Thursday, July 31, 2014

When a Mosque is an Arsenal...

it is not holy, it is not a house of God, even if it is a house of allah.


Longing for the Silly, Normal, Summer Things

They glory of Facebook is that it connects you to other parts of the world so you can catch a glimpse of what they are doing. The problem is that what they are doing is so very different from my life here in Israel right now. I want to be writing about the silly normal things.

Like both Elie and Shmulik are moving apartments this summer. It has caused unbelievable stress and I've basically found myself in the middle of everything and everyone's issues. To make room for some of the changes here, in between everything else, I've been going through some boxes.

I found a beautiful dress for a baby that Aliza had once worn, long ago. I showed it to her - she's taller than I am, graceful and so young. At 14, the world is so confined around her world. She is normal - a normal 14 year old despite having lived through wars, despite seeing her brothers serve, despite the threat of sirens and news, almost daily, of casualties.

She started complaining about the dress. She doesn't like the collar and the flower. Of a dress she wore as a baby...

She is babysitting for her nephew today - she plans to play with him in the new little pool that his mother bought him...

Davidi went out the other night with his friends. He has been helping Elie pack and move his things...all normal.

I crave normal.

I have the computer open when I am at home and when I am at Elie's apartment helping him pack. In a normal world, people use the computer to play music. I keep it open to hear the sirens indicating incoming missiles. We have, at any time, three different ways to be informed - Elie's phone, my phone....

how perfectly timed...Color Red missile warning now in Otef Aza area

and another....same location

so Elie's phone, my phone, and the computer - four if you count the actual air raid siren itself to indicate an attack on Jerusalem and/or Maale Adumim.

The first thing I do in the morning, the last thing I do at night - is check the Internet...we lost three more soldiers yesterday. Each is a whole world. This is a Jewish concept. We have lost 56 worlds...how can I explain this to people outside Israel.

We don't barbecue and have sales and look forward to a long Memorial Day weekend...we dread the day, our places of entertainment are closed. We mourn to the depths of our souls...and now, every day is memorial day - every day we worry and fear and mourn.

But if that sounds despondent, then you still don't understand us - we are so proud of our soldiers, so proud of our army. Someone asked me on a scale of 1 to 10, how sure am I that Israel is 100% right in this war.

I told him 9 and he asked me to explain the one. I told him I only said 9 because if I said 10, you'd accuse me of being brainwashed, blind, and uninformed.

But I have seen pictures of the tunnels, I have seen the secondary explosions that indicate arsenals of explosives and weapons are being stored in buildings they call mosques, hospitals and homes. Years ago I said it and I'll say it again, a hospital is not an arsenal...and an arsenal is not a hospital. A school, even a United Nations sponsored one, is not a school if it is an arsenal. THREE of their schools have been confirmed to be arsenals.

The anger chokes; the pain and worry bring tears so easily today. And if I am to be honest, I resent those who post on Facebook about the wonderful, carefree days of summer without giving one stinking post, one word to my country, to the families of 56 brave soldiers who stand, stood, and fell for all that the Jewish world is.

I sit in my kitchen, looking out over the Judean hills - the same hills that Jews looked at 2,000 years ago and 3,000 years ago. This is my home, my land and I'll continue to live here with more pride than most will ever feel, even if I crave normal sometimes in the depths of summer...

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Saddest News Possible

This picture is making the rounds today - it breaks the heart to look at, to think what it represents. We never know when that last moment, that last time together will come...too many families in Israel are remembering that moment now, wishing that if the worst was to come, at least let them have known that last hug would have to last a lifetime...

A lifetime...without him.


Random Voices from Israel - Continued

Sometimes I am overwhelmed with the voices I hear coming from all over Israel...sometimes...often, I am driven to tears and have the strongest desire to make these voices heard more loudly.

11:19 After 2 hours without missiles, once again, sirens in communities nearest to Gaza.

