Winter 2001 – Intifada II. I am abroad, on a three-month gig.
Two identical messages arrive in short succession from my two kids: “I’m ok”.
This is Standard Operating Procedure for our family when a family member is abroad. I now know, even before the news breaks on the local media, that a bus has been blown up in Tel Aviv or some outrage of the sort; and that they are all right.
Back to work.
The year is 1999. I am a senior in high school and I don’t want to serve in the military. I have so far taken two steps to avoid having a high profile, the number with which Tzahal measures your level of usefulness:
1. I have not gone to any of the voluntary tests administered by the army, ones that would prove I have a high IQ, speak more than one language, and am generally an intelligent, hard-working, non-homicidal or suicidal girl who would make a wonderful secretary or teacher.
2. I have shown up to the only mandatory interview (“Tzav Rishon”) in a state of horrible hangover. My dad, who drove me, had to stop the car on the way and let me out to puke.
I don’t want to wear a uniform, I don’t want to be told what to do, I don’t want to tell other people what to do. I want to be an artist- a vague notion at this point, one that seems to whisper of adventure, melancholy and travel- things I long for with every bone of my 17-year-old body.
And yet, I have doubts- not going to the army in Israel is a big decision, which will set me apart from most of the population. I am standing in the living room of our family house in north Tel Aviv, on the phone with the drafting department of the Israeli Defense Forces. They have put me on hold, with the radio playing on the phone. The song is Lenny Kravitz and I sing along: “I want to get away! I want to flyyyy awayyy….”