"It’s over. It's over."

Gavriel Vinegrad

Location: Hippo Organic Falafel Restaurant, Rabin Square, Tel Aviv

Residence: South Tel Aviv

Age: 32

The encounter: I had taken my kids to Rabin Square to hear Shimon Peres speak at a memorial rally for the 19th anniversary of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.  “Some people think that those who believe in peace are naive. But I say: those who don’t believe in peace are naive!" Peres declared.  After Peres' speech I took my kids to a falafel place at the square. A group of young people crowded with us at one of the little tables. Gavriel was among them.

What are you doing here right now?
We just arrived here at Rabin Square for the memorial peace rally, but we were hungry so we decided to first get something to eat. We haven’t actually gone to the rally yet. This is also a social gathering for me, to meet other people who feel like me, that something needs to change. We can’t continue waging war forever! Look at all these beautiful young people! Wouldn’t it be nice if there were also people here who speak Arabic? Why can’t we just eat falafel together in peace?

What is your occupation?
I'm a bicycle mechanic, but I also work with solar energy and am studying electrical engineering.

How do you describe your religious or national identity?
My identity? I am a human being and I am sick of being pushed into categories of religion and nationality. On my Israel identity card it says I’m a Jew. But I want to live under a government that cares for human beings; not just for Jews.

Can you tell me a bit about your family?
I have a brother and a sister. My brother and I both served in he army but my sister refused – good for her! After two years in the army, I got out on a mental-illness exemption. They wanted to send me to the occupied territories and the only way I could get out was to get myself declared crazy.

Where is your family from?
My parents immigrated to Israel from England because they were idealists; they were young hippies and came here for socialism and peace. Now there is neither.

What are your hopes and expectations for the future of this land?
Nineteen years ago, when I was thirteen, my parents brought me here, to this square, to that original peace rally [where Rabin was assassinated]. I remember when we drove home, after Rabin had been shot. My parents kept saying: “It’s over. It’s over.” That’s when it all ended. That’s when they killed the peace process.
I don’t want to live here anymore. I’d like to live in Australia. I traveled there for two years, after the army. I love the quality of life there, the atmosphere, the people... 
What I see happening eventually is a total war between fundamentalists on either side; a total war, with millions of refugees. Fundamentalism is so popular on both sides because oppressed people, poor people, people who have nothing to lose choose fundamentalism.
Just today my parents told me they don’t see any future here. I call on young Israelis to just study a profession and leave and take their profession elsewhere. The same for young Palestinians... Get out of here!