From Miriam - a mother and grandmother living very close to the border with Gaza:
Yesterday evening the booming was relentless. My house was shaking and the walls were vibrating with 2 pictures falling. During the night it quiet down a little and there were only missiles to Shaar HaNegev and Sdot Negev very early this morning. This morning. our jets are back doing their job.
From a Canadian - posting to fellow Canadians:
A fellow Canadian posted on his status: I said I would not do this but I am just too pissed off right now not to tell you how I feel. As a usually polite Canadian I am going to shock all my friends and family living outside Israel. How would you like to be woken up at 2:30 in the morning with an air raid siren blasting in your ear? You now have less than a minute to run to a shelter? Then you hear a loud boom. Think about it the next time you decide to criticize Israeli military actions in Gaza. Think about the next time you decide to side with terrorists. Please spare me the crocodile tears for the victims in Gaza. The Arabs have made their choice. Our government and our IDF must stop this war crime against our civilians and pay for the deaths of our brave and young IDF soldiers.
From Devorah - who lives very close to Gaza - in the 8-15 second zone:

It's after 23:10 and I'm in bed. At this rate, there is no way we are going to get any sleep tonight. Between the sirens, the iron dome blowing the missiles out of the sky and the army bombing Aza.....way too noisy to sleep.
For over a week we haven't felt the IDF attacking Aza like tonight. Our home is 9 km from the fighting and it feels as though the bombing is in our front & back yard. Allow me to explain something, our home is built from cement blocks and its shaking like a leaf. The windows and doors are rattling as though someone is trying to get in. The very strong explosions are waking the young children and scaring the older ones.
Please to not misunderstand me. I am proud of our PM for continuing this necessary war. We must deal with the threat of the tunnels and rockets. We must crush the Hamas.
I just want you to understand what the residents of the south are going through.
We support the government.
We support the IDF.
We support each other...and are prepared to continue living with the noisy days and nights in order to end this immediate threat to our lives.
OK, that's it.

The Human Side of War: Part 1 - Israel

If you believed world media (which would be your first big mistake), you'd picture a huge tank with a Jewish star and faceless men in green uniforms driving over babies and women living in tents with no electricity.

Of course, 22 days after this war began, Gaza does in fact have little electricity but that happened yesterday, so we'll ignore it for now...maybe next post.

Back to the image. In this imaginary picture the media would have you believe, the women and babies are doing nothing but trying to scrape out some food while not getting in the way of that massive tank...

Yes, that's the ridiculous picture and so there are two parts to the solution needed. One is to give a picture of us and the second is to give a picture of them.

This post is about us because I am so amazingly proud of the image and reality of my country and my people. Here are some examples:

Feeding the Soldiers


The old stereotype of the Jewish mother always trying to feed her children has become reality - only it isn't just the Jewish mothers but the Jewish fathers too (and the Jewish store owners, and neighbors, and well, everyone). Early on, a friend said he went to see his son who was stationed with reserve soldiers near Gaza (one of the few blessings of having your enemies close is that you have your soldier sons (and daughters) close as well). His son told him that he had gained weight from all the food people had given him. Here are a few other stories:

A father of a soldierwho is now in Gaza told how his son was informed on Friday that his unit will not be going out for Shabbat, which was a problem because they did not have any provisions after expecting to be released to go home for the weekend. The father ran to the supermarket to buy some things, as much dips and salads as he could. Then he stopped at a shwarma place in Petach Tikva. He asked for a portion to be put into an aluminum tray and explained that it was for his son who is in Gaza without food for the Sabbath.
 

The owner said to him "what do you mean for your son? How many soldiers are in his group?" 

The father answered "70" .


The owner called all of his workers. They prepared all the shwarma they had, brought out all of their meat, fried schnitzels, prepared Moroccan salads and chips and within an hour he and all of his workers had emptied the entire restaurant and given it over to the father.


The father, a religious man who has seen acts of kindness in his life, just stood there crying and thanking him.

Love and Commitment


Love is all over Israel today - from the young to the elderly. Here are two examples. This is the second Operation Protective Edge proposal I have heard about...what better time to commit to the future than at a time when you are most worried about today.


 
And this one - some elderly Holocaust survivors have collected about 100,000 shekels for IDF soldiers. Here's a picture of a few of them holding signs that say "Dear grandchildren, come home safe" and "Take care of yourselves" and "Yashar Koach (sort of slang for "good job"), Soldiers!"



