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A letter from Israel to the Swedish people

Hi, my name is Koby.

I am just a normal every day Israeli. I am 36 years old, married and father to two little girls: a 3-year-old and an 8 months old baby.
We live in Ashdod, a 250,000 people town, just 25 minutes drive south of Tel Aviv.
Ashdod is located on the Mediterranean beach and has a wonderful white sand beach. On our spare time we love going to the beach, swim, have a coffee in a trendy coffee shop, enjoy the sea view or let the kids play on the beach.

I guess some of you heard something of Israel and my guess is that probably this something is not so nice. So I decided to just tell you a few things about me and my life, and maybe through my story, give you another perspective of my country and the life of Israelis.

My both parents came to Israel from different places. My father is from Iran and my mother from Russia. They met here, In Ashdod. They both encountered the difficulties of a newcomer to a new country and had to adjust to new and unfamiliar society. I guess they both acclimatized pretty well. My mom became a high school teacher, my dad a real estate entrepreneur.

As a kid, I remember we had friends from Gaza – The Arab Contractors that were working with my dad. They used to come to our house and we would have lunch together – my mom always enjoyed their compliments for her cooking. We would speak about work, and about growing children, weddings and laugh together.
I remember the road from Gaza to Ashdod, every morning thousands of cars from Gaza packed with as much people a Peugeot 404 can contain were coming into Israel to start they days work. In the evening, they were all going back. On Saturdays my father and our neighbor used to drive to Gaza, to buy food: pigeons, shrimp and broad bean. Our neighbor would make delicacy out of it. These were good days.

And then, the intifada started. Arabs were attacking Israelis everywhere. It was no longer safe to go to Gaza and the border was closed, no Arabs entered Israel. In 1994 with peace talks, we met again for a short time, but then Arabs started to commit suicide bombings in Israeli towns, and they were no longer allowed to enter Israel. We kept in touch with our friends in Gaza for some time. Talking on the telephone, hoping for better days. But these days never came. All ties with Gaza were severed.

On 30 Jan 2001 Arabs started firing mortar shells into Israeli populated communities (Kibbutz and Moshavs). On April 16, 2001, the first rocket was fired into an Israeli town – Sderot, the nearest Israeli town to Gaza. We thought it was just a mistake, a onetime event. But it wasn’t. The Israeli communities around Gaza became a scary place to live in, daily fired at by the Arabs with mortars and rockets. The people in these communities have 15 seconds to hide after a siren is heard. On December 28, 2008 first missiles were fired on my hometown.

I clearly remember that day. It was a Saturday. Me and my brother in law were taking a short trip to the beautiful hills of Beit Shemesh. On our way there we saw many war planes taking off from their air bases. Since it was Saturday, it was weird. Saturday is the Jewish religious day of rest. No work of any kind nor any activity is done on this day, all the more so army activity. I turned on the radio and heard the IAF is retaliating for 60 rockets fired earlier by the Arabs on Israeli towns. I called my wife (she was 6 months pregnant then) and told her to ask our neighbor to immediately open the building’s bomb shelter. I had a very bad feeling.
90 minutes later my wife called me, ”We just had a Siren heard and missiles hit our town, come back” she said. I was shocked. Few days later a missile hit a penthouse apartment in a building just 30 meters from our building.

ashdodashdod

From 2008 Ashdod suffered numerous missile attacks from Gaza. Between March 9, 2012 and march 13 Israel suffered one of the worst missile attacks ever. Arabs launched more than 300 missiles from Gaza into Israel, many of them hit Ashdod. A Missile hit a store just behind my house, the story even reached the BBC.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-17343600

This is us running during a missile attack:

This is how it sounds:

I hope our friends in Gaza remember us, that they do not hate us. I do not know what they are teaching their children and grandchildren but I want to hope it is not hate.
Since 2001, more than 12,000 rockets, Missiles & Mortar shells were fired from Gaza into Israeli cities. Every time a siren is heard, We have 45 Seconds to find shelter. Me and my wife have to take the baby and our little 3 years old girl and run for the bomb shelter 2 floors down. Sometimes we are fired at in the middle of the night, when we are sleeping. We are considered lucky – Israelis living closer to Gaza have 15 seconds only.
My 3-year-old has trauma. She shakes in my hands every time a siren is heard. She hugs me and wouldn’t let go for long time. She asks me: ”Dad, why is the siren coming down at us?”. What do you say to your baby when she asks this? That Arabs Hate us and want us dead? How can I explain it to a baby?
No we do not teach our children hate. We teach them hope and love and respect.
Especially in times like this, we tell our girl that it is ok to be afraid, we to afraid. We tell her that as long as we keep the safety provisions we’ll be ok. That’s it. When she will grow up she will decide on her own how to judge the situation we live in.

I am just a regular any day Israeli. This is my story. In case you didn’t hear it on national news, don’t think it didn’t happen. It’s the people telling the story prevented you from hearing it.

