Hi. My name is Noga and I live in Israel.
I’m a 90s child. I like to be recognized as a 90s Girl because I grew up during the time where children didn’t have cell phones or iPods. We had a Tetris, a Discman and a tiny Tamagotchi which died every few days because we forgot to feed it. I was (and still am) a Disney child; I grew up loving Ariel and Belle; dreamed that “someday my prince will come / someday I’ll find my love…”; thought about Prince Charming arriving to rescue me.
However, growing up in Israel during the 90s… well, let’s just say this was a different experience.
You call it the Second Intifada; I call it terror. I don’t remember a lot from that time; all I remember is the cold fear that took a hold of me every time I had to climb a bus. All I remember is the cold sweat I would broke into every time I had to ride my dad’s car near a bus. I remember that clenching fist of fright when I was in a crowd of people.
I remember all the suicide attacks during those years. It was the time where I was afraid to leave the house, afraid to go to my grandmother’s house who lives in Jerusalem. I was thirteen, maybe fourteen. I was in high school; those were supposed to be my best years. Somehow, sometimes, all I remember from those years is the gripping fear that something might happen to my loved ones; I don’t think I ever actually worried for myself.
As a child you are never aware of the politics involved all those horrid incidents. You never understand why some people want you dead; why buses should be a scary vehicle and not because of its size; why you have to hand your bag to the security guard every time you want to buy a new dress in the mall. We had – and still have – a dark humored saying that goes like this:
On a glass door on one of the stores at the mall there’s a piece of paper. On that paper you read: “In our store, we have a day with a suicide attack and a day without. On and off. Yesterday there was one.”
You can realize how un-funny it is, when you really think about it.
Nonetheless, it was still time of fun. Admit it or not, at a certain point you start to ignore security guards who stand in front of mall entrances; you learn to ignore the numbing terror and learn your life. All you want to be is a normal teenager; to forget the fact that your country is at war; to push every unnecessary thought to the back of your skull. And so I can remember one afternoon during high school, where my entire year decorated the walls. I remember how movie-like it felt; music was heard everywhere; there was loud laughter and simple, genuine joy.
I don’t care that my childhood wasn’t perfect. I grew up knowing there are people who want me dead, even though they do not know me, and this is an awareness no child should ever be familiar with. However, I don’t regret living here. This is my country; this is where I was born and raised; where I can take a bus and drive to the Western Wall whenever I feel like; where I can find a snowed mountain in the north and a desert in the west; where we have the lowest place on earth.
This is where I grew up and I will never trade it for the world.