Sunday, June 10, 2007

Are the Winds of War Blowing?

Syria and Hezbollah are likely to start a war against Israel next summer,
according to General Staff assessments that have been gathered during a series
of meetings in recent weeks. (Haaretz, March, 2007)

The IDF believes, however, that the "greatest danger" to northern Israel currently comes from Syria, which has raised its level of alert, although forces on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights have not been beefed up. (Jerusalem Post, April
2007)

The head of the research division of Military Intelligence, Brigadier
General Yossi Baidatz, said Sunday that Syrian President Bashar Assad is
preparing for a war with Israel. (Haaretz, May 2007)

Muhammad Habash, a member of the Syrian parliament, told the Al Jazeera satellite television station last week that Syria was expecting an outbreak of hostilities with the Jewish state this summer. (UPI, June 2007)

There's much ado in Israel about the possibility of war this summer in the Middle East and the government says that we are ready for war but would still prefer peace. The army, says its Chief of Staff, is always in one of two states - either preparing for war or fighting a war. Syria is making bellicose noises, Hizbollah has re-armed and Hamas is as belligerent as ever.

For a mother with a son in the army, it's a heart-wrenching time. Like any Israeli, I am concerned with whether or not my country has learned the lessons of the last war. We were caught when we were not ready and we paid in lives and reputation. The Arabs believe we are vulnerable in a way they have not believed in many years. The invincible Israelis of 1967 had long since given way to the less-than invincible Israel of 1973 and now they believe we are the defeat-able Israel of post Summer - 2006.

They honestly believe they can beat us this time because last summer what our government felt was a policy of restraint was interpreted as weakness. We went to war to retrieve our sons, and left them behind. We battled to protect our northern communities, but they were still hit by thousands of rockets and our citizens spent weeks living in horrible conditions. All this encouraged Hizbollah to believe they can lead their people to glory and our people to exile.

So the Israeli in me knows that the day will soon come when the Arab nations will gather their strength and try, yet again, to erase Israel from the map. The Israeli in me also knows that, yet again, they will fail and yet again, countless innocents on both sides will pay the price for this sad reality.

For the first time, the mother in me carries around another fear, along with the guilty feeling that when a nation goes to war, we must think of the nation and not the individual. That might work, unless the individual is your son. Like so many parents, the army has become a face, a boy, a single focused worry.

So where do the winds of war that are coursing through the Middle East right now leave my son and his unit? The answer for now is unknown. Much depends on the date that any war, if there will be a war, starts. For now, Elie has finished the first phase of his service - the basic training, and has begun the more focused training required to operate complex, computerized artillery batteries and controllers.

Will Elie’s unit be sent to the front to take up a position in the north? Will his unit be used as backup to free other troops, should the need arise? Will Hizbollah risk another confrontation with Israel? Sadly, the answer is most likely yes. Under the very noses of the United Nations "Peacekeeping" Forces, Hizbollah has re-armed completely and now has an estimated 20,000 rockets. If it weren’t so tragic, it would be a comedy.

Apparently, Hizbollah has even been so bold as to tunnel under a UN base to set up war bunkers. There are two big differences this year versus last year. The first is that hopefully, Israel will know what it is facing. Israel will not go in with 6-year-old maps and ill-equipped soldiers. And the second difference is that this year, my son is in the army.

This next war will be fought as a war of survival and my son will join the sons of thousands of families. I have so many questions for Elie, so much to ask. But I'm determined to let him set the pace, to tell me what he is allowed to tell, what he wants to say, what he needs us to know. As a mother and as an Israeli, I know that Elie and our soldiers will do what they must this summer, as they did last summer, as they have done all too many times in the past.

I am not pro-war, but I believe that there are times when greater violence and more disastrous wars are caused by a nation's trying to avoid rather than respond to threats made by its enemies. Israelis know that the government's failures last year might well lead to a more complicated war this summer.

Syria may become involved and Hamas may attempt to further complicate the situation by forcing Israelis to a two or three front war. But I also know something else. Israel has a great and powerful weapon that will see us through the failures of the past and the threats of the present.

Beyond the blindness of the United Nations, the hypocrisy of much of Europe and the sometimes misguided pressures brought upon us by the United States, we have one great reality: the bravery of our sons and the love we carry for them.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is heart-wrenching to hear what is going on in the Middle East. I have a son who is fighting over there right now and can somewhat understand your feelings. My prayers are with all of Israel. G. from USA

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