Yours truly

Koby Shamsian

Ashdod, Israel.

Connect with me on Facebook. Follow me on Twitter.

23 Comments

  1. Jag tycker att den svenska pressen ska skriva om detta! Var är ni??

    • Line Singer

      Og den danske!

    • Roee s

      Now you can see another important thing –
      The media in Sweden reports the Palestinian conflict as if it was one of the most important conflicts in the world, certainly the main reason of the problems in the middle east. Now with the ”Arab spring” we see how small and relatively insignificant this conflict really is, when the Arab and Muslim world is breaking into its tribal components – Arabs, Persians, Beduins, Alawaits, Sunis, Shiats, Christians, Druz, Kurds, Salafites… and a lot more…. all hating each other and massacring each other on a daily basis, without any relation to the Jews or Israel. Imagine what would happened to the Jews of the middle east if they continued to live under Arab Regimes and didn’t have Israel.. our fate would have been like we see today with the poor Christians of Lebanon and Egypt, if not worse..

  2. Line Singer

    First of all; this is such a good initiative, thank you Kim!

    And thank you Koby for sharing your story with us. It breaks my heart that people, especially the children, have to go through this. At the same time it’s good to hear that you’re not full of hate even when the sirens go and the grads are falling. Unfortunately I’m not sure what I’d do or say or who I’d be if I had to live your life.
    We spent July & August last year with my parents-in-law in Gedera (we live in Denmark) and that was the first time I experienced the siren and the sound of rockets falling. That sound, the siren, was the most terrifying sound I ever heard in my life. And I just wish that people would stop to think once in a while about what’s happening, just imagine what it would be like if it was your life.
    Again TODA RABA and kol hakavod Koby for sharing your story. I wish you everything well in the future and chag pesach sameach!

  3. Mahmoud

    Sad story indeed. But, its a one sided story.

    Take all this suffering you are dealing with,
    now multiply it by some big ass number,
    this is how much ”your friends” in Gaza are suffering.

    Telling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a child story of ”we want only to to live, but they want us dead!”, as if the Israeli side got NOTHING to do with it, is well , sorry to say, plain stupid.

    I also can go story-telling for hours here,
    About how my grandfather and my family were driven out of their homes in the 1948 war with the Jews,
    On Lydda (today Lod) the city where I was born, and have 4 generations of graves from my great great grandfather, but i will spare you the drama.

    Also you can spare me the story tales of some gods of yours promising you this blood soaked land we both call homeland.

    The Israeli side is to blame as much as the Palestinian side.

    Our politicians are assh*les who dehumanize and scare us from the other side.
    Our religious ”wise men” are bastards who should be banished to the Gulag.

    THEY are our biggest problem.
    Alas, we small men and women, we pay the price.

    Mahmoud AbuHamad
    EX-Israeli-Palestinian-decedent-Arab.

    • solomon

      First of all Just to be clear . Israel is the Jewish homeland way before Islam was discovered (fact , there is no discussion on whether Jews or Arabs were there first , your quran tells you that our food is considered halal which means we were there first ,we existed at the time it was written ) and our history in Israel goes back 3300 years as our homeland which we were driven and chased out of by people like the Palestinians , we don’t have another history ISRAEL is our history , for 3300 years every Jew has prayed 3 times a day, and 5 times in each prayer we pray to be returned to our homeland , Palestine has no history whatsoever, Jerusalem is not mentioned in the quran even once! while every time a Jew even says grace after a meal we pray to return to Jerusalem, now to talk about GOD , with 12000 rockets fired on an area the size of a small city and every time a rocket is fired they pray that it should fall in a hospital or playground but with GODS help not even one casualty!.
      if not GOD himself looking down and watching over the Jews we would be long gone , 12000 rockets – what would you want israel to do? love the way that these terrorists are being portrayed as innocents? of course there would be unwanted deaths just like the united states in Iraq and all the other war-zones , and YES terrorists! …
      i was born in Yemen (Arabic Jew) we had a great time with our neighbors but back then nobody was trying to kill nobody. fact of the matter is ”Arabs are trying to kill the Jews for no reason beside hate” just like Jews were always subject to hate but the only difference is , GOD gave us the power to stand our ground and we wont be led like chicken to a slaughterhouse NEVER AGAIN!

    • Michael

      I don’t believe in a divinity of any narrative, although it’s an established fact that Jews lived in this region. Yes, Arabs lived in this region too. The problem is, it is not only a conflict between Jews (that were forced by European hate to return to its ancient homeland) and Arabs who did not want this land to come under different sovereignty. This is also a problem of hundreds of thousands Jews who lived in Arab countries but many of them were expelled or pushed out of their homes. They found shelter in Israel. Still nobody demands responsibility from many of Arab countries for this.

