Thursday, January 8, 2009

Today We Mourn

Today we lost two soldiers, two good men who fought for their country because that is what they were taught to do, that is what they believed in, that is what they knew was right. Tomorrow, the papers will write about them. Today, only a few details of their deaths and even less about their lives is known. I would wait until tomorrow to write about them, but somehow I feel the need to write about them now, on the day they died. I've only found one picture of each - they look so serious. I would rather have seen them smile.

I've had so many comments today - a few linger in my mind for their foul language or nasty tones but so many more linger because they offer support and kind words. I thank you all for your many kindnesses and assure you that Israel is strong, I am strong. I am taking this one day at a time and when that becomes too much, I take it one hour at a time. Today was a good day for me, perhaps because I was busy; perhaps because yesterday I got to talk to Elie and though he sounded bad, at least he was OK. Today was better because I spoke to him twice; and both times he was, above all else, Elie.

A few comments linger in my mind for their nasty tones and some for their ignorance. Some people are trying to be fair, but they are relying on media reports that come out of Gaza. The problem is that most media (BBC, Reuters, etc.) use Palestinians to report from Gaza. A few months ago, one "slipped" and said, "We." All too often, Palestinian reports have proven to be pure fiction.

This was true of the staged funeral years ago - where Israeli satellite caught the sad procession walking through the streets, somber and slow. Until the clumsy pallbearers dropped the boy. Have no fear, the kind Palestinian body quickly stood up, climbed back on the stretcher, covered himself, and was once again whisked off - somber and slow, to his funeral.

There there was the terrible massacre in Jenin. Palestinians screamed that hundreds...no, a thousand...no, wait, thousands...had died in Jenin years ago and the world quickly picked up the battle cry. A massacre. A holocaust. When the dust settled then - there were, according to the United Nations 52 dead, and at least 38 of those were armed. It came down to, perhaps, 11 civilians.

Already, several Arab leaders have quickly used words such as "massacre" and "holocaust" - then as now, we stand on a pile of lies and only when the dust settles will we, perhaps, learn the truth. One woman commented on the blog today saying, "So far, only 6 [Israelis were] killed by Hamas and 4 by their own Israeli army. Over 700 Palestinians killed, a large proportion women and children."

There was more to the comment, but this is enough. My first thought is that we in Israel would never think to say "only 6 killed" - not about them, or about us. Our tradition teaches us that a single life is as the whole world. There is nothing "only" about anyone's life. The second interesting comment is the part "a large proportion women and children." Actually, this isn't true. There are no accurate, unbiased casualty reports that suggest anything of the sort. One United Nations report mentions 25% - meaning that 75% were non-civilian, non-innocents.

There is no question that women and children have died - on both sides of this conflict. I personally don't like the number games any more than I like the picture spin games. In any case, I made a promise to myself that I would try to give each soldier, each person who lost his life, a place of remembrance. I sincerely hope there is someone on the Palestinian side taking the time to do the same and if there are more bodies there, more lost souls - perhaps you could take the time to write to your government, your democratically elected government, and explain that when you shoot rockets and missiles and mortars at a foreign country, there is a really good chance they won't take it forever. This conflict began because Hamas wanted it. Hamas started the shooting...and it won't stop until Hamas stops shooting...or we stop Hamas.

But all this is politics and I don't want to continue. I don't want to look to tomorrow and more fighting. But if I have to, first I want to look and remember. I want to honor the two soldiers we lost today. There is an important point to make, as well, before I mention these soldiers.

One was a Commander, and one was a Major. It is not by accident that a large number of our casualties are officers and commanders. Our military leaders do not lead from the back, as is the case in many armies; they lead from the front. They stand with their men, discuss the mission they are about to undertake, and then they say, "follow me," and head into battle. Today, two men told their units to follow them, and they led them forwards. In the end, their men brought them home and today, I mourn them. I wish their families comfort and hope they can find consolation in knowing that their sons' sacrifice will long be remembered.

Captain Omer Rabinovitch, 23 from Arad, was killed this afternoon in Gaza. He was a Golani commander, a unit known for its bravery and honor. Omer was killed during a joint operation carried out by infantry, Armored and Engineering Corps forces. During the activity snipers opened fire at the soldiers, killing Omer and lightly injuring another soldier, who was evacuated to Beersheba's Soroka University Medial Center for treatment. Omer belonged to the Armored Corps 71st battalion, the same battalion to which kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit belonged. The battalion's forces have been operating in the Strip since the ground incursion began on Saturday.

Major Roee Rosner, 27, from Holon, is the IDF officer who was killed in Gaza Thursday morning.
Rosner was a company commander with the Kfir Brigade. Roee was married just 10 months ago, and a few days before he was killed the newlyweds received the key to their new apartment in Holon. He also left behind his parents and a younger brother, who has been drafted for reserve service as well.

Roee's uncle, Yitzik Kirschner, Rosner's uncle, said Roee had been an excellent athlete. "He was a happy guy. A mischievous kid. When he was a boy you couldn't get him to sit still. In all sports he wanted to be first, he didn't like to lose and would always get upset if he did. He was great at running and liked soccer and tennis," Kirschner said. Rosner had also had plans of studying for a master's degree.
May their memories be blessed and may their families be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem and may they know no more sorrow.

3 comments:

Sallye said...

Thank you for the pictures and the names. I will be praying for these families and that G-d will keep your son safe, and you sane until he is back in your arms.

Salye

brat said...

Amen....amen.

Anonymous said...

The picture next to the story of Omer Rabinovitch isn't correct.
It is not him but another soldier Amit Robinson who dies on the same day.

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