Broken Camera / by Sophie Schor

My iPhone camera is broken and I'm out of film so I can’t use my trusty old Nikon.

The phone’s broken camera is reflective of my own inability to process all that is going on here right now. I keep sane by being able to take quick snapshots while I’m walking down the street and capturing a moment of perfect symmetry; carrying a camera makes me aware of the way the afternoon sun hits the building under renovation, or of the energetic flurry of bikes on the streets, or the juxtaposition between the mosque and the skyscraper. It allows me to step away and watch my surroundings. So instead of taking photos, of creating the frame, of adjusting the exposure, I am left to absorb my surroundings passively.

My friend came by the café to visit and we talked about current events. She asked me how I’m handling it. I simply told her I’m not. I’m trying not to read the news. I’m trying not to hear the stories. I’m trying not to feel fear and heartbreak. Yet even while hiding away in a cozy corner of Tel Aviv where my path follows a pretty specific route between a few local places where I can get by foot or by bike in less than fifteen minutes, I can’t avoid it.

Since the beginning of October, ten Israelis have died in stabbing incidents (and or shot); meanwhile, 48 incidents of Palestinians who stabbed or tried to stab Israelis resulted in the assailant being shot and killed.

I woke up this morning and the first thing I saw was an update from a friend that a 21-year-old Palestinian who was shot in the West Bank died this morning. Our apartment’s Thanksgiving plans shifted when the 20-year-old brother of a friend was stabbed near Hebron while on his army duty. The country feels small. Earlier this week a regular came into the café and just said, “You heard there was another attack? Right around the corner from here. Two Jewish Israelis were stabbed and died near that synagogue.” Mahene Yehuda Market, the heartbeat of West Jerusalem, turned into a panic when two young Palestinian girls (14 and 16 years old) used scissors to stab a 70-year-old man. One of the girls was shot and killed, because all the police force was unable to subdue a 16-year-old girl with scissors. An Israeli undercover operation went awry as soldiers snuck into a hospital in the West Bank where they abducted a patient (who had previously that week been injured post-attacking an Israeli) and killed his cousin in the process. Kerry came for a visit this week; no one listened. Netanyahu’s government has proposed more settlements and developments of separate settlement roads that bypass Palestinian areas. The sound of sirens puts you on immediately on edge.

But my camera is broken. So I quickly shut the open window. I don’t click that link to that news article. I avoid Twitter. Instead, I research pecan pie recipes and wonder whether or not Martha Stewart would approve of Israeli pecans and pretend that it is Thanksgiving in Tel Aviv.  It’s hard to do though with the temperature over 80 degree (27C) weather. I write a list of what I’m thankful for; I try to find the little slivers of humanity amidst the madness. I save up money to fix my phone, I order more film.