      Israel withdrew from Gaza unilaterally on September 12, 2012. Just a couple of hours after, there was a first qassam salvo from Gaza. A normal person would suspect that Palestinians seeing the voluntary withdrawal should reciprocate with peace proposal or at least not shoot. Nothing like this happened. Hundreds of rockets were launched. Just a couple of months later Hamas, the terrorist organisation, won the elections. Even Fatah does not want to cross out from its chart the point intending to destroy Israel, but Hamas in addition annulled all hitherto signed Oslo accords and withdrew recognition of Israel. Not to mention the shocking hate propaganda pumped by their TV, newspapers, schools. Out of this hate they cannot stop. Even if they get land back, they cannot do anything positive with it. So what do you expect? Starting from September 12, 2005 Israel is a victim of jihad from Gaza and the only thing IL can do is to defend itself… :(

    • einav

      i would like to answear you please.
      no one said that the arabs is our problem cause if you read it again you will find a very big fact about this person and what he is tring to tell you is that he have arab friends and i do too and the priblem is the terror organization that are promissing the small people money and all the thing thay dont have because of the terror and they sometimes dont have any othe choice besides bomb themselfs in israel, they want food for their children but on the other hand you can even find in youtube videos of hamas’s camps for children and what they teach them is not love and friendship.
      so obviously all around the world you can find the bad and good poeple but here in israel and in any new fixed country we get to choose our leaders and in all the arab countries they dont and is a part of this shole thing cause i bet if the arabs in gaza will get to choose their leader without being scared from them they will choose peace and i will be able to visit gaza’s great beach.
      and againg i dont hate arabs i love them as long as they want peace as much as i want.

      hope we’ll get it
      einav,
      beer sheva, israel.
      (another bombed big city)

      • Michael

        Dear Einav, I did not write ”Arabs are problem”. I wrote about the Hamas regime in Gaza and meant the political/military representation and choices. I know well that Arabs have their own share of arguments as Jews surely have, but at the end of the day if you make a real gesture and withdraw, the minimal expectation should be calm. And there was no calm from day 1. The same situation was with withdrawal from South Lebanon. This is the biggest problem here: the political/military choices of the Arab camp, plus the naivete of the large share of Europe.

        Saying this, I absolutely agree that apart from the ”big politics” there are human-human contacts which should be strongly explored.

  4. Mike

    Dear Mahmoud and Solomon. Though you both have valid points there are plenty of other places in the Internet where you can share your differences. This web is about personal letters from Israel. It’s an oppurtunity to share and learn personal accounts. Please don’t spoil such a great initiative.

  5. jea

    remember
    You live in a stolen country.
    You play terrorists in hand by the behaviour of your forces
    You face growing international resistance by the way you ignore UN
    You face diminishing US support
    There is no way you can win.

    • Read your history and be an educated humanbeing

  6. Natalie

    Bullshit jea. If you don’t like what you read here, go somewhere else with your hate.

  7. Roy

    You cant stole something who doesnt belong to anyone…..
    there was never a palestinian state or a people…
    you know not so long I learned in school that a nation must have at least 3 of the following:
    historical connenction the a land (nope)
    Unique language (nope arabic is spoken all over the ME)
    speciefic culture (again nope, there is no palestinian culture since the culture is Jordanian and syrian… same food and traditions.)
    Common hsitory (again Palestain is recognized by the british and ottmans only 250 years ago. so it is not recognized as common history.

  8. solomon

    jea , out of respect to Kim and this website i will not get into an argument , but i will review your claim

    stolen country = Jews are the ONLY ones that actually have a claim to this country
    play into terrorists hands = i know you would prefer that we just raise our hands and give up but , take a closer look at our history , we just DONT do that.
    growing international resistance = nothing new there , jews have never been considered human beings , if wer’e rich they say we are taking over the world , if wer’e poor we are just dirty Jews , but it never stopped us before. just a little information about the UN the human rights council , which last week approved Ismail Al-Ashkar the head of the bloc of Hamas legislators , a mass terrorist ,to preach about how inhumane Israel is , secondly Syria is still a member of the council at this very moment and just FYI Israel didnt wait for the absurd to happen and severed all ties with this council as of early this week .
    diminishing US support = we are truly very thankful to the help we are getting from the US , but we earn every penny of it , in numerous ways and cooperation military and civil , inventions etc.etc. but dont forget Jews have done ok for 5000 years before america came along so wer’e not worried about that so much
    there is no way we can win = were not looking to win , we just want to continue making the world a better place , one thing is for sure we wont lose ….

  9. Alex

    To who ever runs this forum-

    Please recall the main idea of these treads and delete who are ignoring it’s purpose.
    The Internet is a big place for ideas and radicals. there’s a wonderful site called youtube for such stuff.

  10. Ann

    A magazine theme would make ur blog look nicer :)

    • I’ve thought about it. We’ll see. :)

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