Could my words endanger Elie or another soldier? I never post in advance what will be happening. I never post more than general locations, vast areas where our troops in general are training. The whole world knows our soldiers guard our borders. It can't hurt to say Elie is in the south or in the north, on the Lebanese border or in the Golan - he and tens of thousands of others. All that I write, while a way to connect with others who have gone through or will go through the same in the years to come, is worth nothing if even one soldier were hurt because something printed here could be used against us.
I love the comments from soldiers here in Israel and even American soldiers in the Gulf. I feel so connected to the other mothers of Israeli soldiers, and several mothers whose sons are serving in Iraq now, to the mothers of young children here and elsewhere who identify with me. It's so interesting to hear from others - soldiers who have gone through what Elie is going through and who add perspective and knowledge. It enriches me, it centers me, it calms me. But always, in the front of my mind, is the constant thought that there are others who could read this and so I think carefully before posting some of the things Elie tells me.
He called last night, "Ima, do you know what I'll be doing tomorrow?" He sounded excited. He sounded happy. I forced myself to listen to the words more than the simple pleasure of listening to the tone.
"No, what's happening?"
I listened for a while and decided to myself, well, this one isn't going on the blog, certainly not until after it takes place! He spoke of a huge exercise. Live ammunition. Important people watching it. Maybe next week, I thought to myself. Maybe not at all. Sure, the Syrians will hear it, but never mind. But there it is in the news, already posted on Israeli news sites:
The IDF is holding a live-fire military exercise in northern Israel today. Explosion sounds may be heard throughout the region. Such military exercises are part of the ongoing cycle of training and improvements initiated by the IDF following the lessons learned in the 2006 Lebanon War.
The IDF Spokesperson's Unit announced that there is no cause for concern.
Yes, Elie told me about the many divisions that would be participating in this exercise and the important government officials who will be watching. Yesterday, they practiced "dry" - without live fire and today, as I sit here working and typing away, a part of me knows that my son is up there with real explosives and real explosions.
Who's concerned? Well, the IDF spokesperson's unit says there is no cause for concern. Of course, they are talking to the civilians living nearby who can hear these exercises. Be assured, the unit is saying, we aren't really at war; it's just an exercise. It's part of our ongoing need to remember past mistakes so that we can better protect Israel in the future. Don't be worried, perhaps is the message to the parents as well. We know what we are doing. Don't be concerned.
I accept that and for now, I'll concentrate on the excitement I heard in my son's voice. It must be an awesome, inspiring sight, to see the might of the Israeli army and air force flex its muscle. It must be amazing. I envy my son this wonderful day. May they learn all they need to know. May they enjoy the sight of so much power - all meant to protect our land and our people.
Elie comes home tomorrow and I hope he'll tell me all about it. For now, I'll smile and wish him a glorious day of practice - and an equally strong wish that this is all we will ever have to do - practice, exercise, and blow up empty hills in mock battles.