with peace of mind and security, I will need the ability to reconstruct the scenario that I held on to so securely for decades: that our soldiers are immediately ready to jump to action when needed. On Oct. 7, it took the IDF battalions seven hours to arrive at Nirim!

I will need to rewind my psyche, back to the sense of safety that I had on Oct. 6, knowing that I can drive out into the fields before sunrise and photograph the wild flowers of our beautiful Negev.

However this task will be much more difficult than it was in the past, because, as a resident of Nirim post-Oct. 7, I understand that the aura of security that I had on Oct. 6 was no more solid than the fog of the morning desert that burns
off and dissipates with the rising sun. Sixty days on, the Adele of December 2023 understands that the sense of security
she had before her home was overrun with marauding, murderous terrorists was merely a mirage.

If I am ever able to move back to my home on Kibbutz Nirim, the atmosphere of security will need to be real, solid,
tangible. I have no idea how that can be achieved. That will be for the IDF and our government to build, but if that does not happen, then we can forget about the Western Negev. And if we give up on the Western Negev, we can give up on the Zionist dream.

Author’s note: I cannot close without mentioning that my usual editor, Judih Weinstein Haggai, who is an American-Canadian-Israel citizen, and a very dear friend, was unable to edit due to the inconceivable fact that she is still — after 60 days — being held captive in Gaza by the monstrous terrorists. #bringherhomenowPJC

Born in the USA, Adele Raemer has lived in a kibbutz on the border of the Gaza Strip since 1975. She is a mother and
a grandmother and moderates a Facebook group called “Life on the Border.” This piece first appeared on The Times
of Israel.

read more:
comments