A man has donated 100 mattresses for the soldiers who are sleeping on the ground just outside Gaza. He will even join in paying to have them shipped to the soldiers.

The soldiers sleep in open fields, under tents. Neighboring communities bring them food, open their homes so the soldiers can shower, give them access to their community pools when the soldiers have some down time and despite living in a war zone in which they have anywhere from 7 to 15 seconds to find shelter, they have opened their hearts to our soldiers.

An offer of a shower and a mattress to someone who has camped outside for nearly a month is an incredible act of love.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Old Video - but very special

On their way into Gaza - a tank crew says the Traveler's Prayer - a prayer we say when embarking on a trip...a prayer for blessings of safety and success and a safe return...


How Gaza Chose a Tunnel over a School....and....


It's hard to believe that a caring government would choose to build a weapon, an attack tunnel over dozens of schools, mosques, homes and medical centers. Oh wait, we're not talking about a caring government, we're talking about Hamas. Never mind....



Attempted Terror Attack on Jerusalem Light Rail

Of all the things I have never wanted to do or see, a terror attack is quite high on the list.

At approximately 4:30 p.m. today, I was riding on the second car of the Jerusalem light rail train, heading towards Ammunition Hill (Givat HaTachmoshet). As it arrived at Damascus Gate, as far as I know, the only stop where guards are required to wear bullet-proof vests, passengers got off and on, and then suddenly there was a loud disturbance in the back of the rail car in which I was riding.

Everyone starting running forward, a few people were yelling. The doors at the front had already closed. As I looked to the rear, I saw a small cloud of smoke and heard noise coming from outside. Just to the side of the train station platform, I saw very little other than what looked like an attempt by several people to converge on something or someone while there was more yelling both outside and in the train.

The doors to the train closed. People were trying to understand what was happening. Those that had been in the back explained that an Arab had pulled out tear gas and started spraying it and then, as the doors were about to close and people were trying to get away, he ran out onto the platform and presumably beyond.

People attempted to hail the driver, who it seems ignored all signals of distress. A slight amount of the tear gas drifted forward enough to give a slight feeling of it in the air. The train moved to the next stop where many people got out. Someone hailed security. They came into the train and made everyone go to the first car. I can only hope they checked the train before it began to move.

The next stop was the same, and then we arrived at Ammunition Hill where the train was checked again.

The reaction of the people on the train was a combination of anger and shock. As terror attacks go, it was, I know, a minor event. It could have been so much worse - in fact, it is in and of itself a gift and a miracle that it wasn't worse. It could have been a bomb - there was no security person on the train with us and we were, for all intents and purposes, prisoners within a rail car that was shut down with a threat inside the car.

My hands shook as I called Shmulik to see where he was and as I called Davidi was making his way home at the same time. I wanted to tell him not to take the train, but to catch a bus, so he would not have to go through the Damascus Gate stop. He was already on the bus, so I didn't tell him about the tear gas until later.

Life is full of what could have been and it helps to focus on what was. What was, was an act of hate intended to harm, if not permanently, than at least to cause discomfort. No one would allow us to say that Arabs cannot ride the light rail - they would accuse us of apartheid behavior and so, each day, tens of thousands of Arabs go on the light rail to get to work, to school, to shop, and for medical appointments at some of the finest hospitals in the Middle East.

Many Arabs abused that privilege when they attacked the light rail stations in their neighborhoods, burning down the stations and ticketing machines, defacing the structures with graffiti that read "Death to Israel; Death to the Jews." For weeks, they have been stoning the train - so many of the windows on these clean and relatively new rail cars are shattered. The train bears these marks with stoic dignity as it travels along the route planned by some stupid city planner who forgot to take into account violence and security requirements.

And today, about 40 people were subjected to an attempted terror attack...or perhaps it was like the rockets they fire at us just a minute ago, an hour ago, and throughout this day and the last 20 days. I have always said, just because the rocket misses, doesn't mean it isn't a terror attack.

Just because a few of us probably have scratchy throats, and a few people complained of burning eyes rather than more serious injuries, doesn't mean it wasn't a terror attack.

 


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